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Four Ways to Become Obsessed With Writing

Becoming Obsessed With Writing

Jim Rohn once said “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” This is definitely applicable when you are a writer. If you haven’t figure it out yet, when everybody you know is not a writer then making time for yourself to sit down and write feels very challenging if not impossible.

To curb this obstacle I recommend you start interacting with other authors. There are a few ways to do this:

1.) Join a Facebook group that focuses on writing or self-publishing

2.) Utilize meetup.com to start spending time with other authors

3.) Listen to related podcasts

4.) Read related blogs

In other words, become obsessed with writing. I know this sounds intense but sticking to a writing schedule over a long period of time is equally as intense therefore it is an appropriate obsession.

The other point that needs to be noted relates to the second suggestion above. Going to a meet up on your own to meet people you don’t initially know probably sounds daunting. I completely understand that and still struggle to attend these types of gatherings myself. However, every time I put myself out there I am always so happy I did. The value always seems to be more abundant than the other three suggestions above.

Despite this, if attending a meet up isn’t something you’re up for just yet, start with one or two of the suggestions and over time expand to the others.

The key is to force yourself to confront your book even when you don’t want to write. You need to hear about how other authors overcome these struggles. You’ll learn that what you’re going through is actually very normal and that the key to writing a book is not actually being a great a writer or even a good writer but the ability to write consistently and focus that writing on a particular piece of work until it is complete.

This is what I love about writing. It levels the playing field when it comes to talent. In other words, all the skilled writing talents in the world won’t help if you can’t finish your work. This gives a persistent person an advantage.

The question is, what steps can you take to become a writer who can follow through and stay focused over a long period of time? Don’t overthink this. Moreover, don’t start drawing negative conclusions about yourself as a person just because you’ve struggled to stay focused in the past. I would bet the majority of writers encounter this inner battle on an on-going basis. I know I do, but I also know that I am not going to let an off day or even an off week mean anything more than just a small bump in the road as I progress towards finishing my book.

You are a writer. You will finish your book. Do not allow yourself to believe that you can’t make it happen. Just get your first draft written down. Worry about nothing else until you get to that point.

The next and final chapter of this book will help you with the steps after you finish your first draft, but truthfully, none of it matters if you don’t believe you can finish your first draft.

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Instead of Writing Beginning To End, Try This…

For a long time, I used to think I was clever due to the fact that whenever I sat down to write I referred to an outline that I already created. This would enable me to effectively puts words on paper whether I was lacking inspiration or not. This is an effective approach and I stand by it.

However, there are a few additional steps that can be taken to increase efficiency while promoting additional opportunity to input high-quality content.

For example, if you are starting a new chapter start by copy-pasting all the parts of your overall outline that fall within that particular chapter.

The next thing you want to do is look at each section of that outline and ask yourself a few guiding questions such as:

What additional instruction or details would help the information or story? 

Is this typically offered in similar books or genres? If so, how can it be differentiated? 

For non-fiction authors, is there a related, helpful anecdote or personal story that can be added? 

For fiction authors, is there a further detail that can be offered to make it more authentic? 

These guiding questions are just food for thought. Take some time as you reflect on your own writing to develop your own that trigger creativity.

As you answer these questions you should be writing your answers down within the relative section of your outline. The answers can come in the form of paragraphs or sentences to be included word for word, or short phrases that can be rearticulated at a later time. Once this stage is complete then instead of looking at a blank page tasked with the challenge of filling it, you’re now filling in a structured chapter outline.

To clarify let us break it down into nice and neat phases.

Phase 1: Copy-paste relative chapter outline from whole book outline.

Phase 2: Insert more input based on guiding questions previously mentioned and/or your own guiding questions.

Phase 3: Fill in the missing parts.

At the end of the day, you’re going to have sit down and write. There is no avoiding it. However, this is a much less daunting task when you’re adding to something as opposed starting a chapter from scratch.

If you’re still not convinced let us compare it to the construction of a house.

When contractors begin they do not start on the left and work their way to the right. Instead, they pour the foundation, construct the frame, then add the plumbing, wiring, drywall and so on.

To be fair, this is only a suggested approach. If you have a method that works for you once you get going then you may not need to use this. If, however, you are a person who struggles to make yourself sit down and write then you need to break it down into smaller, easier steps. The strategy offered here is one way to do it. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t, then do not quit, just continue to look for an alternative approach.

Leaders within this realm, that I look up to, are Joanna Penn, Steve Scott, and Tom Corson-Knowles. As a writer, you must make it your responsibility learn about different strategies used by a variety of authors.

Even when you have something that is working, if you notice your productivity is decreasing then utilizing the leaders above and any other resources you’re aware of to avoid the complacency that can come with dusty, old strategies.

To keep things practical and get back to the original point, I recommend you try each phase using Evernote. Within one “notebook” that holds all the content of your book, you can create “notes”. One note should be your overall book outline, then each other note should be a chapter.

This is a great, free way to easily navigate from book outline to a specific chapter rather than scanning through one large word document.

Evernote is certainly not the only option here, but it is recommended that you use a software that enables you to easily locate each chapter and your outline.

Okay, enough is enough. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

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5 Strategies To Use When You Don’t Know What To Write About

education-548105_1920Inspiration. We have all felt it before. All of a sudden we’re hit with the topic that we want to write about. If we’re smart we have a system to capture that idea whenever we’re not in front of our computer. If we’re lucky we’re in front of a computer ready to turn the idea that has magically bestowed upon us into a collection of words that offers valuable content for our sacred readers.

Inspiration. We have all felt it before. All of a sudden we’re hit with the topic that we want to write about. If we’re smart we have a system to capture that idea whenever we’re not in front of our computer. If we’re lucky we’re in front of a computer ready to turn the idea that has been magically bestowed upon us into a collection of words that offers valuable content for our sacred readers.

This post is about every day that isn’t like that.
The reality is there will be many days that we do not feel inspired. So what do we do now?

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A “wannabe” writer stops writing, loses momentum and eventually begins again months later only to go through the same cycle time and time again. You on the other hand, the real writer, combats the lack of inspiration by implementing one or more of the following strategies. I want to preface these strategies by giving you complete permission to adjust these in any way possible to make them more effective for you.

Exercise – For me personally there is nothing better than a jog along with some music that will help me zone out. I recommend the following Pandora stations:

  • Ratatat
  • Parov Stellar
  • Yo-Yo Ma
  • Jose Gonzalez

Experiment with the music, but the idea is to increase your endorphins while you put yourself into a bit of a trance. It is amazing what great ideas can pop in your head.

Converse – find a friend, spouse, family member, writing partner and just start talking to that person about what you have written about or would like to write about. The key here is forcing yourself to talk for 20 minutes or more. If you can’t think of anything that relates to your writing to discuss then talk about anything. Talk about how your feeling and try to discuss why you may be feeling that way. Many times you can use the source of frustration as a potential idea for something to write about.

Go Outside – this is simple. Go outside and observe what you see in great detail. Try to take it all in. Focus all of your attention on observing as many small details as you can. If it helps verbalize the small details out loud.

Write About Your Block In Your Typical Writing Setting – sit down in front of the computer and just start typing that you’re blocked and that you cannot think of anything to write. Write why you think this is happening and what you could you do to fix it. Try to write as much as you can. The idea is that if you’re in your typical writing position as you type words your subconscious mind will eventually throw an idea your way because you’re used to writing in that particular setting.

Read – if you truly can’t think of anything to write then grab a book that relates to your genre and start reading. Have a pen near by so you can write down questions, thoughts, and comments as you read. Do it enough then all of a sudden you’ll have plenty to write about.

There is plenty of things you can try to reignite your creativity and idea muscle, however, it is essential that whatever you choose if it doesn’t work just continue to search for your method(s).

If you’re looking for more strategies check out this article as well. Now stop reading and start writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Punch The Blank Page In The Face With These 3 Strategies

Whether you refer to your list of book ideas, act on a sudden shot of inspiration, or finally decide to begin writing the book idea you’ve been sitting on for the last five years you, it doesn’t matter. You still might find yourself staring in front of a blank page without the slightest idea of how and/or where to start. Then as soon as you begin typing each letter you match it with an equal amount of deletes. At this point you are completely frustrated and annoyed.

I get it. I’ve been there. Don’t panic my fellow writer. Many have been there which means many have successfully escaped.

Check out the three strategies below to help you get yourself started. This is a pre-outline stage. Literally, you have nothing and you need something, anything. Breath calmly, rest easy, and enjoy the solutions below.

Strategy #1: Open Up The Flood Gates 

Grab a huge piece of paper or a the whiteboard of equal or greater size. Just start writing everything you think of when you think of your book. Do this for at least fifteen to twenty minutes. Do not put any restrictions on anything. Seriously, if it pops in your head during this time then write it down. It may or may not have anything to do with what you want your book to say, but for now that does not matter. Write down words, phrases, sentences, draw charts, pictures. The keys are to avoid withholding thought or ideas and to write for at least fifteen minutes, if not longer.

To be clear, if you write something down and feel as though it didn’t come out the right way, for the sake of this exercise just try writing it down again somewhere else on the sheet or board. Do not cross out or try to correct. If you find yourself requiring more than fifteen minutes then continue until you are completely empty, but force yourself to push through to the fifteen minute mark.

Once you have finished this process and you are completely and utterly unable to continue writing down ideas be sure to save this sheet or board somehow. I recommend you take a picture and/or if you have an iPhone you can use the GeniusScan app to scan and save it to your phone (see example below).

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This is only an example, don’t worry if yours looks completely different.

Strategy #2: Start Talking

Find a method to record your voice. I recommend the iPhone voice recorder app, but there are a variety of options out there so pick what makes most sense for you. All you’re going to do is start talking about your book. If this is difficult, pretend you’re answering the question “What is your book about?”. Force yourself to verbally respond in as much detail as you can.

Do not worry about repeating yourself, speaking incorrectly, confronting long pauses. None of these are going to hurt you later on. The key is you’re just going to start talking about what your book could be about. If you have specific ideas about possible chapter titles then include it.

Once you’ve done this save the recording and get ready to move on.

Strategy #3: Generate Keywords

If you have any friends in the internet marketing world then chances are you’ve heard the acronym SEO. Moreover, I’m sure you have heard of Search Engine Optimization. I bring this up because I want to make clear that generating keywords in this instance has absolutely nothing to do with SEO. For the purposes of trying to get yourself to a clear starting point with an organized road map guiding you along the way to happy finished book land. Use Google’s Keyword Planner  (free) or Long Tail Pro (paid software) to generate possible keywords within the subject of your book idea. Start identifying words and terms that you feel as though you could elaborate on and begin creating a list of at least 20 words or terms. Once finished with the list you have two options.

Either record yourself as you elaborate on each keyword and term verbally or write down a few sentences for each item on your list.

After you have completed one of the strategies above you now need to organize this information into a neater visual. Review the results of your chosen strategy then try to come with a list of at least ten potential chapter titles. For each chapter, you want to list each possible chapter subtitle that would fit. If you have more than ten chapter subtitles, you may want to consider breaking it into two separate chapters.

As you write each chapter title and subtitle, do not worry about sequential order just yet. Focus more on what you’re going to discuss within each chapter. When you complete this, you are officially ready and able to begin writing each chapter.

Pick one chapter that you’re very excited about and/or you feel confident about beginning. That will building the momentum and you can slowly chip away, chapter by chapter.

I recommend writing your chapters within Evernote because you can create a Notebook and title it what ever your book potentially may be titled. Within each Notebook, you can create a Note for each chapter.

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An Evernote notebook containing multiple notes for one of my previous books

Regardless of your writing tool, you now have officially eliminated the blank page that has had continued to taunt you.

Happy writing!