10 November 2012

Five things I learned at the Idaho Book Extravaganza

1. Be creative. If something doesn't seem like it will work, find a creative way to make it happen. I nabbed a copy of Brian Jud's book on bulk sales, How to Make Real Money Selling Books, to help me think strategically about marketing my book.

2. E-books are always changing. You need to know the market to be successful, which means you should always be a student of the ever-changing digital world.

3. Create a plan. Things don't happen by chance, and that applies to book sales, too. Know what your goals are, where you're headed, and what you need to do to get there.

4. Your book is you. Walt Hampton talked about the fact that your book is "legacy work." How cool of a concept is that?

5. People are willing to be givers. There are so many great people out there who are willing to give of their time and share their expertise. You just have to ask.

What a great weekend of book-related learning!

15 June 2012

Listen in!

Just a little note: I'll be doing a short interview today at 12:30 p.m. EST (10:30 a.m. MST).  You can listen online from areas outside of Cincinnati or tune in if you're local.

I'll be talking about my book, The Editor's Eye, as well as offering three general writing tips and three tips for writing a book.  Fun, right?

Anyway, I hope you'll give it a listen.  Many thanks to WAIF and Mary Kay Meier for having me!

10 April 2012

5 Ways to Buck the Writing Blues

Copyright Stacy Lynn Ennis

I love writing.  I think it's fantastic.  It's splendid, marvelous, wonderful, and every other happy-sounding adjective you can think of.  I just love writing.

I also hate it.  Hate with a capital H.  H-A-T-E it.  Hate as in, "I hate it so much I could just cry."

It's funny how these two extremes seem to often occupy the same space.  I can be clipping along, words elegantly gracing the page or screen, thoughts flowing through me with ease and concise perfection (at least to me)...and then the next minute, nothing.  This state of nothingness can last for minutes, hours, and even days.


Well, for me, it has to do with two things: focus and creative stimulation.

Focus is first because I'm actually a pretty focused person.  I recently started planning out my day--writing out what time I'll do what and for how long.  This helps me stay focused.

However, this uber-planning sometimes only slightly alleviates my desire to get everything done now.  Especially when working on creative projects (such as writing or art), it's easy to feel that they're not as productive because they're more difficult to measure.  For example, I feel more productive if I spend an hour editing a four-page article or reading 40 pages for class versus writing two paragraphs or starting the design to one book cover mockup.  The quantitative side of me tends to see more as better, and this can cause me to lose focus on the creative task at hand--namely, writing.

Creative stimulation is second because I tend to be heavily influenced by my environment.  When I'm writing for long periods of time, I'm pretty good about setting up my space: a warm cup of coffee, the window partially open, my desk clear of clutter, a notepad and pen nearby, and no sounds but the birds singing outside (and sometimes the cats fighting, but I can't control that).  I don't check e-mail or social media, and I try not to have any conversations with humans.  (Cats are fine because they don't talk back.)

But when I'm writing a day here and a day there--right now, for example, as I'm revising my book--and not in a daily routine, I find it hard to get creative.  Sometimes I struggle to resist the urge to be "productive."  After all, to be creative, sometimes you just have to sit and think.  This does not always feel productive, although I know it will lead to productivity.

So, how does one buck the writing blues?  Here are some things that work for me:
  1. Find out what inspires you...and then do it.  I watch TED.com videos most mornings to get inspired for the day.  In the early afternoons, when I'm feeling tired and a bit sluggish, I have a cup of tea and stretch out on my foam roller; this small break is often the fuel I need to finish the day strong.  A bit later, I do some sort of exercise.  This gets my blood pumping, and these long fitness sessions often lead to really great ideas.  I find all of these things inspiring, and they've quickly become necessary to my creativity.
  2. Make a switch.  Feeling antsy?  Having trouble focusing?  About to fall asleep from boredom?  Move to another room. Stand up at your desk for a period of time.  Turn on some music.  Work from your tablet instead of your desktop.  Switch gears and work on another project.  Head to a coffee shop.  The possibilities are endless, but the point is the same: Changing things up often aids in both focus and creativity.
  3. Write down your writing goals.  I know I often tout goal setting as the ultimate way to be productive and achieve dreams, but it's true.  I set monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly goals...and I almost always achieve them.  I also set long-term goals, but I don't usually write them out.  (Although one of my goals this month is to start writing those long-term goals out.)  If you're feeling stuck, stumped, or otherwise battling writing blues, writing your goals out on paper might help you visualize the finish product, which will help keep you focused.
  4. Be intentional.  Goal setting will help with this, but the idea here is to be aware of what you're doing and why you're doing it.  Make decisions that bring you closer to what you desire, whether it's writing a novel or finishing a poem.  Record your achievements in a spreadsheet or by checking off items on a list--it doesn't matter how you live intentionally, just that you do it.  I used Wunderlist to make weekly and daily lists for myself, then check off things as they're completed.  I love clicking that little box and seeing the list item move to the "Recently done" section.
  5. Stick it out.  You can do anything for a short period of time, and writing projects are no different. If you're feeling like you just can't type another word, remind yourself that the end is near.  Are you writing a book?  A few months to a year is doable, right?  Penning an article?  You can get through those couple of hours.  Being intentional with your writing and setting goals will help, but if you have to clear out your schedule or say "no" to a few things, then do it.  Book club can wait. So can cocktails with the gals.  Achieve your writing goals now.
No matter the cause of your writing blues, there is hope, and a prolifically-perfect day is right around the well-worded corner.

What about you?  How do you buck the writing blues?

    01 February 2012

    Growing Is Forever, by Jesse Rosten

    Today, take a moment to consider the beauty of nature, of this wonderful world we are lucky enough to call home.

    27 January 2012

    Why Smiling Is Good Business

    Image Source: http://lifethroughartfoundation.blogspot.com
    My first week of ninth grade, after transferring to a public school from the Christian one I'd gone to since childhood, I was approached by the friend of a boy who had a crush on me.

    "He likes your smile," the friend told me. "He says you always have a big smile on your face, and he thinks it's pretty."

    My ninth grade self was pretty embarrassed at this statement, that this boy who'd never even talked to me before liked my smile.  Of course, I was too awkward to ever have a conversation with my admirer, but the idea stuck: People like it when you smile.

    As an adult, I've kept smiling.  I'm not always the most verbally eloquent person, but I am usually smiling and try to be engaged in what the other person is saying.  In business, I do the same.

    After my recent workshop at the Idaho Business Extravaganza, I learned that several of the participants appreciated my happy disposition and the smile I had throughout most of the presentation.

    In meetings, I've found that a smile can get through to even the most reserved client.  In interviews I do for writing projects, I've found that laughter and smiles make our time together much more productive and useful.

    It's funny: I've also found that a simple smile can break through some of the barriers I face in the work place.  As a woman, I know that society believes I should either be like Meryl Streep's character in The Devil Wears Prada or a modern-day June Cleaver.  Frowing or smiling.  Working or homemaking.

    I resist the conventional wisdom that tells me that, as a woman, I need to be stern and assertive, to "prove myself" through my demeanor and words.  I resist the idea that work can't be fun, that people can't just get along, that you can't smile through meetings (or have any other emotion, for that matter).  Now, I know that you can't always smile genuinely---firing an employee, for example, is a time when a smile might be taken the wrong way---but I do think a happy demeanor is key in business.

    I also laugh.  A lot.  And genuinely, too.

    So, try it: Next time you're in a meeting, at a client lunch, or doing something else professionally-oriented, add a few extra smiles into your game plan.  I bet you'll like the results.

    09 January 2012

    How to be Alone

    My sister shared this video the other day, and it's beautiful.  Enjoy.