12 ways to survive (and enjoy) NaNoWriMo

12 ways to survive (and enjoy) NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo

twitter aquaLike most great challenges, the secret to a successful NaNoWriMo is in the preparation.

A little forward planning and consideration can make an amazing difference to your results and your experience.

So here are some suggestions for a few lifestyle tweaks and preparatory efforts, to help you not only survive NaNoWriMo  – but actually enjoy it…

1. What can wait?

Unless you’re lucky, it’s not every month you spend intensively working on a novel.

So November is going to be an unusually busy month!

If you plan for that, ahead of time, you can create some lovely breathing space in your schedule. (Doesn’t that sound good…)

So, what can wait?

What can you let go, for now? Give some thought to anything that you can put on hold – just for the month.

Are there any things that you normally do, but aren’t essential to the smooth running of your life?

Can any other hobbies be put on hold? Can any responsibilities be temporarily delegated or scaled back?

Are there regular activities that can wait for a few short weeks? For example, dinner parties, shopping, getting lost in a book…. They’ll all still be there in December! And you’ll be free to return to them with a new appreciation, and a sense that you fully deserve to indulge and enjoy them.

The run up to NaNoWriMo is a great time to simplify, but this is actually a great thing to do at any time of year, as you might discover that a number of things you ‘just do’, aren’t actually worthy of your time and attention, and you’re ready to let them go for good.

So cast an enquiring eye over your timetable – without panic or urgency. Just assess. No drastic action. No drama.

Simply review how and where you spend your time – what serves you, and what can be suspended as you devote November to your writing goals and dreams.

• • • 

2. Look after your main asset: you

To simplify is good – but if you have a healthful and supportive daily practice (e.g. exercise, meditation, journalling, inspirational reading etc…) – now is not the time to let that go!

You will need both internal and external strength to help you navigate the challenges of the month ahead.

And if you don’t already have a daily practice?

Since you’re adopting a new regime for this month, you may like to include something small and relatively easy to implement that will support you on a daily basis.

It may seem like another task for a busy month, but it could be a wise investment of your time if it increases your energy and productivity.

• • • 

3. Special measures

Now is a good time to call in any favours.

If you are always the one helping out the other parents, team-mates or workmates, now is the time to ask them for help. They’ll probably be thrilled to have the chance to give back.

“Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.” 

~ Proverb

Besides, people love to help a person who is up to wonderful things. So, if you explain your plan, you may find they’re not only willing to step in and help out, they may be cheering you on from the sidelines, too.

And a little social accountability can also be a motivating force. For those days when you’re tempted to let things slide, the prospect of facing a supportive friend or colleague may give you the nudge you need to get over the resistance hump.

• • •

4. Stock up

Stock up on supplies. Unless you find cooking therapeutic, relaxing or ideal for pondering tricky plot puzzles, plan ahead for your basic maintenance.

Stock your freezer and cupboards for the month, so that you’re not drawn away from vital book-pondering to spend precious concentration units on; What’s for tea?

(By the way, if you’re a snacker – blueberries are supposed to be good for creativity.)

• • • 

5. Join a support group

Being in a group of like-minded people with a similar goal is a proven tactic for staying the course.

In-person weekly meet-ups can be an inspiring boost. Or daily check-ins online can also help you feel less alone in your challenge.

Do whatever works for you, but notice the effect of the groups or networks you belong to. How do they make you feel?

If they leave you feeling energised, motivated, inspired and confident – check in with them on a regular basis.

But if you feel drained or prone to Compare & Despair – give them a miss for a while.

• • • 

6. Get to know your muse

In the weeks before NaNoWriMo, spend a little time monitoring when and where you get your best ideas.

These are your Muse Magnets.

If you always come back from a run full of new character ideas, you know what to do when you’re stuck with character problems.

Or it may be that driving, gardening or showering work for you. Any mundane chores you do on autopilot can give your subconscious mind the rhythm and quiet to suggest some new plot twists or solutions.

Get to know which activities calm your busy mind and enable your muse to make contact.

This is priceless info for any creative and will really help you stay inspired during the demanding weeks ahead.

• • • 

7. Keep notepads everywhere

Whenever you lean into a creative project, it begins to grow and take over more of your thoughts and attention.

So when you dive in head first during NaNoWriMo, it’s an almost total immersion. You flood your conscious mind with your story, and as a result your subconscious mind will very helpfully keep working on your story even when you’ve had enough.

So keep notebooks handy to catch all the new ideas and insights and solutions that will keep floating up to your consciousness as you go about the rest of your day.

• • • 

8. Get sleep

It’s tempting to think that coping with less sleep will give you more time.

But what you need for this month is quality energy; not just time at the page, but quality time where you can concentrate, plot, imagine and string a half-decent sentence together.

So skimping on sleep is counter-productive. (<<< and I don’t use bold lightly!)

Ensure you maintain good quality sleep, and you will reap the benefits in terms of energy, focus and concentration.

If you want the best version of you – fit, well and ready to write – getting enough sleep is essential.

And your loved ones will appreciate this one – a cranky, stressed, overtired writer-under-pressure is not often a joy to be around.

Besides, if you’re clever, your sleeping time need not be unproductive downtime….

• • • 

9. Utilise your sleeping hours

With a little forward planning and intention, you can actually make productive use of your restorative sleeping hours.

By reviewing any daily quandaries just before you go to sleep – posing a clear question to your subconscious mind – you can hand over the puzzle to your mind as you sleep, very often being rewarded with the solution as you wake up, or during the course of the following day.

It takes a little practice to harness this powerful creative source, but if you’re planning to sleep every night anyway, why not begin to practice?

• • • 

10. Balance input with output

NaNoWriMo will call for a considerable amount of creative output.

To keep your creative spirit balanced and happy (rather than drained, spent and exhausted) don’t forget to do the things that inspire you.

Remember to play, have fun, relax, spend time with people (real ones) – do the things that fill you up.

These simple daily pleasures may seem superficial, and candidates for stripping back from your timetable, but these are the valuable sources of life that feed your creative spirit – and it’s going to be hungry over the coming weeks!

So you may even need to replenish these vital stores more than ever.

• • • 

11. Visual aides

Before you begin NaNoWriMo, spend some time getting clear on why you are doing this.

It’s not an easy thing to do!

It will challenge you. It will take over your heart and mind for the coming weeks. You’re planning to devote large amounts precious time and energy to this project.

So why do it?

You may not know why exactly, just a sense that you want to do it – and that’s more than enough.

twitter aqua“I want to do it because I want to do it.” 

~ Amelia Earhart

But if you can imagine the benefits, the fuel behind the desire, it can be a powerful tool to keep you going through the inevitable wobbles.

And if you can create a visual representation of your Why, and keep it somewhere you’ll see it daily, it can really help you to stay clear, focus, grounded and on track.

So, what’s your Why? And how can you represent it?

Maybe mock up your favourite bestseller list to see your name on the top. Or a picture of the TV show you’d love to be featured on with your new book. Or maybe it’s in honour of a loved one, or a long-held dream.

Whatever the reason, find or create and image that you can glance at and know instantly why you’re doing this.

• • • 

12. Pre-empt The Wobbles

The Wobbles – those thoughts and moods that make you doubt your dreams and goals, and your power to achieve them.

We all face them, they’re part of the creative journey.

They may be unavoidable, but it’s possible to limit their power to throw you off track by pre-empting them.

Anticipate the usual suspects; e.g. thoughts like; what’s the point?… I’m no good at thisIt’s a waste of time…. (add any more that regularly come up for you.)

Then, when you are feeling calm and confident and capable: Go through each one and argue the opposite.

You can do this.

The human brain loves questions, so ask things like: Why is this a good use of my time? …Why am I good at this? … What are some really good reasons to do this?

Tap into your Why (see above) and the reasons you’re taking on this incredible challenge.

Get all your ‘arguments for’ in writing, where you can refer to them during the upcoming weeks.

So whenever a doubt pops up during NaNoWriMo, you can calmly say; Hello, I’ve been expecting you – and I know just how to deal with you…

• • • 

So there you are! I hope you find these tips helpful.

If you have time before November, play around with these suggestions to see which ones work for you.

And if you’d benefit from more comprehensive support, please do get in touch. I’d love to help you get your book into the world.

Enjoy NaNoWriMo!

I look forward to hearing about your new novel.

May the muse be with you. <3

Danielle

• • •

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Writer’s Corner: Fake it while you make it

When writing a book, like most creative projects, the early drafts look nothing like the finished product.

A manuscript – double-spaced on A4 paper – is a totally different reading experience to a printed book.

twitter aquaBooks don’t start out looking like books.

• • •

My first book began life as a handful of scribbled notes and unrelated Word documents.

I didn’t even know it was a book until I was a fair way towards completing it.

My most recent book was born of a pile of old diaries and dozens of Evernotes and MindMaps.

Even the project I’m blissfully immersed in now doesn’t look anything like I imagine it will when I launch it.

Or at least, it didn’t…. until I decided to play Creative Dress Up…

• • •

Creative Dress Up

Creative Dress Up is a name I’ve just made up for the following game:  

Take the raw material – the nuts and bolts of your project – and dress it up to look a little more like the final product.

In the case of a book, this would involve taking your manuscript – your rough draft, work-in-progress, typos-and-all document – and tweak the layout to look more like a finished book.

This used to be the exclusive domain of magical graphics departments, brought in at the very end of the publishing process – the final step, done only when the endless rounds of  editing, polishing and re-checking are complete.

Only then could a writer get to see their ‘book’ looking like an actual book. 

But the creative process can be a long and doubt-filled slog.

It can be really tough some days to believe that the scribbles and notes in front of you will ever make it to book stage.

So, being creatives, why not harness one of our most powerful resources – our imagination?

• • •

Let’s pretend.

Let’s burst out of the constraints of that A4 document and make it… book-shaped.

Lose the double-spacing, just for now. Create a Dress-Up version and fiddle with the settings. 

Print out your unedited draft in double-sided, paperback-size pages. 

Add page numbers and your name or title at the top.

See it how your fans will see it. (This alone is a great trick for spotting typos.)

It doesn’t need to look exactly like the finished article, just a little closer than the draft stage that’s so easy to get stuck in. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even have a stab at creating a cover. 

Why not? No-one ever needs to see it, but it may have a powerful effect on your faith in the the project. 

Playing this game can really help to visualise the end result – which, some days, will be essential if there is ever to be an end result.

I did this for my current work-in-progress. I spent an afternoon creating some rough temporary graphics, which I know I’ll never use.

It did feel a little like wasting my time… until I saw my swanky dressed-up version!

I got such a boost from seeing my project come to life, that those few ‘wasted’ hours felt more like a quantum leap forward.

And I’m sure I’ll recoup the hours I spent by needing less time for The Wobbles. (Ie, those fruitless, dithering, unproductive hours spent wondering how and if my project will ever see the light of day.)

When I used to work in design studios, we would call this step; creating a mock-upWe’d regularly spend time and resources on making a fake, temporary version.

Even though this would end up in the bin when the polished final version was complete, it wasn’t wasted work. It was an invaluable part of the creative process.

Of course, we still have to go back to the drawing board when the fun of Creative Dress Up is over.

But the insight and motivation we can get from this little trick may be just the thing to spot what isn’t working, or to envision how brilliant your book might eventually be.

Which makes it easier, and more likely, to reach that elusive finished stage – for real. 

 

 

PS You could take this idea a step further and mock-up a bestseller list with your name at the top, or write glittering imaginary reviews for your finished book.

This is great for clarifying why you’re doing it. (For those days when you wonder why you’re doing it….)

Feel free to pen your imaginary reviews in the comments below. I’d love to help you visualise them!

 

PPS If you’re curious about what my dressed-up, rough-around-the-edge, work-in progress project looks like, you can take a look at my mock-ups here.

 

*** UPDATE *** : Whether or not it was my Mock-Up Magic, sheer tenacity, or labour of love (most likely all 3…)  – my Muse Spa project did get finished and is now available. (This makes me very happy. 🙂 )

You can see how it actually turned out HERE.

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My self-publishing adventures: Q+A

When I launched my ebook From Wannabe to Writer earlier this year, I held a Facebook Q&A event and I thought it would be helpful to compile the answers from that, as well as answers to reader questions I’ve received over the last few months.

Hopefully it will shed some light on the self-publishing processes and options – and show how even a naive little wannabe (like me) can navigate them…

• • •

Q + A

 

What was your original plan for your first book, Housework Blues

I wish I could say I was as organised as that. My ‘plans’ tend to evolve. (I call it The Creative Way…)

To begin with, all I intended was to jot down my thoughts and maybe shape them into an ebook.

The whole publishing journey took off from there, but it was a gradual process – maybe a couple of years from the first Word document to holding the book in my hands.

(That last bit made the rollercoaster ride worthwhile!)

 

 

Did you ever consider traditional publishing?

About 10 years ago, I tried approaching publishers and agents with my children’s books – to no avail. But with my housework book, it kind of evolved from an ebook, to a Kindle book, to a paperback. Only after I’d launched it and it had been selling for a while did I think a publisher might be interested. 

At that point I began contacting agents again. Happily, the one I signed with had seen coverage of my book in the national press.

So, ironically, my self-publishing efforts resulted in getting an agent. In fact, many new authors are using self-publishing to get the attention of agents and publishers – it demonstrates their reach/platform and proves their ability to finish and market a book.

I wasn’t that intentional (savvy!) at the time, but it seems it can be one way of avoiding the dreaded Slush Pile. 

 

 

Did you release both ebook and paperback versions of your first book?

Yes, I was selling both ebooks and paperback online.

The digital versions I sold through the usual channels (Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, B&N, etc) as well as from my website.

The paperback version was available from online retailers (Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones etc) and to order from bricks-and-mortar bookshops.

The printing (On-Demand) and fulfilment was handled by Lightning Source, so I didn’t need to hold any stock.

 

 

Did you have any marketing experience?

I had no clue about marketing initially but with the internet  – and a book budget –  it’s all learnable. (There’s a Recommended Reading list enclosed with the ebook).

I admit that, for a total newbie, it could get a bit overwhelming at first – but there’s usually no need to rush.

Plus, I’m finding that it’s an ongoing learning process. There’s always something new to discover about human behaviour and the way technology influences readers and how best to reach them. 

 

 

Can you share a little about your approach to marketing your book and growing your list?
Do you recommend blogging, speaking, free content? 

Giving away sample chapters has worked really well for me, as has blogging.

I haven’t tried speaking – though I know many authors find that it really helps with back-of-the-room sales.

The internet is FANTASTIC for establishing your platform and profile. There are so many ways to do it; social media, email marketing, blogging, video, podcasts etc.

I’d say choose the one you find the most fun and go with that. 

 

 

Do you expand on these topics in your ebook? For example, for someone who knows nothing about PR?

Like me! Yes, I have chapters devoted to building a list, getting the media coverage, hitting the bestseller lists, getting an agent and a big section on all my marketing efforts.

 

 

Any advice for rising the ranks on Amazon?  

My quick tip for Amazon rank success: encourage sales in a small time frame.

This pushes the book up the ranks more than the same number of sales spread out over time. Many authors are using free promotion periods to do this – with outstanding success. (My lovely Twitter friend and fellow indie author, Rachael Lucas, for example.)

PR can also create a quick rise up the rankings. This is what happened when my book was featured in the national press and again when I was interviewed on Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4).

The great thing about hitting the Amazon bestseller lists is that even when the promo period is over, the book can still sell well, thanks to Amazon’s promotion loop. (Ie, Customers Also Bought, You Might Also Like… etc.)

Having the Mighty Amazon behind your book can be a powerful strategy.

 

 

How do you recommend getting round ‘The Knowledge Curse’, ie believing all the things I know are so obvious to me, what’s the point putting them in a book? Why would anyone bother reading a book I write?

I can absolutely relate to this issue.

We do undervalue what we know – thinking it’s common knowledge. But we all know things others don’t! I agree it can be hard to feel total confidence in the value of our experience. When/if I master it – I’ll let you know!

But one book that changed everything for me was The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard. (Or any of his videos on YouTube).

Also, I try to remember this advice;

twitter aquaYou don’t need to know everything,
you just need to be a few steps ahead of your target reader.

They can benefit from your experience and will appreciate you sharing it.

 

 

Which parts of the self-publishing process would you recommend outsourcing to an expert? 

Given that freelance help is so easy to find online, and there are so many self-publishing specialists, I would outsource anything that makes you want to avoid your project!

Anything technical that gives you a headache (eg, Kindle conversion!), if you can, hand it over to the experts.

I find sites like elance or People Per Hour are great for this kind of work. Or ask for recommendations in the many Indie Author forums. 

 

 

Are there process components that you’re hiring out for From Wannabe to Writer?

I hired an editor, which I would always recommend. They spot so many things that writers miss, being so close to our own words.

My editor for this project was Kris Emery, who is an absolute gem. I was so grateful for her eagle eye – even though I’d quadruple checked my manuscript, Kris found all the little errors that I’d missed, and some I didn’t even know were wrong.

I felt much more confident releasing it to the world, knowing that she’d rounded up all those niggly typos and mistakes that can really irritate readers. 

But not only can a good editor improve the calibre of your book, she can also be a vital supporter and champion of your project. 

Being an indie author can be a scary and lonely journey, so having an encouraging third party in your corner can be very reassuring. (Especially during those eleventh hour wobbles…)

 

 

Are you completely self-publishing From Wannabe to Writer? And what about future books?

There are no plans to pursue a conventional deal for Wannabe, it was only meant to be a small, personal project. I just wanted to sum up what I went through in the hope that it might be helpful to others just beginning the self-publishing journey.

My next project, The Muse Spa, I’m planning as an online course but I’m also tempted to create a book proposal for it. I’ll use Danielle LaPorte’s Big Beautiful Book Plan as my guide (can’t wait to play with that!)

I’ll see how it develops and also see what my agent thinks about it working as a ‘real’ book. Watch this space!

 

 

You mentioned having more targeted PR in the future….could you expand a bit on what you meant and what you’d do differently?

More targeted PR for me means not just trying to get any publicity in any channel.

I’ll be selective about whether or not the audience is likely to be interested. I know the old maxim; any publicity is good publicity, but I plan to spare myself the heartache and tears of being rejected and criticised by people who I’m not right for.

I think the most successful marketing is simply finding where your right people will be, and then connecting with them.

I’m learning fast that focused efforts in the right places are so much more effective than scattershot publicity, ie just trying to reach everyone and anyone – regardless of whether or not they want what you’ve got.

 

 

How many blogs do you write and maintain at this point?

In a bid to simplify, I’ve recently moved all my blogging antics to danielleraine.com – though I do keep having ideas about starting new ones…

 

 

How many websites do you have and maintain at this point?

I’ve got about 5 or 6 websites at the moment. Some need some regular attention, whilst others are ticking along quite nicely on autopilot.

I manage them myself using WordPress, which I found quite easy to use (eventually).

 

 

What is your writing schedule like?

Lately it’s great – I’m now doing a mix of ‘my stuff’ and freelance design/copywriting work which leaves me quite a bit of breathing room.

I try to stick to the school hours/days (my boys can get a bit boisterous!), but I do a lot of reading/note-taking/scraps-organising during evenings, weekends etc.

So these days, it’s a happy balance of family, writing and design work. It’s taken me over a decade to find this groove though!

 

 

How do you juggle writing life with family commitments, especially children?

It can be a juggling act but I find the more I make the time to write, the more I find the time to write.

The hardest part is when you slip out of the habit…. Getting back into the flow can be tough. (But it’s always worth the effort.)

 

 

When will your ebook for introvert writers be ready?

My next ebook An Introvert’s Guide to Book Promotion is bursting to be created and will hopefully be ready before the end of the year.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for updates here. (And you’ll also get my weekly Beautiful & Inspiring Creativity Quotes.)

 

 

And finally… can you tell us a bit about the book deals you turned down? And why!

The two book deals I walked away from were both housework-related books.

They required cleaning tips and housework advice – not my specialty at all, I’m afraid. There are far more qualified domestic goddesses out there. Plus, I feel I’ve said all I can about housework blues and I’m over the worst of that particular challenge.

So, for now, I’m turning my attention to my next challenges; unravelling the mysteries of inspiration and the creative process!

 

• • • 

 

 

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My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

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If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

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” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

Love to write?

 

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My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

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” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

 

Writer’s Corner: One way to write a book

As part of my How To Write A Book series, I thought it would be helpful to share the story of how I wrote my first book, Housework Blues.

twitter aqua

So here’s The Story of a Book – just one of the many ways books can evolve.

• • •

 

The Story of Housework Blues

(Extract from From Wannabe to Writer)

Around 2008, I began searching for a book that would help me with my domestic woes.

I tend to turn to books for help with my challenges and problems, and so I was seeking literary solace for my severe housework blues.

At the time, I was working from home, as well as being a full time mum to two small children. I was drowning in laundry and mess and disorganised chaos.

I needed help.

I’d tried to find a book that addressed what I was going through, but all I could find were collections of cleaning tips or time management systems.

I wanted a book that dealt with the aspect I struggled with; the emotional and psychological challenge.

(Housework was ‘doing my head in’.)

Then one day – ironically, as I was scrubbing the kitchen floor – I had an epiphany.

I realised…

…there should be a guide for women like me.

There should be a housework manual for women who just don’t want to do this stuff!

 

So I threw the scrubbing brush back into the soapy bucket. (Yes, I was actually scrubbing ‘scrubber-style’.)

Then I went and vented my spleen onto my computer.

I still have the document. It’s essentially just a list of my struggles, peppered with considerable frustration and angst.

I gave it the working title: A Feminist Guide to Cooking and Cleaning; A mental approach to housework – for women who don’t.

I’d heard the advice – if you can’t find the book you need, write it.

So I thought this could be my chance to finally put my writing aspirations into a concrete form – that someone may actually want to read.

(I suspected I wasn’t the only female who didn’t want to spend her life, as Rudyard Kipling said, ‘threshing herself to pieces over the mean worry of housekeeping’.)


I soon dropped the feminist tag, though. I am possibly the least political person you’ll ever meet, and this was stirring up all kinds of negative responses.

My project was simply a quest for a happier domestic balance.

I was aware of the cultural issues, (ie, more being expected of female than males) but I wanted to increase the harmony in my home, not start a war.

I was more interested in the psychological and emotional stuff behind the angst/resentment.

I suspected that the real issue, for me, lay deeper than not knowing how to shine my sink.

This was the angle that I felt hadn’t really been addressed before.

So I created a list of all the reasons why I felt I was struggling, and all the thoughts I had about what I could do about it.

From that A4 Word document of frustrated ramblings, a book was born.

Once I’d had the idea, potential chapters and snippets of text began occurring to me more frequently, (ironically, usually during housework.)

In my mission to conquer my housework overload, I’d already come up with a few strategies of my own.

With a bit of thought and attention, I was able to come up with a few more. So I wrote those down too.

Over the next few months, I added more notes and ideas, more solutions and remedies.

And I felt duty bound to share them.

I’d discovered (to my relief) that not all females are born homemakers. I wanted to share my tips and tricks with any like-minded non-domestics.

And so, out of the desire to create calm out of the chaos of my home life, along with an urge to write and share, I’d embarked upon my first book.

But at that point I didn’t know it was a book. It would change shape and structure a dozen times before it came to rest in its current format.

Some ideas evolved from a snippet into a whole section (Delegation). Other ideas were swallowed up elsewhere or ditched completely. (Possibly for the best in the case of The Loo.)

The more I added to my musings and ideas, the more the material began to naturally fall into complete sections.

I wondered whether I might actually have enough material for a series of ebooks…?

Each of these could relate to the problem of housework OD, but tackling a particular bugbear, ie Lack of Motivation, Lack of Energy etc…

This series began life entitled Make Peace with Housework. And, in anticipation of my Big Launch, I also began a blog of the same name.

But I wasn’t happy with my ‘mini-ebooks’. They were quite small as standalone pieces, and I felt they weren’t substantial enough to be sold as a complete solution.

Besides, I was hearing from readers that they suffered from most, if not all, of the 8 ‘housework blues’ that I’d identified.

So, I decided to wrap them all together into one volume.

I had to rework the intro and then go through the sections to make sure they worked together as an integral whole, rather than disparate sections bundled together.

But it was enjoyable work and I knew as I was doing it that it flowed much better.

Plus, there was the added bonus of having accidentally produced a ‘real book’.

This was very satisfying – to find myself at the end of the process, without knowing what was happening until the majority of the work had been done. (I’ve written more about my ‘accidental’ method here.)

By the end, though, I knew I had a book.

I can remember vividly writing the closing paragraph. It felt both moving and surreal – a huge accomplishment, but also strangely calm and inevitable.

Of course, there was still much editing and polishing to be done but the main composition, the full first draft, was finished.

And as I sat in the brick outbuilding in my garden (the only place I could escape the noise of family life), with the early summer sunshine streaming through the cobwebbed windows, tears rolled down my cheeks as I wrote the final words.

That last chapter was about the role our homes play in our lives – a topic I was passionate about.

In fact, this had been the spur at the heart of my mission – to find more peace in the home.

So, it was a heartfelt finale, the culmination of a labour of love.

But also, I knew I had achieved something: this was the end of my book.

My first book.

I had written a book.

Wow.

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This is an extract from my ebook, From Wannabe To Writer,

a compilation of tips and tales from my writing and self-publsihing adventures.

• • •

It was launched on World Book Day

– to help Wannabe writers everywhere to get their books out there.

Details below!

And you can find out more about Housework Blues HERE.

Out now:

Wannabe writer ipad

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 

>>> CLICK FOR DETAILS

 

 

” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

 

Writer’s Corner: How to write a book…

…without worrying about getting published.

 (And why that’s helpful.)

What’s the main reason for not writing that book you want to write?

Is it:

A) Lack. (Lack of time. Lack of skill. Lack of money.)

B) Fear. (Fear that it won’t be any good. Fear that it won’t get published. Fear that it won’t be worth the effort and sacrifice.)

This blog post is for you if you answered B.

Or A.

(Because all those excuses, ahem, reasons stem from fear as well.)

The biggest fear tends to be; there’s no guarantee of the outcome.

This applies whether you crave the financial result, the prestige, or the personal fulfillment, satisfaction and sense of achievement.

(If you were guaranteed all of these – would you hesitate in writing your book?)

But every writer faces this dilemma: there is never a guarantee that it will be worth it.

Some writers may achieve a level of success that gives them a little more confidence to go for it, but even they can’t be sure. (Rich and famous writers do write books that flop.)

But if you’re a reader and booklover, aren’t you grateful that your favourite authors managed to overcome this common fear (or at least, carry on in spite of it)?

It’s possible that your future readers may feel the same about you and your book – but only if you write it!

• • •

So, how to overcome this fear of disappointing results – or at least, get the book written regardless?

One way is to: Drop that Publishing Deal Paralysis

The daunting prospect of getting a publisher is quite often enough to stop wannabe writers before they even start.

They may quote industry statistics of slush piles, or how many books there are to compete with, or the failure rate, even of published books.

Whilst these statistics may be true, a fair number of writers do get published and new books do get bought and read and loved on a regular basis.

It’s impossible to know whether you will get a publishing deal – but it does happen!

So, if you can’t be sure either way, why not err on the side of optimism? At least that way, you’re more likely to write your book. (Plus optimism is good for your health.)

Besides, with the new era of self-publishing options, that elusive publishing deal is no longer the only way to reach your readers or sell books.

  • • •

Another helpful thing to remember when contemplating a book – at any stage – is this:

Writing is not the same as publishing.

Writing a book is one thing. Publishing a book comes later.

Your book doesn’t need to appear on the page in it’s polished and perfect, final draft form.

The first draft may be total rubbish. Ernest Hemingway had this advice for an aspiring writer;

“I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times.

You’ve got to work it over.

The first draft of anything is shit.”

It doesn’t matter how bad your first draft is, no-one has to see it.

But you can’t have a polished finished version without starting somewhere, with something.

So let it all out, as raw and rambling as it may be.

Don’t worry about what people will think, that’s only a concern when/if you publish it. (The bit you’re fretting over may end up being moved, removed or transformed.)

Don’t censor the words as they come tumbling out. The time for that is later, you’ll have first, second…. twentieth drafts – plenty of opportunity to tidy it up, improve it or delete anything that makes you squirm.

It’s only the quality of the finished work that matters.

It doesn’t matter what it looked like to start with.

It doesn’t matter how many drafts and edits and changes you need to make.

It doesn’t matter how confused or lacklustre the material may be when you first get going.

What matters is that you write it.

Only then can you work on it and make it better.

You can’t edit or refine imaginary sentences. You need to get something, anything, down on paper first.

  • • •

And finally – Remember the love

Why do you want to write a book in the first place?

This is a popular goal and whilst it can be a savvy career option or financial tactic, it usually stems from a love of writing.

If you love to write – write!

Regardless of the outcome, the actual process of writing is worthwhile if you enjoy it.

Many pursuits have no tangible results yet offer a great deal of pleasure and enjoyment. (Note: many hobbies pursued with passion ‘accidentally’ lead to successes and unexpected outcomes.)

You can judge your results on how the act of writing improves your life, rather than how having written will effect your life.

Creative expression is a basic human need and plays a significant role in our overall happiness and contentment.

If you write purely for the love of it, it can never be a waste of time.

 

  • • •

So, why is this helpful?

If you fixate less on what will happen at the end of the process, you can relax a bit and give your full attention to writing your book.

(Ironically, since stress limits creativity, taking the pressure off may naturally enhance your results.)

When you stop worrying about what will come of your efforts, you’re more likely – and able – to just write the book. And enjoy the process.

By all means, consider your reader and learn your craft as you go along, but keep writing regardless.

Because when you keep putting actual words on pages – however long it takes, and whatever the results – one thing is certain:

you will write your book.

 

 

Next post: How playing Creative Dress Up can inspire you to finish your project.

SIGN UP below to get the full Writers Corner series via email

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… because happy creatives are good for the planet. 

Writer’s Corner: How to write a book…..

…without sitting down to write a book.

 (And why that’s helpful.)

When I sat down to write my first book, I actually thought I was writing a small ebook.

After a while though, I realised that the material was splitting itself up into natural sections, falling into themes. I ended up with 8 sections. Great, I thought, this means I’ve got 8 separate ebooks.

But the sections had a habit of wanting to refer to each other, or support each other’s ideas. They wanted to be separate sections but work together, part of a bigger whole.

A package deal.

So I bundled my 8 ebooks back into one document. Then I wrote an introduction which highlighted how they all worked together.

The result? A pretty substantial ebook.

After a few rounds of editing and tinkering and fleshing out of ideas, then adding helpful references and a few relevant quotes, my ebook project had taken on a new life and a new identity.

I’d accidentally written over 300 pages of what could only be described as ….a book.

• • •

My second book also began life as something other than a book.

I thought I was just writing blog posts. Actually, I was writing blog posts – and they did live solely on my blog for a couple of years.

But these were more like articles than ephemeral updates and they weren’t date specific, they were relevant at any time of year.

I thought my readers might find it helpful to access all my articles in one place, in sequence order (unlike the back-to-front blog format).

So I compiled them into an ebook, which people seemed to like.

From there, given my adventures in self-publishing with my first book, (see here for more on those) it was only a hop, skip, jump to setting the copy, designing a cover and uploading the file to my distributor.

Before I knew it, it was available on Amazon and I had accidentally written another book.

• • •

So – why is this helpful? 

Well, writing a book is a popular goal.

Many people claim that they have a book in them and I dare say Write My Book features on many a bucket list or goal planner.

But, in reality, most people will never write that book.

They may like the idea  – but the reality of bottom-on-writing-chair for hundreds of hours is not quite as appealing as the dream.

For many, the prospect of writing a book is too daunting.

Where to start?

How to maintain enough momentum to write a whole book?

And that’s even before those ‘helpful’ inner voices pipe up with comments such as; You write a book?  What makes you think anyone would want to read it? 

All this is resistance, which stems from the programming that shapes our subconscious mind.

But as helpful and brilliant as our subconscious can be, it can be tricked.

Whilst it’s possible to power through resistance  – that’s neither easy nor fun, so what if you could just sneak past it?

What if you could saunter right past the block labelled ‘Aaaaargh! Write a whole book?!’  by pretending, maybe even believing, that you are writing something else…?

A book? No, this is just a blog post… Or two… Or four…

Writing a book? No, just a quick short story idea I had that I wanted to set down. It may expand, who knows, I’ll just see where it takes me. 

Writing a whole book? Who me? Nah, I’m just sketching out character ideas / jotting down a bit of dialogue / making a few notes about themes I’m interested in. 

As long as you aren’t declaring the specific intention to Write My Book, our old friend Resistance will probably leave you to it.

Then….who knows?

Your efforts may or may not turn into a book. They may be perfectly formed as a blog post or ebook or short story. (But if this is the worst that happens – you’ve still created something.)

Or you may discover that your idea was a dead-end after all. (But isn’t knowing this more satisfying than always wondering… or berating yourself for never writing that damn book?)

But maybe…when you have quieted that dubious duo; Self Doubt and Inner Critic…just maybe you’ll produce something, something that could take on a wonderful life of its own.

The life of a book.

It might even join the ranks of many other bestselling titles that began life as something other than a book….

Acres of Diamonds began life as a keynote speech.

 – The Artist’s Way started off as a pamphlet for Julia Cameron to hand out at her writing classes.

 – The Fire Starter Sessions grew from the questions Danielle LaPorte used in her business strategy consultations.

 – Shirley Conran’s breakthrough novel Lace, evolved from her research for a sex-guide for schoolgirls.

 – Julia & Julie, Escape from Cubicle Nation & ProBlogger are just three of the rapidly increasing number of books that originated and/or grew from blogs.

 – Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles was originally a series of short stories. (Thanks to Brain Pickings for alerting me to this one.)

So, if you are one of the thousands (millions?) of people that have been saying for years that they’d like to write a book (but still haven’t), maybe it’s worth trying to not write a book?

Have you written  – or could quite easily write – any of the following…?

 

Ways to accidentally write a book: 

• Blog

• Short stories

• An article, or series of articles

• An ebook or ebook series

• A themed collection of quotes

• A mindmap of ideas/themes

• A dissertation or thesis

• A lecture or speech

• A pamphlet of tips

• Diary
This is a classic birthplace of ideas, characters, or stories. It can provide interesting starting points, or if your life is very dramatic, actual content. (You could always protect the innocent with an alias. Or pretend it’s a work of fiction.)

• • •

So, if Write That Book is on your To Do list, give some thought to the list above.

What could you easily begin?

What have you already spent time working on? Perhaps you’ve already written your book (or at least begun it) without even noticing!

I hope you find this helpful in your book-writing adventures – let me know if you think ‘not writing a book’ could be the answer for you.

   

 

Next post: How to write a book…. without worrying about getting published.  (And why that’s helpful.)

SIGN UP below to get the full Writers Corner series via email

 

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Writer’s Corner: Expert positioning.

If you’re waiting for that nudge to convince you it’s worth getting your words out into the world, here are a few of the opportunities that have come my way as a result of my books/blogs: 

 

• Opinion pieces for national newspapers 

• Consulting on a TV show 

• Offers of guest blog posts for my websites 

• Requests to guest blog on other’s websites 

• Advertising requests 

• Book group requests 

• Product endorsement 

• Expert quotes for mainstream magazines 

• Future book deals 

• Bulk book sales 

• Inclusion in major book club magazines 

• Foreign Rights 

• Sponsorship 

• Requests for radio interviews

• Presenting a TV series based on my book

 

By just making it up as I went along, as well as spending all my pocket money on publishing and marketing books* and courses, I’ve managed to position my books to get a respectable level of attention – without any kind of marketing expertise or expense, other than my time. 

And if a total newcomer like me can do it, then anyone can.  (So, what are you waiting for!) 

 

PS This is an extract from my new ebook From Wannabe To Writer, which was launched to celebrate to World Book Day.

Details below!

 

* My Recommended Reading list is included in the ebook download.

 

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Out now:

Wannabe writer ipad

My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 

>>> CLICK FOR DETAILS

 

 

” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

 

Writers Corner: Rescue Your Darlings

You know when you’re editing a piece of your writing and you come across a little something that you love – it’s one of your favourite parts of the whole text – but you know, deep down… it doesn’t belong there?

Your instinct is shouting ‘Cut! Cut! Cut!’

But, you argue, it’s such a lovely piece of writing. It’s one of your best descriptions. It’s so witty and clever.

It’s precious.

Even if it is stopping the flow or causing confusion….

What to do?

The conventional wisdom is to kill your darlings.

This Writer’s Rule is inspired by the quote from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch; “Murder your darlings.”

And William Faulkner; “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.

And Stephen King: “Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.

In other words, those bits that you especially love: delete.

What writer would ever want to do that?!

I know the sentiment behind this is useful – if your darling is somewhere it doesn’t belong – yes, you should get them out of there.

But kill them? Is that really necessary?

I believe there is a happier alternative – one that will improve the quality of the writing (by getting rid of what isn’t working) but also make for a less tortured writer.

(Angst does not necessarily equal good writing.)

• • •

Create a ‘Rescue Your Darlings’ file

Here’s what to do;

1. You bravely extract your little darling. (Which, in another place or time could be your finest work.)

2. You paste it into your new file: a dedicated home for errant darlings – those little gems that you love but aren’t quite sure where/if they belong.

3. You heave a sigh of relief.

The piece you were working on is now free to get back on track.

Your beloved snippet is safe from the vicious X-key.

And you don’t feel like you have to tear out your heart and soul to be a good writer.

But then – what to do with all those darlings?

They may find another home, some time in the future. (They will summon you when the time is right.)

Or the file could be a source of inspiration on slow writing days.

Or you may use it to bolster your confidence during the inevitable lows, when you are telling yourself that everything you write is rubbish.

(Watch how quickly Self-Doubt scarpers when faced with a file full of your darlings.)

The truth is, though – you may never rehome them. They may languish forever in your RYD file.

But the idea that they are safe – for now – will enable you to make the right decision to cut them.

Which will mean that the piece you were struggling with will work so much better and read more smoothly – without the agonies of dilemma.

And no darlings had to die in the process.

 

 

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