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!
10 November 2012
15 June 2012
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
What about you? How do you buck the writing blues?
07 April 2012
01 February 2012
27 January 2012
|Image Source: http://lifethroughartfoundation.blogspot.com|
"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
07 January 2012
This quarter, I am taking just one class: memoir writing. In it, we were instructed to choose a photograph---any photograph---which we are to later write a reflective essay on. Instantly, I thought of this photo:
One of my favorite snapshots of our time in the Dominican Republic, this picture captures a lot of things for me: the peacefulness and reflectiveness of travel, the life of the rural Dominicans, the poverty that sneaks up on you as a traveler, waiting around corners and in between buildings, ready to expose itself when you least expect it. But most of all, this image captures a moment in time, a place I loved, and an adventure I won't soon forget.
Jarabacoa, where the photo was taken, is a rural mountain town known for its crops: strawberries, coffee, and peppers, as well as its flowers. It's a beautiful little place with a nonexistent nightlife, not much in the way of tourism, and definitely little to offer the spoiled traveler who came to the DR for the beaches and five-star resorts; but to us, it was a favorite spot, just a two-hour bus ride away.
It's also the place where some pretty crazy things happened: the bat that got stuck in our room and dive-bombed me while I was sitting in bed; the hour-long horse ride through the mud and muck of the jungle, in which my husband and friend complained most of the time (but I really enjoyed); the waterfall excursions and swimming in the pools below; drinking beer in el parque, pretending not to feel out of place as the only gringos there; eating at the same restaurant three times because we couldn't find anywhere else; the final trip with a dear friend of mine in the DR, before we parted ways. These are the things I love about my travels to Jarabacoa, the things I'll reminisce about for years to come.
And while I was looking for the above picture, I came across this one:
I call this my "explorer pose," because I, well, was trying to look like a traveler/explorer. To me, this photo, while posed and a bit forced, shows a great deal about me as a person and how I changed in 2009.
Case in point: Doug loves to tell the story of how, shortly after we started dating, I said something like, "Oh, yeah, I don't stay in hotels less than four stars." At the time, I think Doug just looked at me strangely, not wanting to offend his new girlfriend; later, he told me---and anyone else who would listen---how silly he thought I was for saying such a thing. (I admit, it was a bit silly.) But just a little over a year after that statement, here I am, clad in my explorer outfit, living in a new-to-me third-world country, wearing Chacos and my Timbuk2 bag, ready to tackle some adventures. This is after riding a bumpy bus through winding mountain roads (which, I later learned, is a super deadly and dangerous road), checking into a MUCH less than four-star hotel, and eating some questionable food at a local joint across the street.
Ah, yes, 2009: the year I became tough.
As I look at these photos, I can't help but wonder what the heck I'm doing now. If 2009 was the year I became tough, 2010 was the year I "went with it" by randomly moving to Asia, and 2011 was the year my career took off and my hard work was finally recognized, what will 2012 be?
Well, for starters, it can be the year I realized a lifelong goal: writing a book. But what else? How will I grow personally, professionally, and spiritually? How will I find adventure when I'm stuck here in the U.S., not traveling, and not immersing myself in new cultures? Reaching a lifelong goal isn't enough for me this year; I need to do something big, to keep up with the tradition of years past.
But, really, you can't plan these things. All you can do is take the opportunities life offers, go with the flow, and try to enjoy it.
I guess I'll just have to let life be what it is and see where it takes me. As the Dominicans say, "A ver..."