Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

Writing Journal 61: Sell Your Ideas

My writing journal for Sunday, October 12, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Happy Sunday — another short writing day. I manage to write another 2,300 words of the mystery novel. It’s still zooming along. No idea why… Every project hits a wall sooner or later, but this is going so well, I don’t trust it.

To stop me getting over-confident, the two nonfiction books — I’m writing them in tandem — bogged down. I managed just 350 words, and they were a struggle. I’ll need to do some brainstorming on a whiteboard. Maybe writing them together wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had.

Breakfast for Honey, and for me, then email. I’ve still got a backlog, so luckily email was light this morning.

Last night’s coaching calls went well. I love doing them; they’re fun. I write up a call summary, and create a plan for each client. Julia will send them the material with their MP3s.

It’s time to leave for my Sunday commitments.

Sell your ideas

As you may know, I’m a writing coach. I love it, because I love writing, and enjoy helping people to overcome their challenges, whether those challenges are huge, or minor.

Although it’s easier than it’s ever been to sell your creativity, in any form— whether your creativity expresses itself in paintings, cute crafts, books, short stories, or teaching materials — it’s hard for creatives to pull the trigger, and SHIP.  As Seth Godin said:

“The only purpose of starting is to finish, and while the projects we do are never really finished, they must ship.”

I have challenges with shipping, too. I used to be the queen of procrastination. While I’m better at recognizing my own BS than I used to be, I still make excuses for not shipping. I’ve a suspicion that that’s why I like ghostwriting. I like being accountable to someone else. It means that like it or not, I need to ship.

8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 HoursTo help you to SHIP, I’ve formalized a training that I give students. It’s basically a checklist that I use for myself. I’ve tested it on students who have 1,001 perfectly reasonable (and totally BS) reasons they can’t complete projects and ship.

Here it is: 8-Hour Wins: Create and Sell Products in Just 8 Hours.

Back again: time for Sunday content and blog management

Sunday’s always my big blog management and content creation day. I review all my blogs, and clients’ blogs, and brainstorm content. I aim to have at least ten to 20 draft posts in most blogs at any one time. Although some of the drafts will be deleted, most will be written, edited, and published.

It’s October, and we’re heading into the hottest period of the year for B2C companies. They’re rolling out their pre-holiday sales. It involves dusting off their customer lists, and creating promotions for the period right through into 2015. For some the after-Christmas sales are barely over, when it’s time for the hearts and flowers of Valentine’s Day.

Keeping track of lots of blogs isn’t a picnic, especially at this time of the year. I like to get content plans for 2015 organized before November, because you can’t plan in the middle of the chaos, which defines late November to January.

So, in addition to planning content for this week and the next few weeks, I schedule in some idea-creation for clients’ 2015 content. A lot depends on how much a client is budgeting for content marketing. That means: research, reports and scopes. And proposals. I schedule those in for the next few weeks.

By the time all that’s out of the way, the day is done. Time for my daily and weekly review. Tonight, I’ll catch up on planning my new blog, and drafting some content.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

Writing Journal 60: From Goals to Plans

My writing journal for Saturday, October 11, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

It’s Saturday, so it’s a short writing day for me. I have a couple of coaching calls this evening.

I start with the mystery novel, which is still flowing right along. Only 1,400 words today, because I plotted out a few more scenes, so that I could build the sleuth’s arc.

Next, work on the two nonfiction books, which went well, with another 1,300 words.

Then Honey’s breakfast. I need to hide her monthly worming tablet in her breakfast. She’s fussy, and won’t take tablets; I need to mix them in her food and hope they dissolve so she doesn’t see them.

Lots of email this morning; the backlog is building up. I’ll need to deal with some of it late this afternoon, if I get back in time.

An interesting message from a coaching client asked about goal-setting. I tend to have a “whatever works” attitude. If you’re achieving your goals, you’re doing it right, so don’t mess with a process that works.

If you’re not working happily towards your goals, here’s what works for me, and for my students.

From goals to plans

Here’s my basic method:

Intention => Goal => Plan

Your intention is vital — what do you WANT? Why do you want it? One of the many reasons I journal daily (obviously this journal is highly expurgated :-)) is that it helps me to set goals that I really want to achieve, and which have real meaning. For most of us, it’s a real challenge to cut through the noise in our heads, and discover meaning in our lives.

Your goals grow from your intentions, and your plans grow from your goals. As someone said, all plans are useless, but planning is essential. Without a plan, you just stand still. A plan gets you moving.

Initially, your plan is fuzzy. It will come into focus, as long as you take the first step. Sometimes, all you can see is the first step. Take it, with confidence, and the next step will become obvious. Take another step, and you’ll see another few steps to take. You’re moving, headed towards your goal, and that’s all that counts.

Your comfort zone

Try to take ONE small step outside your comfort zone every day. It doesn’t matter in what area you choose. My latest steps outside my comfort zone are into art. I love art. I watch artists’ videos on YouTube. I can get completely lost in images. But it’s my firm belief that I can’t make art. So, I’ve decided to step way outside my comfort zone, and do a small sketch each day for a week.

Ghostwriting the company history book

The client reviewed the first draft of the company history book. I also sent a scope of additional material I thought would be effective. We’ve reached an agreement for the additional material, so it’s full steam ahead on that.

I slotted it into my schedule; then it’s time to leave to run errands.

More blogging

I’m back. I catch up on some emails, and review my clients’ blogs.

Blogs are like rabbits. They multiply. I always seem to take on more than I should, because I get excited about a new project’s potential. A couple of my blogging commissions will end soon. If the clients want to commission me again, I’ll subcontract the work. I need to cut down, to focus more on coaching, my own fiction, and my own blogs and websites.

I’ll do more blogging tomorrow; Sunday is my big “blog planning” day.

With my daily review done, it’s time to prepare for my coaching calls.

After that, I’ll catch up on my reading.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 59: How to Get Organized

Writing Journal 59: How to Get Organized

My writing journal for Friday, October 10, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Another good session on the mystery novel this morning. I can’t believe my luck. I managed 2,700 words, so it’s zooming along like an express train. As I said yesterday, I’m trying not to get too excited. If the express train derails, I need to be prepared to deal with that too.

Rather than going on to nonfiction, I dealt with email. Lots of messages, so I spend some time on those. Then Honey’s breakfast. I ate my own breakfast while dealing with the email surge.

Next, the two nonfiction books I’m ghostwriting. With 2,000 words done, I feel good about the project. It’s a little behind, and I’ll try to catch up on it tonight.

Next, my walk. It’s a bright, sunny morning, with a hint of coolness in the air. I love spring, it’s my favorite time of the year. You can tell that summer’s coming however.

After my walk, I chat to a couple of writers who are interested in the content marketing project. I’d like to get three writers onto this, but one writer convinces me that she’ll make this her priority project, and will get the material to me next week.

Lunch out, thank heavens. I enjoy our Friday lunches, with hummingbird cake. After I lunch, I need to stop in at the library to dive into databases again for a client’s project.:-)

Back again…

My coaching clients tend to have challenges with organization, so let’s look at that.

How to get organized

Organization is a challenge for everyone, especially for creative business people. You’ve got work/ client interactions to track and phone calls and emails to which you need to respond; you’ve got creative materials, and products you’re in the middle of creating; archives; website and blog content; tasks and projects… It never stops. How do you keep everything organized?

Start by deciding whether your creative soul embraces clutter, or abhors it. I like clutter. Other creatives can’t work in cluttered spaces. To each his own. Either way, you need to organize your materials so that you know where everything is. You need space for your archived material, for current project materials, as well as an “idea station” where you can just play around.

It’s my dream to not only have one room for my library, but also another room to use as a creative studio, with whiteboards on at least two walls. One of these days. :-)

When you consider organization, your primary aim is to be able to lay your hands on anything you need within 30 seconds or less.

Can you do that?

Aim for less paper: use Evernote to manage the paper blizzard

Sadly, the paperless office is pretty much a myth. Yes, companies are forgoing paper, and are sending digital invoices, but there’s still lots of paper. In my office, I have many notebooks I need to keep organized, as well as reference materials for my own, and clients’ businesses.

I use Evernote as a digital filing cabinet as much as I can. I snap photos of my corkboard and whiteboards, as well as journal pages, and pages I use to make notes, and diagram websites, books, and content. Evernote’s perfect, because I can erase my whiteboard, and still call the material up from Evernote within a moment or two.

Everything that’s paper, from contracts to business cards, gets snapped into Evernote. That means I can file away “legal” paper, like contracts, but can call them up with a click or two in Evernote, rather than hunting through an archives box.

It’s possible to get organized — not perfectly — any system you create needs to be updated and refined, but with a little effort, you can relax, knowing that you’re sufficiently organized to be able to work without stress, and create, too.

Friday afternoon review

It’s Friday, so that means blogging, reviewing client projects, and creating client reports.

That takes a couple of hours, and then there’s some housekeeping admin chores.

With that done, it’s another writing week over. I’ll need to catch up with my schedule on the weekend — it’s been a busy and satisfying week.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

Writing Journal 56: Writers’ Procrastination

My writing journal for Tuesday, October 7, 2014. You can find all the writing journal entries here.

Business as usual this morning. I started writing the mystery novel. I’m still not happy about the sleuth. However, I’ve come to a realization: I’m procrastinating yet again. Procrastination has many faces. It masks itself slyly.

Is there an all-in-one, one-size-fits-all solution to procrastination? No. Not that I’ve found. Our excuses always seem so reasonable. I’m writing a mystery for a client. He wants to do a series, so the sleuth I choose will affect other writers. Of course I want to do my best for them — leave them lots of opportunities for characters’ conflict — just as I want to do my best for my client.

It’s all so reasonable, and it’s all total BS. :-) More on procrastination and its evil ways later.

I managed 1,200 words. Everything takes longer at the beginning. I plotted out the crime, and created a timeline for it too. Timelines are essential in mysteries, otherwise you get totally confused.

Next, back to writing the two business books, one ebook, and the print book. I manage 2,100 words, which is great.

Honey’s sulking this morning; it’s raining. She hates the wet. I dish up her breakfast, which she ignores. She believes that I control the weather… I always get annoyed looks from her when it’s raining. :-)

Next, my own breakfast while dealing with a mile of email. I won’t be walking this morning, because of the rain, so I get stuck into dealing with it.

Phone calls, and a chat with the client who’s rebranding, and his new blog. I make some notes which Julia can send to him later.

Lunchtime, at the computer, while reading social media.

Coping with writers’ procrastination

Why do we procrastinate? The psychology of procrastination isn’t well understood. If you read towards the end of the linked article, it says:

“Recently the behavioral research into procrastination has ventured beyond cognition, emotion, and personality, into the realm of neuropsychology. The frontal systems of the brain are known to be involved in a number of processes that overlap with self-regulation. These behaviors — problem-solving, planning, self-control, and the like — fall under the domain of executive functioning.”

“Executive functioning” sounds interesting. Basically, it boils down to this. When we procrastinate, we believe our own BS, and don’t call ourselves to account on our own excuses — we don’t manage ourselves.

Coping with writers’ procrastination starts with looking for ways in which you’re procrastinating. I’ve found my journals immensely helpful with this, especially my bullet journal. If I see myself migrating tasks over and over, I know I’m procrastinating.

Then the question becomes: why? It’s important to write down both the question, and the answers you come up with. Your solution will take care of itself, as long as you document the “case”.

For example, I need to set up a new website; one of my own, rather than a client’s site. I’ve been migrating this task for over a week now in my bullet journal. So, I asked myself why I’m procrastinating on this. I came up with these reasons:

  • Too busy;
  • Too tired, after I complete clients’ projects and everything else;
  • I haven’t decided on my primary targeting for the site. I need to think about that;
  • I don’t know what I want on the home page;
  • Will I create a blog on the site? I don’t know. I need to decide, yes or no. (YET ANOTHER blog… Give me strength, please God…);
  • I need to decide on a theme…

Just by looking at the list, I can see procrastination in all its glory. I’m taking on yet another website of my own, and I’m avoiding that — I don’t want more work; I dread it. And yet, I’ve decided to do it, so procrastination achieves nothing. I need to clear time, and schedule it, and then do the work.

When you write down your reasons for procrastinating, they always look flimsy, so write them down. You’ll soon see a solution.

Onward, with more blogging

A client called yesterday. He wants a quote on three months’ worth of blogging. I need to do a scope of the work, and see where I can fit it in. I want to do it, on the other hand, I’m really booked solid. I decide to create the scope of work anyway. He might be OK with just a couple of posts to start, and then a fuller program in a few weeks.

After that, I get on with more clients’ blogging, drafting several posts, and requesting more images from the clients.

Christmas is coming

I meant to have my Kindle ebook of Christmas short stories well under way by now, but I’ve done no work on them for a few days. I spend a couple of timer sessions just writing — I’m well ahead on my outlines, so the writing is easy.

I love writing fiction; compared to other writing, it’s much less stressful.

After I return some calls to catch people before the close of business, I do my daily review. I need to get to work on my new website later on this evening. No more procrastinating.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

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