I’ve had a chance to watch a few of the interviews in the Self-Publishing Success Summit now, and I’ve learned quite a few things from them. In this post I’ll share some of the things I learned from Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins.
Joanna Penn: Productive Writing: My Exact Process for Writing 16 Books (including a NYT bestseller) and How I Shortened The Writing Process From 16 Months to 3 Months
During this presentation, Joanna Penn talked about how she started writing by writing in journals, but then eventually wrote a book called Career Change, and has now written 16 books and shortened her writing process from 16 months to 3 months. Some of the advice she gave included:
- Read a lot of books in your genre because you need to understand what a book looks like in the genre you’re writing in.
- Get people to read your book and give you constructive feedback.
- Print out your book and edit it by hand (I would love to do this, but most of my books are so long I’m afraid I’d use up all my ink!)
- Do NaNoWriMo
- Set a deadline and be hardcore about it – decide what you need to give up in order to get your book written.
- Go to a different place to do your writing, set a timer and actually try to write during that time.
- Learn more about your genre.
- Use some kind of system to keep track of your word counts, such as a calendar or a spreadsheet.
- Try writing a series if you can – when you write a series you have a formula you can use for all your books.
- Have rewards for when you achieve your writing goals, such as stickers or whatever will motivate you to hit your writing goals.
- Listen to something that will get your mind into the right state, such as rain or thunderstorm music.l
- If you have a day job, get up early and write if you can, or write in the evening. Also try to get some writing in on weekends. If you can afford to, reduce the amount of time you spend at you work – I’m personally working on this one, I would like to be able to go back to working part-time at my job by the end of the year so I can focus more writing, but I need to increase the amount of money I have coming in from writing and transcription first (isn’t that ironic? LOL).
Jeff Goins: How to Turn Pro As A Writer (And My 3-Step Approach For Writing My Books & Blog Posts)
Jeff Goins is one of my favorite writers and I was sorry that I had to miss this interview when it first aired, but glad that I got to catch the replay of it. Jeff’s story is very similar to mine, and I’m sure many of you can identify with it as well – he started out at a job he was good at, but that he didn’t feel he was meant to do. He always enjoyed writing though, so he started a blog and wrote in it every day without fail. He decided to reboot his blog in 2011 and by the end of the year he had a book contract. Some of the tips I liked that Jeff shared included:
- If you don’t feel comfortable writing a book just yet, start a blog, it’s great practice for writing a book (agree 100%! Some of the posts I’ve written on other blogs even became part of my first book, Your Work at Home Journey). As a matter of fact, it was because I had been blogging for a while that I decided to write an ebook – I thought I could put a lot of the topics I’d written about into one, and I’ll probably do the same thing with some of the blog posts I’ve been writing on other blogs too.
- When you write a book, you have to think about what the situation is at the beginning of the book, and what it is at the end of the book – very true – this tip has actually got me thinking of ways I can re-invent “Your Work at Home Journey,” or maybe even launch a completely different book – I’m thinking of writing a book that will take the reader from starting to look for a work at home job to actually landing a work at home job – I could start by talking about some of the things they’ll need to look out for to identify scams, how they can identify things they like to do (even thought about putting together a PDF document that I could offer as a download where they could list things they like to do and then show them how to find work at home jobs that match those interests). The second part of the book could be the different situations they’ll encounter when they work from home, such as dealing with distractions, etc.
- I really liked some of his ideas for hitting self-imposed deadlines. They included:
- Carve out time every day to write. For Jeff (and for me too, and I’m sure for many of you) this time is in the morning. I also like to do some of my writing on weekends, but I do have to balance it with spending time with my husband.
- Set a deadline and then work backwards – Figure out how many words you need to write every day to hit your goals. For example, if you want to write a 50,000 word book by the end of the year, if you started today, you’d have to write about 305 words a day (that’s assuming you write every day – if you plan to take weekends off you’d have to write a little more, obviously). From what I saw on the Scrivener seminar with Joseph Michael (which I’ll talk about later) Scrivener is great for this. Of course, many other word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, also keep track of the number of words you’ve written, but you can’t set word count goals in them like you can in Scrivener.
- If you’re writing on a blog when you write you book, write less on the blog – when you do write blog posts, include excerpts from your book. So don’t be surprised if you see me fall off the face of the earth when I start my next book (Just kidding! I will at least try to get my update blog post out every week). You could have a day devoted to your blog and then devote the rest of the week to your book.
- He also has what he calls a “three bucket system” – the three buckets are ideas, drafts, and edits. When he gets an idea he writes it down in Evernote on his phone. When he has time he takes one of the ideas, turns it into a rough draft and edits it. He says when he works like that he never runs out of ideas for things to write about. I personally have a lot of ideas stored on Evernote, maybe I need to start using this system. 🙂
- His parting tip for this webinar was to come up with ways to start writing every day before you start to write – when he figured that out, he got more and more disciplined about writing.
That’s it for this blog post, in the next one I’ll tell you what I learned from Steve Windsor. If you want to share your thoughts on these or any of the other Self-Publishing Success Summit webinars, feel free to comment below.