Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

Writing Journal 44: Creativity Tools for Writers

My writing journal for Thursday, September 25, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The first draft of the client’s novella is done; now for the editing. In preparation for that, I compiled it from Scrivener to MOBI, so that I can read it tonight without distractions.

That just took a couple of minutes, so I’ve got time to write a quick draft of a short story for my Christmas collection of 25 stories; I managed 1,500 words. It will grow to around 3,000 words at a guess. I’ve just sketched in a couple of the big scenes. I created a graphic of how many scenes you need for various types of fiction projects. Students have found it useful.

Next, onward to the company history I’m ghostwriting. This went slowly this morning, only 800 words. I need to get more information, and I need to backtrack too. Whenever I feel uncertain about a project, it’s always wise to go back. As I tell my students: you can’t have a strong book without a strong beginning, and it may take you a while to get there.

I fix Honey’s breakfast, then have my own, while reading email. I caught up on some email last night, but there’s still a backlog. I need to deal with some of it before it gets out of hand.

Then it’s time to get to work on the company history, and check my draft blog posts until lunch.

Readers have asked about productivity, and how to stay creative.

Creativity tools: clustering, free writing and doodling

You can’t push creativity. However you can use tools which will help you to be creative. My favorite creativity tools are clustering, free writing, and doodling.

Vital: give yourself space. If you’re working with clients, you’ll be tempted to push yourself hard, so that you can meet deadlines. When you do that, you risk burning out. Years ago, I went through a burned out period, and once was enough. I always pull myself back if I feel that I’m pushing.

A tip: have fun. I can’t emphasize that enough. That’s not a frivolous statement. New writers tend to think “having fun” is the last thing they should be doing, but as Carl Jung said:

“the creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by play.”

If you haven’t discovered this for yourself, you’ll soon learn from experience.

When you stop having fun with something, take it as a warning that you’re pushing yourself too hard. Step back.

Another tip: take BREAKS. I use timers, and after every 30 to 40 minutes (depending on the project), I take a five minute break. I’ll do a crossword, or listen to some music. I might make a coffee, or take Honey outside. I might send a couple of texts. Whatever — I get up, move around, and clear my mind.

Yes, sometimes I get so involved that I don’t do this, but I know that I’ll be more productive when I take regular breaks. I use various timers, my current favorites are Repeat Timer Pro, and Tomatoes.

Lunch at my computer today, while browsing social media. I didn’t get a chance to walk this morning. It’s raining.

A full afternoon

I start off the afternoon with the company history, and do 2,800 words. I’m pleased. However, it’s taken over three hours. I didn’t want to stop. I knew I’d have trouble getting into the right frame of mind for this section again.

Next, the Kindle ebook for my coaching client. I made notes and did some research an managed 1,000 words on that.

I had to break off to return some calls, and respond to an urgent email message.

With that done, it’s time for the daily review, and totaling my word counts. Tonight, I’ll need to catch up with email, and read the MOBI of the novella.

Team Up: yes, it’s the final one for the year

We’ve received some questions about Team Up.

Yes, this is the final program for the year. Once we hit October, we’re coming into the very busy holiday sales period. It usually means a rush of copywriting projects, so look for the next Team Up to be scheduled for March or April 2015.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 43: Monetize Your Website With Donations

Writing Journal 43: Monetize Your Website With Donations

My writing journal for Wednesday, September 24, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

I’m in a rush this morning, so I completed the major scene for the novella, with 1,600 words.

Next, a quick glance at the email. Julia will handle most of it, I’ll deal with any outstanding feedback and memos to students tonight or tomorrow.

The client sent some material for the memoir proposal, so I read through that and make some quick notes. I’m loving the bullet journal, because I can make notes right in the journal. I tend to cluster, and draw little diagrams in my notes, and the Whitelines Leuchtturm hardcover handles it with panache.

Since the iOS 8 update, I’m finding that the Whitelines Link app isn’t working properly. Not to worry, Whitelines pages show up superbly when you take an image with Evernote’s camera.

I fix Honey’s breakfast and my own. Now I need to get to my meetings.

And I’m back. It’s mid-afternoon. The meetings went well; they were related to on-going projects, and forward planning for 2015. I’ve made some notes in my bullet journal, so I snap images of the pages into Evernote.

Now let’s look at something which keeps coming up. If you’ve got a content-heavy website which isn’t monetized, you may have considered asking for donations to keep you going.

An easy way to monetize a website: solicit donations

Several people have asked about monetizing websites with donations over the past weeks, so let’s look at that now. If I cover it here, it saves me typing out the info multiple times, because donations seem to be a hot thing at the moment. :-)

You’ve got a couple of options. All have benefits and drawbacks:

  • The crowdfunding option (Kickstarter or Patreon and similar sites)
  • A PayPal button on your website

Either way, you’ve got to be clear about what you want people to do, and why. By “be clear”, I mean TELL PEOPLE. I see many websites where there’s a donation button, which is fine. But when you check to see the how, and the why, the site owner doesn’t say a word. It’s as if the button’s there… but no one wants to talk about it.

That’s nonsense. If you’re accepting donations, publicize it. Say: “Listen, if you like what we do here, we could really use a bit of support. Website hosting costs money, and so does my time. I’d love it if you could show your support with a donation. A little or a lot, it doesn’t matter. It shows that you value what we do, and that’s a huge motivation for us to keep doing it.”

You don’t need to say more than that, but you do need to say it. Write a short blog post about it, and send a mailing to your list. Tweet about it. Mention it a couple of times a month, at least. Buttons on websites are all very well, but people need you to ask too.

You may be surprised at your results. One of my writer friends finally put up a donations button, and it’s covering her expenses. While some visitors pay small amounts, several have made hefty donations. It’s motivating for her, and she’s very grateful. It’s had another effect too: it’s given her confidence. It’s validation that people read what she writes, and that it helps them.

Blog proposal and scope

I did the draft proposal and scope for my client’s new blog yesterday. I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon on it, so that Julia can proof it and send it out.

Then, a couple of timer sessions on client blogs – finishing posts, and scheduling them — and I’m done for the day. Daily review and word counts done… :-)

Team up 2014: final enrollments

Just a mention, in case you miss it on the freelance blog… We’re running the final Team Up for the year now. Enrollments will close on September 30.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 42: Show Your Expertise In an Ebook

Writing Journal 42: Show Your Expertise In an Ebook

My writing journal for Tuesday, September 23, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The end is in sight for the novella. I wrote 1,200 words, setting up the major scene which I mentioned yesterday.

So, I’m ready to write the scene. However, since I’m way ahead of the schedule on this book I decided to spend some extra time on the nonfiction book proposal which I’m creating for a client’s memoir. I made good headway on the overview, so Julia’s sending that off to the client for her input.

It must be spring, because Honey’s outside. She didn’t want to come in this morning; she’s enjoying the warmer weather. I’ve got to call her in and make her breakfast.

I read email while I’m eating my toast. We’re almost all caught up with email, because I did a heavy push on it last night. Several students sent me their stories; I’ve got just two left on which I need to provide feedback.

Next, work with my new coaching client.

Showing your expertise in an ebook

I’m working with a new coaching and ghostwriting client who’s starting her own business. She’s got wonderful expertise in her profession, so I suggested that she capitalize on that.

Firstly, we’re setting up a website for her, essentially so that she can collect email addresses of prospects. At the same time, we’re developing a couple of ebooks. One she’ll use as an inducement to sign up for her mailing list. The other, we’ll publish on Kindle Direct Publishing; this will help her to show her expertise. If it happens to make a little money, that will be fine too. :-)

A year ago, I would have suggested that she build out her website into an authority site to get traffic. However, the online world has changed. Yes, you still need all the SEO you can manage. But it’s hard to get search engine traffic for a brand new website, no matter how large and authoritative it might be, so we’re going to skip that for at least a year.

My client needs the ebooks, and social media, AND partnerships to get traction.

I love working with people who are good at what they do; helping them to provide value for others. Our first step will be to work out exactly what she’s offering, and how she’ll brand her new business.

It’s time for my walk. I won’t be able to walk tomorrow, because I have a couple of meetings, so I need to go today.

I’m back from my walk, and spend some time updating my schedule for this week and next. Then I have lunch while browsing social media.

After lunch, I get on with the company history book, using the cluster diagrams I created yesterday. I manage to do 2,000 words on this. Excellent.

The new blog launch

In our meeting yesterday, we discussed the company’s branding, and their new blog. I’ve got to do a proposal and scope. This means a lot of research.

Research tip: only do as much as you need to do.  Start by deciding exactly what you need to know, and create some research questions to answer.

After spending a couple of hours on it, I need a short break. I decide walk to the park with Honey so that I can get some fresh air, and think.

It’s late afternoon; time to I catch up on email and phone calls. I’ll try to work on a couple of short stories tonight; I need to keep up with them so I can get them published in October.

I complete my daily review, count my words, and I’m done for another day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Hate Pinterest’s Search? Go Look!

Hate Pinterest's Search? Go Look!

If you hated Pinterest’s Search function, go and check it out. It’s a lot better. Search now has tags. I first became aware of this when I posted a pin, and Pinterest kindly guided me around all the improvements. The other interface changes seem cosmetic, but Search is a big deal.

Pinterest Search: much improved

When you type a search term into the search query box, Pinterest pops up suggestions in a slider. I typed “novel writing”. My query became tags; more tags appeared, in a slider. When you click on a tag in the slider, it’s added to the search query, to narrow your search.

For my query, the site offered these tags on the slider: process, ideas, projects, prompts, romance, and an arrow, offering even more tags.

My first thought, as it surely will be yours too, if you create content: “Oh wow! Keywords.” When you keep clicking the arrow, you get more and more keyword terms.

If you create content, Pinterest search is for you

Let’s say you have a skin care website; you’re selling products, or services. Type “skin care” into the Search query field, and here’s what you get.

Pinterest search skin care

Keep clicking the arrow, and you’ll get lots more keywords. Very nifty. It’s a content creator’s dream, especially if you’re a visually inclined marketer or writer.

With tags, you can ensure that your boards are easy to find

There’s another use for the tags/ keywords. You can see which tags come up, and edit your boards so that they’re easier to find. This can a trade-off. You may have some board titles which are witty, or creative, that you don’t want to change. That’s OK. Use the most popular tags in your pins.

I love the new Search; it will make Pinterest much easier to use, going forward. If you haven’t checked it out, go and look.
, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Journal 41: Fiction and Ghostwriting

Writing Journal 41: Fiction and Ghostwriting

My writing journal for Monday, September 22, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

The novella’s coming right along. Just two more major scenes to do, and I’m done with the first draft. I managed 2,300 words this morning but only because I skipped a scene I wasn’t ready to write. I inserted this scene in the outline a couple of days ago. It needs setting up in previous scenes, so I’ve decided to do the editing first.

After I’ve slotted in the foreshadowing elements, I can write the scene.

With that done, I started the nonfiction book proposal for a client’s memoir.

Email’s light this morning, which is excellent. I managed to get through some of the backlog last night. I’ll do the rest tonight, and then I should be all caught up.

Honey’s breakfast, and my own, while I continue with the company history I’m ghostwriting. I meant to get to it on the weekend, but didn’t. I manage another 1,800 words. I need to clarify some info, so I send the client an email message with the questions.

Next, it’s time for my walk. I’ve got a lingering headache this morning. No idea why. With any luck, the fresh air should get rid of it.

Lots of birds around this morning; lorikeets and the ever-present Indian mynahs. And crows, of course. Several crows have staked out a defined territory, and they protect it from other birds. Next to “crow territory” is magpie territory. The magpies are nesting, so I keep a wary eye out for them. They can be aggressive.

Next, copywriting the company history book

I’m a little behind with this, so I created some cluster diagrams to clarify my thinking. They’re very useful at all stages of the writing process.

I keep going past our normal lunch break. I’ve got a meeting this afternoon, so I’ll have lunch out, and then attend the meeting.

Rebranding, and launching a blog

It’s mid-afternoon. The meeting went well. The company’s rebranding itself, and wants to launch a blog to represent their brand. They’d like me to create a proposal and a scope. I need to do some research, first. I tentatively slot that project in for later this week; I might not get to it until next week, however.

I write myself a long note in Evernote, and reference it in the bullet journal.

I’ve got some phone calls to return; I need to get to that before everyone leaves work.

Although I’ve got five items left on my bullet journal task list, I decide to call it a day. Those tasks will need to wait until tomorrow, or later in the week. I’ve got a commitment tonight. So I do my daily review, and total my word counts — and that’s it for the day.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Pitch Ideas: A Time-Saving Template

Pitch Ideas: A Time-Saving Template

Need to pitch ideas? Pitcherific is very clever. It offers a simple, free pitch template you can use, right in your Web browser. And, to ensure that you’re not taking too much time on it, there’s a timer too.

What’s a pitch?

A pitch is a sales tool. It’s a presentation. It can be as short as an elevator pitch, which takes a minute or two, or it can be a huge, glitzy presentation.

I like Pitcherific’s tool, because it outlines the basic elements of a pitch: your hook, the problem faced by your audience, your solution, and the “close”, which you should think of as the “call to action.”

When should you pitch?

The short answer: do it more. I work with writers and marketers, and very few (think one in a thousand) do enough pitches. I include myself in the group too. We know that we should pitch more, but we just don’t.

An example. I was browsing the Web, researching a project, and came across a company which sells popular products. This company has been in business for a couple of decades. I thought, “wow, this company would do well in Australia.” Then I went on with what I was doing.

An hour later, I remembered the company. I went back through my browser history so that I could find their name, and send them a pitch email. Your pitch doesn’t need to be complicated. It can be a simple email message, or it can be a complete presentation.

Give Pitcherific a try. Disclosure: I have no connection with the company, at all. I just think their template is very useful. Pitcherific will help you not only to create pitches quickly, it will also give you confidence.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.