Tag Archives: publishing

Writing Motivation: How To Manage Failure

Writing Motivation: How To Manage Failure

Want some writing motivation? If you do, consider this: you can’t fail. It’s true. It’s also true that your book may not sell, but that’s not something you can control. You definitely CAN control your motivation, provided that you build it into your writing process.

Let’s look at how to do that.

Writing motivation is a process — learn it, or rejection and failure may become permanent

Back in the day, before the self-publishing revolution, authors asked me how to “avoid rejection.” My favorite answer to that was: “never send your work anywhere.”

Rejection is a fact of life. You may fail. It happens.

Rejection looks different today if you’re a self-publisher. Instead of a literary agent or an editor telling you: “not for us at this time,” readers get to tell you that when they don’t buy your book. 🙂

Reality: you CANNOT control the marketplace. Any publishing career involves luck.

But you can control yourself, so that failures just become speed humps on your route to success.

I’ve seen many wonderful authors who allowed failure to crush them into depression; some never wrote another word, as far as I know.

Failure isn’t forever, unless you allow it to be. Failure can be like a punch in the face. You need to punch back.

Everyone fails: punch back

From Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations:

(You may say) “It is my bad luck that this has happened to me.’

No, you should rather say: ‘It is my good luck that, although this has happened to me, I can bear it without pain, neither crushed by the present not fearful of the future.’

Because such a thing could have happened to any man, but not every man could have borne it without pain. So why see more misfortune in the event than good fortune in your ability to bear it?”

Built-in writing motivation: develop your own process

In any writing venture, whether you’re writing books, or blogging, or copywriting, you’ll experience failure in one form or another. In your early years, you’ll experience more failure than successes. You need to learn how to manage both. Failure needn’t crush you, and success needn’t distract you, as long as you create a process which guarantees your writing motivation.

I first developed my “motivation” process some 30 years ago. In those days, there were few markets for writing, and even fewer paying markets. Once I discovered copywriting, I experienced much less failure, because I was choosing my own clients.

Little failures can crush you just as big failures can. When I was writing my first novel, I sent the manuscript winging to London via airmail. Then my editor’s response arrived. Some four pages of notes and editorial queries. In short order I was angry, then depressed. I didn’t write. From memory, I sulked for a couple of weeks.

That was a waste of time — and in response to something that wasn’t even “failure”. It took time to motivate myself again. All I had to do was spend a couple of days tinkering with the manuscript, so why the drama?

In a word: ego. I lost perspective.

Confidence builds over time. Sooner or later, you’ll become much more confident, and it will take much more to crush you.

A few years later, I realized that I didn’t have to worry about things I couldn’t control, as long as I had a process. I could control my process, and my process built my motivation.

Experience success, every day

My process was simple. Today, it’s pretty much what it was then: write a thousand salable words a day. Even on my worst day, when everything goes wrong, I can manage 1,000 words. In practice, I write more than that each day, but with my thousand words done, as early in the day as possible, my day is a success.

When something goes wrong: a client’s website goes down, or a book makes fewer sales than expected, or something else happens, my writing motivation is still strong. My 1,000 words give me a little reward each day, and put everything else into perspective.

Create your own process, and build your writing motivation each day.

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Just Write It: Write More, Sell More, Starting Today

Just Write It: Write More, Sell More, Starting Today

$4.99
Do you dream of being a professional writer? This book will help. Perhaps you already have a writing career, but feel that you're not living up to your potential, this book will help you, too. More info →
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New Author Tips: Easy Ideas For Fiction And Nonfiction

New Author Tips: Easy Ideas For Fiction And Nonfiction

One of the most popular questions I get from a new author is: “how do I know that my book will sell?” From an aspiring author, the most popular question is: “how do I know that my idea is a good one?”

The answer to the first question is — “write for a market, then do your best promoting your book. No one knows for sure.”

The answer to the second question is — “a good idea for you is an idea which has a market and which is EASY for you to write.”

Let’s talk about EASY ideas. For any author, not only for a new author, finding ideas which are easy for you to write is vital.

Are you a new author? Keep it simple and easy

Ideas are everywhere; not every idea is a good idea for you. If I gave you ten minutes, I’m sure you could come up with ten ideas for books.

They might be all great ideas, but here’s a secret from the world of professional writing. When a commercial writer is offered a gig, his first thought is: “What will this take?” In other words, how easy is the project?

Challenging projects take time. Clients are rarely prepared to pay for all the extra time a project consumes. So the professional’s primary aim is always to keep it simple and easy — or get the client to pay for extras — otherwise he doesn’t eat.

You can use the same question: “What will this take?” when you get an idea for a book. Time is money for you too. Most importantly: if you make a habit of choosing challenging ideas, you’ll end up with many partially-written books on your hard drive.

Ideas for fiction: write what you enjoy reading (keep research to a minimum)

My reading tastes are eclectic — I’ll read pretty much anything. Checking my home library however, and my Kindle library, it’s easy to see that I like historical romances from various time periods, mysteries and thrillers.

What do you like to read? If you like vampire novels and space operas, it may be hard for you to write a contemporary romance, no matter how popular these romances might be. You could do it, of course. But you’d spend so much time reading in the genre that it could take you a year or more to write the novel. Perhaps you’d start the novel, then get bored, or frustrated, and never complete it.

The best fiction ideas for you are ideas for novels which are in a genre you know, and which you can write with minimal research.

That said, if you get an idea for a novel which will take HUGE amounts of research, but you can’t get the story out of your mind — go for it. Inspiration trumps everything else.

Ideas for nonfiction: write what you know (or can easily find out)

As with fiction, your aim in finding great ideas for nonfiction books is finding ideas you love, but which are easy for you to write. Ideally, you’ll write from your own experience, or write about something in which you’re hugely interested… as long as there’s a market for your passion.

New author or experienced professional: answer “what will this take?”

Ask yourself: “what will this take?” before you invest time and energy in a fiction or nonfiction idea. Not only will you write more books, but you’ll sell more too.

Resources to build your writing career

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

Nonfiction Ebooks Goldmine: Write and Sell Nonfiction Ebooks In 24 Hours Or Less

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 5
Genre: Writing
You're a writer. You need to make money from your words. What if you could create AND sell a nonfiction book in just a day? More info →
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5 Tips To Help You To Write A Book Despite Your Inner Critic

 5 Tips To Help You To Write A Book Despite Your Inner Critic

You want to write a book, but you gave up after one page, or one chapter. Maybe you’ve written a book, but hate it, so it’s on your hard drive, a symbol of your failure.

Would you believe me if I said that there’s no such thing as failure, and you CAN write your book, starting today? All you need to do is become familiar with your inner critic, and expose him for the illusion that he is.

The big reason you can’t write a book

I work with writers every day. A huge part of that work is separating a writer from his killer “musts” and “shoulds.” These faux strictures and rules stem from the writer’s inner critic, and they’re immensely harmful until the writer recognizes them.

Once you recognize the lies your inner critic is telling you, and recognize the source, you can go ahead and write happily. Unfortunately, this recognition is hard, because the words your inner critic whispers activate your sympathetic nervous system: this is your fight or flight response.

Fight or flight shuts down your thinking processes. The only way to counter this is to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, so that your body calms and you can think again.

You can’t rid yourself of your inner critic, but you can stop giving him attention. Vital: never argue with your inner critic. That way lies disaster. Remember that he’s an illusion, he’s not real. 🙂

Let’s look at some tips which will help you to ignore your inner critic.

1. Practice gratitude daily: list 5 wonderful things

Although you might think that gratitude (of all things!) can’t help you to write a book, guess what — it can. It’s not only free, it’s a way to turbocharge your creativity.

Gratitude floods your body with chemicals from your parasympathetic nervous system. These chemicals are completely natural, they make you feel good, and they put you into a “writing” mind state.

Keep a gratitude journal for a few weeks; it can change your life.

2. Fool your inner critic: “I’m just practicing …” — and smile

Uh-oh… You’re happily writing, and your inner critic chirps in your ear: “how could you write that? You can’t write that…”

Remember: he’s an illusion. You can’t argue with an illusion and win. Mentally say to yourself. “I’m not writing anything serious. I’m just practicing and having fun.”

And smile: just a little Mona Lisa smile. Smile slightly with your eyes and tilt your lips upward at the corners. According to The Atlantic, a full research study,“Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Positive Facial Expression on the Stress Response,” was published in the journal Psychological Science.

Smiling is a psychological thing. Just do it. 🙂

3. Create a routine for your writing: do the same thing, every day

Every writer who writes commercially has a routine. Without a routine, you can’t get anything done. Routine includes:

  • Where you write: desk in your home office, or coffee shop, or…?
  • How you write: computer, iPad, longhand on a legal pad…
  • When you write: early morning, lunchtime at work, on your commute…
  • How long you write (research, outlining, and editing don’t count)…

It takes around four days to establish a routine. Eventually, if you keep following your routine, your inner critic fades. You’ve established a habit, and your inner critic is powerless against habits.

4. Say “thank you” to your inner critic, and write

Remembering that your inner critic is an illusion, when something he says catches your attention, say: “inner critic”, or “thank you”. You’re labelling the thought, rather than engaging it. This prevents you following the thought down a rabbit hole of endless discursive thought.

Mentally label the thought, and start writing immediately.

5. Meditate (breathe) for ten minutes a day

The voices in your head, including your inner critic, are not real. Your biggest challenge in dealing with them is realizing that you’re being baited by an illusion. Meditation can help you to recognize your inner critic as easy-to-ignore background noise.

Eventually, meditation helps you to recognize your thoughts as thoughts. Thoughts are not real. Meditation can’t eliminate thoughts — your mind chatter continues, but meditation slows it down. Meditation also prevents the constant triggering of your sympathetic nervous system’s fight or flight response. You’ll find that on days when you meditate for ten minutes, you’re much calmer — your inner critic is either missing, or if present, is ignored. Not bad for just ten minutes out of your day.

While there are endless ways to meditate, the simplest way is to breathe and count your breaths, because your breath is always with you. 🙂

Your inner critic is a toothless tiger, so write a book

We’ve focused on your inner critic’s role in preventing you from writing a book. However, he appears in many guises in all areas of your life. You’ll discover that when you follow the tips above, your entire life improves. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →