I am thrilled to see so many new people this week. In tracking my blog hits we had one of our bigger weeks for new people last week. [You ARE tracking your blog traffic, aren't you?] I'm excited to see so many new faces.
I received an invitation to be a part of the Carnival of Christian Writers Blog Carnival this month. It was wonderful to be INVITED rather than asking. No matter how many times I receive an unsolicited invitation I still get excited, and humbled. If you'd like to read a few of the other people included in the blog carnival follow this link. If you're from the carnival, welcome. I hope you'll peruse the other postings here.
Today I want to share something with you that occurred to me last night. It was 1:40am and I was brushing my teeth to go to bed. I had just received a really sweet email from someone who recently discovered our blog. I was thinking how best to answer that person's question and suddenly my fertile writer's mind started running.
As many of you know, I do public speaking as well as coaching writers. One thing I hear nearly every time I am with a group of writers is
"I would BUT..."
This is always followed by a list of reasons why achieving their dream is impossible, or at least improbable.
The reason this popped in my brain last night is I had been discussing exactly this topic with my 4 girls before they went to bed. At church yesterday my pastor was teaching on a familiar verse from Matthew 7:7-8. That verse says "Ask and it will be given to you. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you." The point our pastor made was the need for perseverance. I was explaining to my girls that, whatever we do, we really need to be willing to push through the difficult times. My girls [who are now 9, 7, 7 and 5] have seen some difficult times these last 3 years as those of you who read my series of blogs "How I got here" know.
As I was telling my girls about the need to work hard and never give up, I started to look at my own work.
I became successful once I found my reason to work. Then "I would BUT..." was transformed to-
I will because...
Wow. That hit me between the eyes last night. Suddenly the fatigue that I was feeling last night was gone and this thought came.
"Until your reason to succeed is more precious to you than your excuse to fail you'll never move forward."
You MUST have a why, then you'll find a how.
Maybe your kids want to go to camp and the only way you'll be able to afford it is by selling one more article.
Or you might have a powerful story that won't let go of you no matter what you're doing.
Or you might have clients that are relying on you to finish their project.
Whatever your WHY is, until it is stronger than the excuses you'll never move forward. You'll never make progress.
So look at your WHY, find your HOW, and push through the wall of BUT.
I'll see you tomorrow. I have writing to do now.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Monday, March 31, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
I've learned something about myself-I have a short attention span.
I never would have believed that. In fact, I am able to sit for hours at a time doing nothing but researching. It is nothing for me to work for 6-7 straight hours.
But what I learned is I can only do that for a short period of time before I become bored with something and have to change it around.
This is good because it is going to help you build an effective business.
I realized that when I work on my writing I work best by working on multiple projects at various stages of development simultaneously. If I focus on a single thing for too long it becomes stale.
Are you the same way? Or is your attention span shorter? Do you need to change what you're doing every 30-40 minutes?
How can you use this personality trait to build your business as a writer [which, of course, includes marketing]?
Make your daily calendar reflect your God-given personality. If you need to change your activities every 30 minutes don't block out 4 hours of writing time in the afternoon, then yell at yourself because you got bored after 45 minutes. Set a timer for 35 minutes and when it beeps set it for 15 more. During that 15 minutes surf the net to research for your story, reply to one email, go make a sandwich or change the laundry. Then when the timer sounds a second time reset it for 35 minutes and go back to writing.
If you are like me and can focus for hours at a time but once your concentration breaks you're a goner [that is gone-er] then set the timer for 2-3 hours [or even 4]. Do NOT turn on the internet at all [and if you have wi-fi resist the temptation to double click :-) ] and when that timer beeps quit [for a break or the day].
Instead of trying to make your personality conform to some predetermined "success formula" work the way that works best for you.
Just make sure you're taking time to work.
I'll see all of you Monday and hope to have some exciting new things to share. I have some interest in the writer's retreat weekend so if it is something you'd like to participate in [or know more about] let me know.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany "When will this snow ever end" Colter
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
As promised today I'm going to tell you about my visit with ACFW Ohio last Saturday.
I had such a wonderful time. The day started with a healthy dumping of 8 inches of snow up here outside of Toledo, OH. So my husband drove with me [the kids were at Grandma's] down to a Columbus suburb where there was a great group of people. [Look at us. Don't we look happy? I'm the short lady on the far right, standing wearing nearly all black.]
I spoke on the topic of Executing your dream. Really it was all about looking at your writing as a business and taking steps to build that business. I was really excited to be a part of such a wonderful group of people. After I finished teaching I got to spend a bit of time talking with some people in the group [although not as much as I would have liked because I needed to get back to Toledo to see my four girls sing in the Easter Performance] and I got some wonderful feedback.
I want to thank ACFW Ohio for their hospitality and willingness to take an afternoon to focus on building their writing business. It was a privilege to spend a Saturday afternoon with them.
I was reminded again of the importance of having a group of fellow writers to support you. Whether you are just starting out, or are multi-published, the writing life can be a lonely place at times. It is important to find a group of people that you can meet with face to face to build your writing.
So on your goals for building your writing business, who will be your support system? Likely friends and family will be there.
But who else?
Do you have other writers to talk to? Are there people who you can share the trials of the writing life with that will FULLY understand why you're so excited when you get a rejection letter WITH A REAL SIGNATURE! Will they understand the process or simply say "Aren't you published yet?"
I would encourage you to not just jump in with any writer's group. I've seen some that were so poisonous that it was worse to be associated with them than it was to be associated with no one. Find a group that will build you up. Make sure that you can see each other on a regular basis [even if regular ends up being annually]. You need those friends.
And before I sign off today I want to let you know about the possibility of a writer's retreat. I am considering doing a very intimate writing retreat this summer. It would be in a small town about 15 minutes north of Toledo, OH. There would be room for 6 people to come. I will be teaching and mentoring at the event [as well as coordinating it].
The weekend would include:
A double occupancy stay in a bed and breakfast [we'd be the only guests there]
All meals from Friday night through Breakfast Sunday morning-as well as some snacks[Saturday I plan a meal at Hathaway House in Blissfield, MI www.HathawayHouse.com the cost of the meal is included in the registration]
A 20 minute chair massage [to relax stiff writing muscles]
More than 1 1/2 days of focus on building your writing business from Craft, to marketing, to platform development.
The entire Writing Career Coach Library [By June expected to be 6 lessons with a retail value of $110]
And I will be walking each of you through the lessons personally to help you craft a customized marketing plan, time management plan, and help you research markets to work on building a platform.
After the weekend you should have a plan for the next six-twelve months to build your writing business.
The cost would be $225-$275 depending on what rates I can negotiate and would include EVERYTHING [except transportation there]. If I have enough interest I'll book 2 or 3 weekends during the summer. I will spend the entire weekend at the retreat working individually and in small groups teaching and helping you each craft your own Writing Business Plan.
Email me at Tiffany@WritingCareerCoach.com to find out more or if you'd like to participate. We will figure out dates that will work for everyone.
I look forward to seeing more of you at writing events. If your writing group would like to speak to me about coming and speaking to your group-email me at the address above.
So, as we wrap up the first quarter of 2008 in just a few days, look over your goals and see how far you are. Where did you plan to be.
Make adjustments and I'll see you tomorrow.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
What in the world do I mean by that?
My pastor likes to say "If you want something done, give it to someone who is busy."
I've noticed at times when I'm extremely busy I can get far more done than I can when I have a good deal of time.
Many writers learn this when they start writing full time. They plan on writing a novel in a month. Back when they were working full-time they never had time to write. OHHH but now, now they will have 7 hours each day to commit fully to writing.
Well, after they read this email. And have a cup of coffee with the neighbor. Oh my, I didn't realize how dusty this cabinet was. I need to throw the roast in the crockpot. The school bus is here already. "Kids get your homework done." Hi honey, how was work. I need to wash up these dishes.
Where did the day go?
I know, this sounds more like a time management lesson than "do it bored" but here is what I meant by that.
Many of these activities we do because we get bored. We check an email because we're lonely. We read another blog so we can connect with someone else. We read and read but never write.
I find it is because, after a while, I get bored with my characters. I love them to death; they're a part of me, but I've read the story too much. I'm blind to the initial excitement.
That is where the work of writing begins. That is when you sit down and say "This isn't a whim. I WANT to be published." When you've given all you think you have to a story, but you know there is more, you have to get up and dig deeper in to the characters.
The willingness, and ability, to continue to write when the excitement is gone. That is what separates the haves [or wills] from the won'ts.
Tomorrow I'm going to post about my great trip to Columbus, OH to speak to ACFW's Ohio group. I also have a photo of all of us. I hope you'll come over and tell someone to join us.
Your coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Monday, March 24, 2008
I hope you all had a great weekend. I celebrated Easter by going Saturday to visit a group from ACFW Ohio [photos and blog coming this week where I share details.], I saw my 4 daughters perform in the church service Saturday night, and I got to visit with family on Sunday.
It was a busy but fun weekend.
On the topic of business, one thing I hear from many people when they are explaining why they cannot use blogs to build their business is their lack of time. I talked about this briefly on Saturday. One person, however, had a great idea. She works on a blog with a couple of others. They share the blogging responsibility. While this might not be an option for everyone, it may be an option for some of you.
I thought about this idea as I traveled the two hours home from my speaking event. The benefits to working together can be very obvious. You do not shoulder the full responsibility of writing blog content every day. You also have the added bonus of having multiple groups of people as interested members of your blog. What I mean is if you and a friend each blog you have your own spheres of influence from which to build your readership.
Of course, there are potential drawbacks. You both have to be 100% committed to blogging. One of the easiest thing for a new blogger to do is to quit blogging. You must both be committed to the success of the venture.
Second, you must both agree on the content and topic [or responsibility] of the bloggers. Will there be one person who always posts content [even the content of others?] or will each person post on their day? What about links? If you will have links to products [like books on Amazon] how will profits be divided.
I have to admit, I started thinking of some great ways to work with others I knew in the industry to build a blog together. [And my mind is still churning on it] but I'd like to hear from some of you. What do you think of this way to create an effective blog?
And the person who put this idea in my head was Cindy Thomson and you can visit her blog at: http://favoritepastimes.blogspot.com/
See you tomorrow
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Thursday, March 20, 2008
What is the single most exhausting part of any business?
I'll explain. Many of you surely have a long list of things to do as part of your business. You have emails to return, marketing to do, articles to write, books on craft to read, research on writer's conferences, writer's clubs.
And then you'd also like to have time to write.
Simply reading through the list you're beginning to remember things you still need to do, but haven't yet done.
What I have found as a business owner is that I can get so wrapped up in my to-do list that I am exhausted thinking of what needs to be done. Rather than sitting down for an hour and pushing through that deadline-I keep thinking about it. I let the weight of the deadline exhaust me to the point that I don't even touch the project.
That was my day yesterday. I truly had many things to get done. I had to take 2 daughters to ballet, run to the grocery, meet with the manager where I teach, teach for 2 1/2 hrs, get my hair cut, and homeschool the girls.
But when the day was over, in fact as this week is almost over, I think "What did I do productive to build my business."
Oh I did plenty. I wrote my to-do list. Considered the implications of the survey I just ran, worried about how I was going to get a project done that's looming on my desk, I remembered those 13 submissions I'm judging for the Genesis Writing Contest are waiting for my full attention. I scratched out notes on how to revise a proposal I'm working on, I cleaned the kitchen.
And by the time the kids went to bed at 9:30 I was thoroughly EXHAUSTED. I still had to put up the blog [something that I truly give a great deal of time and effort to writing], answer a few pressing questions, and encourage a friend going through a tough time.
But what did I really accomplish?
Not as much as I should.
So look at your own schedule and decide what you're going to get done. Then don't think about it-DO IT.
You'll find it really wasn't as exhausting as you'd thought it would be.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
I'd like to tell you about a book I read last week that has completely changed the way I look at my characters. For those of you who write NF -stick around. There is something here for you too.
I've learned about the book "Winner Take All" by T. Davis Bunn.
I am sure this book is a few years old as I borrowed the book on tape from the Library. For those of you who write fiction, it is worth finding the book on tape and listening to it. He creates scenes that you don't only see but you FEEL in your soul.
When I go to my grandma's house I have certain emotions and memories tied to the place. There are things others never understand about that 3 bedroom ranch an hour from Cleveland, OH. But If they were to see the memories tied up in the place [or even the feeling I have for the sights and smells] they would understand why that home is so comforting to me. I can smell the lingering smell of Grandpa's pipe [now packed away]. I can look at the room I slept in as a teenager visiting for spring break. I can taste the swirled cinnamon bread on Sunday morning [bought from buehlers] and laugh about the time we all thought my brother Seth, at the time 9, had dug through the loaf to get a coveted end piece. I remember going fishing at the park down the road, swimming at the pool across town, and bowling with grandpa.
I want my reader to have those kinds of strong emotions when I introduce them to my characters. That is why, when I read Winner Take All, I read and studied the writing. I urge you to look at how he creates characters. Don't imitate it. But let his wording flavor your writing-or just influence it.
For you Non-Fiction Writers, use the descriptions he creates to describe where you are when you interview a subject for an article or when you describe a historical event. Use elements of fiction to help the reader experience the place you're talking about, to understand the person they're reading about.
Grab hold of your reader.
You need to have a great platform but without a great book to promote-it won't give your book the success you long for.
See you tomorrow, Your Coach for the Journey. Tiffany Colter
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
As I told you yesterday, we're going to focus a bit on resources to help our business. I do want to take today's blog to issue a caution.
There are two reasons for inactivity: You know too little or you know too much.
When I was in sales my trainer used to say "Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on Ice." That is very true in many respects. The less you know, the fewer excuses you have for not accomplishing what you'd like to do.
However, there is something to be said for knowledge. If that weren't the case I wouldn't spend hours every single week studying and writing for this blog. I know that the surest way to your dreams is to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before you.
So while you're taking time to read blogs and study the industry, take time to DO it too. DO the industry. Write stories, send queries, collect rejection letters.
It's all a part of the process of growing as a writer.
Do not make the mistake of learning so much that you are always waiting for the perfect time.
Now is the perfect time, go out and reach your dreams.
Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter
Monday, March 17, 2008
This week we're going to step back from Marketing a bit to focus on business development. I'd love some of you to give your input.
I'd like to share with you a few places to help you with your craft. The first is the ACFW E-Zine "Afictionado".
I write the feature bi-monthly and I also write the Monthly Marketing Column. This month's was just released and there is a great deal to learn from it. They have information on how to improve your craft, they have features, and information on writing from a number of different genres. You can now subscribe to it. Go check out the e-zine.
I'd also like to point you to the Writer...Interrupted blog. For those of us who are super busy [and trying to write between the various interruptions] this is a great blog.
Finally, If you're looking for information simply on business development then go to www.terrydean.org, I have learned many things about building my online business through his website. This is useful for writers as we plan using the internet to market our books.
And, I've told you about Chip MacGregor's blog [he's a literary agent]. You can ask questions and he'll answer many of them. That is one great thing about his blog.
I'd like for you to share some of the great blog's you visit regularly. And if you have a blog, leave the link in the comment section but ONLY if you'll share the topic of your general blog [like my is Writing Career Coach on Marketing fiction and non-fiction or building up your writing business.] Please do not simply market a product, share MEANINGFUL links. I'd love to come check them out and let others know about the interests of some of their co-readers.
I'll see you tomorrow.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I will be speaking to the Ohio ACFW group on Saturday, March 22 at 2pm.
The topic will be "Executing your Dream."
There is no fee to come but they do need a count. You can RSVP to the President at ACFW Ohio Sharon Lavy. at sharon @ lavyturf (dot) com [remove the spaces and make the word dot and actual dot).
The event will be in Westerville, OH 43082 [A western suburb of Columbus, OH]
They will be giving away the book “The First Five Pages”
I hope to see some of you there!!
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Thursday, March 13, 2008
I'm very excited to see the spring fast approaching. It has been a very cold, snowy winter up in the Toledo, OH area. If I remember right, the weatherman said February was one of the top 3 snowiest on record. BRRR
Today I was thinking about FAME.
For those of you who have read "How I got here" [a series of blog posts that ran from Jan. 1, 2008 in to Feb.] you know that one of the phrases that carried me during the rough times was something my Freshman Lit. teacher said on my 15th birthday. He gave me a book and inside he wrote "Become Famous Some Day."
So today something about American Idol popped up on my computer when I was checking the news and I began to reflect on Fame.
Is Fame really something that is thrust on us? Is it something we create? Or is Fame really a persona that is necessary to build a career in the arts?
I thought about the Marketing that we have to do as writers. Writers get radio interviews, telephone interviews, blog tours, book signings and many other things that APPEAR to be linked to fame. In fact, they are not evidence of fame but rather a necessary part of the business.
The same with movie stars. They don't tour around on David Letterman and Conan because they love to chat and wave to fans [although, that is a wonderful byproduct of these appearances]. These are events that serve a dual purpose. The celebrity goes on to promote their recent project and the late night host gets a famous face.
So what does this have to do with you and your pursuit of publication?
Writers who want to build momentum need to be aware of various venues to promote their work. It is highly unlikely that Oprah or Dave will come knocking on my door anytime soon, but if something like that were to happen...I'd need to approach it as a business owner doing a job [promoting my work] and not as a giddy woman excited to be on TV.
So, bringing it down to the local level. We need to FIND ways to become relevant to our local press in order to promote our work without being a walking commercial. How can we structure our marketing to HELP a columnist with their job [writing columns]. How can we help someone who is doing a radio interview on us? How can we make our marketing a systematic part of our business rather than something we hope happens?
These are important things to consider. I don't have all the answers to them, but I feel that once people get those questions in perspective they are ahead of those who don't.
I'll be speaking in Westerville, OH [outside Columbus, OH] on Saturday, March 22nd. I'll give more details tomorrow but I'd love to see you there.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I know we have MANY new readers to this blog because of the tracking I do through google analytics but I also know that many of you have been with me for a month or more. During the time you've been with me [however long] you'd undoubtedly learned a bit about marketing your work.
So, I'd like to now learn from YOU. I'm asking for input from all of you [please leave it in the comments section so we can talk about it.] Also, if you have other friends who are a part of the writing world and they'd like to chime in, give them the link to this blog.
I've been trying to think of a way to best structure my writing career coach to benefit the largest number of people. I have two scenarios I'm considering. I'd like you to tell me which one you think is the best and why. Or, if you have a different idea please share it with me.
This benefits you because I want you to keep thinking of ways to adjust your business to best reach your customer base. Sometimes, the best way is simply by asking.
For those of you who do NOT want to leave a comment but would simply like to vote, I'm putting a survey on the right hand side of this blog for you to vote.
My goal as a writing career coach is to help people who want to take their writing business to the next level. I am very aware of how much it can cost to do that. While learning can be expensive [take college for example] I don't want it to ever be a burden.
My first idea is to offer a 10% discount on Writing Career Coaching and Content Editing to any customer of my Writing Career Coach Course. My fees will be going up because I've learned ways to give quality edits much quicker than before. I also have much more experience. This is also why I would like to offer the discount to people who buy the course. Many problems I find can be solved by a quick overview. This will SUBSTANTIALLY reduce the number of hours I spend on a person's project and make the entire project cheaper in the long run for clients.
Since my beginners product is $35 and offers coaching with it and my other products are only $15 each, the products will pay for themselves in the first edit [on book length projects].
This would also allow me to work with MORE people because I only have 15-20 hours each week I can spend on coaching/editing. By having people learn a bit BEFORE working with me, I will spend less hours on each person's edit and I can work with more clients.
This is the way I'm leaning but I want your input.
The other idea is to raise my rates by a lower percentage but NOT offer discounts. The upside is it will be easier for me by having a standard rate I charge everyone. The downside is the edits may be slower as I find problems in a project that may have been discussed in one of the suggested resources.
Okay, so what do you think?
I truly want to do what is best for everyone. I have my own projects I'm working on so I only have a limited amount of time to spend each week. I want to give each person the time and care they deserve, but I also find myself quickly approaching the point where I cannot take on more clients because I'm spending so much time on each project.
As a customer, which would you prefer?
And if you'd like more information on having me work with you on your project, email me. I'm happy to take time to talk with you.
So think like a marketer and a customer now. And speak up.
Your coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
I'm very excited today to have an interview with Nancy Arant Williams
In addition to being an editor at Beautiful One Magazine, Nancy is a writer. I asked her to share with us a few things about the magazine she works for and how writers can break in to writing articles.
Writing Career Coach: Tell us a little about the magazine you work for.
Nancy: Beautiful One Magazine is a premiere Christian women’s magazine based out of McKinney Texas. It was available for several years in electronic-only format, but went into print/hardcopy format in May/June of 2007. The CEO, Lucie Costa says their motto is: “It’s not about us—it’s all about Him.” Remember the high-class, quality magazines of eras gone by? With thick, shiny paper, beautiful full-color ads, and hard-hitting articles dealing with tough issues facing today’s women--that is what Beautiful One Magazine is all about. We believe every woman is precious, designed with a purpose and a plan that can only be realized as we allow God to complete us, to use us, and to let us reflect the love of Christ to a lost and dying world. I am privileged to be part of a team that sees their role as obeying the Great Commission, to go into the all the world and share the message of salvation with anyone with an ear to hear.
Writing Career Coach: What can a writer do to help separate their submission from the others in the slush pile?
Nancy: First of all, of course, it is imperative to write well, to start with a subject of interest, develop the thread, using scripture in context, and closing well. Write about your subject with passion, praying for wisdom and guidance, following the guidelines detailed on the website. While Beautiful One is not a paying market, it showcases each author’s work in a high-class, beautiful format and does offer a byline and credits. It’s not hard to get your article published if it’s passionate, excellent, concise, hard-hitting, and to the point—with the goal of helping women see themselves as God sees them, and inviting them to respond to the Spirit’s call to a personal relationship with Christ.
Writing Career Coach:What does an editor do at a magazine?
Nancy: I receive specifically chosen articles from the executive team, and whip them into shape, rewriting, tweaking, verifying scripture, quotations, and basically making them good enough for print. I sometimes contact authors to ask questions about their articles, clarifying points that are murky or confusing. I also stay in touch with owner and CEO Lucie Costa and other team members, helping to decide which articles are appropriate, and making sure we’re all on track with deadlines.Writing Career Coach: Where can we find out more about your magazine?
Nancy: Simply go to www.beautifulonemagazine.com and check us out. There is a link where you can subscribe or make a tax-deductible donation. We appreciate so much whatever anyone can do to help, and, from the smallest sacrifice to the greatest, no gift will be taken for granted.
Writing Career Coach: Thank you so much Nancy.
Nancy: You're welcome.
Nancy Arant Williams is the author of twenty-six books, both fiction and non-fiction, as well as a number of free mini-e-books on spiritual warfare/ living the Christian life, that are available on her website at: www.nancyarantwilliams.com. She is a freelance book editor as well as the associate editor for Beautiful One Magazine, and she and her husband John own and operate a Bed & Breakfast called The Nestle Down Inn, (www.nestledowninn.com), located in the heart of the beautiful Missouri Ozarks. Her desire is for women to see themselves as God sees them, designed with a purpose, cherished and beloved, so they will be healed, empowered, and find their niche in God’s incredible plan.
Tiffany offers a free e-book on how to use articles to build your fiction. You can find out more at www.WritingCoachAnswers.com
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Monday, March 10, 2008
Hello Lovely Learners,
Today I want to talk about promotion.
We've discussed time management and building platforms but how do you promote yourself.
This is one of the toughest parts of marketing for many people. We don't want to promote ourselves because, if we do, then any rejection is a rejection of us personally.
If you're selling cars and someone doesn't want to buy your car then they are rejecting your car, not you.
If you're selling houses and someone doesn't come to the open house, it isn't a reflection on you personally.
However, if we are promoting us or our writing and we are turned down. The sting is deep.
But, that is only if you look at promotion as trying to pitch your persona all over.
I try to look at promotion as talking and helping.
All of you who have read my blog these last few months know that I gladly come to your blog if asked. I'm more than happy to teach and share information with others. I also post that blog link on this site in case you want to come visit.
This is a form of promotion. But it isn't selling myself in a scary way. I am helping others.
I truly feel this is the best form of promotion. Help others [with genuine concern] and TALK. Let people know you're available. No one knows how busy a person is. Many times a person may feel uncomfortable approaching an author. I was when I got started in the industry.
Let people know you're available [and don't just post it on a website. Tell them.]
By helping other people you're not only promoting yourself, but you're giving other people a reason to promote you too.
See you tomorrow. Your coach for the journey. Tiffany Colter
Friday, March 7, 2008
As I promised last Friday, today we will talk about why you needed to keep track of all you were doing.
I hope as you've read each blog this week [well, since Friday] you have begun to combine the information I've given you. The goal was helping you increase your organization.
Friday we talked about keeping track of all you are doing
Monday we talked about organizing your writing and writing ideas
Tuesday I encouraged you to establish some form of a routine
Thursday I said to stick with what works.
Now, let's tie it all together.
By first understanding how you are wasting nuggets of time you can combine those and create "more time" in your day. I did this by NOT sitting with my email open. I also turned off the noise that beeped or clicked every time an email popped in my box.
Then sit down and do things by project. If your brain needs to constantly change, organize it in to mini-projects with frequent breaks [NOT to check email, breaks like stretching or getting a glass of water]. Stay focused on your task.
So what is your task? We talked about that with the Monday blog. By having a folder system you can take the small moments of time and create productive work. If you have 30 minutes carved out of your busy schedule you don't have to worry if you have complete writer's block. Pick a folder. Do marketing, do revising, do writing-no more wasting time.
Then create a winning routine. I don't know how much scientific evidence there really is to support it, but I believe your brain gets in routines. If you ALWAYS read before bed, a book becomes a signal for your body to relax. If you always sip on gatorade before working out, your body preps to workout when you drink Gatorade. At least that is how my mind works.
So create some "creative signal" for your mind. Use a particular mug, listen to music [personally I usually have 2-3 songs on each novel that help me 'hear' my characters. Without fail, if I hear it on the radio I suddenly hear chattering in my head.] or work in a particular spot.
Then when you find that formula STICK TO IT. My husband and I have found it takes 6 weeks of consistently doing the same thing at the house for things to start to see an improvement. The 4th week is usually the toughest because you've been putting forth the effort, it is getting stale, but the results haven't quite happened. But once we push through that 6th week...WOW. Things starts moving.
So set up the creative routine. Set up your marketing routine. Set up your speaking routine.
Take what you're learning and tie it all together. Don't compartmentalize and say "wow, cool idea" and shelve it away. Use it to build EVERY area of your life.
Hmm, wonder if this helps with housework. :-) [Actually, it does. Check out FlyLady if you don't believe me.]
Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Do you know why I tell all of you to follow my advice?
Because it works.
So then, why in the world don't I follow it myself. Laugh.
Actually, most days I do. As I've said time and time again, I don't advise you to do something until I've tried it and seen positive results. If I tell you to do something that I've NOT tried, I make it clear that I haven't tried it.
So when 2008 started we were experiencing phenomenal growth. There were literally more offers coming to me than I had time to fulfill. I was overwhelmed with blessing in my business. Not only that, I was excited to see the sphere of influence of my blog growing faster than I thought possible.
So as many successful people do...I changed everything.
That is disastrous. As successful people have learned over and over, once you find success in a plan...stick to that plan.
Why do we change things when they're going well? I think it is because we think "If this went well, this will go SUPER well." It is like a successful salesman who suddenly stops calling on clients because he has such a large client base. Suddenly he finds that client base disappearing.
Or the writer who does so well at their craft that they start to "cut corners" to their usual process. They get an inferior result.
When I'm teaching math to my kids I always urge them "Use the process. Don't use shortcuts." When determining slope y=mx+b. That is the equation. Write the values you have...then solve for those you don't have. It is when you THINK you know the answer that you make silly mistakes.
I urge you to take chances and try new things as you're learning. However, once you find a winning combination KEEP DOING IT as long as it is producing results. There will come a time when you do need to change [For that time I suggest you read Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life A 100 page book I've read over and over again.]
But until that time comes, keep doing what will bring success. And once you begin to get success KEEP DOING IT.
Now, I'm going back to what made me successful. And I'll report the results to you-faithful readers. :-)
Your coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It is funny how life imitates art.
In my case my life has illustrated the message I'd planned to share today.
In my plan to spend this week helping your organize your business and become more productive writers, I've seen over and over how true these words are.
So Sunday when I planned to talk about how creating a routine makes a person more productive I had NO idea that a computer issue was going to destroy my routine and give me one of the least productive day I've had in almost a week. [This said when I am having one of my busiest weeks in a while.]
Today I want to talk about creating a routine. This builds on what I talked about on yesterday's blog on organization.
When I say "Create a routine" I don't necessarily mean you do the exact same thing on certain days at certain times. What I do mean is create the habit of doing productive things. For me, that routine is trying to plan my blogs on the weekend, write my blogs in the morning and have the bulk of my writing done before I make lunch. This requires me to get up early enough to get up, get breakfast and do the first teaching part with my kids by a certain time each day [I homeschool 4 kids]. Therefore, in my ROUTINE I know if I haven't gone through the lesson with my youngest by 10:30 I won't get my blogging and writing done before it's time to help the oldest and start lunch.
I also have established the routine of NOT checking my email constantly. I have my various emails diverted in to folders and I scan through them once or twice a day. Otherwise the over 130 emails I get each day will occupy the entire day.
So what is your routine? What do you seek to accomplish each day?
This is really a matter of breaking your goals down in to smaller chunks.
So what is your routine?
Create one and track your progress for one month.
For one month decide that you'll write for two hours on Saturdays.
For one month decide that you'll market your writing for 30 minutes, three days a week.
For one month decide that you'll leave emails UNREAD for more than 2 hours at a time.
And see what you accomplish.
I'm looking forward to hearing about the increase in your productivity.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Do you remember the 20th century? Back before you could text your friend with your cell while sipping on a latte?
Despite all of the great technological advances I still use a fairly simple system to organize everything pertaining to my projects.
I use Manila folders.
My folder system works quite well because my creative bursts tend to come when I'm waiting for my daughters to finish ballet or when I'm walking through the grocery store. That is not the moment to leave a voice memo "Kill off Tom after Cindy gets cancer." You get funny stares that way...even if people DO know you're a writer.
What I do is for each book project I have a folder where I put every scrap of paper associated with that book: Online research, slips of paper or receipts with marketing ideas scrawled on them, sketches of the town as it appears in my mind [no, I'm not artistic. It is ususally houses made of squares with street names so I can remember where various things are laid out.]
The other part of my folder system works for my marketing and article writing. For articles I've labeled the folders like this:
Here is how these help me.
Article ideas are usually slips of paper where I've thought up a line, a title or a subject for an article. On creative days I go to this folder and see which articles will come out. Once I've written a RD I then print out the RD of the article and put it in the RD folder.
On NON-creative days I go to my RD folder. I read through the article and edit or add to it. When I'm not feeling creative I can be more brutally honest about the quality of the "Masterpiece" I'd previously written. I also write the name of 3 or 4 markets for that article. I start with the one I'd most like the article to appear in [based on their pay, audience, &/or circulation].
When an article is complete I write the query [or cover letter depending on writer's guidelines] and I submit. I write the submission date next to the name of the publication directly on that printed copy. If it is accepted I staple the acceptance letter to the cover of the article and slide it in the "accepted" folder. In 2 or 3 years I can rework it and sell it to one of the other markets as a reprint.
If the article is rejected I put a single line through the name of the publisher and move to the next one on the list. Once I've been rejected from every potential publisher I put it back in the RD folder to either look for new markets or to rework. If I'm not longer interested in trying to sell the article I put it in the rejection folder.
Finally there is the "Market" folder. That is when I run across a magazine with an interesting article and I'd like to submit to them but don't have an article idea yet. It is also when I hear of a new market accepting submissions.
While this may not be as fancy, I'll help you encorporate all of this on Friday to help you be a more productive writer. I went national when I had a 4 year old, 2 year old and colicky, 6 month old. Time was limited but by having these folders I could grab one quick if I only had 15-20 minutes and accomplish SOMETHING.
Tomorrow we'll be talking more about productivity...and how to increase it. I hope I'll see you there.