Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake

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If we are rich writers, we use words like Paula Deen uses butter and cream.

We liberally pour  out our ideas and our vision into our paragraphs and prose. We add in sweetness and flavor and texture who we are and what we care about in every book. We sculpt our words together like sugary icing roses along a cake and we present our final, finished projects as grand feasts for the world, allowing our readers to savor each morsel and each portion.  If we are rich writers, the solitary act of creating is a full and satisfying one.

But I’d like to suggest that more satisfaction that comes when we are connected to writer friends who are making their own sweet compositions.

 

You are, indeed, rich, if you have written books by the dozens, won awards, and sold many copies.

Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake
Why Writers’ Community Is Like Icing On A Big, Delicious Cake

But you are richer still if you have close friends who coached you along the way.

Every success, every victory, every instance of #AuthorHappiness is just one tiny blip on this long writing journey, that is, quite honestly, a lonely one, but is magnified when it is shared. And the sad, dark times are so much easier with their comfort.

The rejection letters will come. Let those around us buy us a drink. 

The 1 star reviews will trickle in. Let those around us say, “They just don’t get your brilliance.”

The doors will close. The publishing house will go under. The disappointments are a given if we choose writer as our identity.

Within a group of writers, you have mentors and mentees, you have advice and warnings, you celebrations and sorrows. You can squeeze each others’ hands and say, “it is scary,” but you can do it. Or, “you are good, hang in there” or “this happened to me once!”

How do you find other writers?  There are tons of ways! But the easiest is to join my group 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook.

I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends
I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends

Writers, as tempting as it is to wrap yourself up in a solitary, lonely world with just your characters and your computer as your companions, please don’t neglect the importance of community. Reach out to other writers. We need you too.


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

 


 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

What I’ve Learned As A Self Published Author

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 This summer marks my third year as an independent author.

What I’ve Learned As A Self Published Author

And I’ve learned a lot about it over the last three years.

In November of 2012, my first manuscript was finished and for the first time, I was curious about what it would take to self-publish my  novel, Falling For Your Madness. It changed my life! First of all, this was a life long dream now coming to pass, but other than that I learned some very interesting and surprising things too!

Word of mouth is everything! The success of my first novel was solely based on how my readers embraced it and shared it with others. I started out by telling everyone I knew what I had written, asking them for reviews, then asking them to talk it up with their friends. It helps that the themes and ideas of my book resonated with others. It also helped that I had friends who knew people who knew people. If I had been afraid to speak up, my first experiences would have been far poorer.

The first book sets the stage for the second. The second sets the stage for the third, etc. As a result of the success of Falling For Your Madness, I received a contract for Write A Novel in 10 Minutes A Day, which prompted me to create the Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists. From there my platform exploded and now I’m in a better position to market Soulless Creatures. I’ve got more plans and each new project will build on the previous one’s success.

My readers are just friends I haven’t met yet. The very best thing about this? Meeting people. I have had so many interesting conversations with new readers, especially on Twitter and Facebook. I can’t imagine not having the accessibility to connect with readers. How lonely it would be if I wrote and never heard from anyone if they liked it. Now, years later, some of my most enthusiastic readers have become dear friends and I am all the richer for it.

Marketing is fun. Because I see how my book is starting new conversations and new relationships, I am all the more excited about marketing it. “Hey, this is my book! If you read it, then we can talk about it and we can be buddies!” It sounds kind of needy when I put it like that. But maybe the book is what I need to get out of my introverted shell to have great relationships. Oh, and sell a few books. Author happiness is getting an email from Amazon.com that they’ve just deposited another royalty check in my account.

Not everybody gets it. As much as it hurts, not everybody loved my book. I did shed a few tears over unexpected rejection. But, as painful as it was to receive, it will toughen me up for the next disappointment. I’m not stupid. I know there will be more. Reviewers may miss the point. In fact, the things I wanted them to notice, like interesting juxtaposition of gender roles or systematic point of view arrangement or all the animal references!  will most likely be ignored.

Some people get it too much. I’ve had quite a few discussions with readers who brought up some serious questions about my characters. The choices I made in the writing provoked them to ask questions, some hard ones. I didn’t expect this. I glad about it. I’m also grateful that every reader brings to the book their own experiences. This makes the joy of the writing process even more complete: to hear of how their experience with my words changed them, for better or for worse.

Making local connections isn’t so hard! I’ve only lived in this community for a year and half and I’ve been able to have several live events. Each time I pass out cards, sell books and meet people. Some of the people I’ve met are huge influencers and have opened more doors for me. It wasn’t that hard to do and I’m so glad I did it.

Nothing like fulfilling a lifelong dream to build that confidence. This is huge for me. Before I published this book, that lifelong dream had exceeded my grasp. Now, because I have sales! I have an author page on Amazon! I have readers! (And a contract! And an agent!) I have a new credibility in my eyes and in the eyes of others. I have to say, this accomplishment has done WONDERS for me. I’m holding my head a little higher. It’s awesome!

Life is busier. Publishing, for me, is not a one time event. My plan is to write many more books. This means that not only will I have to do that whole “hands on keyboard, butt in chair” thing, but I’ll also have to tweet more, market more, contact more people, blog more and generally be the nicest writer on the Internet. It’s okay. This is a good kind of busy. Until my books are selling thousands and thousands of copies daily, I’ll just have to find the time to hustle. 

I learned more skills. Because of this release I learned how to put my books on Createspace and Kindle Direct. I learned how to overcome my fear and approach reviewers. I learned how to do boring technical stuff like WordPress and banking. I learned how to manage my time. I learned how to think through marketing campaigns. All of this wasn’t too hard and it made me all the more confident to do the actual writing. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished, even if it won’t always translate into sales.

I can’t wait to release the next one. I’m sure there are more lessons to learn, more people to meet and more opportunities to hold my head up high.

So what about you? What have you learned since you’ve self-published? What seems intimidating? 

 

 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel,Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Is Your Twitter Avatar Creepy?

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I will be the first to admit that I’m probably the wrong judge of what is creepy.

I am a white, urban, college educated SAHM who is squeamish about mice in the house. So the very idea that I would set a high standard of cuddli-ness (which I’m thinkin’ is the most clarifying antonym out there) is pretty bold, if not silly. Nevertheless, in order to make my Social Media More Social, I ‘m willing to step up and put out a Creep-O-Meter for your benefit. This is kind of like a Cosmo quiz for people who have more important things to do than to read the first hundred pages of ads in a Cosmo magazine.

If you stare at her long enough, she can read your mind!

I do not have the technical stats in front of me. I’m not that kind of researcher.

I’m the kind that shows my five children pictures of avatars and says, “Do we want to follow this person?” And if the crowd votes “YAY!” I do. If the crowd screams in terror and runs outside to get a gulp of G-rated fresh air, then frankly, that avatar creeps us out and we can’t follow. The nice thing about having five kids, is that there is that handy-dandy odd number for breaking any ties.

But if you want to step into that brain-sucking realm of self-examination, you can take this test. That way we don’t have to do it for you.

Be honest. No one likes a cheatin’ creep.

Does your avatar have a face on it that isn’t human? +3
Does this face have fur? -2
Is this face have any comic element, like Groucho glasses or a party hat? -2
Does your avatar have any part of a human body that is unclothed? +3
Does this unclothed human body have his/her head mysteriously cropped out? +3
Is this unclothed human body in some sort of position that might suggest to me I should shield my children’s eyes? +2
Is the dominant color in this avatar black? +2
Is the dominant color white, pink or yellow? -2
Is there a flower in this avatar? -5
Is there an animal that is associated in any way with death, Ozzy Osborne or Edgar Allen Poe? +3
Is the face on this avatar wearing dark glasses? +1
Is the face on this avatar wearing dark glasses but smiling/ and or crinkling up his/her nose, as if posing for Tiger Beat magazine? -4
Does the face on this avatar have any visible freckles? -6
Is there any element that might suggest violence, such as a semi-automatic weapon, brass knuckles or a machete? +5
Is the face on the avatar frowning or have eyebrows that are so V-shaped that they look like a ferocious bird of prey? +3
Is the face on the avatar completely hairless? +5
Is the face on the avatar hairless except for the soul patch? +3
Is the face on the avatar bald, but smiling? -2
Is the person in the avatar seated? -1
Is the person in the avatar seated next to a cocker spaniel or golden retriever? -4
Is the person in the avatar seated next to a golden retriever who appears to have a certain kind of leash that might qualify them as an assistance animal? -10
Are there any pictures of babies in this avatar? -6
Are there any of pictures of babies with ducks, daisies, bonnets and parasols? -12
Does this avatar have any reference to American political parties, extreme activism and the word death written in pointy letters? +20

Scoring:

-10 to 0 You are my type of follower! Find me! I will so be your friend! We can exchange recipes for strawberry cupcakes!
0-10 You are slightly creepy. If you can convince me that you are smart, compassionate and do not make a habit of kicking puppies, we’ll probably get along fine.
11-20 You are way out there in the land of creepy. I would suggest either you embrace your inner creepiness (and stay away from my children) or maybe throw in a little Love’s Baby Soft on your avatar. You never know, your numbers might go up.

You can follow me at  @10MinNovelists But please, if you scored higher than a 50, um . . . . I’ll find you instead.

 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel,Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

How I Write: The Image, The Reality, and The Twitter Jokes

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This morning I woke up with a backache. I decided I would postpone the start of my day until after I felt better. So, what do you do with a little extra time on your hands? You hang out on Twitter!

What luck! #HowIWrite was trending! I enjoyed very much reading suggestions from writers all over the world on the specifics of their process.

How I Write: The Image, The Reality and the Twitter Jokes by Katharine Grubb

 

You know, the hows of our writing is similar. We all sit with keyboards (a few with notebooks), we all daydream, we all fiddle with music and other ambient issues, we all drink ungodly amounts of coffee or tea and we all work at this.

Naturally, I had to write a few jokes about it.


 

#HowIWrite With the probably mistaken assumption that my readers will savor every details of character backstory.

#HowIWrite Surprisingly fast when I listen to banjo music.

#HowIWrite With unflickering white hope I will be loved by the world except for that reviewer who 1 stars me because of a misspelled word.


 

But I DO have a method.

It used to be that I worked in 10 minute increments around the needs of my small children. Now my kids are older and more independent. My increments are bigger, and I am way more productive, but I still have a method.

I’ve created this image that I run around my house like a headless chicken turning off timers and chasing toddlers. But it’s really not that crazy.

I make a to-do list with 8 columns: Newsletter/Blog, Branding, Homeschool, Reading, Projects, Release, Marketing, Podcast.

Under each column is a list of things that need to be done. Sometimes I mark the most important items. Then I work on each column for 15-20 minutes. When the timer dings, I get up and do something domestic like laundry, or check the kids or tidy the kitchen. Then I come back to the next column for another 20 minutes.


 

#HowIWrite Obsessively since we all know that only five star reviews can fill the blackest holes of our hearts.

#HowIWrite With an infinite number of fellow chimpanzees. On my manual typewriter.

#HowIWrite By deliberately, exhaustively, completely, purposefully and maniacally removing all adverbs.


 

But not everything on the list is writing.

Sigh. It’s not. It’s also blogging, emailing, tweeting, marketing, proofing, editing, reading, revising and staring out the window. It’s also running a household, homeschooling and glancing ambivalently at the welfare of the children.

All of my life is broken down into very small steps and I tackle as many as I can in a day.

When I do write, I do a word vomit or a brain spew of every conceivable idea. I don’t self-edit because I don’t have time for it. I want something on the screen so I can work with it. Daydreaming out the window is all well and good but you can’t rewrite something that isn’t written to begin with.  I have to have the raw materials to work with.


 

#HowIWrite With an intimate knowledge of which Hollywood actors will play every role.

#HowIWrite With those magical people the pros call “characters” and that thingy, a “setting” and, what is it? Oh! Plot!

In iambic pentameter just to come off as pretentious. #HowIWrite


 

I also don’t fret too much about deadlines.

But not every writer has this luxury. My deadlines are self-imposed and it’s rare that someone gives me a firm date. But I don’t tell my brain and my fingers that. I want to work fast and furiously in every increment of time. I find that by challenging myself this way I am way productive.


 

By allowing my children to run naked and unfed through squalor. Meh. #yolo #HowIWrite

With a holey, cat hair covered sweater, in a fog of cigarette smoke, an empty gin bottle next to me.#HowIWrite #myimageofarealwriter

With intense, white-hot jealousy of George R. R. Martin. I’ll knock you off YOUR Game of Thrones, bub. Winter IS Coming Indeed! #HowIWrite


 

In my fiction, I pants my ideas to death.

I make tons of notes and create little beads of characters or anecdotes or conflicts. Then I rearrange them and look for patterns or connections. The outline that will somehow develop will be the chain that links every bead together. At that point, I’m not pantsing any more. I’m drafting. And there’s plenty of room for improvisation.


With a gun to my muse’s head. Figuratively, people! Figuratively! #HowIWrite

Type ten words. Pick cuticles. Type five words. Change music. Type fifteen words. Go watch Netflix. #HowIWrite


 

I also have a mental list of books I want to write.

They are all lined up in a queue. I get to them as I can, with ten minutes here and there. I want to write a book on marketing, one on self-publishing, one on local connections, one on speaking. I keep them written down on the columns and touch on them as I can. Someday they’ll move up to a higher priority.

The danger of asking other writers how they write is that we compare our method to theirs.

We think that if we copy them then we’ll succeed too. But that’s not true at all. We need to find our own way and discover how WE write. The best writers are happy writers, who are comfortable with their method and their process. Don’t be afraid to try new things, tweak others’ suggestions and fail at times.

And if you can’t come up with a how, don’t worry about it. Make it a when instead.


 

On my left, with pillow between my knees, a mask on eyes, in a cool-ish room, for 8 hours. Wait! That’s how I sleep! Same thing. #HowIWrite

 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Want to win a free copy of my new release Soulless Creatures?

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb

Soulless Creatures

by Katharine Grubb

Giveaway ends October 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The Book Launch Checklist To Make Your Next Release Awesome!

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Congratulations!

You have a new book to sell! 

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb
I do too! I have Soulless Creatures coming out August 15. Click the image to pre-order your Kindle ebook!

Are you doing everything you can to promote it? 

Some of these points are no-brainers, like have a great cover. Some, though, are optional, like having a live release party at your local coffee shop. All of them will require YOU to look at YOUR book and YOUR needs and decide what YOU can do.

I’m also going to assume that your starting point is AFTER your book has been written, rewritten, revised, edited and proofread to death. If you don’t have a quality product, please, please, please, go back and make it one. You aren’t respecting yourself, your art, your readers and the other writers around you if you’re sloppy and unprofessional.

 Pick a release date. Ideally this is six months away. The more time you allow yourself, the more you can accomplish before the big day. You can compare this to a wedding. Sure, you can get married two weeks from now, but if you want your wedding to be memorable and involve more people, you need more time to plan.

 Buy your domain name. Do it while you can before anyone else takes it. You’ve got time to either design your website yourself (like I did) or hire someone to design it for you.

Sign up for a couple of social media platforms if you haven’t already. Pick 2-3 and only pick ones that you really love or drawn to. Start acquiring followers every day. Need to know how to do this with Twitter? I have a book! Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A Day! 

Consider your target market.  Who is your ideal reader? What do they value? Where do they hang out? Find those places! These could be forums, blogs, websites, Twitter chats, groups, podcasts. Make a point of visiting and contributing to as many as you have time for. Don’t mention your book yet. Just engage with others, start conversations, participate in games or memes, leave blog comments, etc. This is how you can build your tribe up for the release. You really should attend to this item on your list daily.

 Hire your graphic designer for your quality book cover. Do NOT go cheap unless the person you are working with has a great reputation. I blogged about what makes a great cover here.

Format your book for ebook and for paperback. You can do this yourself or you can hire it done. If you hire it done, you want the person to have plenty of time to get it done before your release date.

 Ask your designer to help you design business cards. You can get them to match the design of your website, which makes you look all branded and stuff. Or you can get bookmarks and business cards with your new releases title on it. You want this ready before the release.

Buy business cards from Moo
These are my business cards. I designed them myself and then bought them from Moo.com

Start thinking locally. If you haven’t introduced yourself to your local librarian, DO IT! They will be your BFFS. If they know that you have a release coming out, they may be able to help you promote it. Tell them well in advance of your plans so they can carve you into their calendar.

Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!
Your local library should be one of the first stops you make on your marketing journey!

On a map of your region, draw a circle with your home in the middle. Make that circle as big as you are willing to travel. Mine? An hour. Then, list all the town in that circle. Under each town heading, research libraries, indie bookstores, consignment stores, gift shops, ANYTHING that could potentially sell or promote your book. You could easily have 100 places. Then make a phone call a day. Say, “I’m a local author. My book, “BLAH” is coming out in a few months. Is there a way that you and I could work together? I’d love to meet some of your clients/customers/patrons and introduce them to my work.” Make notes. Return calls. Go see these people.

Plan your pricing. Are you going to have the ebook run for free for a few days? Keep it .99? There are a lot of different ways to look at it. Pros and cons to both strategies. Once you make your decision, contact those FB groups and sites that advertise free or .99 books.

Other ideas:

 

1) Have a LIVE party at a local coffee shop and invite all your friends.
2) Have a giveaway on Goodreads (of which you will Tweet daily and mention on ‪#‎AuthorHappiness‬ day!)
3) Go back to all those podcasts and blogs you’ve been stalking for months and ask if you can be a guest blogger or interviewee. The worst they can say is no.

One month before your release, GATHER YOUR STREET TEAM. This is a group of people that are crazy in love with you and will help you. Have them read your book for free, then leave reviews, then promote it THEIR WAY either word of mouth or various internet magic, then reward them with free copies to give away or Skype chats or gift cards or something. Gently remind them on release day that that’s the BIG DAY and that’s when you need the reviews up and the promotions released.

Now, those are the FREE ways to have a good release. I know about those because I’ve never had the funds to pay up. I’m sure you could fork over hundreds of dollars to get someone to do this work for you. It’s going to cost you one way or another — money or time. Any more ideas?

The most passionate force behind your book is you! So put a smile on your face, get ready to do the research, make the phone calls and ask! You never know who can help you until you do. 


 

I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb available now
Click the image to order your copy!

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Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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Nine Questions To Ask If Writers’ Block Has You By The Throat

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You can’t even. You just can’t even.

Sometimes the words aren’t there. The ideas are weak and feeble. Your fingers grow numb waiting on a decent thought from your brain. There’s a problem and you can’t quite figure out what it is or why you’re blocked.

I’ve been there. And I’ve learned that a little self introspection sometimes is enough to get to the bottom of the problem.

9 Questions to ask if writer's block has you by the throat

Are you blocked because you are emotionally damaged by your project? 

Be honest. Not every writing project is a barrel of laughs. Some, like term papers and college essays are kinda important and you need to plow through. Some though, we’ve signed ourselves up for because we thought we needed to. I do not advocate quitting, but I do advocate taking stock of your mental and emotional health. If your project is very stressful, causing emotional or physical pain (it happens) then get out of it if you can. If you can’t, then finish it as soon as possible, beating the deadline.  I don’t have exact answers here, but I do know that severe negative feelings have a source from something and we owe it to ourselves to analyze what’s troubling us, figure out a solution and fix it.

Are you blocked because other things (besides writing) are messing with your head? 

You’ve just faced trauma, you’ve had a bad day, you’ve yelled at your kid. YUP. You can really shut down after an emotional event. Catch your breath and wash your face, but go write about it. Put down in words your feelings, your fears and your emotional ups and downs. Not only is this therapeutic, but you never know, gut level honesty can be good for your writing. Just because you write something down doesn’t mean you’re going to use it, oh my goodness, NO!  But the exercise of expressing yourself, of dealing with stress, trauma or extreme emotions is good practice for whatever you usually write.

Are you blocked because you are self-sabotaging?

This is a tricky idea, but sometimes we set out on projects fully expecting to fail. Something deep inside may be telling you not to try. As a result, you don’t want to write that blog post, make that tweet or even send that email. Try this instead: write five positive facts about yourself for every negative one that you’ve been ruminating over. Don’t just think them, write them. This also is therapeutic on many different levels and you’ll find, after a few minutes, that you’re emotionally ready to tackle the project. This may be a symptom of a much deeper problem and getting good advice from a trusted friend/pastor/therapist might be the best solution.

Are you blocked because your brain is tired? 

Just like your body, your brain needs rest too. Spend an evening or two (but not too many) watching television or playing video games. Your brain will recover with a little recreation. Then come back to your project and see if you can add to it.

Are you blocked because you are overwhelmed with the project? 

You have a deadline. It’s huge. It’s intimidating. What do you do? You eat the elephant one bite at a time. Break the task down into smaller ones and spend short increments of time on the project. (Hey! Ten minutes is a good start!) Then, as you get started, you’ll see that your momentum has kicked in and you can accomplish more and more.

Are you blocked because your inner critic WILL NOT SHUT UP?

The inner critic is that nagging voice that won’t let you be free. It corrects, criticizes, makes you go back and fix little things that aren’t important, negates the smallest effort and basically defeats you before you even start. This one really needs a kick in the face. Fire, evict or murder your inner critic — at least in the drafting stages. All the things that inner critics worry about, like grammar and structure and spelling, should be addressed after the first draft is written, not before. It takes practice, but train yourself to write fast first drafts — so fast that your inner critic can never catch up. Then, even though the draft is ca-ca (Hemingway said so), at least you have a draft! Now you have something to work on later. Call that inner critic back in the room, keep him on a short lease, and put him to work.

Are you blocked because you are discouraged? 

You got the rejection letter. You didn’t make the first round of the contest. Your favorite agent hates your book. Discouragement is a tough. Take heart that every writer faces this. Then, go over any comments or feedback from these demons from Hell and see if their criticisms are valid. Then, write. Write about anything. Strive to improve. Ask your writing group or your critique partner what your strengths are and develop them. Then, when you’re ready, tackle those weaknesses. Much of writing is art — which is hard to learn. But much of it is technical! You can learn spelling, grammar and punctuation. You can learn technique. There are thousands of books out there about writing! Find one and do everything in the book. Be humble and teachable and work hard. Your dreams are worth pursuing and the hard work will be worth it. 

Are you blocked because you are lazy?  

Sorry, but it had to be asked. The truth is there are a lot of wannabes out there who don’t want to put the time in, who don’t want to be taught, who think that book contracts fall out of the sky. They don’t. (Although mine kinda did.) You can flip channels all day and call it writer’s block, and your enabling friends will help you eat your pizza and beer, but that is not what successful writers do. They work. They get up and keep going.

Are you blocked because you are afraid? 

This question is the one that is the closest to my heart. I was afraid for many, many years to pursue my dreams. My source of fear had far more to do with the messages I was told as a child than my writing goals. I spent most of my life in a constant state of borderline freaking out and it got worse when I became a mother. I was, in essence, blocked to do anything creative from the time I was 26 until the time I was 38. That’s 12 years of walking in fear! That was a lot of wasted time. (okay, I DID have five kids in less than eight years, so clearly I was busy with other things, but still . . . ) What was I afraid of? I was afraid of being laughed at, of being rejected, of failing, of succeeding, of taking time away from my family to pursue my dreams, of not being a good mother, of being thought a fool. What made me change was the realization that I had five precious children watching me. Would they say of me that I conquered my fear or would they say of me that I succumbed to it? I knew I didn’t want my children to be afraid of anything, especially my girls, so I kicked my fear in the teeth and got over it. It’s been eight years since that feeble effort to get away from my fear and ya know? It was hard! But I did it. And I’m so glad I did.

Some of these questions are going to take time to answer. That’s okay. The mental wrestling match that will required will be worth it in the long run.

What else can you ask yourself to combat writers’ block? Let me hear you!


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward, PTSD survivor, and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day.Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community.

She blogs at www.10minutenovelist.com. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Her new novel, Soulless Creatures, which is about two 18 year old boys, not vampires, will be released August 2015.

Soulless Creatures by Katharine Grubb Your roommate just bet you his brand new 280ZX that you don't have a soul. Do you dare to prove it?

Your roommate just bet you his brand new 280ZX that you don’t have a soul. Do you dare to prove it? Now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle!  

Working-class future leader Roy Castleberry and pampered over-thinker Jonathan Campbell are 18-year-old freshmen at the University of Oklahoma who think they know everything. Roy thinks Jonathan could succeed in wooing Abby if he stopped obsessing over Walden. Jonathan thinks Roy could learn to be self-actualized if he’d stop flirting with every girl he meets. They make a wager: if Roy can prove that he has some poetic thought, some inner life, A SOUL, then Jonathan will give him the car he got for graduation. Roy takes the bet because he thinks this is the easiest game he’s ever played. Roy spends the rest of the school year proving the existence of his soul, competing against Jonathan for Abby’s attention, dodging RAs who are curious about the fake ID ring in his room and dealing with his past. For Roy and Jonathan, college life in 1986 is richer, (both experientially and financially) than either of them expected.


Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing.

Starting in July, a new weekly newsletter, <em>The Rallying Cry, </em> will be released from Katharine Grubb. Sign up if you need a weekly dose of encouragement covering all of your life, not just writing. <em>The Rallying Cry </em> will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

 The Rallying Cry  will be an honest, kleenex-worthy, you-can-do-this, faith-filled message of hope for those who need it. You can sign up below.

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Jessica White Explains Scrivener! A Guest Post

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A few weeks ago 10 Minute Novelist Jessica White hosted a Facebook chat where she explained the ins and outs of Scrivener.  Scrivener is a fantastic app that allows novelists to stay organized while they are drafting. But it’s complicated. These are Jessica’s notes for that chat. Hope it helps you as you struggle to master Scrivener!

Jessica White Explains Scrivener

The hardest part about learning to use Scrivener is the learning curve on what things are called and where to find them not using them.

You can download the cheat sheet for your version of Scrivener here.   http://www.scrivenertuts.com/free-scrivener-cheat-sheets-2/

First you need to understand there are three parts to the main screen:

Jessica White Explains Scrivener

The BINDER on the left keeps track of all your work and lets you rearrange and organize it. 

The EDITOR in the middle is where you will do all your writing.

The INSPECTOR on the right lets you shortcut to several other features, like the notecards, research, keywords, and snapshot (at the bottom of it you’ll see the little notepad, books, key, etc).

In Scrivener you will do 90% of your work in the main Editor panel.  There are three VIEWS and each has a function that you need as a writer.

In DOCUMENT view you do your writing.  It looks pretty much like Word or Pages.

Jessica White Explains Scrivener

In CORKBOARD view you do your plotting. Think of it as an index card or sticky note you put on the front of each section. You can use them to summarize plot points or to layout scenes. You can also label and mark them (more about this in P8) to keep track of things like point of view, what draft you’re on, timelines, etc.

In DOCUMENT view you do your writing.  It looks pretty much like Word or Pages.

In OUTLINE view you see all the big picture stuff like organization, status, word count, how far you are on your target word count, and lots more.

In DOCUMENT view you do your writing.  It looks pretty much like Word or Pages.

If you’ve never written a book in Scrivener I highly recommend you download KM Weiland’s template.  You can delete what you don’t use to simplify the look, but she really does give you all the pieces and parts, making it a great way to learn what Scrivener can do and how to set up a binder.

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/resources/scrivener-template-for-outlining-and-structuring-your-novel/

If you want to start from scratch that’s fine too.  Use the basic novel template Scrivener offers, and then use the BINDER feature and create a basic set up just like you would an outline using the ADD button at the top.

Two options I’d suggest:

Folders for Beginning, Middle, End (Acts 1, 2, 3) and text files for chapters (if you are a plotter this works well)

OR

Folders for Chapters and then use the text files for scenes (this allows you pantsers to write scenes and move them around before committing to a chapter and stringing them all together).

How to take a SNAPSHOT.

  You ever have a scene where you felt it needed a rework, spent an hour doing the rework only to decide that you liked the original better?  This is where snapshot comes in. 

You can either go up to Documents—Snapshots—Take Snapshot OR there is a little camera down in the lower right corner of the inspector.

Take a snapshot of your text before you start editing, and if you decide to revert all you have to do is go up to Documents—Snapshot—Show Snapshots to see the original in the Inspector.  You can then see them side by side and ROLL BACK to a prior version or you can copy/paste parts of it.

P6

PROJECT TARGETS and WORD COUNT 

Under Project—Project Targets, you can set up both the full document targets and the session target (useful if you want to write a minimum words/day). 

Scrivener automatically tracks word count for every text file and each folder.  You can see it down at the bottom of the screen. 

P7
You can also go to the OUTLINE view and go up to View—Outliner Column—and add Total Word Count, then you can see all the totals for any folder (or the binder) on one page.  This allows you to make sure your chapters are fairly balanced and to see where you need to focus your effort.

LABELS and STATUS feature is on the right hand side in the middle of the Inspector under GENERAL META-DATA. 

You can use them for almost anything.  Keep track of what phase of writing you are in (rough/final).  Keep track of POV, timeline, etc.  You can color code your folders and files, the corkboard index cards and also have it show up in SYNOPSIS on the right hand side (which is the index card in miniature).

Go to View—Use Label Color In— and you can add to any screen. 
To change the colors and label names go to Project—Metadata Settings and double click the name to change.

P8

SPLIT VIEW/FULL SCREEN

SPLIT VIEW can be found in the upper right of the editor box.  You can split vertically or horizontally and have side by side screens so you can see two things at once.  This is really useful when you want to see your research and your chapter at the same time.

P9

FULLSCREEN is the black button with the arrows on the toolbar.  This lets you block out everything but the scene or chapter you are working on.  You can even add a background to help you stay in scene.

P11

RESEARCH- Did you know you can download webpages (including videos), upload pictures, and PDF’s right into Scrivener so you don’t have to go back and forth between programs?  Just use the ADD button pulldown menu and look toward the bottom. You can add webpages or files. 

OTHER MEDIA

This website goes into great detail about how to make the most of Scrivener’s ability to put multiple forms of media together. http://www.jayartale.com/blogging-scrivener-karen-prince/

IMPORT/EXPORT– There is so much to say about these two features.  If you to go to Youtube and enter the formats you are trying to import/export, there will be step by step instructions for any combination. Whether you are importing a PDF and want to turn it to text or you want to export text files to mobi.  Scrivener lets you make ebooks, html, pdf, text and so many more formats and import them too.

I will mention one trick. Before uploading a WIP putting a # in front of chapters allows you to create a text file for each chapter. Just make sure you use the option IMPORT and SPLIT.

MORE GREAT RESOURCES:

http://www.magnoliamedianetwork.com/8-reasons-to-use-scrivener/
http://www.shesnovel.com/story-writing-with-scrivener/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15o7KnpD_yE (this has a playlist feature there are dozens of videos pick one each day to listen to and play around in Scrivener with to learn).

https://www.youtube.com/user/davidmj13/videos

http://learnscrivenerfast.com/
http://www.simplyscrivener.com/table-contents/

Plan http://www.natashalester.com.au/2014/08/05/use-scrivener-plan-book/

Plotting http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/using-scrivener-for-plotting/

Write http://www.natashalester.com.au/how-to-use-my-favourite-tool-scrivener-to-write-a-book/

Edit http://www.natashalester.com.au/2013/09/04/how-to-use-scrivener-to-edit-your-book/

Tricks How to change the default font: http://scrivenercoach.com/how-to-change-the-default-font-in-the-scrivener-editor/
10 Little Secrets http://learnscrivenerfast.com/10-little-known-scrivener-tricks/

You can buy Scrivener here: https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php


 

Jessica White
Jessica White

Jessica White is an admin for the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group. Her book Surviving the Stillness came out last year. She blogs at https://authorjessicawhite.wordpress.com She lives with her family in the Dallas, Texas metro area.


Why I Picture My Inner Critic As An Evil Disney Sidekick (And How I Take Him To The Woodshed)

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Ursula the Sea Witch has two eels named Flotsam and Jetsam. Gaston has the cleverly named Le Fou. Aladdin‘s Jafar has that parrot, Iago, who I really  wanted to punch in the mouth and Scar, from The Lion King had three goofy hyenas.

My point? All villains have henchmen.

This isn’t a post about how to create great sidekicks for your villains, that may or may not be cute as a button and who may or may not break out into song at a moment’s notice. The henchman I’m referring to is far darker and far destructive than anything Disney could create. It could even be Hitchcockian or Wes Craven-ish.

I’m talking about my personal inner critic, who I think is the official henchman to my fear.

 

Why I Picture My Inner Critic As An Evil Disney Sidekick And How I Take Him To The Woodshed

Like Disney’s evil sidekicks, my personal inner critic comes to do the dirty work of fear.

He whispers his lies into my ear, hoping that I’ll believe him. He’s as quiet as the Evil Queen’s raven in Snow White, as subtle as the Siamese Cats in The Aristocats and has the same tone of voice, at times, as Cinderella’s step-sisters. But that’s where the G-rated comparisons stop. (And I call him he because it fits better today, but he’s not restricted to gender.)

In my writing life, this inner critic is the single greatest threat to my success.

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about how fear had had me in it’s grip. I think that the very loud voice of the inner critic is the ugly henchman of this fear.

If I actually listen to this henchman, then it’s like I am putting the handcuffs on and I’m allowing him to drag me into fear.

This is only some of the things that this evil henchman, fear’s sidekick, does to me as I pursue my dreams:

My inner critic blames me for things that go wrong.

My inner critic calls me names like stupid and loser.

My inner critic compares me to others and finds me wanting.

My inner critic sets impossible standards of perfection.

My inner critic tells me that if I’m not the best, then I’m nothing.

My inner critic beats me up for the smallest mistake.

My inner critic keeps track of my failures and shortcomings.

My inner critic exaggerates my weaknesses.

My inner critic threatens to withhold love.

My inner critic attacks me with rage when I fail.

My inner critic says, “You’re a failure. So why try?”

My inner critic is especially loud when I feel pleasure, when I feel love, recognition or success.

And if my inner critic is successful, then he has produced severe anxiety in me and made me feel worthless. It’s at this point, I’m in complete bondage to this stupid, foolish, bumbling henchman and I am dragged away to be imprisoned by fear.

The problem is, I forget just how much power I actually have. A few weeks ago, I described how I was going to kick fear in the teeth, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’ve already let that inner critic have too much ground.

I’m not an expert, but I think these are very good steps:

1. Recognize the inner critic/fear’s henchman right away. Too bad he’s not cute like the Disney ones.

 2. Yell right back at him. My therapist told me I can tell him to shut up. He will.

3. Concentrate on positive truths and self-affirmations. It usually takes me about four or five self-affirmations to get this inner critic to evaporate. (Yes, he evaporates. Why was I so afraid of something made of air?)

 4. Get to work. I’ve been finding that this evil henchman shows up more frequently when I’m stuck on something. With a little hard work and determination, I get over the hump and he’s got nothing to stand on.

 5. List all the people who do love me and build me up.

 6. Recount all my victories. My inner critic, for all his nastiness, is a really bad accountant and can’t see that there are far more successes than failures.

7. Enjoy my moments of victory and accomplishment for what they are without focusing on the tiny mistakes.

 8. Celebrate who I am on my journey and stop comparing myself to others.

 9. Practice good self-care. I’m far less likely to hear from the evil critic henchman if I’m well rested, I’ve eaten well and I’ve exercised.

Now, to be honest, this over-simplifies the complex reasons why I have such a harsh inner critic to begin with. But I find that putting a funny metaphor to this problem, realizing what it is and taking proactive steps to keep it at bay, I have a lot less trouble with my inner critic and his stupid master, fear. 

What about you? What does your inner critic say? How are you kicking fear in the teeth?

What To Do With Too Much Writing Advice (And How Not To Let it Drive You To Drink)

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I think I understand why old school writers were heavy drinkers.

I think I understand why some of them fell into dark thoughts, depression or loneliness. I think I understand why writers generally are isolated introverts, hiding from the real world, wrapping themselves up in their imaginary lands, fighting dragons, discovering treasure and falling in love:

They’re hiding from ubiquitous and contradictory writing advice. 

What To Do With Too Much Writing Advice and How Not To Let it Drive You To Drink

Single point of view or not? Past tense or not?  Predictable, relatable characters or something unique? Write what you know or write what you don’t know? Publish it immediately to get it out there or rewrite it a million times? And that’s just the craft piece of the puzzle, there’s also the marketing end: Facebook page or not? Use Twitter to promote your book or not? Collect email addresses or not? The opinions never seem to end. If you don’t know what you are doing, (and honestly, few of us do) you’ll probably come away from these well-meaning articles more confused.

Makes me long for simpler times when all you needed was a manual typerwriter. Or a quill.

Writers, as a generalized group already have a tendency for nicotine and alcohol addiction, but I imagine if the writers of a half, whole or two centuries ago had the social media influence that we have today, we may have had fewer masterpieces and more Sylvia Plaths.

That’s one characteristic I share with the dark souls of other eras.  I know that if I become obsessed with what is expected in my favorite genre, what my agent want, what the industry is doing, what my peer groups say, what my critique partners say, what my crazy Aunt Rhonda says, then I turn into a blubbering fool, who can’t write a shopping list.

I discovered this when I sent my manuscript to twenty-five beta testers. Some thought it was too long, some thought it was too short. Some thought it had too many characters, some not enough. Some didn’t understand why I set it in Oklahoma. Some totally got it. One reader, who has absolutely no experience in the publishing industry, decided she wanted to be my editor/agent and insisted that all future changes go through her. My response to her was in an acronym. First it was BS. Then it was ROTFL.

Sometimes, however, when I get conflicting advice, I don’t ROTFL, I panic. I cry. I freak out, thinking that I really don’t know what I’m doing. I slip into that dark place of anxiety and fear that convinces me that the path to happiness goes through pleasing others and not myself. This would be the time, if I were a heavy drinker, I’d reach for the whiskey and toast Hemingway. But this isn’t how writers get better. This only makes things worse.

Perhaps the problem is too many voices? Too much clutter? Too much influence? Maybe it is. So, I’m restricting my circle of influence.  I also receive instruction from reputable sources as I need it. I want to get better by being more intentional in who I learn from and what I learn. This, I hope, will keep that overwhelmed feeling at bay. The next group of beta testers will be people I trust and who will encourage me.

I think when my mind is clear, I’ll be calmer and I’ll be stronger.

I will be a better writer.

What about you? Are you overwhelmed with advice? What do you to do declutter?

#Top10Tuesday Top 10 Ways To Invest In Yourself (And What To Avoid) From 10 Minute Novelists

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Great artists need great tools. If we are going to be great in our art, we need to equip ourselves, and spend a little money doing it.

Top 10 Ways To Invest In Yourself (And What To Avoid)

 I’m as frugal as the next person. In fact, I’m kind of a skinflint. I will come up with a million ways from Saturday to get out of spending money. Some of my ideas are practical, like shopping at thrift stores for growing kids but some are a little ridiculous, like how I decided that instead of going to a writers conference, I’d just watch all the writing videos on YouTube. If I’m going to spend money, especially on my art, I’d like to know what will be worth the trouble.

Over on my Facebook group, 10 Minute Novelists, I asked how they spent their money on their art or on the marketing of their art.

Olivia Folmar Ard Great investment: bookmarks. I noticed when I was at an event with my friend and fellow author, she was able to get a conversation started because she had free bookmarks featuring her titles to give out. Most people won’t say no to anything that’s free, especially at an event where everyone is trying to sell them something, and then once they have it in their hands they more than likely will want to talk at least a little before moving on. Even if they don’t buy that second, they’ll have all your information and the name of your book, so they may buy online later! After that event, I came home and designed my own on VistaPrint. I’ve spent about $100 including shipping for two big batches. Most libraries let you leave a bunch on the counter, and that in itself is free advertising!

Tracy Krimmer Best investment : Scrivener & EverNote! EverNote is great for writing on the go and I can copy and paste right into Scrivener!

Michele Mathews Best investment:  Scrivener because I am really starting to use it to organize my writing. I bought a cheap cover design and realized it wasn’t what I wanted so had it redone by a new book designer. I would never go cheap on a cover again.

Robin Patchen Best investment:  Local writers conferences. My local ACFW group has one every year. It’s usually $50 to $60 for the day, and we get fantastic speakers. This year, it was Susie May Warren. Last year, James Rubart. I learned so much at both–at all the conferences we’ve had. Totally worth the money and time.

Rachelle M. N. Shaw Best investment:  Scrivener and business cards. I’m still in the process of creating bookmarks. And this isn’t something I’ve spent money on so much as time, but just taking the time to contact people about reviews. It is definitely worth it. I wouldn’t have nearly the interest I’ve had in my book without those reviews.

Robert Brown Best investment: Online writing course. I spent $40 for 26 lessons. Each lesson had an assignment and a test at the end. I started out slow, but finished with a 95% grade. I learned everything I hsd written was wrong. I went back over my WIP and am now rewriting my novel. It was money well spent.

Carolyn Perpetua Astfalk Best investment: Lots of things. My expenses have been minimal. Paid for printed copies of drafts from Staples several times, 50 rack cards, domain names, head shots, writers group dues, and now a conference, and space at a book expo. so far, all worth it. Need to get business cards next week.

Sherry Hyberger Howard Best investment: Others’ books The best investment for me was buying lots of current best sellers in my genre in paperback and then marking them up with highlighters and colored pens. Also, SCBWI workshops have been great! And my IPad has increased productivity for those 10minute spurts!

Denise Young Best investment: RWA  I count my membership to RWA (Romance Writers of America) as a good investment. And all my writing books. I also just paid to enter a contest and am hoping to get good feedback from that, but I won’t know if that investment is going to pay off for a couple of months.

Becky Williams WatersBest investment:  Writing conferences, personalized book marks, and $10 for 30 tweets from AskDavid. Bad investment? I entered my book in a contest which cost me money + several copies of the book I had to mail out and I didn’t even make the list. In all fairness, the finalists were all veteran authors and this was my first book, but I should have reviewed the past winners lists and figured out before the epense that I hadn’t yet “paid my dues.”

 

We’re going to have to spend money to make money! 

What have you invested in for the sake of your own promotion or education? What was worth it? What wasn’t?