- Webinar Slides
- Webinar Workbook
- Webinar Recording
Everything is available in the PREPtober BONUS Section – When you register for the Complete 31-Day Outlining & Plotting Course at https://rebrand.ly/outlining
Why adventure? Awesome. Women’s fiction or cozy? I’m running a cozy so I vote for cozy. Let’s see. Can you see my slides? Am I in half? Let me try to make it bigger. Is that better? I think you should see everything. I want to be really quick because I know that time is of the essence and if you subscribed to attend this webinar, you obviously want to save time and that’s why you’re here to learn how you can get more time for writing and less time for anything that takes away from writing.
I have some ideas. Some of them might be repeats of what you’ve seen before and some of them are hopefully a little different so let’s just go over today’s agenda and I’m just going to talk about, who am you, who are you and then who am I. It’s a typo. Just because I want to make sure you’re in the right place, we’re going to talk about how NaNoWriMo fits in, why do so few people finish and how can we fix that. Then of course I have prizes at the end and then we’ll talk about what to do next.
By this time tomorrow, you should have this webinar, the recording should be done, I will share all of the slides with you, and I will also share a workbook for you that goes with this webinar so you can just keep some notes, and talk about just for yourself, and how you can make NaNo better in case you need to have some notes to refer back to later. Now, if you have any tech issues, I do have another window open. You can pop in. I will check that periodically. Maryanne, it says your browser won’t support this. “Will you point it too later?”
Just so you know this is Webinar Ninja. It’s the software I’m using. It only works on Chrome and it does not work on mobile, and that includes iPads or if you have a tablet. If you are not using Chrome, go ahead, close out and then just rejoin the webinar with that same link using a Chrome browser. Who are we? Who are you? I’m just going to assume the whole reason I started Indie Marketing is because I’m because I’m going to assume you’re an author who wants to sell books and that could be anywhere, it could be any type, traditional, self-published, hybrid, genre.
The reason I’m doing craft is because I found that when I was teaching this other marketing classes, a lot of people had questions just on how to get started and they were mostly aspiring writers is what I was attracting. That’s great. I love that, but if you don’t have a novel, I can’t help you market it, so that’s why I was so excited that Preptober was here and NaNoWriMo was here because I want to help you write your novel.
Who am I? I’ve written Erotica, I’ve written some romance, I’ve written some YA, I write fitness books. That’s originally how I got started. I’ve written marketing books on writing and for NaNo, as I mentioned, I’m writing cozies. This may or may not be the cover. I was just playing around with this, but I think if you can put together sort of a little cover and I had someone do this on Fiverr for me for literally $5, I think that will help motivate you while you’re doing NaNoWriMo to see what you’re working towards.
You may have seen me under Lisa Siefert or Lisa London which is my pen name. Just in the interest of full disclosure, I have zero background in writing from a formal education standpoint. I have a bachelor’s in history, I have an MBA in accounting, and I worked in the corporate world for quite a long time, but I don’t know if you were like me. I dream all the time of quitting my job and writing full-time. That is basically where I’m at right now. In addition to that I also do graphic design, and that again is something I just thought myself that I just love doing.
Now, why do I teach? I think I mentioned this. I love teaching and before I quit my job, I worked … I shouldn’t say I worked, I volunteered a lot for the Romance Writers of America, in different clubs and if you’ve been to any of those conferences, any time I attended, I even, I always taught the aerobics program in the morning as well. I was vice president for some of the chapters. That is my background. I do have a teaching background. Obviously, a more formal one. I was an adjunct professor at Roosevelt University teaching business classes and I’ve taught a lot of classes through being HR and at conferences and a corporate trainer.
Let’s get started. Now, I am notorious for doing a ton of slides and I actually deleted a ton of slides for today to try to cut it down to 30 minutes because when I ran a test dry run, this went for an hour. There are a lot of things missing which I put in … I instead put in to the workbook because I think there’s still a lot of valuable information that I want to share and I think later you can go back and work on those on your own.
Let’s just talk about where does NaNo fit in? I think that NaNo is a great opportunity for people to get together. Again, we’ll talk about this later, but I think there is a lot of value in a shared collective of people working together to [inaudible 00:05:38]. Thanks. Anybody who knows me, I could talk forever. In fact some of my classes, I will talk even longer. I will just add extra videos just to talk, but as far as NaNo, you can see it was started in 2000, 1999-2000. The first year that they recorded any data, there were only 140 people with any movement that started and about even then only six people finished so it had about a 4% completion rate.
Now, you can see as time went on, people really loved the idea of writing together collectively in a group. More and more people are joining NaNoWriMo. It seems to have plateaued in the last couple of years. However, you’ll notice what doesn’t change is the percentage of people that complete it. Now, you would think naturally the more people that are entering NaNoWriMo, the higher the likelihood that you’ll have people completing NaNoWriMo and that just doesn’t hold true. Let’s talk about why that is because if anything in the last year, it actually declined. If you look from 2014 to 2016, it cut in half the number of people that completed.
Now, that could be also due to, like for me, I just stop updating the website. It wasn’t working for me. I think there was a point last year also in which the whole website had crashed because they did not … Obviously you can see, they started out with 140 people. I don’t think their servers were ready for that many people to join. It’s possible other people did finish like me, but just didn’t put their data or their stats into NaNoWriMo.
There are three main root causes of why people don’t finish. The number one, and this is something that my dad always says, “You can do things the hard way or you can do things the smart way.” We’ll talk about that and then I think the third bucket is distractions. This is really true for anything whether you are at work and you have a deadline to meet or you are trying to fold the laundry and you’re small four-year-old comes up and has a question or your friend calls or who knows what, but distractions will, like they’re called distractions, distract you away from whatever it is that you’re working on.
Then the third one is environment. I think that the physical, the emotional and the people and everything else that you surround yourself with make a huge difference in your environment and this is also I think the number one reason why people who have perfectly beautiful and great set ups at home to write, to do research go away to a writing retreat, out in the woods which, trust me, is not my idea of a relaxing time, but they will go there because they’re going to be more productive. They’ll go check in to a hotel for the weekend and I think it’s because their environment is not conducive to productivity or to writing or creativity.
We’ll talk about ways that you can fix that. In no particular order, I think the first one is pantsers versus plotters. I truly believe that pantsers are never going to be as quick, as efficient or as impactful or productive. They’re just not going to be as great as a plotter. Now, the problem with pantsers, and I know I have some friends that are diehard pantsers is that they’re waiting for inspiration. I think they’re always changing their mind because their personality and their writing style is such that they like being influenced by outside forces and being influenced by outside forces requires a lot of extra reading, a lot more TV time or movie time that you could be reading.
There’s nothing wrong with research but this makes you much more indecisive especially when you hear, see a new plot device, you may have memory issues. Sometimes, I have pantser friends who will just say I don’t even remember what I was writing about. That’s an issue if you are 40,000 words into an 80,000 novel. Some days they have good days and some days they have bad days. When I say they have bad days, not only do they write nothing but they delete a lot of things that they have already written because they’ve written let’s say 20,000 words that go towards a storyline that they are either no longer interested in or does not fit with the rest of their book.
The whole point and I am probably the most organized outlining type of person you will ever meet. I am definitely a hardcore plotter. I think there is room for maybe a hybrid between the two but for sure, plotters definitely have a GPS with their novel. Every day you go to write, you know exactly what you’re going to write about. You don’t have to worry about what you’re writing about yesterday versus today. You have notes, you have your GMC, you have the scene, you have the time of day, you know everything going on. You never accidentally say, “It’s 6:00 am,” when in the previous scene, it was already 6:00 am and time has passed, right?
The nice thing too about plotting is once your outline is done, you can focus all of your time and simply learning how to write better. When I say learn how to write better, I think you guys know what I mean. You’re not worried about the craft of how do I show my character, the external GMC versus the internal, instead you’re worried about how do I write the best dialog? How do I make an exciting scene?
How do I show and not tell? How do I make sure I mix in the right amount of dialog with the right amount of action versus the right amount of internal thoughts and what should I be doing for POV in this scene or who’s the best POV? These are things that you can focus on because you’re not focused on the outline or what plot device or what trope you’re going to write about because you already know it.
Because I felt too strongly about this, I think many of you are already in it but if you’re not, I do have a free 31-day course on just how to outline and how to plot. Again, this is a 100% for genre fiction authors, not for literary fiction or nonfiction. It’s really focused on people who want to write a commercially viable book that they can sell on Amazon or to an agent or a publisher. More importantly, in the bonus lesson for this course, that is where I’m going to be putting these slides, the workbook and this recording.
Number two is GPS. GPS is how you are in a car and you have a GPS system. GPS is just [inaudible 00:12:43] to say this is how you’re going to get around. What’s the next step in the book? Bounce around. What I mean is you don’t have to write linearly. Although I do say that you should write your plot entirely beforehand, you don’t have to write it in order so maybe you’re very inspired that day to write the black moment or you can’t write plot point three like I always say until you know what the black moment is and then you can backtrack into your plot point three. Maybe that is something that you want to do and obviously if you have an outline, you can simply cross that off the list rather than writing it and then wondering how you’re going to back into that for the whole novel.
The third thing is I think you need to schedule makeup days. This is talking about your schedule and being very clear on what you’re going to do and on which days. I think you need to make room for the fact that things are going to happen. As much as I try to plan, there are things, days when maybe I’m up until midnight because we had a leak in our bathroom and I had to have the plumber there and I had to meet with them.
You never know what’s going to happen but you can schedule makeup days. When I say schedule, I mean blackout entire days for when you think you can do double, triple or quadruple, the word count. Weekends are always best if you have a Monday through Friday 9:00 to 5:00 job. Use some of those vacation days that you have. Call in sick, leave work early. I’ve done human resources so I can tell you, you are not going to be fired. These are totally normal things that people do all the time throughout the year.
You should do them because you have all of these sick days or vacation days and what better way to use them than working on your novel. Now the same thing goes with those days where you schedule double or triple and if you’re having a really great writing day just keep writing and double or triple your word count so that you’re ahead when you go forward and then maybe you don’t need a makeup day because you’ve already made it up in the past when you had the time.The fourth one is to become a minimalist. Now, you need to clear to work your workspace and I think I have a video, if you to my YouTube channel on what my workspace looks like and you’ll notice it is so clean and when you flip the camera around, I’ll show you. There’s nothing on it. It is completely devoid of pens of notebooks, of cute little things, of posters because again I think this is the reason why people go to hotels is because they want a clean workspace or they go to a co-working location because they want to be free from distractions, so if anything.
If you have a lot of knickknacks and you don’t have time to go through them, just throw them in a basket and you can go through it later and I bet you probably won’t even miss them and you can probably just throw them away. That would be my advice. I think it helps with so many things in life and I can go on a tangent about how it helps with money and finances and budgeting. I don’t know if you guys know this but I used to be $190,000 in debt and that wasn’t a mortgage. That was simply student loans and vacations and credit cards. As soon as I became a minimalist, I got rid of all that debt. Now, it took me seven years because I was single. I think when you’re dual income family, you can get rid of it much faster but I did nothing, I bought nothing, I had nothing and I was able to pay all of that debt off myself and I didn’t get any help.
I think that’s because I became a minimalist. I think the same thing is so true of writing. The less stuff you have in your life, the more you can be focused on writing and finishing your novel. Clear your calendar. [inaudible 00:16:37] an RV. I mean even if you have a small space, it doesn’t have to be cluttered. I don’t know if you guys noticed, I live in San Diego now but before this, I used to live in New York, on the upper west side which is I don’t know if you guys know, it’s the second most expensive zip code in the country but because I was single I wanted to live in a very safe neighborhood so I had a very tiny apartment because of that.
Even if you live in a small space, you can still get rid of stuff. I can’t even tell you, you just don’t need that much stuff or at least I just don’t need that much stuff. Again, to be fair, I don’t have children. I did have a dog at the time but I didn’t have people I need to take care of. That does make a difference.
Hack number five. Clear your calendar. Just like I said you should blackout time for double triple quadruple days. You can’t do that if your calendar is cluttered with appointments whether it is doctor appointments, it’s your dentist appointments, it is someone’s birthday, reschedule those and instead just move them over. People aren’t going to mind. Things come up all the time I’m sure where you’ve invited people over for an event or something else and they weren’t able to make it because they had things going on in their life that were a priority.
It’s the same thing for you. The only person who was going to stand up for yourself and make sure that you had time to write is you. I think the biggest take away from this is not to be a victim. Don’t say, “I’m so stuck. I have to go to so-and-so’s birthday party and I’m stuck because I have to go to my mother-in-law’s. I don’t even know like brunch. You don’t have to do all those things. You are in charge of your own schedule and your life and you’re an adult.
If you were not able to make certain things, then you can’t make certain things. Now, I’m not sure what the consequences are of canceling a lot of those things but I bet they’re probably pretty minimal in terms of what you want to do and the novel that you’re trying to write. You can simply let people know, “You know what, this is really important to me and maybe you could tell them the percentage is pretty low on the people that succeed. I need everything I can including my own time in order to make sure I succeed.
Hack number six is to say no. This goes along with the other thing. Your first reaction to any question should always be no. “I can’t. I’m busy. I’m already booked. Thank you for asking but maybe next month.” I’m not saying you need to be rude about it but you should try to guard your time as much as you can and again only you can do that. I think about all the events in my life and the activities I’ve done where I was miserable and I was pretty bored.
The whole time I was there, I just thought, “Gosh, I really wish I had said no to this, made some excuse or I don’t want to be here. There is so many other things, better things, I’d be doing with my time than this activity. Hold on. I’ll stop to read this side. Laura said, “I just did this yesterday. I decided on blocks in the morning and evening and some fail safe writing days right at events. That’s perfect. That’s exactly what you should be doing. Look at your schedule. If you don’t have a planner, go out and buy one. Again, if you use electronic planner that’s fine too. Go through that and look at what you can get rid of.
Number seven, be confident. I don’t really know if this has been on any list ever for how to finish NaNoWriMo because there’s all these things about how to prep all these meals. I have absolutely nothing in here about prepping meals. I feel like that’s a no brainer like just prep meals or just get takeout or just I don’t know, just buy a huge meal and then split it up into three. Nothing will kill dreams more than doubt and fear alone. I think when people say they procrastinate, I don’t know if it’s as much as they find something else so much more interesting than that they are just fearful that they’re not going to succeed or they don’t know what to do or how would it take to make it.
They make these excuses and say, “I was procrastinating. I was watching TV. If you’re confident and you know for sure that you were going to write this novel and you’re going to make it through the whole month, there is nothing and no reason why you would ever turn that TV on. There’s no reason why you would open up Facebook and then all of a sudden look at the clock and see that two-and-a-half hours have passed because you were somebody who was confident.
You were somebody who is a prolific writer, you were somebody who’s going to become a best seller. You were somebody who is going to have a novel ready to go to your editor by December and you don’t have time to waste on any of that stuff. You need to be your own best friend and so I think the more you can leave positive affirmations and notes for yourself around your apartment or in your notebooks or on your fridge door or anything else the more you’re changing the environment that you’re in and you’re changing that self-talk that you’re giving to yourself by giving yourself affirmations all the time everywhere you go. I think this is a huge part of what is going to honestly get rid of all the procrastination that you have.
Ene says, “I am so happy I’m passed this time where I go to somewhere just because others go. I go if I want to and if I get bored, I’ll just leave and go home.” That’s so true. I’m so glad you said that. It takes confidence too, I think to be able to leave situations like that as well so good job. We’re getting close. I know I’m getting close to the time.
Hack number eight, block numbers on your phone. Now, I don’t know if you have friends like this, I do and they don’t know if they mean to do it or they don’t mean to do it. It doesn’t really matter what the reason why is but they’re success saboteurs. They are people who will keep you on the phone for hours at a time because they’re lonely, they’re bored and I’m not saying that they’re bad people but you will only have so many hours in the day and sometimes misery loves company and so they will invite you out and say, “I can’t write any pages either. Let’s just go out to a movie or let’s just go out for the night or let’s get some drinks or let’s do whatever.”
Maybe they’re independently wealthy, I don’t know and they have so much money that they don’t need to worry at all about time. That is not you and those people, and I know you know who they are, are people I think you should just block their number, just have it go straight to voicemail. You can catch up with them later. If not, I think the best thing you could possibly do for yourself is get yourself a burner flip phone. If going on to Facebook or Instagram and either you can’t stop yourself or stop the alerts.
Sometimes they keep changing those apps every time with an update and all of a sudden, you thought you turned off the alert but the alert keeps popping up so if that’s the case get a burner flip phone. For sure, those will not show any alerts and then people can truly only reach you if they have an emergency and don’t get a burner phone with text messaging. Ene says, “Keep the phone in flight mode while writing.” That’s true. If you have the discipline to keep your phone in flight mode while riding that is an excellent idea as well or sometimes what I honestly do, I turn the phone completely off otherwise I will be tempted to look over it maybe even for a second.
Number nine is create autoresponders. When I say create autoresponders, I mean your email, your voicemail, your social media. I know some people will say, “Hey, make an announcement and let people know that you’re doing NaNoWriMo.” That’s fine for the people closest to you but I think it is impossible to tell everybody in your life that may possibly contact you in the month of November that, “Hey, you’re busy and you’re doing NaNoWriMo.” A better thing to do, and I’m sure you receive this a lot when you talk to people is you will email out to people to them. You’ll receive an autoresponse and it will say, “Hey, I got your message. Thanks so much and I’ll get back to you within 24 hours,” or whatever it is. Your autoresponder should say the same thing. Again, I’m not telling you to be rude. You can just be very friendly and say, “Hey, I got your message, but you know what, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month and it’s taking up a lot of my time and I’m actually making extra time to do it and that includes answering emails. I will not be answering any email until December.”
That is perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with you telling people you get back to them in December because quite honestly, if they send you an email, it’s probably not urgent. Now, you can’t do that probably with work emails but if you were out of the office or either vacation or sick day, 100% on your out of office, that’s what the OOO stands for, put down that you will be unavailable. I use to always say, “Hey, but I’ll be checking email periodically. I don’t know. I think I’m just an addict for work but that’s what I used to do. Do the same thing with your voicemail and your social media accounts as well. Brianna says, “The only problem with this is I often use my phone to write. Do not disturb mode maybe.” Yeah, if could try do not disturb mode, that’s true.
The last one and I’m racing to the finish is to join a writing community. I think there’s a lot of camaraderie and simply just having a writing support group and obviously I have Camp NaNo, the NaNo Bootcamp but even if you don’t join NaNo Bootcamp, I think not having to explain what NaNo is all over again from the start or why you need time to write is a huge bonus. Only another writer will ever, ever understand what that means. Let me just tell you a little bit about what I’m offering in case that’s something you’re interested in.
I love doing Preptober. I think you guys, if you’ve been in it, I’ve had a lot of fun hopefully you guys have had a lot of fun. I’ve thrown in some really great examples of movies that I loved. You’re going to get the same exact thing. You’re going to get a complete calendar for the whole month. You are going to get email pep talks, you’re going to get daily video lessons, you’ll get daily downloads and a private forum. The other thing if you want to do the deluxe because I know some people especially when I sold the KM Weiland Structuring Your Novel.
Some people wanted the recording only which is fine but if you want a little bit more, I want to offer you three different bonuses if you wanted to do more of a deluxe version and that’s when everyone will get the NaNo planner and that is … I’ll go over that in a minute but you’ll get two live group coaching calls like this and they will be a whole hour and I’ll stay and answer any questions. You’ll also get a personalized critique because sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re on the right track and critique circles are great but you need to critique everybody else’s work and that takes a long time.
This kicks off on November 1 and ends on November 30th so it’s going to be taught daily and it will be in this same forum on that poor site like you have seen for Preptober. The first bonus is the NaNo planner which I think some of you was seen online. I think people were waiting because I said it was going to be included with NaNo Bootcamp but it’s 52 pages and it goes … It has a new page for every single day and it has a small section at the beginning on how to write faster and some tips in there.
It has daily motivational quotes and it has a tracking log. Now, the second bonus is live coaching call. We’ll go over what’s working, what’s not working. It’ll be a smaller more intimate environment. We’ll talk about craft questions. We’ll talk about productivity. I’ll try to come up with some new things that I’m discovering as well or learning from other people in the group. Then we’ll do any technology tutorials that you want to do as well at that time. Those are both schedule just like this one for Saturdays because I’m just going to assume that most people are working Monday through Friday and just like this, they’ll be recorded and you’ll get a copy afterwards.
Now the third bonus is a personalized critique and I think this is probably the most valuable one. I don’t know if you guys know this. I don’t offer any personal coaching ever, never. The same thing, I guard my time religiously. I never do any one-on-one work because it’s just so hard. For personalized critique, I do sometimes do one-on-one sessions for 199 an hour.
For just this whole, for NaNo Bootcamp, just to make sure I’m on the right track, I am throwing that in to the deluxe NaNo Bootcamp so you can turn in 10 pages and I’ll that around within 24 to 48 hours because I know that time is of the essence and because I’m doing that in such a short time span, we won’t have a live discussion but you will get a written two-page report on all the different story elements that I think are working and other ones that I think could maybe be improved as well as a video explanation because I think I talked about this before.
I just love video and I think sometimes it’s easier to understand the tone of what I’m saying or the feedback in a video. This way, you could listen to it at your leisure without having to schedule a one-on-one time that works for both of our schedules. Plus you can have it to refer back to later. Does anyone have questions? Ene says, “What are the possibilities when writing in other languages than English would you have feedback on the plot or outline that is not too hard to translate?”
That’s a good question. I don’t speak any other languages. Are you writing your story in English or you’re writing it in something else? You’re writing in Estonian. You could try. I mean we could definitely try it out. I think Google Translate works pretty well and then you could just … It’s just 10 pages. I would just maybe put some context or edit it a little and then I can definitely put all of your feedback back to you in English. Elizabeth asks, “Is the forum on Facebook?” No, the forum is not on Facebook, it’s a private forum that is just within the course site.
We’re going to pick out winners. The first prize that I’m giving away like I said was KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel workshop. This answers the question, “How do you apply the three structures to romance?” Let me just split screen. I see. Let’s go. I have 20 people on. Just to be independent, I’m having Ben pick out the winners. Here are the attendees. There’s 20 people. You can just randomly pick a winner.
Ben: Let’s go with Jill.
Lisa: Jill. Jill, are you there? Jill make sure to send me an email. Wait. There’s two more prizes, honey. The next one is … Touchdown. Number two, this is a new prize that I wasn’t going to give away originally but I have a copy of KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel workbook. This is 154 pages and it contains hundreds, that’s what she said, of insights of questions and imagination rubbing exercises to help you with your book. Let’s go with this one.
Ben: What about Jan?
Lisa: Just Jan?
Ben: Is it Jan?
Lisa: Jan. Yehey, Jan. She needs to listen. I don’t know if people are still on. We have Jill, we have Jan. Let me just write the notes here so I don’t forget. Prize number one is Jill. Prize number two is Jan. There you are Jan. Then I have a third one which is the NaNo planner.
Lisa: Antonia. Great. Look at that. Thanks. Prize number three goes to Antonia. Antonia, yehey. Perfect. Do I have any other slides? I think that’s it. Yeah, that’s it. Let me close this down. I’m back. Does anybody have any questions and I did go six minutes over. It could be anything about NaNo, it could be about Preptober, it could be about the bootcamp, it could be about life, it could be about my apartment.
What was the first tip? I just miss it. The first tip was pantsers versus plotters. I said that pantsers always lose and plotters always come out ahead. I just love them. Beth, “What’s with all the macaroon photos?” I just love macaroons. If you go to learn Indie Marketing, I have a blog post on why macaroons because it does come up and if I see another book icon, I think I’ll just shoot somebody, so I did macaroons because I can’t stand looking at books as icons for a book company.
Antonia, “Did you ever have problems getting rid of stuff?” No. That’s not true. When I first started, I loved stuff and I keep a memorabilia because I used to travel a lot. I had so many clothes. I had three closets full of clothes. I had a two-bedroom apartment even though I lived alone because I just loved my clothes and my shoes so much. It was hard at first but as soon as I started getting into it, and throwing things away, I felt so much better. I felt so much lighter. People will say, it cost you money to have things and it cost you money to maintain things because then you need to buy insurance on top of it and that you’re worried about all of your stuff and that takes up a lot of time and energy. I love getting rid of stuff.
Brianna, “Beth, they made me hungry.” It’s true. It’s funny. Ben and I were watching the Hallmark Mystery Channel last night. We were watching one of those murder mysteries, the Joanne Fluke ones, the Red velvet Cupcake Mystery Murder, whatever. Then we both got hungry for cupcakes. It does do that. Alexandra, “What are the conditions of joining and getting your Preptober planner stuff and the bootcamp? I joined just because I saw your post in NaNo support group. I don’t know all the background. I guess many people here are participants of some other events with you.
I think some people are. I taught some other classes on Savvy and so to join Preptober, you just … There is no condition at all. It’s free and you just sign up and you’re in the class. Bootcamp, the same thing. It’s not free but bootcamp is … Right now, I should mention, I have it for an early bird price of 147 only until October 31. Then after that, it goes up $100. If you want to join and that’s something you want to do, you should for sure just do that before October 31 because you’re going to get your calendar right away and you’re going to get your planner and all your downloads and everything right away.
I think the most important thing is that who are you. It’s really somebody who’s writing commercial genre fiction. If you are writing like I always say literary fiction, there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just out of scope for what I teach and all the craft lessons. They won’t be useful to you because you don’t necessarily need to follow all the rules of commercial genre fiction and you have literary fiction.
Elizabeth, “How do you decide what to throw away?” Just like I always said to say no to everything. I decided that I was going to throw everything away and then I decided what do I really need? What I really needed wasn’t a lot. I don’t know if you guys noticed. When I come on here, I think I have five shirts that I rotate through and that’s really all that I own. I own five or six shirts. I have one little black dress. Instead of having … I think 120 pairs of shoes. Instead of having 120 pairs of shoes, I have maybe four. I don’t know. What did I decide?
I mean I literally just threw, I just assume I was going to throw everything away and I split it up into a pile of stuff that I could make money off of so my cameras, the computers, things like that and I sold those on eBay or Craigslist and then everything else, I literally just tossed in a garbage or donated to charity or something else. When I moved here from New York, obviously I was in a studio so I had even less. I basically took, I think, three or four boxes and that was it. I had nothing else. Even then, some of my boxes that I donated to charity stayed in New York because I didn’t take all of them.
Let’s see. Laura, “Are you writing a mystery for a Hallmark?” Oh my god. I really wish I was writing a mystery for Hallmark. I don’t know if you guys noticed. Just two days ago, they opened up submissions for the Hallmark Mystery Channel which they never do. I don’t know if guys notice this. They always take things only through agents and I don’t have an agent, I just self-publish. This is the first-time ever they opened, so yeah fingers-crossed.
Is that what you’re doing Laura? Maryanne, “Preptober has been super helpful. Looking forward to reading the rest of this stuff tomorrow.” Thanks. Glad to hear that. Antonia, “I’ve enjoyed following your Preptober daily planner. It’s helped organized my mind for NaNoWriMo.” Awesome. Thanks. Elizabeth., “I love all your slides and print them and keep them in a notebook. Now, I have lots of notebooks from classes with you.” Great.
Alexandra, “What is the link to join Preptober? I mean I know about it but I guess what you’re asking about is not just Preptober and Twitter.” That’s right. To join Preptober, I don’t even know the link. Let me check. If you just go to the website, you should be able to … There should be a link right in the bottom that says join Preptober. I mean there’s a lot of free stuff on the website when you join but one of them is Preptober.
Laura, “No. I do have mystery in the works but it’s not clean enough for Hallmark. That’s true. They don’t want paranormal. If anyone else is thinking about Hallmark just Google it. They’re open for submissions but there can’t be violence on the page so the murder happens off the page and there could be no sex. Usually, the heroine is, I would say she’s a spinster but she’s very … I think they’re very Christian.
The Christmas holiday movies on Hallmark are very popular. I don’t know if people are going to church necessarily but they seem to be very much adhering to a lot of good moral standards and upbringing. While you guys are thinking, I have … I don’t know if you can see it. I’m going to flip the camera so you can see my living room. Is that okay? Hold on. Ben is going to move. I don’t know if you can see it. What I did is I changed my living room up so I used to have a lot of furniture.
We moved all the furniture out and so that now if I want, I can sit in the chair and I can write or I can work out and that’s pretty much it. In fact I don’t know if you can see, there’s a treadmill over in the corner, the TV and then my desk. This is the most space I’ve ever had in my life, in an apartment even when I was in Chicago, before I was in New York. I had a studio there because I was still very much trying to payoff debts so I had the world’s smallest apartment.
Antonia, “Wow.” Honestly, I don’t have time to go to the gym. I don’t know if you guys know this. I used to do fitness. I used to try to teach fitness to writers which is a bad market. Those two don’t go together but I don’t have a lot of time to go to the gym and everything I’m saying to you in spread out really far. It’s not like New York where you can walk out the door and I’m at the gym in two seconds. For here, I tried to get at least 30 minutes every day and so just having the whole setup ready to go makes it so much easier because if I had to get a lot of things out and move things out of the way, I might be deterred from working out.
This makes it much more conducive to working out and writing. Alexandra, “My aim is also a Christmas claim romance for Hallmark but the stuff I help publishing is not clean so I wonder whether to publish a claim romance with a non romance pending.” That’s a good question. I write erotica under Lisa London and then I also write chick lit which has no sex, it’s just lighthearted, and the YA had no sex. I wrote those bother under Lisa London.
I thought about doing a separate author name and I’m still thinking about it but the problem is … I think you guys know that I have a graphic design business and that I have the fitness stuff still. Those are three different brands and all three brands require the same level of concentration when it comes to social media posts, when it comes to creating a website, creating engagement, creating branding. I mean it’s a lot of work and thank God, I’m a graphic designer so I can do those things, but even if I wasn’t, it would be so expensive to outsource that.
I know they advocate doing it under separate pen names but I just feel like nowadays with people just becoming more accepting, it might be okay. However, I think it’s possible if you’re submitting to Hallmark that they might look at your platform and then see that you have sex books and then maybe not want to pick you up. I don’t know. Now, that I’m talking about this, maybe it does make poor sense to have a clean pen name maybe where you write other stuff.
I think if I was going to do it, I would probably just put it under my fitness name even though I write fitness books because those are not sexual obviously and so that would possibly be more acceptable than writing under the erotica name. Alexandra, “Yes, it takes so much time to maintain more than one pen name.” I mean it sounds like it’s going to be so easy but it requires so much work. I know some authors will have just rock star, beautiful websites under let’s say their main pen name or their first one and then they’ll say, “Here are some other books that I write under a different name.” This will be this hideous blogger website that clearly isn’t maintained and they just throw up there.
That’s okay, but again, if you’re going to mention it anyway, the what’s the point of splitting it out? Plus there was another article recently where I don’t know if you guys do this. If you have a pen name … Obviously I have a pen name and then I have my regular name for fitness. I sometimes forget so I will log in to Goodreads or I’ll log in to Facebook and I’ll post something about erotica under my real name and so people are confused. Then I’ll realize that later and I’ll have to delete it but that could happen too. You have more than one pen name.
Plus, I don’t know if you guys know this. I pay for my Pinterest to … I outsource that so just for one account for her to outsource one account I think it’s 700 a month. If I had to pay for her to outsource all three of my accounts, that would be 2,100. That would be crazy whereas right now, I’m just outsourcing one and if you just have one pen name, then you could cover everything with one person. Elizabeth, “How do you manage your time with social media and writing?”
I outsource. I try to schedule everything. I have it a little easier because I do write full-time. It makes a huge difference. I used to say this all the time. When I had a day job, I was head of HR for a management consulting firm and before that I was the North American HR director. When you have jobs like that, you have to be available 24/7. That’s why in my out of office, I would say, “If you need something urgent, I will check email even though it’s my vacation or I have a sick day.” I was just working all the time.
Now, what I do is I can block things off because they don’t have to answer to someone else. That makes a huge difference. I have my day split out into graphic design work then I know I need to do then writing and then doing videos. I try to batch everything and then on top of it was social media, I try to schedule everything in advance as much as I can. I do all of the graphic design and website management and marketing for my boyfriend’s bar which is a totally different business. Honestly, something that’s really hard for me because I don’t make masculine things. I make pretty cute things like the macaroons.
I try to batch all that. We’ll sit together for maybe, I don’t know eight or 10 hours and we’ll get the whole month done and then I don’t have to worry about that again for a while. I mean I do a couple things here and there but I’ll put reminders for myself in the calendar. I have two calendars inside Google. I have one just my personal and then I have a second for just social media blogging. I can remind myself because there are certain things you can’t schedule ahead of time or you need to double check or you need to turn off.
I have little reminders that remind me to turn things off. It’s probably a very long answer but that’s what I do. I don’t do … I just want to say I don’t do … I know a lot of people say write first thing in the morning and I think that’s the worst thing you can do. I don’t write first thing in the morning. The minute I wake up, I brush my teeth and then I will work out because if you … Right now, I have my hair and my makeup done. The number reason people don’t work out, I think is because as women, we do our hair and our makeup and it takes so long to do that.
Once you’ve done it for the day, who wants to do it again at 4:30 just because you might see someone later. The number one thing I think you should do when you wake up is workout, take care of hygiene or whatever it is you need to do to get your day to get going and then later when you don’t have to worry about any of that stuff, then I think you should write. Eden. “Handwriting NaNoWriMo. What’s your opinion on it?”
If you like it, if you think you’re going to be more productive, I hand write a lot of stories in my erotica because they’re short stories, but … What do I say about it? I do notice there are times when it helps because I have to think about something and it gives me the time to think while I’m writing it out but there are other times when I have a lot of thoughts and I actually … I know this sounds dumb. I lose my thoughts and I forget them because I’m writing. I lose track of time.
I would say do both if you could. Let’s see. I’m getting a lot questions. Antonia, “Which do you prefer to do daily writing or graphic arts?” I love both of them. It’s a nice combination for me because I do sick of one so as soon as I get sick of graphic design, then I can do some writing and then if I get sick of writing, I can do graphic design and I do have that luxury because I don’t have to answer to anyone. That’s also the same reason I don’t do a lot of individual if any one-on-one client work because I’m such a perfectionist, I would end up doing a ton of work instead of just … I have some friends that do coaching that just do that one hour and the forget about it, but I would want to send you tutorials and that I want to send you links then I want to look up some other things for you.
I found when I was doing one-on-one coaching it was taking up a ton of my time way more than the one hour. I do love doing both. In fact, I do, sometimes to relax, I actually do calligraphy. I do like handwriting a lot of stuff. Alexandra, “How many novels do you have out? What do you think about your first novel story. Was it a sellable or a practice novel? The first million words you write will be awful.”
I have 16 books. I think two of them are full length novels and then I have a million different novels sitting on my hard drive that are never probably going to see the light of day and I think there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t even think it’s … I know people are saying, “The first million words you wrote will be awful.” I don’t know that they’re awful. I think sometimes with writing, people don’t just write just to practice. I’m a classically trained pianist and so when I was a kid growing up, I practiced different pieces and I practiced scales and I practiced arpeggios and I practiced different hand exercises.
I never set out to just write an entire symphony and play that from the beginning. I think that’s the problem with writing. When you’re learning writing, it’s expected that you are just going to write the whole novel and that’s going to be the only writing you should ever spend time doing versus I think you should write a bunch of exercises. You should have exercises just like you do with math and science where you just practice learning or putting into action what you’ve learned whether it’s doing show versus tell, whether it’s dialogue and not worry that it has to be part of this big masterpiece.
I have novels sitting around but I think it’s because I also adhere to that. You have to write a novel versus I think if I could go back in time and if I still was just learning I would have just tried to write different craft parts or learn how to do different pieces or craft elements, story elements rather than try to write the whole book at once. I think that would be much better use of my time and how to write. Elizabeth, “It’s a great answer.” I don’t even remember what I answered but thank you. I’ve been answering so much. There is your question about minimalism because I had such a long answer.
Laura, “LOL. That’s a great point. I put off my shower until I hit 10,000 steps since I work from home.” It’s true. I’m so glad someone else said that. 10,000 steps good for you. I think if you can get an activity tracker too while you’re writing, that’s going to help too because then you’re going to know that you should get up and move around a lot. Sometimes when I’m working, I will just get up and I’ll do 10 squat jumps or 10 pushups or something just to get the blood flowing and then go back to my desk. I’ll just check it off and tick it on the side and then by the end of the day you’ll have done 50 pushups and 50 squats without having to do them all in one sitting.
Antonia, “I agree about working out first in the morning. I bike for an hour first thing even before breakfast.” Perfect. It’s like I don’t even know why you would want to get up and then sit. It doesn’t make any sense to me and it drives me crazy when people say, “You should write the first thing you do when you get up in the morning.” I don’t think you should because I don’t even know how you could. Then I’m worried about, ” I haven’t worked out. I haven’t made breakfast. My hair is still sticking up straight in the air or I have to do my makeup. Even when I had a job, I have to get ready for work or I’m going to be late.”
To me that’s crazy. If I was still working a 9:00 to 5:00, I … What I would do sometimes is I would wake up at 5:00, do my morning routine, go to the gym which again is New York so it’s across the street so that made a huge difference, shower at the gym and then get ready at the gym and then come home, get my stuff, go to work … That’s not true. I drop the dog off at day care, then I go to work and I would just stay there at my desk and I would try to do some writing before people came in for the day.
That for me was better because I didn’t have to worry about all those other little things or catching the train or … Not that you would have to worry about catching a train in New York but dropping the dog off at daycare or making sure that I have my clothes picked out or something like that. I could just go. I was already where I needed to be and I could just be writing until someone came in and I guess needed something or I had my first appointment for the day.
Alexandra, “Thank you. Where would you recommend to find these writing practices. It will be my first novel. I procrastinated the previous NaNoWriMo and to KM’s because I didn’t know what or how to write but I really want to do it this time. I’m reading various books and blogs on writing craft. I have my idea of the story but how can we learn to write well and not just outline?” That’s a good question. The way NaNo Bootcamp is set up … To answer your question, I’ll answer it in two ways.
One, I think there’s a really good book and it’s in day two of Preptober and it is Donald Maass. He’s an agent and it’s called Writing the Breakout Novel. He simply just has a lot of exercises in there and I think those are really good and they have nothing to do necessarily with writing a novel versus just how to write better in general. He 100% is just focused on what I am which is just commercially viable genre fiction.
That’s one. The second one is when we go through NaNoWriMo, because I’m going to assume that you have a plot and like I said, “Now, all you’re going to do is focus on how to write better. We’re going to flip flop back and forth so one day we’re going to talk about productivity and then the second day, we’re going to talk about craft and then we’ll go back to productivity and then we’ll talk about craft. We’ll flip flop back and forth between the two. I’ll have some exercises in there.
Ene, “I have an awesome book called Writer’s Bootcamp by Rachel Federman. It had 50 creativity drill cards. I used it a lot for prepare for NaNo.” Thanks. That’s a great suggestion. I have never heard of it, but good. It is 12:59. I’ve officially gone over double my time. I hope to see a lot of you in NaNo Bootcamp and we’ll be doing all these live Q&A’s again and you’ll get daily lessons and everything else. If not, I will see you guys tomorrow. Virtually, I’ll see you tomorrow because I will post the recording and I will post the workbook and everything else.
Same time with all the winners, I will get everything to you by this time tomorrow. Elizabeth, “If you get a chance, I sent you a PM on Savvy. You mentioned you weren’t receiving your alerts so I wanted to mention [inaudible 00:56:14] in design.” Thanks. I’ll check that. Antonia, “Thanks again.” Thanks. Great. Bye everyone. Thanks.
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