Tag Archive | Blog

O Motivation, Wherefore Art Thou? (Just Do It!)

My kids show me the strangest YouTube videos sometimes. Recently, they showed me the following video, and we giggled quite a bit over it.

But then I realized something strange was happening when I watched it – it was shaming me, SHAMING me. Whispering in my ear “stop watching silly videos and get to work.”

As an Indie author, and as I’ve mentioned before, I am my own boss, and lately I’ve been a very bad boss. I read on a writers’ forum something to the effect “if you showed up at a full-time job and worked for an hour, maybe two, then said ‘hey, boss, I’ve met my daily quota, I’m outie (outtie? whatever),’ and called it quits for the day, you wouldn’t have that job very long.” Essentially, I’m close to firing myself.

Lots of writers get frustrated with their WIPs, get stuck at the dreaded writer’s block, get burned out, get bogged down in real life or social media or hundreds of daily emails they (I?) feel compelled to read, and yet kick themselves repeatedly when they watch other writers moving on, stacking up their successes, turning their words into an honest living. Where’s the motivation gone?

Sometimes, one silly little video, while giving you giggling fits, can also be your daily inspiration to get back on the horse. Here it is (WARNING – don’t have your speakers too loud):

 

Shia LaBeouf “Just Do It” Motivational Speech

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Amazon Adds Book Sample Embed Feature for Kindle ebooks

Do you like Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to read a free sample of a book before purchasing it? So do I! And now Amazon has given people the ability to grab the embed code for “the vast majority of Kindle books” and place it in your website / blog / emails / Facebook posts / Twitter posts, etc.

There are two embedding options offered. One is a link to be clicked which opens a new browser tab with the book sample.

Example code (with spaces added so it doesn’t actually become a link here in my post):

https :// read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B017747888&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_IltJwb1S991KA

And the link:

Click to view a sample of Roping the Cowboy!

The second embedding option allows you to embed actual code into your website – like a widget – that will show you the preview right in the page rather than opening a new tab.

Example code (with spaces added so you can see the actual code):

< iframe type=”text/html” width=”336″ height=”550″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen style=”max-width:100%” src=” https: //read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B017747888&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_IltJwb1S991KA” >< /iframe >

 

I won’t add the embedded code here, because I haven’t yet figured out how to get iframes working.  To see it in action, I recommend looking at this GeekWire.com article about this new Amazon feature, which contains a preview of the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. Here’s what it looks like (although this image is non-functioning due to my iframe ignorance):

SampleWidget

In a functioning iframe, the “Free Preview” button at the bottom of the image would load the preview right there in that little image space and would look like this:

SampleWidgetText

Amazon affiliate links may also be added to the code, of course! Bravo, Amazon!

Don’t Break the Chain

I read a simple writing tip today that I felt compelled to share. It’s from an article posted at Lifehacker.com titled “Jerry Seinfeld’s Productivity Secret” by Brad Isaac.

Quoted excerpt:

I had to ask Seinfeld if he had any tips for a young comic. What he told me was something that would benefit me a lifetime…

He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day. But his advice was better than that. He had a gem of a leverage technique he used on himself and you can use it to motivate yourself—even when you don’t feel like it.

He revealed a unique calendar system he uses to pressure himself to write. Here’s how it works.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.

He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day. “After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”

“Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.

(End quote).

Perhaps a visual to nag you every time you glance up is just the needed kick in the pants! Read the full article here and check out Mr. Isaac’s blog at persistenceunlimited.com

A Part of My Writing Process

I’m the mom of three- and six-year old kids. They keep me hopping! So I’m not always at my computer when I’m in the middle of a WIP.

In the past, I wrote linearly. But now, thoughts and ideas and entire scenes come to me out of order (I’m a pantser). I could be lying in bed, barely aware that the sun has risen, when BAM! A story idea hits. But it’s several scenes down the road. And I’m not at my computer.

And I suffer from a serious case of mommy-itis.

How do I keep the ideas from going bye-bye into the black hole that my brain has become? It used to be sticky notes, until they took over my desk, lined my pockets, and generally got lost and laundered (along with bits and pieces of my story). Now my solution is to keep a notebook by my bedside. In my kitchen. In my bathroom. In my purse when I’m walking through the zoo. I can jot down the scene before it poofs into thin air.

So, while the majority of the story is still linear, there’s a good chunk that is piecemeal too (my inner neatnik is cringing).

Then, when I’m at my computer, I can type the scene into Scrivener, my word processor of choice. Scrivener’s great in that you can write your scenes out of order and move them around all you want, even tag them with text and/or color code them.

Scrivener

Image owned by LIteratureAndLatte.com

Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez

Scrivener for Dummies by Gwen Hernandez

If you’re a writer, check out Scrivener. They have a 30-day free trial so you have nothing to lose. I’m not going to get into all its bells and whistles – that will be a different post. There’s also a Scrivener for Dummies book that will explain all those bells and whistles. I have only scratched the surface of what Scrivener can do for me, and the little bit I know is more than worth the $40 I paid. I didn’t even wait for the trial to end. I know true love when I see it!

The Secret to Writing

Most writers will tell you the secret to writing is simply to put your butt in a chair and write.  Just write.  But what good are all those words on a page if you don’t actually finish?

Published authors already know.  But those of us that may be just starting out and unpublished need to learn the dirty little secret.

When I started writing my first book, I worked on it now and then when inspiration struck.  Although I’d get stuck (because I was a pantser with no outline or clear path to follow), I’d eventually get unstuck and plod on.  It would take days, weeks, sometimes months to get unstuck, but eventually I would, only to get stuck again.  Time away from writing just left the manuscript languishing, alone and forgotten.  Two years went by and for some reason the drive to finish the book struck again.  This time, I would stick to it.  This time would be different.  And it was.  What made it different this time?  A deadline.

The RWA’s yearly Golden Hearts contest for unpublished authors was opening for entries in November.  Now I had a goal, a deadline.  Although the contest was opening in November, it wasn’t closing until January 3rd-ish.  However, the way my brain works made me fixate on the November date.  This became my deadline, and all the excuses and distractions that had previously kept me from writing were swept aside.  I wrote furiously and at every opportunity, and in two months I wrote more than I had in the two years previously.  More importantly, I finished the manuscript in time to enter in November.

Then I started another book, but I was mostly dealing with Christmas and the whirlwind that ensues when you have a busy life.  As this second manuscript cried softly in the dark, dusty corner of my desk drawer, I searched Amazon for something good to download to my Kindle, and kept seeing Christmas romances.  It was too late for me to pull off a Christmas book, even a short story, so I thought ahead to the next holiday (and I use that term loosely here), Valentine’s Day.  This became my new deadline.  And so the Valentine’s Day story was written and self-published February 13th.

And then I started another book, my current WIP, and once again I’m floundering with no deadline to push toward and a busy life stealing away my precious writing time.  For me, lighting a fire under my (writing) butt only occurs when I have a self-imposed deadline.  When you’re not writing for a publishing house, you are your own boss, and bosses expect you to deliver your projects on time.  Setting a random deadline may not work.  Look for contests that have a realistic but specific deadline, and commit to it.  THEN put your butt in a chair and write.  Just write.