Tag Archives: Lauren Bach

rsz_Handbill-Freebie

TIPS FOR THE WRITING JOURNEY – Part Two

novelist Kathy Holzapfel (aka Cate Noble) shares some of her tips

“I never waited for my Irish Cream coffee to be the right temperature, with a storm happening outside and my fireplace crackling … I wrote every day, at home, in the office, whether I felt like it or not, I just did it.” ― Stephen J. Cannell

My goal is to produce good work, on a consistent and joyful basis. That’s right. I want to be happy. Yes, writers write – alone, but that doesn’t mean I have to be grumpy and undisciplined. I am equal parts cheerleader and drill sergeant. Here are a few more observations from my journey:

ACT LIKE A PRO

Show up daily. No whining. No one is forcing you to do this.

Produce and ship according to your plan. Give yourself bonus points for exceeding your goals.

Rejection comes with the territory. Not every editor and reader will like your work. Read some of the scathing reviews posted on Amazon for bestselling authors like Stephen King and J. K. Rowling. Snark happens to everyone. Take nothing personally.

LEAVE A TRAIL OF GENIUS (Hat tip: Marriott Hotel notepads)

Imagine your thoughts, words, and actions ripple out to leave a psychic trail or energetic wake. Does your trail look inviting or repulsive?

What sort of wakes left by others – inspiring or discouraging – has entangled you?

REFILL THE CREATIVE WELL

Recognize your creative needs. What inspires your imagination? Find places or activities which uplift and expand. Museums. Parks. Coffee shops. Libraries. Places of worship.

Be open to new experiences. Hang gliding might meet the criteria, but so might reading outside your usual genre.

Too much solitude stifles creativity. Same with interacting solely with other writers. Seek a variety of people.

Identify and treat burnout. Don’t let weariness escalate to disillusionment.

CREATE BETTER LUCK

A lucky break is an opportunity to get your foot in the door. What is your action plan once opportunity knocks?

Luck is a temporary phenomenon. Luck is not going to stand outside your door forever, begging you to come play.

MLB executive Branch Rickey, the man who signed Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers, said, “Luck is the residue of design.“ Those words dovetail nicely with Louis Pasteur’s observation that “Chance favors the prepared mind.

BECOME A BETTER PLAYER

View yourself as a player in a game freely chosen. A game means it’s fun. You want to be here.

Learn the odds. View publication as a gamble and know your risk tolerance.

Study the rules of the game you agreed to play. Practice established techniques to build skills.

Memorize your personal stats. How many words-per-day do you consistently produce? How many hours to revise a 5,000 word chapter? Use those stats to set goals and measure improvement.

FAN YOUR PASSION

Be picky. You cannot be passionate about everything. Narrow your focus and specialize.

Know the difference between mere interests and true passions. Life is an endless loop of fleeting interests, but a true passion will linger to haunt and delight.

Check in with your gut and your heart. Passion is more about emotion than intellect.

GO. WRITE.

Act now. Action trumps intention.

Make messes. Experiment. Writing is rewriting. It’s playing with a lump of clay, coaxing formlessness into usefulness.

Keep things simple: At the end of the day, you either wrote or you didn’t.

ENJOY THE JOURNEY

Honor all parts of the creative cycle, the moments of easy flow and the stubborn parts.

Celebrate completions. Acknowledge a project when finished and then clear the way for a brand new venture.

Your turn. What tricks have you collected along the way?

 

catenoble

Tips for the Journey, pt. 1

“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”  ― Octavia E. Butler


novelist Kathy Holzapfel (aka Cate Noble) shares some of her tips

Writers write. Alone. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or fortune cookies, it’s you, all by your lonesome, putting words on a blank page. The weak perish. The persistent develop a collection of tricks to survive and thrive along the path to publication. Here are some of mine:

  1. DEFINE YOUR WRITING GOALS
  • Make plans. Be specific. With clarity, a vague goal to “write more” becomes “wake up 30 minutes earlier Monday through Friday and write 540 words before work.”
  • Start with broad strokes, then break it down. A plan to produce two young adult novels per year becomes a math equation: two books, at 70,000 words each, equal 140,000 words, or 11,670 words per month. That’s roughly 2,700 words per week, or 540 words per day, five days a week.
  • Be clear on your Why. Why is fuel. Inspiration. Your reason for writing is as individual as your fingerprint. My desire to entertain is no less valid than someone’s resolve to build an income.
  1. KNOW THE FIELD
  • Study the market. Learn the ins and outs of your segment of the publishing industry. If you’re going through traditional channels, know which publishing companies handle your genre. If you’re going indie, you are the company. Know what that entails.
  • Be familiar with your audience. (Hint: most are reading the bestselling and popular writers in your genre.)
  • Understand the accepted practices and standards of the publisher or digital platform you’ve targeted.
  • Join a professional writing association. Their trade journal or newsletter can be worth the dues. And many provide an opportunity for writers to connect online.
  1. DEVELOP A LASER-LIKE FOCUS
  • Select and execute on a single task. Multi-tasking is dead. Think: immersion.
  • Concentration skills can be sharpened through repetition. Practice, practice, practice.
  • Be in the proper mindset before you sit to work. You can’t create and edit at the same time. Remember: right brain for magic; left brain for logic.
  1. MANAGE PRIORITIES
  • Time management does not get things done; priority management does.
  • View time as one of the raw materials needed to build a project.
  • Think in financial terms. Investing time vs. spending or squandering time.
  1. START NOW
  • Author and coach Hillary Rettig defines procrastination thus: “Procrastination is a failure to start.”
  • Commit to a definite start time. Then show up. Better yet, show up early.
  • Willpower and discipline are tools – not personality traits. Keep them handy.
  • Start each morning with three magic words: “Today I will…”
  1. DEVELOP BETTER SYSTEMS
  • List your top three surefire writing techniques. Make them part of your routine.
  • Get organized, but keep the methods simple. The point is to free your creativity for writing, not exhaust yourself maintaining complex systems.
  • Utilize your optimum settings. Are you a morning writer or a night-owl? Do you need to “take ten” for every ninety minutes spent at your desk?
  • Create more efficient routines for non-writing events. Check websites like Flylady.net for ideas on faster/easier cleaning and declutttering.
  1. CONTROL HABITS
  • Identify your good and bad habits, and then commit to strengthening just one weakness. After one is fixed, tackle another.
  • Concentrate on improving key areas first. The return-on-effort is greater.
  1. IMPROVE YOUR WRITER’S SKILL SET
  • Define a successful writer’s skill set. (Imaginative? Productive?) Inventory your own skills and compare to the ideal. Hone and improve where needed.
  • Two more magic words:  Acquired skill.
  • You can learn to write better, faster, and even funnier. Mastery is a byproduct of perseverance.


Enough for now. Watch for more tips, in Part Two.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the Cate Noble website at www.CateNoble.com