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Posts Tagged ‘Time management for Writers’

Calling Aspiring Writers …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on October 31, 2011

The Varuna Publisher Fellowships is open for 2011.

What is Varuna?

It’s a beautiful house in the Blue Mountains which is run as a writers retreat. (For more see here).

What is a fellowship?

In their own words:

‘The Varuna Publisher Fellowships can provide a pathway to bring your work to the attention of a publisher.  It also allows you to work on your manuscript in the unique residential environment of Varuna. You can work on your manuscript, knowing that there’s a publisher who has chosen to read and consider the finished work for publication.

The Varuna Publisher Fellowships program offers 15 one-week residential fellowships during 2012.’

Five publishers are involved in this particular fellowship program. The applicants send 20 -50 pages of their manuscript with a pitch for the project. The publishers select writers based on this. The lucky writers will get a one week stay at Varuna where they can work in peace on their manuscript. There is a consultation with Varuna writing consultants during the residency and when their ms is finished a Varuna writing consultant will read the ms before it is sent to the publisher.

The closing date for applicants is Nov 30th.  For full details see here. The publishers are looking for a broad range of genres.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get away for a week and do nothing but write?

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Posted in Creativity, Editing and Revision, Editors, Mentorships, Pitching, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft, Writing Opportunities | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Ian Irvine’s Adventures using Facebook …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on July 30, 2011

Last January I posted on my historical book promotion efforts: and at the end I talked about poking a tentative toe into the murky sea of social media. Some time back Rowena kindly invited me back to provide an update on my adventures with Facebook, my successes and failures, insights and disappointments, and finally, after missing many deadlines, here it is.

Why Use Social Media?

Why did I decide to put so much time and effort into social media, I hear you ask? Because over half my readers are under the age of 35 and I wanted to contact them directly – as well as older readers, of course. And also, because fans are different these days – they want a two-way dialogue with the authors whose books they love, and social media offers the best way to do this.

Ten, even five years ago, email was one of the key ways for authors to communicate with fans, particularly young fans (I used to get email from roughly 1 in 300 of the people who had bought my books – or, at least, had read them). However a one-to-one dialogue is very time consuming and most authors don’t or can’t find the time to reply individually to hundreds (or for big-name authors, thousands) of emails a year. Now, with the rise of social media, email contact is fading at the same time that fans’ expectations are climbing. Few people read book review pages in newspapers these days, or go to conventions, while launches and signings have almost disappeared, and only celebrity authors go on book tours. But more than half the population of Australia (and most other developed countries) use social media regularly, and that’s where any author who wants to communicate with fans should be.

Using social media effectively is about:

  • Making contact with people who love the kind of books you write.
  • Engaging in two-way conversation with them.
  • Being a real person, not a promotional huckster; and
  • Helping others, answering questions and sharing resources.

Why Facebook?

I’ve concentrated on Facebook because:

  • It’s the most used social media platform in the world, with 750 million users and still growing rapidly. More than half of these users log on every day, and 85% weekly. In Australia alone there are more than 10 million active users, defined as those who use Facebook at least once a month.
  • It’s a relatively gentle introduction to a social media environment.
  • Its features are more comprehensive than other popular social media sites.
  • It’s easy to contact people with similar interests – for instance, the 3,400 people in English-speaking countries who have said on Facebook that they are specifically interested in my books. This number may seem small (for a range of popular authors, I’ve calculated that specifically interested fans typically number 1 person for every 300-400 books sold worldwide) but they are among your most committed readers and it’s good to reach out to them and find out what they’re interested in. Also, given that word-of-mouth is one of the key ways that readers discover new authors, committed fans are vital to the success of your new books.
  • Another advantage of Facebook is that it has terrific metrics – you can get a wealth of detail about which groups of people are visiting your Page (and which are not). Also, if you use Facebook ads, there is instantaneous feedback as to whether they’re working or not – and if not, why not. You can stop the campaign immediately and change it to better meet your objectives.

Getting Started

The most effective way to use Facebook is via a business Page set up for individuals (eg writers, artists, bands, public figures) wanting to use Facebook for business purposes. This Page contains a range of features designed to help users connect with you. Note that business Pages are different from the most commonly used type of Page, a personal profile page for an individual to use in a non-commercial way.

To set up a business Page, go here and follow the steps. Once a business Page has 25 fans (ie, people who have “Liked” it) you can apply for a ‘vanity’ Facebook URL, which is a neat, logical and distinct URL for your page. Mine is http://www.facebook.com/ianirvine.author.

Facebook Pages come with several standard apps (or tabs) such as Info, Photos, Discussions, Notes etc. Thousands of other apps are available for a myriad of purposes – for instance, to create a tab for all your books or your latest book, your Twitter feed, to run a poll or a promotion. For ideas on what apps are available, Google “best apps for Facebook business pages”.

My Facebook Page

My daughter Fiona, a social media whiz, put together a 30-page strategy for me. I provided the content and she set up my Page. It’s called a Page though it’s really a site with many different tabs and more than a hundred (printed) pages of content, not counting the Wall where most of the social interaction takes place.

Your Facebook Page should not try to reproduce your website, but it’s important to have blurbs, covers and other information about all of your books there. You should also have a landing tab (this is where people will arrive until they Like your page, after which they’ll come to the Wall) with a large cover picture and clear details about your most recent book. It’s a good idea to provide buttons or links for fans to order your books from a variety of outlets, not just Amazon. Also include links to your website and specifically to first chapters, FAQs, interviews, book trailers and other material of interest to many readers. It’s better to keep the latter info on your website as it offers far more flexibility in presentation.

How the Page Works

The key to success on Facebook is to get a large number of people to Like your page. They have to Like it to be able to comment or post to your Page. Once they have Liked it, they receive a news feed of your posts, which, as well as the social aspects, has obvious promotional benefits. Also, your news items of particular interest will often be reposted to other Facebook pages, gaining thousands of extra views. The interaction can’t just be one way, though. It can’t just be the author relentlessly promoting his or her books – it’s important to listen and respond to what your fans have to say and interact with them as a human being rather than a promotional robot.

Even if you’re reasonably well-known as an author, however, you can’t merely set up your Page and expect people to come – in 6 months time you’ll be lucky to have a couple of hundred fans, which isn’t enough. In my view, for Facebook to be of much use as a promotional tool, a Page needs to have a minimum of 1,000 fans, and the more the better.

Fiona set my Page up in the dying days of 2010. Initially I wanted to use it to promote my Grim and Grimmer humorous fantasy quartet for children. The last of these books was to be published in June 2011, so I only had 5 months from setting up my Page until the final book would be in the bookshops. Therefore I set myself ambitious targets for the number of people to Like my page:

  • 1 month from creation: 300 fans
  • 3 months from creation: 700 fans
  • 6 months from creation: 1,500 fans
  • 1 year from creation: 2,500 fans

Promoting my Page

To achieve these targets, I had to strongly promote my Page. I’ve done this in a number of ways, including directly to my contacts by email, by contact via newsletters, blog tours and other online places, by running competitions and with advertising on Facebook and elsewhere.

Email and Internet

To raise awareness of my Page (and promote the Grim and Grimmer books) I’ve done many things, including:

  • Emailed over 600 contacts and recent fans individually, and contacted another 1,500 or more people via various writer’s lists and newsletters, and on blogs.
  • Put info about the Page and my competitions prominently on my huge, redesigned website, and installed Like buttons on every page.
  • Posted many sets of books to online reviewers. This gained 8 reviews, including 2 in the NSW Writer’s Centre weekly newsletter which went out to 6,500 book lovers.
  • Two blog tours for the Grim and Grimmers, including 32 posts on other book blogs, totalling 40,000 words.
  • Tweeted excepts from the Grim and Grimmers,
  •  Attended various conventions including Supanova in Brisbane (23,000 people were there).
  • Established presences at various other internet sites including GoodReads, Google+, AboutMe.com, Shelfari etc.

Competitions

Initially I set up a weekly competition entitled 300 Books in 200 Days, where I planned to give away three of my signed trilogies or quartets every week until July (since changed to 500 Books in 300 Days and now running until the end of 2011, at least). All new visitors to my Page arrive at the Grim and Grimmer tab, which has covers, blurbs and reviews for these books, plus links to sample chapters, readings etc. Visitors have to Like my Page to enter the comps. So far I’ve given away over 200 books, which I’ve mailed to winners all over the world. Every month I give away a set of The View from the Mirror audiobooks – 91 hours of magic, action, adventure and a little romance – and this prize has proven very popular. I suspended the book giveaway comp for the month of April in order to give away an iPad 2 – a very successful promotion.

Note that Facebook has strict rules governing the use of promotions, which can be found here. Facebook doesn’t allow competitions or promotions to be run on its pages; they have to be run and hosted on a separate app, and winners notified by email or other means, not via Facebook message. I use the EasyPromos app to run my competitions ($15 per promotion) and I’m very happy with it. To see the current promotion, or enter it (remember to Like my page first, ha!) you can click the Promos tab on my Page Wall or go here.

You should also be aware that competitions where there is no skill involved, ie where the winner is selected randomly, are illegal in quite a few countries, and penalties are severe. For this reason, I restricted my iPad 2 giveaway to Australia and obtained a NSW permit for it ($75), which covers the whole country. My book giveaways, which are selected on the best answers, are games of skill, not chance and don’t need a permit.

Advertising

Apart from great metrics, advertising on Facebook has another terrific advantage: members indicate what they’re interested in when they set up their Facebook account (books, music, movies, etc), and you can target ads directly to those people who are most likely to be interested in them. For instance, in the Ad Creator I entered the main English-speaking countries (Australia, UK, US, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland), then ‘Ian Irvine” under ‘Specific Interests’, which revealed that 3,400 people in those countries were specifically interested in my books. Clearly, it was very important to attract as many of these people as possible to my Page, so I directed one version of my book giveaway ad to them.

This process will only work if you’re a reasonably well-known author with a following, of course, otherwise your name  won’t come up under ‘specific interests’. But you can do many other things. For the Grim and Grimmers, I directed other versions of my ads to people who like humorous children’s fantasy series such as Artemis Fowl, Bartimaeus, Skulduggery Pleasant etc. In this way you can target as few or as many people as you wish, for any author or book series that’s relevant, or any combination of these.

With these ads, you only pay when someone actually clicks on the ad and is taken to your Page, so at least you know they’ve seen the content there. This doesn’t mean they’ll Like your page, of course. I gained a high proportion of Likes for the ‘Ian Irvine’ ads described above, and also for the iPad 2 giveaway I ran for the month of April. My book giveaway ads have a much lower rate of Likes – clearly, lots of people don’t want free books enough to Like the Page and enter the comps, but I’ve also realised that the comps should be easy to enter and have simple questions, otherwise most people won’t bother. It’s important to monitor the performance of your ads every day and stop any campaigns where you’re getting lots of clicks (for which you pay) but not many Likes.

Since January, I’ve done over three months of carefully targeted Facebook ads. I’ve also done other ads, including a NSW Writers Centre e-ad which went out to 6,000 people on their mailing list.

Cost

As I was in a hurry, because of book publication dates, this program was more expensive than it would otherwise have been. I’ve spent about $2,000 on advertising, and a good swag more on giveaways, postage etc. if I’d set up my Page a lot earlier, I could have gained much of my exposure and fans incrementally through blogs and other routes, and avoided much of the expense. But I don’t regret it.

Success or Failure?

As of late July 2011, my Page has 2,100 fans and a fabulous level of interaction – some of my posts have had 70 or more replies. It’s a terrifically warm and supporting environment and has become very important to me, both promotionally and personally.

But has it worked, I hear you ask? Well, I can’t say that the sales of Grim and Grimmer have been spectacular, but:

  • The series has been exposed to at least 15,000 people who otherwise would have known nothing about it;
  • The Grim and Grimmers have gained a lot of reviews they would not otherwise have had, every review has been favourable and quite a few have been raves.
  • Book 1, The Headless Highwayman, which had a big initial printing last year (around 10,000 copies) reprinted in May before the last book, The Calamitous Queen, was published;
  • So, definitely not a runaway bestseller, but I’m pleased that I’ve made a significant contribution to the success of these books.

The Future

Will I be continuing Facebook promotion for my long-awaited new epic fantasy series, The Tainted Realm, which begins with Vengeance in November? Too right I will! In fact I’ll be expanding the advertising, and the competitions, including another iPad 2 giveaway in a month or so. Stay tuned.

Not least, my Facebook Page has put me in touch with thousands of my most enthusiastic and loyal fans, and the dialogue I’ve had with them has been precious indeed.

And thanks very much to Fiona, for the strategy and for setting up my Page and giving me continuing advice and assistance with it. I could not have done it without you.

I’d just like to take this chance to thank Ian for his generosity in sharing this information. He has gone out there and done all the research. Then he’s taken the time to write this detailed and comprehensive guide. Show a little support and go Like his Facebook pages!

Posted in Australian Spec Fic Scene, Authors and Public Speaking, Book Launches, Fantasy Genre, Promoting your Book, Visiting Writer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments »

What will you do when you get the call?

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on December 18, 2010

They say writers serve a 10 year apprenticeship to learn the craft. I know I’d written 10 books before I sold my first one. In Tansy’s interview she said the one thing she would tell herself if she could go back to her first book sale is – don’t sign anything until you have an agent.

(This post is a starting off point. You need to do your own research).

Maybe you’re lucky enough to get an offer after submitting to a competition or a manuscript development program. Should you approach an agent now? Well, yes, if you have a concrete offer from a publisher.

Editors like to ring up authors when they make the offer because they get a buzz when normally sane people start babbling and doing cartwheels. If an editor rings you with an offer of $X for your book/trilogy, you don’t need to agree to anything right away. In fact, you can say ‘That’s great. I’ll just call my agent.’

An agent will be happy to take you on, if you already have a concrete offer from a publisher. Once you have that offer you need to approach an agent, but which agent? Have you been doing your homework? Do you know the top agents for your genre in Australia? Would you prefer an agent based in the US or the UK? What are the pros and cons?

A good Australian agent will have intimate knowledge of the Australian publishing scene. They will have contacts in literary agencies in the US and the UK, who can try to on-sell your work over there. (Your Australian publisher will probably want limited world rights so that they have the option of on-selling for 12 months). Now it begins to get complicated and you see why it is worthwhile having an agent who knows their stuff.

If you do get an Australian agent who has contacts in agencies in the US and the UK and one of those over seas agents sells some of your work, they will take a percentage, then your Aussie agent will take a percentage and you will get what is left.

If you opt for a US or UK agent they will not have the same intimate knowledge of the Australian publishing scene, but they should have  in-depth knowledge of the UK/US scene. There is lots of consider when ‘shopping’ for an agent.

Australian Literary Agents Association.

Association of Authors Representatives US.

Association of Authors and Agents UK.

Note – the money flows to the author. If an agent asks you for money to read your manuscript, or do photocopies (no one uses photocopies any more) or make international calls (what about email?), then they are feeding off aspiring writers.  If an agent says your book is good but it needs work, and then recommends a manuscript appraiser, be very wary. The agent should take an agreed upon percentage of the advance that the publisher pays you, that is all.

Then there is the larger question of your writing career. So you’ve sold one book and maybe the publishers want a three book deal because they want to grow you as an author. So suddenly you have to produce two more books, while editing the first one and deliver them all to deadlines. Here is  Zoe Archer’s post about what happened when her first book was accepted.

If you’re anything like me you have a backlog of books you’ve written, but they could be from different series and the publisher wants three books in series X. Maybe you are lucky and you’ve written three books in series X, but they’ll be at different levels of readiness because you’ve been growing as an author, while you’ve been working on them.

You need to work out how long it will take you to either tidy up the three books already written, or write two new books. Be realistic in your estimates. Publishers like you to deliver on time, but they do understand that life happens. If it looks like you are not going to meet your deadline, don’t panic and stew about it. Plan ahead, contact your agent to let them know and they will go to your publisher to negotiate a new deadline.

So, have you done your home work on agents? Do you have a career plan?

 

Posted in Agents, Editing and Revision, Editors, Publishers, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Writers and real life …

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on November 20, 2010

While I dream of running away and joining a writer’s convent where someone brings me meals and I sit in my room all day long wrestling with my muse, this is not going to happen.

People used to ask me, How do you find the time to write with 6 children and all the volunteer work you do on art’s management committees? And I used to jokingly say it was the writing that kept me sane. (This was true, that was why it was a joke).

Now days I am struggling to get near my computer to write. You’ll all identify with the position I’m in – five kids at home, renovating the house, working part time (except for weeks like last week when I do 12 hour days to get through the marking) and trying to complete three books to hand in to my publisher  early next year.

This morning I sat down at the computer to get stuck into a scene I’ve been having trouble with and I struggled with it.

For one thing the computer room is half dismantled because we’ll be tiling it in a few weeks and we have to move everything out. So there are boxes everywhere and I have to pick my way through them to get to the desk. (I hate working in the middle of a mess. Mess makes me twitchy).

Then, because it was the first time I’d been home all week, everyone came to me. They wanted to show me assignments and ask me questions. (Yes, I love my family but … I couldn’t get any steam up because I was constantly interrupted.

The other thing was I felt utterly flat. The marking I’ve been doing is very challenging (analysing storyboards and explaining why shots and camera movements did or didn’t work and making suggestions to improve them), so I was mentally drained.  My creative well was dry, and I became frustrated with myself because I couldn’t just switch it on at will.

Here are a couple posts I’ve done in the past about creativity. Feeding your creative crucible and Creativity, can it be harnessed? In the end I went out and attacked the weeds in the garden because I had to do something. (And the garden desperately needed weeding. Not only am I a bad mother, I’m a bad gardener!).

The other thing I’ve noticed is that when ever I get to rocky patch with the current book, I’ll slip onto Twitter or I roam the blogs and download my emails. All of which is fun, but it doesn’t get the book written. So I’ve set up a screen and an old computer in my bedroom and I’m going to work there (where there’s no internet). I won’t be tempted to go surfing the web and there’s the added bonus that my bedroom is up stairs and at the far end of the house, so people will have to Really want to talk to me if they want to interrupt me. So, set aside a place that is going to be your writing place and remove temptations such as surfing the internet (and writing blog posts like this one).

Douglas Adams used to say that he loved deadlines. He loved the sound they made as the whooshed by. I’m one of those people who sets themselves deadlines then works like crazy to meet them. (It’s the inner obsessive compulsive in me). So I’m going to set myself a goal because I simply Must meet my deadline. 50 pages cleaned up and edited every week, (except the weeks when I have to do 12 hour days to get through the marking).

I should be able to meet that goal. There’s no point in setting a goal that’s too difficult. You’ll give up before you start. I find that with first draft, if I set myself the goal of four pages of new story a day (that’s 1000 words) the book just grows and grows. There will be days when 4 pages is a challenge and there will be days when I do 20 pages easy. So, if you’re going to set yourself goals make them small and achievable.

Here is a collection of articles on Time Management for Writers. As you can see I’ve already done a couple of the things they suggest.

If you are serious about learning the craft of writing, then you simply must give yourself the time and the room to grow as a writer. You need to be able to experiment and write that weird story that keeps bothering you. An important part of learning is Play and being able to make mistakes. It’s very freeing to give yourself permission to experiment and attempt new things. So there is the craft of writing and then there is the business of writing.  Here is where Holly Lisle answers your questions about the business of writing. Which brings me back to my trilogy and trying to meet a deadline.

There, I’ve admitted I am struggling to get my trilogy cleaned up. The first step is to admit you have problem.

How are you going with your writing? Do you get diverted by Twitter and blogs? Do you get interrupted constantly by children? Are you burnt out from creatively draining paid work?

Do you have any suggestions you could share with me? Really, I’d love to hear how you keep the creative fire alight and get your stories written.

Posted in Creativity, Editing and Revision, Nourish the Writer, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , | 18 Comments »

Nourish the Writer

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on June 5, 2010

This Sunday’s blog is about time management for writers, a request from the Vision writers group.

The picture is from a little book my daughter bought for me called ‘You say I’m a bitch like its a Bad Thing’, written by Ed Polish and Darren Wotz. Lots of 1950s images of housewives combined with catch phrases that have a modern slant. (Some very amusing and rather biting comments). Available from Ten Speed Press.

Sure the women of the 1950s had limited options. But you know something, they weren’t trying to have it all, a job, a family and, if you are a writer, a career as a published author.

Recently, I have been considering running away and I don’t say this lightly. The workload has become ridiculous (I only have myself to blame). My trilogy was accepted and the publishers decided to release the three books a month apart. This is great but it meant editing all three books, each over 100,000 words, in around three months, that’s the three levels of editing, structural, line and copy edit. (I’m racing to complete the last copy edit on book three this weekend). Plus I took on teaching three subjects at work. We run on an accelerated course, so there were assignments to mark every 3 or 4 weeks, sometimes double or triple lots when the three different subjects’ assignments coincided. Plus I set up a national manuscript development workshop for RWA, called the 5DI. (Couldn’t have pulled this off without the women on the team. Romance writers rock, they are so organised and so supportive).  And then there were all the normal things that happen when you have 6 children, with 4 still at home. (Plus I started writing and researching a new series. I know I really am crazy).

So one of the first things that a writer must learn to do is say ‘No’. You can’t be all things to all people. (Took my advice on this one and am only teaching two subjects this trimester).

Not surprisingly there is a lot of advice for time starved writers on the web. Here is an article from Freewriting advice. This is very practical.

And Here’s an article by Chip Scanlan on breaking things down into manageable chunks.

This one looks at the things that take you away from writing. And then lists Ten Tips for Effective Time Management.

And here is a rather nice one with things to do when you don’t feel like writing. This might sound counter intuitive but they are all things that are productive.

When I invited the delightful Sean Williams to talk at EnVision about being a professional writer, he said something I’ve never forgotten. He had accepted a contract to write two books in two years. Then he had a call with the offer to write another two books in the same period. Naturally, he didn’t want to turn them down so he agreed. Then he had the chance to write 2 books for Star Wars, in the SAME time period. And he agreed to do it. By this time all of us were groaning. 6 books in 2 years? Impossible.

(Just emailed Sean to check if my memory was right. It was 6 books in 2.5 years,  a book every months.  He says, ‘I swore I’d never do anything like that again, and apart from the odd book-in-a-month Star Wars deadline, I’ve managed to stick to that. Touchwood!’).

How did Sean do it? He worked out how many words he would have to write, if he wrote every single day and set himself the goal of writing that number of words each day, no matter where he was. So if he was at a Con, he went to his room and wrote. And you know what? He managed to meet his deadlines.

I asked him, ‘What if you went wrong and had to rewrite?’ He grinned and said, ‘I couldn’t go wrong. I had to get it right first time.’ Whew. I still go off in the wrong direction sometimes. But I have adopted his goal. I try to write (on the days that I can) a thousand words a day. That’s not much, just 4 pages. It is amazing how those thousand words mount up.  I wrote 320 pages of a first draft in the first 5 months of this year. (Now I have to go back and tweak them, because the characters have evolved and aren’t comfortable with what I planned for them. Pesky things, characters).

So here’s another tip. Set yourself a goal of writing 1000 words when ever you sit down to write.

And have concrete writing career goals. If you know there is a writing competition coming up, plan to have something ready to submit to it.

At ROR we do something every time we meet up. We set short term goals, long term goals and dream goals.

Short term: What are we going to achieve in the next 6 months?

(Get the new book finished or research for the new series).

Long term: What are we hoping to achieve in the next 3-5 years?

(Finish three books in a the new series. Write a book in a new genre).

Dream goals: What if the Writing Fates smiled on us? What would we like to see happen?

(Write a breakout cross genre book that is as successful as  Stephanie Myer/JK Rowling’s books).

And we ask the ROR Oracle (Marianne after several glasses of wine) to predict what will happen.

We write these down and we review them when we get together. Of course the goals change as our lives change direction.  But the ROR Oracle did predict that Margo would win a World Fantasy Award, which she did. And, since we have been meeting for 9 years now, we’ve seen our goals come to fruition. This is very satisfying.

If you stick to your writing, attend workshops, keep polishing your craft, watch for opportunities, submit, network and keep submitting, you will achieve the holy grail of the writer — publication.

But sometimes when you go to that creative well you discover it has gone dry. You can’t keep churning out stories, working yourself into the ground to meet work deadlines, running the family and doing volunteer work, without putting something back.

You don’t want to burn out. Take a look at your life. Now imagine you are your own best friend and give yourself the advice you would give your best friend. This is why I called this post Nourish the Writer.

To avoid burn out:

You need to do something just for you once a week. What ever it is, don’t let anything else get in the way. This is your time. Be selfish and make sure you get the time to do it. You’ll come back to your family and work a better person, for having had the time away from them.

Learn something new. (What? you say. I’m already over committed. I know but this is important). I’ve been reading a book on the latest understandings on the plasticity of the human brain and how to maintain plasticity as you age. Learning a new skill keeps the brain active. By taking on a new job as an Associate Lecturer, I’ve had to learn a lot of new skills and it has been really good for me.

Actively seek out ways to feed your creativity. Even if you aren’t writing a book on ancient China and you see a documentary coming up on that topic, watch it. Every piece of new information you gain goes into the creative well.  It will help stretch your mind. You’ll make connections with other information and be better able to make intuitive leaps that come while writing. Listen in to conversations on public transport. The things you overhear (especially when people are talking on their mobile phones) are amazing. All of these are insights into human nature. And, when you get the chance, go visit new places. Immerse yourself in other places and other cultures.

From New Scientist, 8 ways to Boost your Creatvitiy.

One of my favourite quotes came from a Time Management talk by Lu Cairncross at a Romance Writers Conference. Imagine 200 women in a room and she says, ‘If it’s not dirty, don’t clean it.’

Sigh. I don’t have that problem any more. I’m afraid my house is dirty and it’s more a matter of  ‘How dirty will I let it get, before I clean it!’  LOL

For me with my large family and the level of commitment I have, the greatest luxury is time alone. Private time when there aren’t demands on me, when my head space is my own — that is really precious.

If you had one day all to yourself and you could do anything you wanted, what would it be?

Posted in Creativity, Nourish the Writer, Publishing Industry, Writing Craft | Tagged: , , , , | 11 Comments »