A Creative Exercise

By Tiffany Colter

We are starting the second quarter of 2014 and after a record breaking cold for the first three months of this year; we’re all ready to go outside. I decided that rather than spend lots of time reading a blog, I’d issue an exercise.

Fiction:

Spend ten minutes in your favorite writing spot writing a story using the prompt below. Set a time so you go no longer than ten minutes.

It hadn’t always been like this. Before the winter hit Sarah had…

 

Non-Fiction:

Imagine someone just contacted you about the topic of your book. This person has the exact issue your book was designed to help. Write a letter to this person letting them know why you wrote this book and what specific features it has that will help them solve their problem or improve their position [based on the topic of your book.]

 

I hope you are ready for a wonderful spring. Start the first day of the second quarter of the year being creative and setting the tone for a year of goals met.

 

I’ll see you next week. I’m going to take the time I usually spend writing my blog to do what I just assigned to you. Leading by example…

 

Tiff

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Write the book you’d like to read

By Tiffany

After a few weeks talking about other things, we’re back to thinking about the craft of writing. I spend lots of time reading. I imagine that if you’re a writer you likely do too.  While that is true, I don’t get to read as much as I’d like so my reading time is precious. I focus on finding the kind of book I love.

Your reader is doing the exact same thing. That is why it is critical to connect with your reader, make a promise and keep it from the first few lines…the first few words…of your book.

In order to do that you need to think about the kind of book you’re writing. Is it a book you’d like to read? What kind of books do you like? I don’t just mean genre, although that is obviously important, but what pace? What kind of characters do you enjoy? What kind of setting?

This should give you a good idea of where to start, but don’t feel you need to be forced in to a genre only because of that. I love historicals, but I’m not the best at writing those because I don’t enjoy the research involved. I also love sci-fi/spec fiction books. I think about what it is on those books that I enjoy and I try to create books that give my reader those same experiences.

What have you read that you liked? Write down what it was about those books that you really enjoyed. There may have been a complex plot? Maybe you encountered a twist you didn’t expect? Maybe it was a simple read that allowed you to past a relaxing afternoon in a distant land? Maybe you enjoyed characters that had wonderful chemistry.

Personally, I hate those twists at the end of a book where there is a ridiculous misunderstanding that nearly destroys the relationship…but then it is resolved. That just irritates me SO much in a book or movie. Therefore, I don’t put those in the book. If there is going to be a relationship destroying misunderstanding, it will be a doozie! It will be something real that causes genuine issues. It will also take real work to resolve. Not a phone call a page from the end. Other people really like those, so they can write them in to their books.

That brings me to the next thing to consider. What have you ever read that you didn’t like? What kinds of characters irritate you? Bad guys don’t have to be cardboard cut-outs. In fact, the scariest bad guys are those who you relate to just a little. Is there something that has ever made you throw a book across a room [or want to]? Is that the emotion you want in your reader? Consider that as you write your book.

Now that you’ve thought about these things, I would suggest a little exercise based on the current fan fiction trend.

Consider the idea of fan fiction and practice rewriting parts of a book you enjoyed [or didn’t enjoy] and show how you’d have done it different. You aren’t posting this, you are practicing your writing skills and working with a plot.

Write the next chapter of any book you read or are currently reading. Do this for a favorite movie too, but try to write the story as a BOOK not as a movie. That means showing, not telling, and deep POV instead of grand gestures. Doing this exercise will help you practice; considering the complexity of the plot, the characters, the setting, and the genre.

And don’t limit this to fiction. If you write non-fiction, how would you rewrite a chapter or an article in order to more clearly convey the topic, teaching or meaning?

I’ve learned a great deal about how to write by reading great books and by helping my clients write great books. This exercise will really help you to practice the skills necessary to write great books. After all, you are a reader as well as a writer. Learning how to write a book that really appeals to readers is the job of a great writer.

I’ll see you next week on April Fool’s Day!

Tiff

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Earning money as a freelance writer or editor

By Tiffany Colter

Today, I’m going to shift the focus a little from the books to the other ways to earn money writing. I have had a number of people contact me about earning some extra money with writing and editing while they work to publish their books. If that is something you’d like to know about, continue reading. Feel free to pass this blog along, share it on social media and link to it. I don’t mind people knowing about these lead sources. I genuinely see my job as a Writing Career Coach as helping all writers, not just the people who regularly read my blog. I am a believer in being honest, and not vague. I have told you exactly who I use and offered links you can use to sign up if you’d like to find out more. This does NOT mean these are the only options. There may be other great ones out there. My goal isn’t to get you to sign up for one thing or another; it is to tell you what I’ve done. I always hated when I started out and the person said, “Find a service to do X and Y.” and then they gave me no ideas. I spent hours swimming through a bunch of companies I didn’t know. These are the people I personally use. You’re welcome to use them or find your own. I offer it as a service and nothing else. Some of the links are referral links, but if you feel passionately that you hate the idea of me earning points or rewards for telling you about services I use, go to their website. My goal here is to get information to you, not get rewards.

There are a few keys that I’ve found to earning a steady income with writing:

Develop your niche

Are you really great helping people brainstorm? Do you spot grammar issues flawlessly? Do you have a knack for helping authors of historical romances really improve their story? Do you know how to write non-fiction? There are people who need experts in specific areas. Develop the areas you’re really great at and become the best you can be. I found that helping people with punctuation made me crazy and I wasn’t good at it, but I was excellent at helping people improve their story, so that is where I focused. And when I set my fees at 1.2 cents per hour people knew EXACTLY how much they could afford and there were no unpleasant surprises for them. It also made my invoicing easier. Consider whether you prefer to invoice hourly or by the word and be clear in your estimates what it will cost.

Become excellent at it

It isn’t enough to be good at what you do; take the time to really develop those skills so you provide excellent service. I love it when I’m able to help a writer create an incredible book. I’m being 100% honest when I say that it brings me more joy to see a client win an award than when my own books do. That is because, to me, I feel I can be a part of 20 wonderful books by helping clients or only one great book when it is my own. My name may not appear on the cover, and there may not be wild accolades, but I know I was a part of something great.

Have a budget [and stick to it]

This is where many businesses mess up. They simply cash the checks and spend them. Instead, you need to treat this like a real business. Know what the base expenses are for running your business [supplies, staff, marketing, education, etc.] Next, set some aside for the slow months [at the end of this blog you’ll see how that changed my life. And remember to put money aside for taxes. Self-employment taxes can take a gigantic bite out of your family if you’re not prepared. I end up earning a set minimum salary each month plus 30% of the net profit after expenses. That may not seem like much, but knowing you have money in reserves to cover a broken computer or other emergency…or even a month with no projects…gives you the peace of mind to not underbid out of desperation.

Have an invoicing system

If you’d like to know what I use, I’m happy to tell you. I pay about $30/month USD to use FreshBooks. I like it because it is integrated with my PayPal account and keeps track of all of my clients, my invoices, my payments and my estimates. I can either email invoices [which I always do] or I can mail an invoice [if the client insists] with the click of a button. Everyday I know if a client looked at their invoice [to avoid the, “I didn’t know there was an invoice” routine] and I know if they haven’t seen it yet [which might mean the invoice went into their spam file]. Prior to this when I only had one or two clients a month, I did them on my computer. Now I have more than 100 invoices, I put out per year and this makes it about 90 second job—which my assistant can do for me if I’m too busy—and I don’t have to worry about it. Find what works best for you and be consistent.

Get a deposit and payments

I learned this the hard way…so learn from me!! I charge a deposit and the deposit is subtracted from the final invoice. I have lost THOUSANDS of dollars in unpaid invoices over the last decade. That was because I was afraid to ask for a deposit. Don’t be afraid. If you are putting your time in the project, they need to put their money down on it. If they are to make regular payments STOP WORK IF THEY STOP PAYING!!! [note: this is another reason I like FreshBooks for invoicing. I can scan each week who is behind in payments and who has paid me. I can resend an invoice with two mouse clicks] I used to keep working hoping they’d pay at the end—they never did. In 2013 alone, I had a few thousand dollars in open accounts when I started the New Year. How many of those people went to work every day and would be okay with their boss not paying them? None, I suspect. Understand your time is valuable and in a service based industry, there is no way to recoup your losses when they have their edit/writing back.

Have a lead generation system

Now that I’m well established I am honored that my primary lead generation system is my current and past clients. I’m always humbled by the confidence they demonstrate in me. I do have two other lead sources, however, that I’d like to pass along. These two places resulted in thousands of dollars of work for me in 2013. The first is Thumbtack.  You can find out more at the link, but the bottom line is you pay to place a bid on projects you’re interested in. It costs about $5 to bid and only 4 other people can bid on any given project. That means you have a 20% chance on each project.  In 2013, I paid $300 in leads and did over $7,000 in work from them. They have NO referral fees beyond the bid, so it is a GREAT place when you have big projects. Last week alone, I was sent information on dozens of projects. I didn’t bid on any of them because my calendar was so full, I didn’t need to. That is a great place to be!

The other place is the Christian Editor Connection. This place has an annual fee and you pay a referral fee on projects you get, but bidding is free. You must take a test to be accepted [quality control], but I did thousands of dollars of work from this source and the owner, Kathy Ide, is a woman I’ve known for 7 years and she works hard to promote the editors in this group. This is where I got my start and, prior to finding thumbtack, was the highest referral source for me other than referrals from current/past clients.

Serve your clients well

You’ve seen me say many times in this post that current clients are my main referral sources. That is because I genuinely care about my clients, their projects, and making them look good. I don’t have 100% adoration from clients, but I’ve come to accept that I’m excellent, not perfect. If you talk to anyone I’m coaching right now, they’ll tell you that I give real information and more than they expected in our short hour long conversation. Do the same for your clients. Exceed expectations. In a world where people cut corners, doing an excellent job will be noticed! And always thank your clients for referrals! It really is an honor that they would share your name with others. Never feel you’re entitled to their trust, work to earn it!

This is really the basis of earning money in writing or anything else. If you look closely at Writing Career Coach—and talk to my clients—you’ll see this is exactly what I’ve done. My company doubled in gross receipts every, single year for the first five years. After that, I chose to limit the size of the company and now I don’t have to take every project that comes. I can limit myself to projects that I feel I will be amazing at and my calendar is consistently booked. I used to hear that Writing was all about feast and famine. I set up my business like that and made myself crazy!!! Now I have money in reserves to cover myself for almost 3 full months of ZERO revenue and I’m continuing to add a percentage until I reach six months. That means that if I have slow months, I don’t panic [famine] and if there is a flood of projects I can schedule them at reasonable intervals, or pass on them if people cannot wait. I no longer am a slave to the chaos of chasing projects [long hours] followed by overbooking projects [long hours]. I work regular, consistent hours and earn a regular, consistent pay. I have even been able to build in a 2 week paid vacation every year for the first time in a decade!

I hope this has helped many of you see your writing career with new eyes. It is possible to work this as a normal job and that is what I truly want for all of my readers.

If you’d like coaching on this, contact me to see if there are any remaining discounted coaching sessions on Friday, March 21, 2014. If not, there will be 5 open sessions the afternoon of Sunday, March 30th as well. Contact me for either of these dates using my contact page. They are $25 for 45 minutes instead of the regular $65/hour.

I hope this has been helpful for all of you. Please email me your questions through the contact page and periodically I’ll answer them like I’ve done here.  Thank you for emailing in this question. I’ll see you guys next week.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Creating Characters a Reader will Love

By Tiffany Colter

It is extremely important to create great characters in your book. A plot is an important part of your book, but the reality is we know the plot of almost any book.

Romance: They meet, they fall in love, there is a challenge, there is a happily ever after.

Suspense:  There is a bad guy. He is coming. We eventually survive.

Thriller:  There is a bad guy. He is coming. He gets lots of people. We eventually survive.

Mystery:  There is a bad guy. We don’t know who he is. We figure it out.

Adventure:  There are people caught in an unexpected adventure. They make it out.

I know that sounds simplistic, but think about it. That is the fact of a story. It is the people you meet and the circumstances they go through that make the story exciting. That means the key is to have characters that interest you. That is what I mean by love.

Let me be clear, I don’t mean that these have to be people we’d want to be friends with. I don’t think anyone WANTS to be “Hannibal the Cannibal” or “Phantom”. These don’t have to be people we want to emulate, but they do have to engage us.

As I read through manuscripts for clients, I have learned a few things about what makes for a neat character, how to create that character, and what not to do. I’d like to share some of those points here.

Help me to connect with them immediately. Whether we feel sympathy for them, relate to them or something else; introduce a situation that helps us immediately connect with the character, so we’re willing to go on a journey with them.

Don’t create clichés, create people. Take time to really think about who you character is, their background, their motivations and fears. This is all information you, as the writer, need to know. This doesn’t mean you write that in the book. You can drop subtle comments that give us clues about pieces of their past and how it influenced them, but it was enough to say, “I don’t do heights.” Emphatically to create a question in the readers mind. They could later say, “When I was seven I went to an airshow with my grandpa and the man’s parachute didn’t open. I watched him smash to the ground. My grandpa died a month later.” The reader will now get possible reason for their aversion to heights. The reality is, many of us don’t know the exact reason for our own phobias, so trying to have all of the psychology of your reader figured out leaves nothing for us to learn—and makes them less human.

Take the time to live in their world. This is tied to the previous thing. Think about who this character is and what they think. Imagine them interacting in their own world and doing things that you might disagree with. You don’t have to agree with your character to create them. In fact, many things about your character would be very different from you. That is what makes them fun. Try to figure out why they think differently from you and work that in to the story.

Don’t make them all versions of you. This will make a very boring book. The fun of reading is meeting different people and watching them interact in a plot. I really enjoy writing the bad guy as you can see on my various blogs from 2013 and before when I spoke on this exact topic. I have no aspirations of being a serial killer or even trying to destroy another person’s life out of revenge, but some of the characters that I’ve written have done just that.  They often do it out of misplaced anger about their own life. These are fun things to create, but don’t reflect my feelings at all. Making a believable character who is completely different than you are is fun. If you can make someone diametrically opposed to your own viewpoints in a way that makes a reader sympathetic…that is excellent writing.

They shouldn’t be completely predictable, but their actions should be somewhat understandable. This could be one of the more difficult pieces of advice to implement. If you’ve done a good job of creating a character then your reader will start to get a sense of what the person would or would not do. While many great books force the character to face their greatest fears, someone who is terrified of heights would not suddenly walk up to the top of a bridge without CONSIDERABLE provocation and extreme terror. If someone has commitment problems, they cannot toss them away easily without dealing with the underlying fear.

Don’t make easy outs. This ties to the previous point, but goes deeper. Don’t let them wrap things up too easily if they’ve struggled with it prior to the book and during the course of the book. Giving a sudden revelation that wraps up your plot one page from the end is cheating. Make us work through the struggle.

 

If this has been helpful and you’d like to see hundreds of tips to improve your writing you can purchase the digital version of my book, “Wisdom from Writing Career Coach” for only $2.50 by following this link. This book is over 100 pages of actual coaching notes I’ve given my clients over the years to improve their writing. For less than the cost of a smoothie or some fancy coffee drink you will have a book of wisdom in small bites to help you write better.

If you’d like an autographed copy of the print version use my contact page.

Character Coaching Special:  Friday, March 21st, I will offer 5 special phone coaching sessions. Each one will be one-on-one. Each one will be by phone. Each one will be 45 minutes. Each one will be only $30! First come, first serve. That is less than half the cost of a 1 hour coaching session!! The times available will be between 11:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time zone). The time must be scheduled and paid by Wednesday, March 19th or your time will be offered to another person on the list.

Whether you take advantage of a free audio download on my website, purchase the e-book or get coaching, do something to expand your knowledge about craft and our industry this week. I will see you next week, when we will learn more together about connecting with people through words.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Asking Why Saves Time

By Tiffany Colter

The key to success is to do the right things by ceasing to do the wrong things. That is because we have a limited amount of time in each day and each minute wasted on the wrong things is a minute that cannot be spent on things that bring success.

I had this conversation with my youngest daughter this weekend. She had homework and chores that needed to be done in order to go to a space museum she really wanted to visit. At 11:00 a.m., I told her what needed to be done that day. At noon, I reminded her. This continued until 2:15 p.m. when I was preparing to leave. She hadn’t done her chores. She wasn’t ready to go. We didn’t go. When I asked her  what she’d been doing with her time she replied simply, “Goofing off.”

We can see this with our kids, but how often do we “GOOF OFF” instead of focusing on the things that will get us what we want? It isn’t always as obvious as looking at books and playing with toys, but as adults we are quite skilled at goofing off. In order to not waste time, I’ve given you some red flags below.

 

Important/urgent

Do you find that there are always things that seem to mess up your schedule? It could be a phone call from a friend or you suddenly find out about a great opportunity to market your business if you can get a JPEG emailed to the designer before lunch. These urgent things force everything else off of your computer and turn your world upside down. Do you stop to consider the cost/return of those things? Did you have to miss a kid’s performance, buy another unhealthy pizza, or return a project to a loyal client just a little late? And what was the return on that ‘investment’? One new project that you don’t have time for anyway? Or maybe you underbid thinking “something is better than nothing.” While I agree that sometimes we need to take a lower project or we do need to take advantage of an opportunity, if this has become your habit you might be sacrificing the important things for urgent things.

There will always be emergencies, if you respond to them. So stop allowing them to control you. Successful people who live a happy [not stressed] life have learned the difference and they focus on the important.

 

Evaluating why you’re doing each thing

Take time to evaluate the benefits and costs for everything you’re doing. This has been my new focus. What am I doing and why am I doing it? It is truly setting me on course to meet my goals or is it just one more thing to put me on the calendar?

Evaluating the impact of each thing you do will help you determine its benefit. Taking a project for less than ¼ your normal fee, instead of working on the novel you always SAY you’re going to write might not be the best use of your time.

 

Determine what you need to do and learn

I think we’ve covered this fairly well in previous blogs. I suggest if you need help in this area that you visit the website and go in the archives.

 

Setting a time frame to do it

What time are you going to sit down and evaluate these things? You won’t do it until you put it on your calendar. I suggest one day this week you put your dinner in a slow cooker and use the time you would normally spend cooking dinner to do this. All you need is about 30 minutes to accomplish a great deal.

 

I was thrilled by the number of replies last week to my blog. Many of you decided that you might like to have some coaching to help in these areas. If you were considering it, but didn’t, please feel free to contact me.  $65 is a bargain for all the information we cover. Most people say to me, “I’ve taken pages of notes.” If you don’t need coaching, then look at these questions and go through the archives to see if there are other free teachings on my blog/website that can help you. I leave them up there to help you. Please, take advantage of them.

Also, let me know if there is something you’d like to see me blog on. I don’t mind coaching all of you by blog. I’m here to help writers and I love doing it. Just use that contact page link to let me know what you’d like to learn more about.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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When you feel like you’re the only one missing it, here is some help to get it next time.

By Tiffany Colter

I love getting emails from readers and clients. I read each one personally that comes through my contact page and many of them are printed and put in a book I look at on days when I feel rejected or discouraged.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve posted about managing time and destructive habits. After one of those blogs a client and blog reader tried to post a comment. Unfortunately, my blog was acting up and it wouldn’t allow her to post. [I’m very sorry to anyone else having this problem.] She was determined enough to email me the comment. It really stuck a chord with me and I wanted to share it with you:

Sara said:

Thanks for this post Tiff. I have so many plans and dreams and it has been very frustrating to not be able to do them all NOW. I hate reading things that tell me to “go for it” and feeling like I’m failing for not being able to do it all at once. But you are so right. We have to pick our priorities for right now, and find comfort in knowing that it is for now, not forever.

Your post made me realize that I am not the only one in this situation, and that is comforting. I HAVE taken risks, I AM “going for it” and will continue to do the work that matters right now, and allow myself to look forward to the other things, knowing that the time for those projects will come in good time.

www.SaraKorn.com

***

Thank you Sara. I share this with you for a couple of reasons.

  1. I want the rest of you to realize you’re not alone.
  2. You are gaining insight that is really going to help you, but you can’t do it all at once. [Yes, I’m talking to you, Heidi. J ]
  3. Look at the positive part, “I AM ‘going for it’”. She recognizes the small parts that she is doing right and, while not making excuses for missteps, she acknowledges the part she is doing right. That is key to building success. It is not criticizing yourself that gets you motivated; it is believing in yourself.
  4. It also recognizes that growth and education will be necessary. Do you see that? “…allow myself to look forward to the other things, knowing that the time for those projects will come in good time.” We never ARRIVE.
  5. She is teachable and grateful to those who are helping her. She took the time to say, “Thank you, Tiff.” Do you realize how rare it is that I get a thank you note, even with nearly 2,000 blogs delivered weekly? It is so few that I have time to read each and every one that comes in to my email box. Can you imagine how much her thank you makes me want to work harder on the next blog? Those of you who have sent me a note know that, almost without exception, I write a personal note thanking you for taking the time to tell me that my teaching helped. We rarely stop to thank people, even people who give us FREE and USEFUL information. We have come to believe we’re entitled to things and don’t value what a blessing it is to have them and how many thousands of hours and dollars I’ve invested in the information you’re enjoying for free. While you’re at it, thank Audricka who posts my blogs for me. Every week she picks out those great pictures and attaches the various links to make this web page a bit more colorful and fun to look at.

I’m sure Sara didn’t realize she’d said so much about herself in this small blog post. None of us ever fully realize the impact of the words we say. That is quite amusing given that nearly all of us are writers or aspiring writers. Words should hold the greatest meaning to us, yet we often fail to recognize the strength of our words unless they are in an article, book or story.

So, you are not the only one missing it. In fact, you probably aren’t totally missing it at all. If you look back over the weeks, months and years of your career, you’re surely seeing progress. If you realize you aren’t as far as you need to be, I offer coaching. $65 for a 1 hour session, this may be all you need to get on the right track and out of your rut. [I cannot tell you how fun it was to use two clichés in a single sentence!]

I’ll see you next week. I already have the blog outlined, and it is going to be a good one!

Tiff

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Escaping the Chaos

By Tiffany Colter

“How do you do it all?”

That is a question I hear with some regularity. It is true that I have a number of things going on. I have 4 daughters. I homeschool three of them and one is a special needs child who attends school four hours away. Twice a week, all school year long, my husband or I, take the long trip to get her and bring her home for the weekend.

I also run this business. Read extensively. Chase my kids to all of their events and speak to many groups.

But is my chaos really much different from that of other people?

That question isn’t as obvious as it may seem. On the one hand, I realize that everyone has things that keep them busy. On the other hand, I have also come to realize that I have some destructive tendencies that I need to change.

If you are a person with a fairly calm life and you like things as they are, we’ll see you next week. I mean that sincerely. For anyone who feels that their life seems to be a perpetual cyclone, this is for you.

  1. What bad habits are you repeating that lead to these issues. For some people you over schedule yourself. Other people feel guilt at saying no. Still others procrastinate and end up rushing around at the last minute. The key is to stop and see where you are now and work backwards through the decisions that brought you to this point.
  2. What lie are you believing? I think the most common lie for writers [or any other self-employed person] is, “You must do this work just in case there isn’t another project later.” I have often heard writers talk about feast and famine. They say that they have lots of work all at once and then are busy for months looking for more work. They are either super busy looking for work or super busy doing work. Either way, they never seem to get ahead and they never seem to make much. This is a lie. If there is work now, there will be work later. You need to evaluate what you’re doing now and why.
  3. Is there a common “problem client”? Early in my writing career the problem clients were easily recognizable. They’d try to get me to do work for free and then they’d call constantly. They had no respect for my time, my fees, my other projects, or even the knowledge I had acquired. They also were the most likely to NOT pay their final invoice.

Look over the things I’ve written above and consider what it is that is throwing you in to chaos. Likely you’ll see a different CAUSE each month; however, the actual cause is the same. Having a coach to help you see it is sometimes helpful, but my goal here is not to get you to hire me as a coach. In fact, with over 1,700 current blog readers, it would be quite impossible to coach all of you—or even half of you—without going completely insane myself. So, hear this for what it is: actual help. Before we can get chaos out of our life, we need to recognize the patterns that lead to that chaos. Look for common trends and mindsets.

  • Do you do more than possible because you are afraid people won’t like you if you say no?
  • Do you try to fit too many activities in a single day?
  • Do you say things like, “I work better under pressure”?
  • Are you amazed at how much you’re able to accomplish on days when you REALLY force yourself to focus?
  • Do you find yourself often thinking about what it will be like to have a calmer life someday when you don’t have so much to do?
  • Do you get angry, stressed out, frustrated or snap when there is a minor setback?
  • Do you find yourself running late fairly consistently and/or staying up late to try to finish what you didn’t get done during the day?
  • Do you regularly take work with you to do during your kids’ practices, games, events, or meets?
  • Are you surprised that I know so much about you when we haven’t even met?

Let’s take time to evaluate the chaos and get out of it. I already know this won’t be completely easy for me. There are some projects I will need to quit doing. There are some destructive habits I’ve developed and will need to fix. No doubt as you start to evaluate things, you will to. See, life is a process of learning, adjusting, succeeding and growing. We know more now than we did 10 years ago and in 10 years we’ll know more still. Take time this week to really evaluate where you are, why, and what behaviors you need to change. Even if most of your habits are good ones, we can always learn with self-evaluation.

I’ll see you next week. If you do think you’d like an hour coaching session then they are $65 and you can get on my calendar by contacting me through this link.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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When you just have too much going on

By Tiffany Colter

Okay, so this week on the blog we’re going to get down to where most of us live—we’re too busy.

This is a real problem/concern that we need to address because the fact is; we can make all kinds of plans and look forward to all kinds of dreams, but unless we have a realistic sense of what we can and cannot accomplish all of this will be pointless. Nothing will ever get done beyond dreaming.

  1. Be in your moment. You need to always focus on what you’re doing when you’re doing it. Don’t rip off your boss/company by writing or researching when they’re paying you to work. Don’t ignore your family or friends by reading your email—or this blog—when you’ve promised them your full attention. Don’t steal from yourself by surfing the web when you’re supposed to be writing or researching. It is too easy to multitask these days. Give what you’re doing your full attention and then move on to the next thing.
  2. Know how many moments you have. By this I mean, do you know how much time you have right now to do things? I have a bad habit of thinking I can accomplish more in a single day than I actually can. This causes me to be overbooked and overstressed. We need to have a realistic idea of how much time we have and how much time things will take.
  3. Know if this is your moment. This is the hardest thing for those of us who really love writing or speaking or creating. The fact is, maybe now isn’t the right time for you to launch. This may sound like procrastination, but we need to know that it always isn’t the right time. Kids, career, responsibilities, and even our own commitment may not be in a place that will allow us to succeed right now. I know we say, “Progress, not perfection”, but sometimes we have to face reality and its “Not Now” replies. We understood at 14 years old we were not really ready to survive life on our own. There were still things we needed to learn in school. We needed maturity. Even if we were mature, and brilliant, society would not allow a 14 year old to secure full-time employment, a job, a driver’s license and the other things necessary to fully function. We need to understand that, even in adulthood, now isn’t always the right time. There may not be legal restraints, but that doesn’t mean we’re fully prepared.

Just in case you ARE at the right time, however, here are a few time savers to help you carve out the time you need to meet your goals.

Time Savers

  1. Have family help
  2. Plan meals and errands to be more efficient
  3. Know your body clock
  4. Cook ahead
  5. Make lists. This weekend I was at the grocery store THREE TIMES and I STILL forgot to buy something I needed for dinner tonight. A list would have saved hours and lots of money [because who ever walks in the grocery and leaves with only that one thing?]
  6. Swap babysitting

Is now your time? If so, either do it or quit boring everyone around you with your declarations of “someday”. If you realize now isn’t your moment, don’t feel bad, ignored, wasted, or frustrated. I know that is hard…believe me. I hate that I’m not speaking every month like I want to, but I also know the joy I get in it wouldn’t be there because now isn’t the right time. I also know how much I TRULY LOVE what I get to do now with helping people rewrite their books and develop as writers. Why should I ruin the great time I’m having by focusing on what I don’t have right now.

We spend so much time focusing on where we’re going that we don’t always enjoy where we are [if we’re planners]. If you’re a “wing it” kind of person, you may miss your opportunities by failing to recognize the times and not preparing.

Finally, remember the answer you have today isn’t always the forever answer. My speaking calendar two years ago was fairly active, but right now I have 4 daughters—three of whom are teenagers—and I need to be here where they need me. In another seven years then this phase of motherhood will be over for me and going out of town to speak won’t be such an issue. Instead, I have the joy of writing/editing/coaching right now. What joy are you finding in what you’re doing right now? The growing pains I feel only spur me to keep researching and practicing so, when the time comes, I’ll be an even better speaker. This is my prep time for the next thing. What are you prepping for?

If you think NOW might be the right time I have coaching appointments available. Use my contact page. They are $65 for a one hour coaching session and will include a PRINTED copy of my book “52 Weeks of Writing Success”. That is more than a $30 value [US clients only]. International clients, contact me for my international coaching options and offers.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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The Perfect time to launch your book

By Tiffany Colter

Timing is an important consideration when trying to decide when to launch your book. If you have a book dealing with a contemporary issue then obviously the key is to get it out right away. However, if your book is more seasonal or isn’t tied to a time of year at all then you will have a bit more room to negotiate release.

The key to launching your book at the right time is to:

  • Make sure that you’re prepared with your platform.
  • Make sure that you find a way to tie it to the interests of your target market.
  • Make sure you have the time to market and promote your book.

The last two are key. Nearly every, single writer—and one point that included me—assumes that the hard work of being a writer is writing the book. That can be emotionally exhausting and working under those deadlines can really make a person tired, but the hardest part is really building the relationships, doing the interviews, calling the people, answering the questions and all the other things that go in to marketing and promoting your book.

If you’ve taken the time to lay a foundation this is obviously a bit easier, but you must decide to launch your book when you have prepared yourself and your family for about 30-90 days of intense marketing, promotion, speaking and other events. It isn’t enough to finish the book and then exhale and go on vacation. You have to help people find your book.

You can decide to make this revelation scary or empowering. You can decide to give up or press on. My job here is to give you facts, the realities, of the writing life so that you can know what comes next.

So is there a perfect time to release your book? Yes. When your market is ready to read. When your craft is up to par and when you’re ready to put in the time to market it effectively [or the money to pay someone else to do it.]

See you next week!

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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Working with your Writing Business Team

By Tiffany Colter

One of the most frustrating parts of writing is that you don’t have much time to focus on writing. You instead spend your time submitting, revising, formatting, looking for markets, replying to emails, writing marketing blogs, and many other things.

That is why I feel a Writing Business Team is so important. Whether it is someone who posts your blogs for you [they are called assistants] or even a teenager who helps you develop your platform through social media, thinking about the things you should do and shouldn’t do are the first step to managing your time and finding time to write.

I couldn’t do this blog without the help of my assistant, Audricka. She has been with me for years and blesses me so much. She is the reason you see the cool pictures and have the various links on the blog. I just type the blogs in a word document.

There are other members of my writing business team as well, of course, but really it is me and a laptop and an assistant [working remotely].

So, how can you work with a Writing Business team?

 

I’ll give you 3 steps:

     1.   Identify where you need help
     2.   Find people who are good at that and who can
     3.   Empower them to work

The third step is where most writers miss it. We decide that we need help and then we find someone, but then we want to micromanage everything they do. This is particularly true when it comes to words. We are word people and we see the same nuance in words as a designer does between silver and steel gray.

Try to be the kind of employer/client you would want to have. If you ask them to make a newsletter, give clear direction, give the content, and let them do it. Give feedback, but try not to quibble over little things like the EXACT placement of a photo. Also, give them sufficient time to get things done. I found this hard early on because things came easily to me. For some there could be a learning curve. Offer it. If you’ve hired someone as a contractor [and thus, you are their client] don’t fill their inbox with chatty things or picky things. Again, focus on being clear in what you want and—in the case of a contractor—trust them to do what they know how to do.

That is truly the key to working with your Writing Business Team. Trust. You must trust people to do a great job.

But what if they don’t…

Well, that is hard. Just like any business relationship, if things just aren’t working out you need to have a conversation to determine if it isn’t working because you aren’t clear on expectations. If your expectations are unreasonable or if you just aren’t a good fit for each other. But that is a conversation for a different post.

The key to being a part of any team is knowing what you bring to the table and what they are able to bring and then focusing on your greatest area of strength…the writing.

 

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach

Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.

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