Showing posts with label how to be a better writer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label how to be a better writer. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 4

7 Ways Positive Thinking Can Help You Be a Better Writer

7 Ways Positive Thinking Can Help You Be a Better Writer

I've been mulling over the benefits of positive thinking and came up with seven ways changing the way we think can help us not only be better writers but live happier lives:

1. Believe in your ability to succeed.

This is where optimists have the advantage. It sounds odd, but many folks who have succeeded, who have done great things in life, have had an unshakable confidence in their ability to succeed. They believed in themselves, in their ability.

You might be thinking, “Well, what if I don’t? Am I doomed?” Of course not! But if you truly believe you will succeed, I think it’s easier to brush it off when things go wrong.

2. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

One problem an inveterate optimist might run into is being so sure the best is going to happen that they neglect to prepare for failure. But there’s an easy remedy! Hope for and expect the best, but use your big brain to also prepare for the worst and to mitigate the effects on your writing if it happens.

3. Never give up! Pick a path and stay on it.

Let’s say you write a chick lit book set in the wild west and (surprise, surprise!) it doesn’t sell. Since you were probably hoping the book would sell this failure will come as a disappointment. But that doesn’t mean you should give up and stop writing. Instead, learn from your experience, from what worked and what didn’t.

For example, get someone you trust to give you their opinion why it didn’t sell. Also, ask them how you could improve your work. Perhaps you could invest in new cover art or use the services of a copywriter. Perhaps a complete rewrite is in order.

Whatever the case, the important thing is to keep writing. You’ve discovered something that doesn’t work, but I’ll bet you’ve also discovered a few things that do work. Apply that knowledge.

4. Think positive.

We each have the power to change how we view the events that happen to us. I’ve found folks tend to fall into one of two camps: people who view a glass as half full and those who view it as half empty (I am squarely in the ‘half-empty’ camp!).

Each of us has to decide how we want to frame the events that affect our lives. We can decide whether to interpret something as a total failure or as a learning experience that will help us do better next time.

5. Fake it till you make it.

You are what you do. If you’ve been, say, writing three novels a year for the past five years then you are definitely a writer. But what about when you start on that first novel? You probably wouldn’t feel like a writer, you might even feel like a fraud. You’d have all sorts of doubts, all sorts of anxiety. The solution: push through.

Hardly any successful writer felt like a writer when they started out. Sure they wrote every day, sure they honed their craft, but it’s a big step from that to being a professional writer, one who can (say) pay their rent with their work.

6. If you’re not making mistakes then you’re not doing anything.

I’ve written this on a sticky note I’ve taped to my monitor where I can see it. And it’s true. No one is successful in everything they do 100% of the time. It is SO EASY to let a mistake sidetrack you. Believe me, I know! When you make a mistake learn from it, then shake it off and keep going.

7. Prioritize your health, both mental and physical.

This isn’t about positive thinking, but I find it is intimately related to having a positive mental attitude.

Spending time writing is, of course, important but I’ve found that it’s vital to maintain my physical fitness through exercise. If I don’t get enough exercise I feel rundown. Also, it’s easier for me to get sick and if I’m sick then I can’t write.

The problem: exercising takes time that could be spent writing. And that’s painful! But it (for myself at least) is necessary; daily exercise has become a keystone habit, one that helps me lead a more fulfilled life and accomplish my other goals.

Every post I pick a book or audiobook I love and recommend it. This serves two purposes. I want to share what I’ve loved with you, and, if you click the link and buy anything over at Amazon within the next 24 hours, Amazon puts a few cents in my tip jar at no cost to you. So, if you click the link, thank you! If not, that’s okay too. I’m thrilled and honored you’ve visited my blog and read my post.

Today I want to recommend David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. The book focusses on how to find your strength in what appears to be weakness. Inspirational! From the blurb: Gladwell examines stories of underdogs who succeeded brilliantly in an effort to “demonstrate how much of what is beautiful and important in the world arises from what looks like suffering and adversity.”

That’s it! I’ll talk to you again on Friday. In the meantime, good writing!

Thursday, August 9

Indie Writers: 10 Things Not To Do

Indie Writers: What not to do

Dean Wesley Smith continues his two part series listing 10 things indie writers do to shoot themselves in the foot. My post talking about Dean's first five points is here: Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!

6. Don't get hung up promoting your first book, go write another one! 
Sometimes an author will write one or two books and spend most of her time promoting them using social media. Dean writes:
The best way to sell more books is become a better storyteller, to have more product to sell, to work on craft and pacing and cliffhanging and all the thousands of things a professional writer needs.
7. Use different pen names when you write in different genres
Many writers say they don't want to use a pen name because it would take more work to develop two names than one. And of course that's true. But as Dean writes:
Yup, that will kill sales faster than anything I have seen. Why? Because of reader expectations, that’s why. A reader picks up and likes a romance under “Real Name Writer” and then sees another book from the same author name and buys it and it’s a horror novel with ugly guts and blood. Reader says, “I’m not buying anything by that author again.”  And then tells their friends to avoid you.
I see Dean's point, but I think it's probably only a killer in conjunction with a bad cover and a bad blurb. For instance, one of my favorite authors writes two very different series, one is gritty urban fantasy while the other is high fantasy, but it's obvious from the cover alone what genre is under the cover. I haven't bought one of his high fantasy books yet, but I'm still a huge fan of his urban fantasy series.

8. Pricing your work too low
Due to changes Amazon made to their ranking algorithm it no longer pays to sell a book for under $2.99. Sure, offer your book for a reduced price for a limited period to generate sales, but don't keep any of your books at that price.

What price is best for your book? Everyone has a different opinion. Dean thinks the $4.99 to $8.99 range makes sense. He writes:
So if you want to build a long-term career, with fans finding you slowly, over time, who are willing to pay a respectable price for your work, have some respect in your own time and craft. Price your book in the same range as traditional publishers price their works. ($4.99 to $8.99 for most for e-books)
9. Going exclusive 
This issue is hotly debated. Some authors find they sell well over 95% of their books through Amazon so enrolling most of their work in Amazon's KDP Select program--a program which demands exclusivity--seems right for them. Not so for others.

Don't forget about paper books
Many indie authors make the mistake of not putting out paper copies of their work. Dean writes:
[B]y ignoring paper editions, not having them available at least, you ignore 80% of all readers. And also kill a great price comparison on your own books. (I did an entire post on this topic, but say your print book is $15.99, it makes your $7.99 electronic edition look like a deal.)
 Excellent point! And I hear that CreateSpace is easier than ever to use.

10. Hurrying
Take time to practice your craft and stop focusing on sales. Dean writes:
I am not saying you shouldn’t mail your stuff to editors or put your work up electronically and try to make sales. Do put it up, do mail it to editors. I mailed my very first short story to a magazine that bought it. And my second. And after that I got hundreds of rejections before a magazine bought another story from me. If I had been in a hurry, if I didn’t understand at a deep level that learning how to be an internationally-selling fiction writer took time and years, I would have stopped somewhere between 1975 and 1982.

But I didn’t stop. I kept writing and learning and working on becoming a better storyteller. And I kept learning the business, even as it changed.

And now, thirty-seven years later, I’m still writing and still learning and still working to become a better storyteller.

So slow down the worrying about sales, focus on learning, focus on the next story and the next story, and have fun. The sales will come if you put your work out there and keep learning.
These quotations were all taken from Dean Wesley Smith's article: The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time: The Second Foot.

Now that I know what to do if I could just do it! ;)

Hope you've having a great writing day. Cheers!

Other reading:
- Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!
- Kristen Lamb: 5 Steps To Writing Success
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: By theexbrit

Friday, August 3

10 Tips For Decluttering Your Life and Increasing Creativity

I don't know about you, but my life is too cluttered with things I never use that get underfoot.

Part of the problem is I try and see the usefulness in everything; it seems rude to say to the cardboard packing case my wonderful new computer came in: You are no longer useful to me, begone! I mean, with the right tablecloth, perhaps a few flowers, it could be a fashionable side-table. Maybe. (Sometimes creativity can really come back to bite one in the posterior.)

The following tips for decluttering your life and channeling your energy in creative yet productive ways are from Sara Rauch.

1. Say no.

To invitations and purchases, to guilt about disappointing others and items you don’t need. We all have our weaknesses—mine is shoes, my partner’s is helping people—but learning to say no, is really the first step in simplifying your way back to creativity. It isn’t selfish to honor your creative self; it’s self-care.
.  .  .  .

3. Keep the editor away.

The editor has her place in creative “work”—like when I write book reviews or polish stories for publication—but she has no place in the creative sphere. Figure out a way to keep her busy or send her packing, and only call on her when her not-picky voice might actually be useful.
.  .  .  .

5. Expect and embrace imperfection.

Perfection is creativity’s enemy.
.  .  .  .

8. Keep it simple.

Don’t run out and buy anything you think you need to be creative. Creativity isn’t about items—though you may need brushes or a pencil or paper—it’s about the act. Start small, start with what you have.
.  .  .  .

10. Make it a routine.

This might sound anathema to creativity—it’s all about inspiration right?—but it’s actually the key. The grass doesn’t get green from the occasional heavy watering. It gets green from regular tending.
Creativity is the same: Attend to it everyday—the results are worth the effort.

I don't want to list all of Sara Rauch's tips so I've only given 5 here, the rest are listed in her excellent blog post: 10 Tips to Nurture Your Creative Life: Making Time and Space. Thanks to C.G. Cameron for the tip!

Other reading:
- Penelope Trunk Discusses Time Management
- Writers & Blogging: Should You Host Your Own Blog?
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: Rebeca Stovall