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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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How To Write Consistently

I used to become discouraged if I was unable to write on a particular day. Such a feeling kills momentum. I noticed that I would put myself down for not being a writer simply because I missed a day here or there. Since then I have adjusted expectations for myself. Now instead of trying to write everyday I focus on a certain amount of words each week.

Every Sunday, I review my upcoming week ahead. If I have a particularly significant amount of non-writing responsibilities I might specify a lower amount of words to be completed for that week. I typically aim for 2000 to 5000 words per week.

This works for me because I have found a system to hold myself accountable in a realistic way that suits my schedule. This enables me to write consistently without writing everyday.

Arriving at this point for me was not quick and certainly not easy, which brings me to my point.

Give yourself time to reflect on your writing process. Your life will inevitably throw unanticipated variables at you and it might require you to adjust your process. Regular reflection makes this possible.

Moreover, your writing process will evolve and change over time. This is a positive thing because it shows your adjusting and adapting to sustain consistency.

As you reflect I encourage you to focus on a few specific components of your writing process:

1. Setting
2. Timing
3. Days
4. Challenges
5. Successful writing sessions

Setting

People have different preferences as to the setting that they write in. As you determine your preferred setting I recommend you make your assessment based on which setting yields the greatest amount of quality and word output.

As you sit down to write make a note of the where you are, the volume, what you hear, what distractions exist, what distractions don’t exist. Try to be as detail oriented as you determine your ideal setting for writing.

If you have multiple settings, make a habit of tracking the word output for each setting. This provides you with a quantitative metric to assess how conducive each setting is to your writing.

Timing

In addition to the setting where your writing occurs, reflect on the timing. Do you write more words in the morning, afternoon, or at night? What is the quality like during each time.

Understanding the time of day that you are best able to maximize a writing session will help you schedule the rest of your life around your writing times. Likewise, knowing that the time of the day doesn’t make a difference for you then you know that your writing schedule can be a bit more flexible.

Be aware that if there is a particular time of day that for whatever reason you can hammer out high quality words at an exorbitant rate during a time but is unfortunately often interrupted then you may want to consider a different time that has less interruptions.

Days

Are there days of the week that you seem to be a more effective writer? For me, it is earlier in the week. I personally prefer to complete the majority of my writing on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. I believe what happens is by Thursday I’m exhausted both physically and mentally so though I still try to write on these days I typically shoot for less as result.

Challenges

As you reflect on your writing process and make neccessary adjustments, I can’t overstate how important it is to think about the challenges you have encountered along the way. These include both internal and external challenges.

For example, I’m not a great writer at night for a few reasons. First, an internal challenge I encounter is increased exhaustion so my brain is functioning on suboptimal levels. Second, an external challenge is presented when I have to choose between writing time and the limited time I have to spend with my wife once my little ones are asleep. As a result, I complete the strong majority of my writing in the morning before I start work.

You should be identifying the external and internal challenges that each writing session brings and try to write during a time where those challenges are eliminated or at least minimized.

Successful Writing Sessions

When a writing session goes well make a note of it. Identify the specifics mentioned above. Focus on figuring out how to duplicate these details. You want to identify why it was successful and shoot for that whenever possible Additionally, you can gain great momentum from celebrating a small success which can lead to further success.

So the next time you finish a writing session take a few minutes to reflect on the level of productivity. It will help you maximize you effectiveness of each writing session and it will increase likelihood of making yourself write more consistently.

Happy writing!

 

 

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How Much Time Per Week Should You Devote To Writing?

The title of this post makes it sound like I have an answer. Which I do. However, you’re not going to like it because it is one of those “depends” kind of answers.

Throughout each one of my books and the majority of my posts, whenever a set of steps is provided, or advice is given it is followed or preceeded by a disclaimer that strongly suggests readers should be adjusting this instruction to meet their own personal needs.

Too often we listen to podcasts, read books, watch interviews where some “expert” tells us what we should be doing. Now I’m not saying that we should be closed off to these opinions but we must first recognize them as an opinion based on one particuarl person’s exeperience. He or she does not live our life and therefore is not qualified to tell us what to do and when to do it without knowing all of the variables that exist within our daily lives.

Therefore, rather than tell you or even suggest how much time you should be devoting to writing. The goal here is to equip you with a set of steps you can take to properly anaylze your week and assess when and where you can fit some writing time.

Step 1: Identify any repeated tasks or responsibilities that you have for each day of the week (i.e. Work from 9 to 5, bring to the kids to and from school, etc.).

Step 2: Draw 7 columns (or use a spreadsheet) and label each column a day of the week.

Step 3: Begin writing down your day to day actions for each day of the week and write down the times. Note: it is appropriate for times to be approximate and to be wide ranges because you want to include everything you do from going to work to watching tv. 

Step 4: Look for gaps in your day where you could fit in at least 15 minutes of writing (preferably 30 minutes or more if possible). If it is a location other than your home, identify a method to ensure you have your computer or whatever equipment you may need.

Step 5: Based on this schedule insert your writing sessions with specific times and desired durations. Time ranges are appropriate as well. In other words, if you know you have at least 30 minutes sometime between 5PM and 7PM, but the specific start and end time for your writing session will not be consistent, then just write 5PM to 7PM for 30 minutes. Highlight each writing session.

Step 6: Bonus Step – Based on the time and days, if you have a smart phone, set reminders for each of the times to prompt your writing session.

Notice that at no point during any of the steps provided was there a minimum amount of sessions suggested. Personally I have four to five each week and each ranges from 30 minutes to an hour. This works for my life but it may not work for yours. Maybe you can fit in more or less. It doesn’t matter as long as you identify times in your life when you can realistically sit down and write.

Once you have these times, outside of staying disciplined and sticking to each writing session that you have set for yourself, your next focus is going to be calculating how many words per hour you can typically produce.

If you’re consistently struggling to stick to your writing sessions then I encourage you to take a look at a book I’ve written titled The Persistence Formula. This book aims to help people who struggle to follow through with taking action to achieve their goals.

To calculate your word output rate you need to track your time and your total words produced per session. Do this for at least two weeks.

To clarify for every writing session you should be tracking the exact amount of time you’re actually writing and how many words you’ve produced within that specific amount of time.

Note: this is easier to calculate if you have a session for an amount of minutes of which 60 is a multiple (i.e. 15, 20, 30, and 60 minute sessions are ideal). 

For the purposes of clarity let us take a look at a hypothetical example.

Joe Smith can fit three writing sessions within his week. One session is 30 minutes while two sessions are each an hour. For the next two weeks Joe is going to track how many words within each of those writing sessions he can produce.

Week 1

Session 1 (30 minutes) – 402 words

Session 2 (60 minutes) – 943 words

Session 3 (60 minutes) – 928 words

Week 2

Session 1 – 463 words

Session 2 – 1002 words

Session 3 – 917 words

Now for the number crunching. First, calculate your hourly rate for each session so in this case Joe would just double his amount of words for each of his first weekly sessions. Second, now that all  sessions are equated to an hourly input amount, we add up all of the hourly word count numbers and divide by the number of sessions (in this I example 6).

More specifically…

804+943+928+926+1002+917 = 5520 (total words produced in 6 hourly sessions)

5520/6 = 920 (total hourly word rate for Joe Smith is 920)

Why do you want to know this number?

Put simply, knowing this information can help you determine how long it is going to take you to chip away at your book. When you’re equipped with this information you can plan a little bit more effectively. The combination of your hourly word output rate and your book outline will position yourself to stay motivated as you tackle each section in an objective, manageable way as opposed to the perspective of writing one daunting book.

Lastly, if you truly want to ensure accuracy of your hourly word output rate then continue to track your words written for each session and keep a spreadsheet documenting this information.

Overtime as you write more consistently you’ll notice this number will likely increase.

Happy writing!

 

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When Your Hard Earned Kindle Reviews Disappear

I was literally in the middle of writing a post that shared the results of my very successful book launch for The Kindle Publish Launch Formula.  In fact, I had approximately 350 words completed which included the general outline that I was then going to go back to and fill in.

To do this I had to log into to my KDP account to take a look at my current results.

Like an abrupt smack in the face, I saw that all my reviews were gone.

Gone.

Instead of 10 beautiful full stars. I saw a link that said, “be the first to review this book”. How can that be?

My stomach dropped to the floor and I did what I always do when I encounter an obstacle. I found my wife and explained what happened.

Visibly annoyed, I made it clear to her that I needed to be brought to a better place before attempting to address this concern.

She effectively did this by saying “Mike, obviously, there is some misunderstanding or error somewhere. When did you become a guy who panics before obtaining more information?”

That is why I married her. She called me out and kept me honest.

I pride myself on being able to view everything as an experiment. If I don’t like the results I simply adjust the actions until desired results are achieved.

So why was I acting out of character?

As I reflect on this experience I realize that I was particularly emotional about this because of the topic it was concerning; reviews.

Within the very book that this was happening to, I implore writers to ensure that they obtain reviews in an honest and ethical way.

Now all of a sudden I went from 10 reviews to 0 in a matter of minutes.

I couldn’t help but feel dirty.

What had I done wrong?

Had the KDP rules changed?

Did I reach out to people and offer them a free copy in exchange for an honest review? Yes. It was always and still is my understanding that was acceptable. Prior to my launch, I asked supporters to leave an honest review but to state that they received a free copy to enable providing an honest review.

If it isn’t clear, the theme of that last chapter was honest.

I stand by this. I only ask people who I know are going, to be honest, and then I strongly implore honesty.

These people have provided less than stellar reviews for my previous books.

Now, unfortunately, I can’t tell you this story has a good ending. In fact, it doesn’t really have an ending at all.

All I can tell you is that I have since reached out to KDP support on two separate occasions and at the time of me writing this post I have not heard back yet.

There is a moral to this story, though.

Right now I have two choices. I could choose to be stressed out and anxious over this.

Or, I could focus my attention on resolving this issue and when in a period of waiting for Amazon’s response I can focus on other ways to be productive.

So on that note, I’m going to work on my self-publishing course that supplements that the book. A blog post and some course work completed.

Not a bad panic mode to be in.

 

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Create An Idea Generating System

If you haven’t gathered yet from my previous posts, I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything.

If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that I can define my steps, fine tune the steps, and complete the related task efficiently.

The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach is that it promotes viewing things as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.

Rather than blaming yourself for poor results you have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay divdends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably slip up on your writing productivity.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Simple, because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have the ideas we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.

As a result, I am going to share a two part system with you.

1.) Idea Generation

2.) Idea Filtering

It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems within. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt record the idea. We will determine the value when we filter the ideas.

Second, each part of this system woaks for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

I believe in providing step by step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps for a person new to a process, however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.

Make each step work for you.

Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)

Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smart phone.

Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.

In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.

The Idea Filtering System

Required supplies: a writing software, preferably a cloud based software (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.) and a highlighter.

Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.

Step 3: Categorize each higlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. In other words, when you look a potential book idea do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book about it? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.

Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.

Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.

There you have it. You now are equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of people making related searches each month.

It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time into something you should be excited about what it is you’re doing.

I write on a regular basis in addition to a full time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing about it is something I look forward to.

Notice that the previous paragraph was about my personal experience. Remember what I stated earlier about making adjustments to meet your needs. Continue to keep that in mind because just because it was something that worked for me, does not mean it works exactly the same way for you. Adjust and adapt to meet your specific needs. 

Later on in a future post, we’re going to discuss how to take the idea that we just derived and develop an outline to help guide our writing process. I’ll also most likely be writing some posts about how to accurately assess the demand of a topic that take Step 4 mentioned above into much more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss strategies to use this step to identify strong keywords which will pay dividends later on when we move from the writing process to the self publishing process. So be sure to check in again for more information.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

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Taking An Experimental Approach

To my fellow authorpreneurs, I don’t know about you but for the first three quarters of my life I always knew there was an entrepreneurial spirit inside of me but I didn’t know how to channel it in a way that produced results.

Moreover, I didn’t know how to visualize a desired end result and therefore didn’t know how to create goals and action steps to help me get there. What good is a car if you have no idea where you’re going or how to drive?

For years I would make short lived attempts at creating an income stream. Service companies, drop shipping, selling information (before that actually became realistic and before I had any information to offer), you name it, I tried it.

The obstacle I consistently could not overcome, however, was when I built up a business and nothing would happened. I had the service or product but no customers.

Immediately in my mind I would cope by saying “I’m just not cut out to have my own business, some people are and some people aren’t and I’m not one of them.”

Think about what I’m saying for a minute.

I would start a business, then tear myself apart because I didn’t have any customers.

Now we can head in two different directions from this point. We can talk about how all I needed to do was learn about marketing and lead generation or we can talk about where my brain went when I encountered less than ideal results.

I’m going to focus on the mental side of things because I think there is a greater lesson to be learned taking this route (not that there isn’t in the previous).

Let’s review the sequence of events.

1. I thought of a business idea.

2. I created a business accordingly.

3. I mentally abused myself upon “failure”

4. I quit that business until my entrepreneurial spirit forced me to try again.

But why? Steps one and two are actually pretty cool and something to be proud of. Why did I quit so soon?

After reflection and thought I came up with the fact that I made it personal. I immediately associated the failure with my being. The reality is I just needed to learn a little bit more and/or try a couple of things out.

What finally helped me get through this was taking an “experimental approach”.

I started to view everything I did as an experiment that was completely external from me.

I’d start a business, assess the results, then determine whether or not I liked the results (notice that I’m not making it about me).

If I didn’t like the results I’d identify what I didn’t like about them. When I started my Amazon business, I started selling units like crazy only to learn that my marketing costs were eating all of my profits. I didn’t penalize myself. I simply calculated the profit I would like to make based on the sales volume I had seen, then set a marketing budget accordingly.

The results, my profit margin widened and my sales decreased to a depressingly low amount.

No big deal. I’ll just have to try another experiment in the form of a question.

What if I increase my unit price by $2.00 and increase my marketing budget accordingly. All of a sudden I started to see a slight volume increase while my margins remained consistent.

This is progress.

From this example and many more I learned that small, thoughtful tweaks and adjustments followed by assessing the results eliminated my mental agony.

I began viewing everything as an experiment.

If I didn’t like the results, I would tweak the actions and review.

To this day this is my mentality with everything, business related or not.

In my previous article I spoke about auditing my writing process. When I start to produce less than ideal results, I take an audit of my process. I do the same with daily routines that I’ve implemented and everything else.

Moral of the story:

Stop punishing yourself when you don’t succeed in the way you had hoped. Instead start creating with an experimental perspective knowing that you have your hypothesis but you could be wrong.

Accordingly, you can adjust.

 

 

 

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My 4AM Writing Experiment

In the post You DO NOT Have to Write Everyday to Be A Writer I stated that writers should avoid pressuring themselves to write everyday. Moreover, it seems every where we look there is one ‘expert’ after another telling us that in order to be a successful writer then we should be writing every day.

To that I say bologna. I’m a writer, but I’m a father and husband first, which means I’m not going to pressure myself to write every day if it causes me to begin sacrificing valuable time with my family.

The problem though is determining when we can write, particularly if we have little kids (mine are almost 2 and 4 years old).

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Enter my 4AM Experiment.

I decided to try waking up each day during the previous week at 4AM. I would write for 45 minutes to an hour then do a 7 minute circuit work out routine. The results:

Monday – Success

Tuesday – Fail

Wednesday – Fail

Thursday – Success

Friday – No way jose (Fail)!

Overall, I’m happy with it enough to try it again this week. It isn’t easy, but once I’m out of bed and writing I end up feeling amazing all day because I’m so proud of what I did.

The only drawback is, at least initially, I’m so exhausted that it takes a good five to ten minutes to get my brain functioning adequately enough to produce decent content. However, I will admit that when I was working on my book, once I got past that 10 minutes I flew. More specifically, in a span of 45 minutes I produced over 1200 words.

I read it later on that evening just to assess the level of quality and it was pretty good. Conversely, my Thursday writing was an article that I was sending to an editor for my freelance pursuits. I was extremely happy with it.

The only problem was my editor tore it apart and asked me to “take another swing at it” which is code for send me something else that isn’t awful.

The lesson I learned here is that I’m going to use my 4AM wake ups for my own book development. I’m hiring the editors as opposed to the editors hiring me so it makes a bit more sense to allocate my time this way.

The lesson I’d like you to take from this post can be learned by asking yourself a question and honestly answering it:

How can you create more opportunities to write?

I’m not suggesting you write every day, but it doesn’t hurt to reanalyze your schedule every once and awhile to see if there are any new opportunities to squeeze out a bit more time for writing.

It may require some sacrifice but if it gets you closer to finishing that book you’ve been working on for what feels like forever then it’ll be worth it.

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Happy writing!

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The Five Stages of Recieving Negative Reviews

“Needs lots of editing. Points made obvious and superficial. Great book for late teens and early 20s. Lacks sophistication for older crowd.”

This was a review that a reader left me about my book  The Persistence Formula. I’m not going to lie, it hurt. I put a ton of time and thought into that book and it is beyond frustrating that a person can rip it apart so easily.

What makes it worse is that this reviewer is essentially saying that I lack sophistication.  However, I can proudly say that I’m officially not worried about it anymore because I have endured the five stages of receiving a negative review.twitter-152681_1280

Stage 1: Nausea – its as if the words form a fist and punch you directly in the stomach. You read it a couple of times and each time you feel worse. At that point you create a distance from the you and your screen.

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Stage 2: Failure – after you come to terms with reality and the nausea subsides (temporarily depending on the severity) then you can’t help but feel like a failure. You begin to question why you even bother writing. You wonder why you think you’re even qualified to try and write anything for anybody.

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Stage 3: Anger – you become overwhelmed with all that you want to do to avenge such negativity. You want to reply with a balance of defending yourself and verbally assaulting the reviewer. It should be pointed out that each of these three stages toggle back and forth between one another until you can come to terms with the fact that negative reviews are a part of writing.

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Stage 4: Acceptance – some times it takes reaching out to your writing groups or reading negative reviews of famous authors, but eventually you get to a point where you don’t mind the review. You don’t like it but you don’t mind it. You accept it.

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Stage 5: Badge of Honor – this stage doesn’t happen every time for me but every now and again I’ll read a negative review about one of my publications and feel a sense of pride. I get to a point that I’m proud of the fact that I strive to spread my message despite that vulnerability that comes with it.

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Stage 6: Learning – again this doesn’t always occur for me but once I come to terms with the review and experience stage five I will reach point where I’m ready to read the review objectively. Occasionally, the reviews will be helpful. Consider the review above. It does offer some constructive advice. For example the review began by stating that it required more editing. Its funny because when I wrote that book I hired a new editor and didn’t thoroughly review his work. As a result I hired a different editor to revamp the book.

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Stage 7: Forgotten – you eventually forget about the review. The review that took me through the previous six stages fades away into nothingness. The reality is, as much as it can hurt to read that somebody thinks that you work lacks quality, you still have work to do. To focus too much time and energy on something you can’t control is a waste of time and certainly will not help you produce more quality work.

If you’re reading this and your thinking to yourself that the stages above are not at all relatable to you then I’ll ask you to consider this request. Regardless of your stages I beg you to be sure that it doesn’t stall your writing efforts. Do not let the negativity of a reader dictate whether or not you continue writing.

Be discouraged, be sad, be angry, be whatever you want to be but just be sure to keep writing. As I stated earlier, there is a great vulnerability that writers are exposed to when they publish their work. This is part of what makes writing so great, because it makes it slightly risky. Once you publish something you are the mercy of your audience. It is scary but exhilarating and any negative review that comes your way should simply serve as a reminder that you are a human putting yourself out there to help or entertain as many people as you possibly can.

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You DO NOT Have to Write Every Day To Be A Writer

It seems like everywhere I turn some expert out there is telling me I should write every day. Even if it is for a short period of time, I should make it a habit to write every day.  For the longest time I would find myself stressed out because for whatever reason I was unable to successfully make myself write every day.

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I am a father of two and I work full time (about 40 to 50 hours per week) for 10 months out of the year. My daily routine can be summarized like this:

Wake up around 5AM. Brush teeth, shave, shower. Get my outfit on. Get one of my daughters and get them ready for the day. Kiss my wife and kids head off to work (coffee on the way).

I work from about 7AM to 4PM (often later), commute home and arrive by approximately 5PM. I hang out with my wife and daughters and eat dinner.

At 8PM we bring the girls up to bed.

By about 8:15PM we begin our night time routine. Clean the house, get the lunches and outfits ready for the next day which brings us to about 8:45PM or so.

work-management-907669_1280At this point we are both exhausted but this is when we take care of our side hustle objectives. We usually sit side by side for about an hour on our laptops writing. I should point out that the writing doesn’t always last for
an hour because we literally can’t keep our eyes open.

In the past I would go to bed upset with myself because I wouldn’t be able to fight through the exhaustion in order to make myself write every day. In addition, if I was successful one week then I would find that my wife and I would become more irritable with one another because we often neglected the time we needed to give to each other.

I was in a no-win situation. If I wrote every night my wife and I would be driving each other crazy. If I didn’t, I would feel like a lazy slob who wasn’t willing to step up and do what was necessary to achieve the success I so ambitiously sought.
town-sign-749613_1280This was until it hit me that I don’t have to listen to the experts. In fact, the experts might be amazing at implementing a schedule that works for them but are they really experts in my schedule? Definitely not!

I decided to create my own rules to ensure that I was writing enough but not neglecting other important aspects of my life. For me, I set a goal of a certain amount of words for the upcoming week that I want to write. I base the number on the responsibilities I know lay ahead in the week to come. If I have a few late days at work I might reduce the amount of words. If I know I’ll be able to get out a bit earlier than normal for a few days I’ll increase the amount.

Using my productivity system that I explain in my book The Persistence Formula I break each writing goals into 1000 word chunks. If I am hoping to write at least 4000 words for the week I’ll create four goals of “Write 1000 words towards Book X (or blog)”

It is important that you realize that I am not telling you to use my system. In fact I am intentionally not going into great detail about my system for ensuring that I am able to write enough.

I ask you to consider the following when you’re attempting to create your writing system.

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Plan regularly – every Sunday evening I write my goals for the week (which is based on my monthly goals). This is a regularly scheduled time that I allocated towards how many words I want to write for the week.

Follow through  – I believe the reason so many successful writers suggest writing every day is because they’re afraid of the procrastination and work avoidance that can stem out of a lack of a daily writing routine. I can very honestly tell you, however, that I do not write every day but I do continue to write on a regular basis.

Learn instead of stressing  –  though for the most part I am able to accomplish my weekly writing goals, every now and again I might miss a 1000 word block. Rather than beat myself over this missed goal I would reflect on what prevented me from achieving my goal(s) then adjust my future goal setting accordingly.

Write even if you’re not inspired – unfortunately your schedule will not always align with when you’re feeling inspired. Develop a way to capture your ideas when inspiration strikes so you have a data base of great ideas waiting and ready for you when you are able to sit down and write.

Regardless of the system you choose just remember that though there may be many experts out there that can genuinely help you. There may be times where you have to be your own expert and determine what works for you.

Happy writing!

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We All Think We’re Terrible Writers At One Point Or Another

despair-513529_1920I just finished the first draft of my fourth book. I should be excited, right? Nope. Not in the least. This goes against my character. Typically, I’m a pretty positive guy. However, the reason for my atypical negativity is a direct result of the feeling I had the entire time I finished the remaining final portion of my book.

The entire time I was writing it I just kept thinking to myself this is horrible. This is awful. Who would want to read this? People are going to think I’m full of bologna.

I am speculating at this point but I believe the cause for such a detrimental outlook was derived from the lack of clarity in my mind as to what I was ultimately trying to say.

Due to a few family issues the progress of this particular book was slightly delayed a bit so when I returned to finish it I felt like I had lost my voice. Since I am a firm believer in getting things done I worked through my negative outlook. I ignored the rude, hurtful comments my inner self was trying to convey and I wrote.

When I finished the book I felt relief but it was quickly overtaken by the fact that I had just completed a piece of trash. Here is why, ultimately, despite everything I am telling you I am still moving forward with this book.

  1. I hired an editor that understands my voice and knows me as a writer, at times, better than I know myself. He will repair any damage I’ve done.
  2. I reviewed some positive reviews from my other three books.
  3. I read a few paragraphs from my best selling book.

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These three things are enough to convince me that the negativity in my mind will pass and though I require help from others to perfect each book, that is all part of the process.

Here is what I’d like you take from this article. If you are new to writing then just be proud of yourself for completing a book or an article. If you’re a bit more experienced then leverage all the positive feedback you’ve received in the past to get you through your low moments.

Either way do not quit.

As I sit here writing I can’t help but reflect on what writing means to me. It means expression, freedom, value, problem solving, community and so much more.

Oh yeah and one more item…therapy.

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Thanks for letting me air out all my baggage.

Now enough reading, start writing!