The Effective Author: Writing Time, Writing Results

The Effective Author: Writing Time, Writing Results

© 2017 Kebba Buckley Button, MS, OM. World Rights Reserved.

so-much-to-write

There is a close correlation between the writing time you put in and the writing results you get. You may have such goals as “write and sell one book a year.” Within that goal, you may be including marketing time and time for book signings. Perhaps you’re imagining you will “do” a couple of blog challenges to get more exposure.

Business coaches urge us to set BHAGs: Big Hairy Audacious Goals. These coaches try to rev up our excitement to get us to accelerate our activity and move toward such goals. But I have yet to see any of those coaches talk about the number of hours it will take to meet any goal. You have a specific number of hours available to you each year: 8,760 (8,784 in a leap year). And you can choose how you use any and all of them. In fact, you are the only person who can decide how to use those hours.

Let’s do a quick exercise about how we use time. This will open up your view of your own time. Take a piece of paper and draw a wide rectangle, which you will divide into a row of seven little rectangles. The big rectangle is a sample week, and the seven little rectangles are the days of the week. Label the days of the week.

Now shade in about one third of each day’s rectangle, or 8 hours, for sleep and showering. If you need more or less sleep and grooming time, just shade it in that way. Now, what do you need for meal prep and eating, 2 hours a day? Time to get the family off to school and work: 1 hour daily on weekdays? Mark those 10 hours and shade them in. Now you have 56 + 14 + 10 hours a week already taken, or 80 hours. But you have 168 hours in a week! So now, in this example, you have a lavish 88 hours left to use! Given other commitments, how much of these 88 hours are you willing (wanting, craving, regretfully assigning…) to commit to your writing?

A successful novelist I know was working full-time in media when she decided she wanted to write mysteries. She began getting up at 4 a.m. and writing for a few hours, every day. Now she writes two books a year, speaks and teaches, and is well-known in her field. If you write for 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, you’re putting in 36 hours a week, or 1,800 hours a year, allowing for two weeks off. You can get a lot done with that kind of commitment.

At a conference, I met a romance writer who was on contract to write three romance novels a year. She was beautiful, slim, lighthearted, and clearly joyfully in her life groove. Her level of successful productivity seemed staggering to me. Then I met Cupcake Mysteries author, Jenn McKinlay, another sparkling soul, who was writing three series at once! Her productivity secret? She said, in a busy life with family, she began craving to write. She would sneak an hour here and there, as she could, to get some writing done. Gradually, Jenn was able to find more time, and when I met her, she was still savoring the privilege and pleasure of any writing time at all.

These novelists love the art and activity of writing. And they make time for it. And they are succeeding. So, what are you doing with your 88 hours? How many books would you like to be writing? What length of books? On what topics? How much writing time are you willing to commit to meet your goals? Where in your seven rectangles will you assign your time to simply researching and writing the books you want to bring forth?

Writing time leads to writing results, and The Effective Author allots the time. All the best to you!

_________________
Kebba Buckley Button is a stress management expert and author of the award-winning book, Kebba booksDiscover the Secret Energized You, as well as the 2013 book, Peace Within: Your Peaceful Inner Core, Second Edition
. Her newest book, Sacred Meditation: Embracing the Divine, is available through her office. Just email SacredMeditation@kebba.com for more info. Like this article? Buy Kebba’s books by clicking the links! Reach the writer at kebba@kebba.com. For an appointment or to ask Kebba to speak for your group: calendar@kebba.com.

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Fun Facts

Fun Facts

by Rita Goldner

Social media marketers in general, and specifically book marketers, are often looking for obscure holidays they can commemorate with a tie-in to a current work. One you may have overlooked this past month was the anniversary of English archaeologist Howard Carter entering the sealed tomb of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen on February 16, 1923. After having searched for five years, Carter had found the secret entrance and the four goldner-march-1tomb rooms the previous November. He was carefully cataloging the contents and didn’t get to the final room, with the solid gold coffin and the mummified Tut, until February 16. My tribute to this august occasion is this coloring page from my soon-to-be-released book, Making Marks on the World.

A presenter I heard at a recent writers’ seminar quoted Sir Laurence Olivier advising then-newbie Anthony Hopkins. Olivier had opined that when Hopkins delivered his one line, even though seemingly insignificant, the whole audience’s attention would be on him, for that one second. We seminar attendees inferred that when we are thrust into that same fleeting spotlight by our readers, we had better have something to say, and say it well.

Since I’ve been writing, I’ve been daunted by this momentary center-stage position afforded by readers. As my readers are children, I consider my onus even heavier, but for the same reason, I want to keep it fun. In every book so far, I include “Fun Facts” to supplement the story. Initially I had them mixed in with the story, but my editor wisely suggested I put them in separate boxes, labeled as such. This way, very young kids can ignore them. Older kids can go back and read them later, so the story flow isn’t interrupted. Like all the others in the book, my King Tut page has “Fun Facts” on the facing page, so as not to ruin the picture.

Even in my own reading, I enjoy “Fun Facts.” I’m presently reading the Longmire series by Craig Johnson, since I got hooked by the Netflix series based on the books. He includes nuggets of information sometimes having nothing to do with the plot. For example, on one occasion, the protagonist was riding past the Teapot Dome rock formation. The author inserted a short paragraph about the Teapot Dome Scandal, involving President Harding’s administration, like it was drifting through the protagonist’s mind as he rode past. Every how-to book I’ve read or class I’ve taken about writing cautions writers not to include even one word that doesn’t move the plot forward. This writer breaks the rule, not to the extent of being boring or distracting, and in my opinion, it’s successful.

I continue to break the rule, too, hoping I’ll be equally successful throwing a bit of education in with the adventure.

You can print out a full-sized copy of the King Tut’s Tomb coloring page and new ones each month by signing up for my kids’ newsletter at http://shoutout.wix.com/so/9LYxOHam

Thanks for reading. Your comments are welcome and invited.

____________________
Rita Goldner is the author and illustrator of the children’s picture book,
Orangutan: A Rita Goldner2Day in the Rainforest Canopy. Rita has also written and illustrated two eBooks, Jackson’s History Adventure and Jackson’s Aviation Adventure, in the Jackson’s Adventure series. For orangutan facts and images and to purchase the book (also available as an ebook), visit OrangutanDay.com. Or by the Kindle version here. See her new work at Anthill Books. To view additional illustrations and other books in progress, visit Rita’s website. Contact Rita here. Follow Rita on Facebook.

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On Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome

On Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome

by Elizabeth Blake

doubt-fear

Let’s start with a confession: I was binge-watching Parks and Recreation last night. Why where my eyes were glued to the television instead of my current rough draft? That’s subject matter for another blog. First, I wanted to recognize a fictional character whose struggles were like my own.

In the featured episode, the main character wins a local election. Champagne and confetti for everyone! Fresh from victory, she leaves her small town to petition in Washington D.C. Suddenly she is swimming in a big pond alongside political leviathans. Naturally, she feels insignificant and impotent – a s if she’s a fraud only pretending to be someone of value.

It struck me like a gong. I’ve been experiencing similar doubts in my business career, as well as my writing life. Other people might be proud of themselves. Not me. Achievements quickly mutate into nagging weaknesses, and the inner dialog is crippling.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve increased sales by 8 percent and your margin by 11 percent – somewhere, someone else is doing better. It’s only a matter of time before they realize how unskilled and unprepared you truly are. And so what if you’ve completed and self-published seven books? The eighth one is doomed to failure, and if anyone bothers to read it, they’ll see all your inadequacies laid bare. At any moment, someone is going to stand up in a crowded room, point a jeering finger, and shout: “You’re not a real writer!”

I recently learned this form of self-criticism actually has a name: imposter syndrome. The phenomenon fills people with notions of fraudulence, inadequacy, and fear of failure. And then there’s the inevitable ridicule, when we’ll be unmasked and revealed as liars and conmen.

Perfectionism is partly to blame. Some of it comes from our aversion to risk. Taking risks is incredibly daunting, and we’re wired not to. Doing anything new or dangerous makes us uncomfortable and can even threaten our survival. Some of it comes from a failure of achievement, leading to greater expectations which we’ll probably blunder.

I don’t know if impostor syndrome ever goes away, but I plan to approach it with my own version of exposure therapy.

i bellieve in you.jpg

First, I’m going to actually talk about being a writer. I know it’s silly, but when the topic of my writing comes up, I freeze and panic, expecting criticism.

Second, I’ll try to use my previous accomplishments as fuel for my future ones. I have written a lot, and I plan to write a lot more. By definition, that makes me a writer. A real one.

And finally, I’ll remind myself that my work has value. Despite all the other stories in the world and all the other writers, I still have something worthwhile to say. Plus, only I can speak in my voice.

Hopefully practice will lead me to trust myself more and criticize myself less. Maybe the increased confidence will help me overcome everything from persistent doubt to the utter despair of a computer crash.

And maybe next time I’ll blog about why it’s important to back-up your files so you don’t lose 57,000 words to a shrieking blue-screen of death.

Until then, keep writing. I believe in us.

__________________
elizabeth-blakeElizabeth Blake is a complex woman. She’ll tell you that she’s not that complicated, that her demands are simple: Coffee, good books, freedom, world domination… Elizabeth Blake is a sorceress of stories, a lover of letters. If you want to get to know her, visit The Mind & Heart of Elizabeth Blake, pick up her books, follow her on social media, buy her a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.

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February, the Month of Love

February, the Month of Love

by Joe Carroccio

We took a brief break from marketing 16 in ’64 in February, this month of love, love, love – but not because of Valentine’s Day or a lack of enthusiasm on our part. Marti became a grandma for the first time. As Marti explained: “I have a very special Valentine this year! My beautiful, perfect grandson was born. He is just the best little man at 6 pounds, 15 ounces. Always remember, my little valentine, William: You are loved and we are all blessed!”

martis-grandson

Congratulations to Marti and her family!

Now, back to work…

We did our first book signing of 2017, on Saturday, January 28th at Zia Records’ Tempe, Arizona store, located at 3201 S. Mill Avenue. It was fun and productive, PR-wise. In March, we will do our next signing at Zia Records’ Thunderbird store, located at 2510 W. Thunderbird Road in Phoenix.

We still want to do book signings at Zia’s two Tucson locations, but have no firm dates as of now. We take this opportunity to thank Zia for its great support!

I will be speaking with M.I.M. (the Musical Instrument Museum) regarding the possibility of working with them on a Global Beatles Day celebration in June and on John Lennon’s birthday celebration in September.

beatles-fest-logo

As we mentioned previously, Marti will be attending The Fest for Beatles Fans, August 11-13 in Chicago, and most likely speak at the event.

I continue to make additions and revisions to our website, 16in64.com. Please visit for new book reviews and other interesting information.

Finally, for now, my vision for 16 in ’64, from its conception, has been to make this wonderful true story into a movie. I’m just putting it out there that we still need a producer!

Thanks, and blessings to all who have and continue support us.

______________________Joe Carroccio
Joe Carroccio is the coauthor of 16 in ’64: The Beatles and the Baby Boomers. Learn more at: 16in64.com.

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Frogs and Ponds

Frogs and Ponds

by Mary Ellen Stepanich

European common green frog in terrarium

My growing-up years were spent in a sleepy little town in southern Indiana. My entire world was contained in just a few square miles. I was surrounded by my entire family – maternal and paternal grandparents, multiple aunts and uncles, 23 first cousins, and several “kissin’ cousins.” In the rural setting of my youth, “kissin’ cousins” were far enough removed on the family tree that they could marry without fear of producing idiot children.

I can still hear my grandfather saying, as he remarked about some local blowhard bully, “He’s gettin’ too big for his britches. He ain’t nothin’ but a big frog in a small pond.”

As you probably know, a “big frog in a small pond” is someone who is well known in his hometown, most popular in his neighborhood, or revered among his small circle of friends. On the other hand, most of us who are authors are struggling to become well known in a much larger environment. We want to be big frogs in a big pond. In other words, we long to become bestsellers in our chosen genres.

Something happened to me recently that clearly identified my status vis-a-vis frogs and ponds. I was shopping at a well-known retail establishment, searching for my preferred headache tablets. The product I was seeking was stocked on the lowest shelf in a side aisle. That meant I had to bend down in a most unattractive pose, with my derriere protruding into the narrow passageway while I rooted around trying to find my brand. An attractive older gentleman eased past me and stood nearby. I rose up in frustration, unable to find what I was seeking, and without thinking spoke out loud, “They never have what I want. I could just cry.”

The gentleman looked at me, and with a slight grin on his face, responded, “Why don’t you sing it instead?”

I was stunned. For a moment I said nothing, just looked at the fellow, trying to determine if I knew him. I didn’t. Finally, I found my voice and asked him, “How do you know I’m a singer?”

“I’m one of the stage hands at the Westbrook Follies. You were so good last year, so funny. I’m surprised you didn’t hear me backstage. I was howling over that ‘tit for tat’ line.” I was astonished because I’d had the impression the audience didn’t get the joke.

We chatted for a short while and then went our separate ways. But the incident made me think about a number of things.

First, it pointed out that we never know who is watching us, judging us, and forming opinions about our behavior and our talents – whether it’s singing, writing, or pole-vaulting. Second, even in our own neighborhood, it’s extremely gratifying to know that people think highly of us. In other words, it’s rather fun to be “a big frog in a small pond.”

I have never had aspirations to be “a big frog in a BIG pond,” even as far as my singing and performing is concerned. But I had held the absurd hope that I might one day become at least a medium-sized frog, a recognized writer – if not in the big pond of the world, at least among the people in my professional circle.

Of course, I’ve been singing and performing on stage (and at banquets and in living rooms) for more than 60 years. But I’ve been writing and publishing what I’ve written for fewer than four years. So, it’s no surprise that my frog size is rather diminutive in the pond of the printed word.

That’s my primary reason for belonging to the Phoenix Publishing & Book Promotion group.

__________________
Mary Ellen StepanichDr. Mary Ellen Stepanich is a retired professor of organizational behavior who always told her students at Purdue, “I’m very organized, but my behavior is a bit wonky.” She has published articles in academic journals (boring), show scripts for barbershop choruses and quartets (funny), and an award-winning radio play, “Voices from the Front,” for Sun Sounds of Arizona (heartrending). Mary Ellen lives in Peoria, Arizona, with her cat, Cookie, and blogs on her website, MaryEllenStepanich.com.

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Writing, Alone, Does Not “Cut It”

Writing, Alone, Does Not “Cut It”

by Jack Dermody

Writing, for me, is almost a desperate need. I have always assumed there were people out there who cared about what I wrote. In my youth, parents, relatives, and friends received my letters and responded to them eagerly. Today hundreds of “friends” like and love and jack-and-the-statuecomment on my rants and writings on Facebook. The nonfiction books I wrote in my thirties were eagerly bought up for their usefulness in classrooms.

My articles and books today, however, get little or no comment. What concerns me is that my issues matter so very little to other people. Worse, I worry that people might see my writing as I see the writing of many of my friends: Poor-to-middlin’, not great at all, so why should anybody waste time pouring through it?

I recently sent out a 20-page essay on family research to 20 bona fide family members who, by DNA attachment alone, should rave about the six months of research and the results that I jammed into those 20 pages.

Comments I got varied from “that’s cool” to “very interesting” to “thank you” to complete non-acknowledgement of receipt of the package in the mail. In fairness, two of them did claim they read “a couple of pages” and would get back to me after “finding time” to read the rest.

Yes, I MAILED the packages because I knew half the people rarely open their email and, even if they did, would forget about it, lose it, or – perish the thought – delete it.

My goal in writing this is not to make you feel sorry for me or enable me to wallow in some kind of pity party. Rather, I want us all to answer some questions:

  • Are people reading less today?
  • Are people relying much less on reading?
  • Are we losing our love of reading and replacing it with other things?
  • Do we find reading more of a chore than ever?
  • Is reading just plain annoying? Especially for younger generations?
  • If we are honest, how worth reading is our writing to begin with?

I think I know the answer. Writing by itself is likely a dinosaur in the communications arena. So much media today takes a single story and hits the consumer from several directions at once: a video, a photo, a link, a summary, a full article, a song, an appeal to subscribe to a blog, etc. – and that’s just one article, one story that used to be only a few paragraphs of carefully crafted writing.

I fully understand. I’ve learned, finally, never to simply post a paragraph on Facebook without at least one photo or video. I am betting 95 percent of all Facebook users will not read more than five words of a post that are not accompanied by a visual.

Ironically, adding links, photos, etc. to an article is not that much work. The technology is too easy. This just gets back to the Platinum Rule, i.e., treat others as they want to be treated. They want photos and links and songs and blogs. Oh yes, and the writing better damn well be good, too.

Uh-oh, I just had a terrible thought. Is what I really want an “A” from the teacher? Do I want you, dear reader, to print this out, mark it up in red, fill the margins with praise and criticism, and tell me I am wonderful or horrible? Oh crap, I fear this is not very far from the truth.

Jack Dermody_____________________
Jack Dermody comes to your
organization to help build
real teams, not pretend teams.
Visit
his website.

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Motivation of an Alcoholic

Motivation of an Alcoholic

by Lara Garcia

Day 1: I hope you slept well, baby boy.

Day 2: Make it your day!

Day 3: It might be hard, but you can do it! Be positive; be thankful.

a-look-in-the-mirror

Day 4: Stay positive and take your vitamins. Do something nice for yourself… For example, take a long shower, shave, and put some cologne on! If you look good, you feel good!

Day 5: Today is a day when you become strong. Remember, a positive mind set will also overcome the impossible!

Day 6: Time to think about what to occupy your time with. What are your body and mind saying? Calm your mind and feel blessed. Good things are within your reach!

Day 7: One week of accomplishment. Today is a day of “hell, yeah!” Let’s make it another week. The weekend is here, so keep your head up and your feet on the ground. A positive mind does wonders – you’ve seen and felt it!

Day 8: Wake up and breathe. There’s a blessing there! Be thankful for another day. What will you do with your TIME? Use that positive thinking and think about what makes you happy.

Day 9: The signs are everywhere. What do they tell you, to be strong or to be weak? You choose what today will bring – it’s all about you. Make it a positive, loving one! Happy Sunday! xoxo

Day 10: Another new week… Make a change that will make you proud of you!

(Hiccup)

__________________lara-garcia

Lara Garcia is …

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