Let’s get to work, writers.
Welcome back to my fantastical journey in indie-authoring! Phew… today’s episode is going to be a wee bit different in that it’s more of a “rubber meets the road” installment. So let’s jump in.
For you just joining me, each week in 2019 I’ll be making a new post on my adventures in indie-ing. What I learn, what challenges I face, what works, what doesn’t (!), and hopefully some tidbits, tips, and tricks that can help other indie-authors out along the way.
This Past Week
Blah, blah, blah… tech work… blah, blah, blah… not enough writing.
And – let’s be very real here… I can “blame” that on my author-tech biz, I can “blame” that on life, I can blame that on whatever I want.
But at the end of the day – that is still 100% on me.
(Yeah, sometimes we gotta call ourselves out on our own bullshit – harsh, but necessary lol)
So, I had to ask myself, whatcha gonna do about it? Whine? Or get to work?
Whining takes too much energy and gives very little in ROI… so that’s not really a viable (or common-sense) option.
Let’s start at the beginning and go from there, eh?
One of the biggest complaints / challenges I hear from indie-authors the most is: “I don’t have (enough) time to write!”
I feel ya — all the way down to my little, shadowy writer soul.
That begs the question:
How do I Write – Every – Single – Day?
A writing ritual. Yeah, I know, I know… sounds contrite, forced… even “duh”. But, don’t take my word for it, look at every successful author out there, indie or trad-published.
But… but… I have kids, a family, a job, a life, a this, a that, and one of those others, too!
Uh-huh. Me too. Self-employed, single-mama with a chronic illness here… I feel ya.
But – and here’s where we get real and have to call ourselves out on our own BS again – if we want to actually DO this “writer thing”, then we have to… you know… DO the writing thing. 😉
Your Personal Writing Ritual (& How to Find It)
Just like with most things indie, there is no “one right way”. No one-size-fits-all solutions. And finding your own personal writing ritual that works for you is no different. It takes some investigation, it takes some research, and mostly, it takes some trial and error.
You’ll see a lot of tips out there on the interwebz for what you “should” do during your writing ritual. And again – being real here – some of them are bollocks.
Great. I have words written on my calendar. My problems are solved! 🤦♀️😒🤦♀️
I don’t know about you – but life tends to not care about my day-planner. So while this isn’t completely bogus advice — you absolutely will want to guard and protect your writing time — but a simple “put it on a calendar” doesn’t actually solve anything.
“Set a daily word count and don’t get up until you hit it”
Riiiiiight. Now, this may work for you, I can’t say. Personally, I have two thoughts about this one.
- I tend to not be my most free, creative self under the lash of the “word count whip”.
- Um… life.
If you are to the point of writing exclusively as your career, then this one may not be entirely possible or relevant. I will one day be like one of my favorite authors and have this set count – but until that day arrives, I still have to run my business, and take care of all those pesky little life things that happen all around us, all the time.
“Keep a Writing Journal”
Hmm… now we’re getting somewhere. Huh?! You may ask… write before I can start writing for the day?
Kinda – but this actually is a GREAT tool for discovering your perfect writing ritual. Let’s dispense with all the small-chat here, eh?
Here’s what you need to craft your perfect writing ritual:
- You need to know when your creative brain is at its peak. Is this when you first wake up? The middle of the day? At midnight with candles casting a flickering glow over your parchments?
The best way I found to figure this out is self-reflection — and self-reflection becomes MUCH easier if you keep a simple journal and record your thoughts / feelings / observations throughout the day.
Before long, you’ll see your own patterns.
- Be okay with whatever words come out. Are they inspired? Are they utter crap? It doesn’t matter, truly, it doesn’t. You can edit and revise a badly written page – you can’t edit a blank one.
- Create your “sacred space”. You’ll probably want to refer back to your journal for this one. Does your creative brain work better in an organized, clutter-free space? Do you prefer natural light? Do you need to keep a ‘doodle pad’ nearby to scribble or jot down random ideas?
- Sideline your electronics. I can’t 100% stand behind the “turn off all electronics & internet” to minimize distractions advice. One – I run a biz, I have to have some level of availability. Plus, I prefer writing on my laptop AND I have writing music playlists on YouTube for whatever project / scene I’m working on. Again – this is what works for YOU – test out both ways and see which works best.
- Track your writing! This is hands-down the best way I found to perfect my writing ritual. But wait, isn’t this the same as the whole “keeping a journal” thing? It is a part of it. Each day, jot down what time you started writing with a few short notes about the where, how, weather, how you’re feeling, etc. You aren’t writing a dissertation here, a few simple notes will do. When you are done writing – do the same thing and include your word count. This info is invaluable in finding what works for you.
- Go Pro – Casual Friday – or Naked Cowboy! WTH!? You may be asking. Are you able to get into the author-writing mindset better if you treat it as a professional gig, more biz-formal clothing, like a corporate meeting? Are you better able to get into the flow in more comfy, casual clothes? Or go full-on naked cowboy and let the words fly? Figure out what works best for you – it really does matter.
- Meditate, pray, call to your muses. This isn’t about religion, this is about quieting your ‘monkey-mind‘ so you can let your creative-self come through all the noise. Don’t meditate or pray? No problem – Steven Pressfield is known to recite Homer’s invocation of the Muses before he writes. (psst… it’s about what works for you, remember?)
LAST – but certainly far, far from least — this one is so important that it needed to be kept separate from the list above…
🔥 HAVE ONE PAGE in your journal, taped to your mirror, whatever works — and as you are experimenting with what writing ritual practices work for you, write down the ones that felt good on this sheet. Only the ones that felt really good, or where you got lost in the writing flow. The ones that felt forced or awkward – toss them out. 🔥
After a surprisingly short amount of time, you are going to have a mish-mash list of things that are the components of your perfect writing ritual.
Your writing ritual is YOURS. Not mine. Not the Joneses next door. Not Stephen King’s. Not J.K. Rowling’s. Yours. And you’ll know when you find it – it feels like coming home. ❤
What I Accomplished
- Blog updates
- Weekly author-biz review (read Russell Nohelty’s, Sell Your Soul book!)
- Author newsletter
- Website server migrations
- Authors Mojo PAWs – prepping for product launch
- Author customer work – book formatting (x2), website updates (x4)
- Podcast interview! 😮🥰
- Author-tech coaching call & class
- Novella book cover completed
- Testing out new ‘book plotting’ method (details coming soon!) 😉