News & Upcoming Events:
Coming July 8: Free One-Hour “Ask a Book Coach Q&A.” Email Jade@AuthorAccelerator to grab your spot and start thinking up questions. I’ll answer anything about writing books, editing and revising, pitching and agents, publishing and the creative process.
Coming in September: The Book Startup Group Workshops for Fiction/Memoir and Nonfiction (How-To, Self Help.) It’s been a few years since I’ve run this workshop and I’ve learned a lot since then, so I‘m excited to bring back a new and improved version. If you have a book idea and you want to start off with clarity and confidence, this workshop will give you all the tools you need. Write to Jade@AuthorAccelerator to get on our “interest” list. When we have the pricing and sign up ready for prime time, we’ll let you know.
The One Page Blog Plan
I have been test-driving a super cool new tool I made that I’m calling the One Page Book Proposal. It’s a template that helps you harness your book’s power at every stage of the writing process so you can write a book that will wow agents, editors and readers. It’s a radically condensed version of what I teach in The Book Startup, both in Author Accelerator and in my 1:1 work. (For anyone who has talked to me for more than three seconds, you know I am a huge evangelist for thinking before you write. The Book Startup is what forces you to do this. The One Page Book Proposal does, too.) I’ll be giving away this tool for free. I did a webinar with business strategist Jenny Blake this week that explains the template section by section, and I hope to be able to share that AND the One Page Book Proposal soon.
In the meantime, I had several people ask questions this week about blogging -- how to start a blog that connects to the book they’re writing as well as how to physically DO all the things you are “supposed to” DO when you want to become a writer (blog and Tweet and write and research and pitch and pay attention to other writers’ books and blogs and learn all the technology, etc., etc., etc.) I wanted to take the time today to try to answer both:
A Book Writer’s Approach to Blogging
As I thought about it, I realized that for book writers who want to start blogging, the steps are very similar to what I teach in The Book Startup, so I decided that for this week’s blog post, I would make a One Page Blog Plan. It’s a quick overview on how to define your blog, tie it into the work you’re already doing on your book, think about your readers, and consider your place in the blogosphere, all on one page.
- You can download the One Page Blog Plan here as a PDF so you can have easy access to the mini lessons. The whole point of this tool is to get you to see how closely aligned a blog should be with your book. It’s not one project and then another project. It’s all the same thing, just different forms
- You can download the One Page Blog Plan here as a Word file so you can craft your own plan. If you do this, don’t cheat: keep it to one page. Part of the power is forcing yourself to be focused and concise even when you’d really rather not.
How to Balance Book Writing and Blog Writing and All the Other Writer Stuff We Know We Should Be Doing
This is one of the Big Questions. It’s the question no writer can escape. Even though writing is a slow art –- slow to create, slow to consume -- we live in a fast-paced, hyper-connected world. Any writer who wants readers is going to have to be part of that web of connection. You don’t have to choose to blog, but you DO, I think, have to choose to connect in SOME way, and instead of thinking of that as a burden, you might as well try to find the pleasure in that connection, the part of it that excites you the most. It’s a mindset shift, to be sure – from “Do I have to blog?” to “What joy can this bring me?” It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.
I had a few things happen this week in the virtual world that were surprising and simply delightful. They were some of my favorite parts of the week, in fact. One thing was that Claire Bidwell Smith, whose book I wrote about in last week’s post, thanked me on Twitter. I hadn’t even tagged her in Twitter – hadn’t thought to do that – and somehow my post still found its way to her. That was cool – and now a little thread connects us to each other.
Another thing is that Porter Anderson, a journalist and thinker I admire, tweeted quotes from my guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog ALL WEEK LONG. That got my attention (which taught me something about how to get someone’s attention) and it sparked a happy Twitter + Facebook exchange between us that was interesting and fun – and now a little thread connects us, too. For me, all this “extra” work isn’t extra at all. It’s the heart of the matter.
I choose to spend time in that way – the blogging and the tweeting. I choose it over many other things, like going out to lunch (which I don’t do), watching TV (which I very rarely do) or playing in a tennis league (which I gave up decades ago even though I was a very good college-level player. Tennis is a game that takes a long time – the scheduling, the long sets, the social parts of it. I decided I would rather be a writer and an entrepreneur than a tennis player. And I get my exercise in ways that don’t take as long.)
Balance doesn’t come from some magic formula or life-hacking system. Balance comes from wanting to do this work. It comes from my intention. I want to blog and I want to tweet and I want to write a new book and I want to create classes and I want to serve my clients as well as I can, and so I make the time for it.
But how exactly do you make time for it? you may be thinking.
The best answer I can give is that I do it by making good use of my energy. What I mean by that is that I align my work with my energy. In order to do this, you have to realize that writing is not just one thing. It’s many things that take many different kinds of focus and creativity and effort. It’s thinking and dreaming and imagining. It’s researching and reading and putting your antennae out into the world. It’s sitting down and putting words on the page, going back to edit them, and going back to edit them again. And it’s also making sure your computer runs and your files are backed up and your electric bill is paid on time.
That’s just the writing part of being a writer. Being a writer also means all those others things I mentioned, above -- tweeting and blogging and getting an author photo taken and responding to inquiries from reporters and being nice to the high school kid who calls you to ask for advice about writing and researching agents and working on pitches and dealing with rejection and dealing with doubt.
The trick, I think, is to consider all those different tasks and save your best creative energy for the most demanding tasks. (Remember the theme of today’s post: think before you write.) Don’t use your most creative block of precious time to poke around the Internet or pay the bills or talk to the high school kid. Save that for putting words on the page and editing them. When you’re tired, you can do some research or reply to a few tweets or pay a bill. When you’re sitting in the carpool pickup line you can read other people’s blogs. When you have ten extra minutes before you have to leave for a party, you can look up an agent’s website.
Does this sound exhausting? I think it would be if you didn’t love it, if you didn’t choose it, if you didn’t want it. But if you DO choose it, it’s the opposite. It’s an energizing and exciting way to live, and an effective way to get all the work done.
There’s an awesome board game I played with my kids when they were little called Snail’s Pace Race. The snails line up. You roll the dice, and if your snail’s color comes up, you get to move your snail ahead. Every color eventually gets rolled. Every snail gets to move ahead. I think of the whole body of work that I do – all the tasks – as being part of a Snail’s Pace Race. I move each snail a little bit forward as best as I can as often as I can. Maybe it’s just a tiny bit at a time, but all the projects move forward and all of them get to the finish line.
I often say that there is no cabin in the woods. (That’s one of the entries in my book The Writer’s Guide to Agony and Defeat – read that excerpt here.) You don’t get three months or a year “off” to write your book and build your readership. You have to do it in the midst of everything else, in the hustle and rush of the day. So if I had to give a formula – I life hack for getting all the writing things done – I would say:
- Commit to the work
- Think before you write
- Spend your creative energy wisely