Bestsellers, The Dark Side

Everyone wants to write a best seller. It is my dream as well. I couldn’t think of a downside to it. I thought that having a number of bestsellers to my name would solve all of my problems.

Come to find out, it actually creates a few problems of its own. I could totally relate to  much of what Brian Klems has to say in his article: The Dark Side of Being a Bestseller. You can read the original article here:

There’s an unspoken perception of bestselling authors that reminds me of the 1987 vamp flick, Lost Boys. You know, the one with Kiefer Sutherland in his pre-Jack Bauer days when mullets were still en vogue.

The film’s tagline was, “Sleep all day, party all night. Never grow old, never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.” Ah yes, the eighties. Good times.

Replace the vampires with marquee authors and you might get something like, “Write all day, play all night. Never go unnoticed, collect fat checks. It’s fun to be a bestseller.”

The thing is, there is a dark side to being a bestseller. There are secrets they don’t share publicly.


I know because I’ve worked inside the Publishing Machine for nearly a decade, advising multi-million dollar bestsellers and publishers on everything from creative development to grassroots marketing. I’ve been equal parts strategist, editor, and counselor.

Bestsellers carry secrets, and if they were to share a few it might be these.

Expectations Change Everything

A New York Times bestselling novelist once told me, “You’ll never be as free as you are at the beginning. It’s easy to forget how to take risk and write as if no one is watching.”

She went on to explain how success creates a cycle that few authors know how to handle expertly, especially when recognition comes early.

Everyone loves the popular kid. In that way, life (and publishing) is a lot like high school. But, the popular kid is expected to not only stay popular, but to do a better trick next time so they can become even more popular.

Publishers expect it (who doesn’t want to be the popular kid’s parent?), retailers expect it, and readers expect it, too. Expectations can feel unrelenting and I’ve seen the pressure it brings to authors who feel the weight of it as they sit down to create.

Truth is, they don’t know why something becomes popular. No one does. But in a day when publishing decisions are made based on two to four weeks of sales performance, and not the long-term promise of an author, expectations are everything.

Fear Doesn’t Take Hush Money

Success begets success and opens doors that were previously closed. It’s true and it enables you to “trade up” to higher social circles and opportunities. But even that too is a twin blade.

I’ve watched time and again as authors who were once large fish in a small pond find success. But inevitably, they find themselves surrounded by others who have sold more books than them, command a vastly larger platform, and might have even been on Oprah.

Like the rest of us, they often slip back into the comparison game. The tendency to play the game always leads to self-sabotage and fear. Fear of missing out, fear of not being successful enough, fear of being found out as a fraud.

No amount of money will quiet those fears, which is why refusing to play the game at all is so important. Authors who log decades of prolific output create their own rules, and the most important one is childlike in its simplicity.

Only one thing really matters.

If there’s one core lesson that has embedded itself deeply in my psyche, it’s that doing the work is what matters most. It is the point. The point isn’t having written, as many are so fond of saying, but the actual activity of creating that matters most.

You see, once you’ve released a story into the world it no longer belongs to you. The reader brings their world to the edge of yours and what they experience from there is a process we don’t control.

Doing the work for the sake of it truly is the staying power. It’s the love the craft, our surrender to the art of exploring and illuminating new ideas that matters most. Of course, recognition and compensation are nice, but the shine wears off quickly. Every success carries within it the seeds of suffering.

Act Like No One is Watching

Take my friend’s advice, no matter where you are in your writer journey. Write as if no one is watching. Write as if no one will ever read it or judge your work. That’s where the magic lies, and that is ultimately what readers want to experience, too.

I might change one thing. You’re never as free as you are right now, and the beautiful thing is that you can choose just how free you really are.

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Make a Better Living as a Writer

Writing isn’t a hobby for me. It is something that I want to use to support myself. I think that a lot of writers feel that way. Sometimes it seems so hard to get over that hump to actually make it to a place where your writing is actually paying.

I really liked what Rebecca Matter had to say about it.

You can read the original article here:

4 Ways to Start Making a Living as a Writer

. PMI-certification

When a writer — or aspiring writer — asks me about the single hottest opportunity for writers, my answer never changes …

No matter the season, the year, economy, or the individual’s background, passion, interests, degree — or lack of — the answer is always copywriting.

There simply isn’t another writing skill that even comes close to the income potential and variety of paid writing gigs …

In fact, there are literally hundreds of ways to live the writer’s life using copywriting as your foundation.

And you can choose the type of writing that fits your style and goals …

Short copy … social media updates … product descriptions … long copy … websites … it’s completely up to you.

Of course, so many options can be a little overwhelming. So today I’m going to give you four ways to get started making a living as a copywriter …

#1: Manage and Write Social Media Campaigns

This copywriting opportunity is exploding! In just a few years, it’s grown from being referred to as “social media” to now often being called “the social web.”

It’s integrated into everything we do online.

Because of that, companies need more social web content than ever … to the tune of social media revenue reaching $34 billion by 2016! (Gartner Inc.)

And that’s up from $11.8 billion in 2011 and $16.9 billion in 2012.

Huge growth!

Plus, check this out: According to a recent article from social web expert, Nick Usborne, “88% of companies know they’re not doing well on social media.”

Additionally, “Fewer than 15% of companies have dedicated social media experts on staff.”

Social media might as well be an opportunity on a silver platter!

The demand is so high, yet this is another area of direct-response copy where just a few clients can keep you completely booked.

What does a social media writer do, exactly?

As a social media writer, you work with companies to manage their social media campaigns. This can include a range of services from creating initial social pages to the day-to-day management and updating of the accounts.

There are also posts and updates that need to be written and scheduled, shareable content that needs to be found and re-shared, and fans and followers who need to be engaged with.

And since social media requires ongoing attention month after month, you could have a full-time project — and full-time pay — simply managing a company’s social media strategy.

Get started today by setting up or optimizing your own social media channel. In other words, prove that you understand social media and participate in social media.

Then, share (or re-share) valuable content, tell people about your services, and use social media to attract new clients.

#2: Revise Web Copy So It Can Be Found

SEO (search engine optimization) is a copywriting opportunity that sadly does not receive the attention it deserves.

Yet it’s something every writer should learn …

  1. Even if you’re a brand-new writer, you can jump in right away and start making solid money from day one. It’s likely the easiest and fastest way for a web writer to start working with paying clients.
  1. SEO skills will make your services more valuable — meaning higher rates and better pay. So — if you are doing any writing for the Web at all — don’t miss out on the added value of SEO.

But, let’s back up a little to make sure we’re on the same page …

In order to sell anything online, a website needs to attract people (commonly called “visitors”). The number of visitors a website receives per month is called its “traffic.”

As a business gets more traffic (or people visiting their website), they increase their selling opportunities.

And, it just so happens that SEO is a great way — if not the best way — to get more traffic …

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

A search engine is a tool that helps a person find what they’re looking for online. You’ve certainly heard of Google, Yahoo!, or Bing …

You type something into one of those search engines and they return a list of recommended sites. These are known as “search engine results.”

SEO is the process of tweaking a website so it appears higher in those results … increasing the website’s exposure to more potential customers.

That’s where you, as the SEO copywriter, come in …

What does a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) writer do?

The way a search engine ranks all of the websites on the Internet can be a bit complicated … and, it changes from time to time …

As an SEO writer, you would follow these changes and ensure your client’s website copy is written (and revised) in a way that allows the search engine to find and rank it high in the results.

Depending on your preference, your service might include writing all the copy and content for a website, or simply tweaking existing copy to optimize it.

For your clients, more Search Engine Optimization equals more traffic. More traffic means more profits. That’s why just a few clients can keep you busy writing (or enhancing) content that will improve their SEO ranking!

Get started today by exploring SEO. Try going to your favorite search engine and searching for something you’d like to buy. Then, review the results to see how the websites use the words (called “keywords” in the SEO world) that you searched for on their website.

You’ll find that the most optimized sites (those that are most relevant to what you searched for) appear first …

What about those other sites? The ones who aren’t ranking well are all potential clients just waiting for you to help them.

#3: Write Online Content (Like what you’re reading now!)

This copywriting opportunity ties everything we already talked about together … and it’s an easy opportunity to break into …

You see, most companies are desperate for content — like articles, blog posts, case studies, free reports, reviews, and more — because this content attracts new prospects, helps them make purchase decisions, builds rapport, increases credibility, and more.

Content — or “content marketing” — is now a major part of the sales process. In fact, I discovered that 9 out of 10 companies in North America are using content marketing to boost their sales.

And, get this … 60% of them plan on increasing how much they’ll spend on content!

Writing content is one of the easiest, fastest-growing opportunities there is …

And, for the most part, you’ll be writing short pieces of copy that are informative, engaging, and entertaining. No need to “hard sell” or be hype-y.

Get started today by writing an article about a topic you are passionate about. It doesn’t have to be long — aim for 500-800 words. The point of this exercise is for you to see just how easy content writing can be.

As an example, let’s say you enjoy yoga. You could write something like, “4 Ways Yoga Changed My Life.” That’s exactly the kind of content a yoga studio, yoga supply website, or yoga instructor would need to market their business.

#4: Write Emails

Last, but certainly not least, on my list of copywriting opportunities, is email writing.

This opportunity is so huge because email is one of the main ways that smart companies stay in contact with their potential prospects as well as past customers.

You may have seen sign-up forms on various websites … companies asking for your email address in exchange for a free report, discount, insider information, or access to their newsletter. In the world of email, that’s called “building a list” of prospects.

Once a company builds this list, they want to follow up with it often — sometimes even daily — to prompt the reader to take an action …

That action could be to visit the website, request more information, or purchase something.

But, here’s the thing that makes this a huge opportunity …

Companies don’t want to mail the same email twice!

They need someone to write a unique email — or even a whole series — for every product they launch, every new email list they create, and every new affiliate offer they want to promote.

They also need emails for upsells, discounts, holiday promotions, and more.

Every time they reach out to their list, they need a new email.

If they like what they see from you, they’ll keep coming back. That’s why you can live the writer’s life just by writing email copy and nothing else.

Get started now by signing up for an offer on a website you like. Then, follow their emails to see their process. If you think you can write a better email, why not reach out to the company and propose it?

2015 Will Be a Bright Year for Writers!

There you have it …

Four wide-open, enjoyable, potentially profitable writing specialties: social media campaigns, search engine optimization, content writing, and email.

Whether you’re writing an article, helping a company with their SEO or social media strategy … or even convincing a reader to support a cause, download a special report, buy a product, or request more information …

You’ll always be in demand!

It doesn’t matter what your background is, what your passions are, or even if you have experience.

All that matters is that you’re willing to take the first step …

Choose one of these four copywriting opportunities and do the “get started now” step as soon as possible.

Just don’t spend too much time deliberating. After all, any of these four opportunities can be your ticket to making a living as a writer.

And if you’d like to learn how to take advantage of – and write – all of the projects I shared with you today, check out the Home Study from our recent Web Copywriting Intensive. You’ll get incredible professional-grade training on all of these writing opportunities, taught by the industry’s top experts, from the comfort of your own home.

rebecca_matter-150Next week I’m interviewing a writer who has made millions – both as a published author AND as a copywriter. He’s a brilliant writer … but more importantly he’s a wonderful teacher who has mentored dozens of other writers over the years on building successful writing businesses of their own.

He’s promised to give useful and actionable advice for writers looking to follow in his footsteps. You won’t want to miss it!

Until then,
Rebecca Matter

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Overcoming Writing Hurdles Today!

Writing can be enjoyable, but there are always some things that can make it difficult and sometimes down right miserable. Just like so many things in life, if you are prepared for those obstacles, there is a good chance that you can clear them easily, before they destroy your momentum and enthusiasm for the current projects.

I used to think that I could sit down, pretty much any time and start writing. I have found that is not the case. Writing is easier when I am “in the mood.” And there is nothing like one of the below road blocks that can take me out of the mood and put a damper on an entire day, week, or month.

I found solutions to my a number of my barriers by simply slogging through. But, I found it helped to come prepared with easy possible solutions. That is why this article by Bryan Collins, just jumped off of the page. I had discovered some of these on my own, but Bryan brings a lot of great ideas to the table, and provides some useful tools for authors at any level. You can read the original story here:

7 Barriers to Writing You Can Leap Over Today

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When you aspired to become a writer, you imagined crafting pages of immaculate prose, publishing work that gets better with each read, and your peers telling each other, “Now there’s talent!”


Instead, when you try to write, you feel paralyzed.

You don’t know if what you’re saying makes sense, and every moment you spend with your work is a struggle.

What you eventually produce takes longer than you planned, and it fills you with a sense of disappointment.

Don’t worry.

Here are seven barriers to writing every writer needs to overcome – and how to leap over them today.

1. I Don’t Have Time to Write

Your boss is demanding, your spouse needs your attention, you’ve got three kids to feed, and the dog is begging for a walk.

Then, you’ve got bill to pay bills, a shelf to hang, a house to clean, and a hundred and one other things to do.

All this before you sit down, come up with an original idea, and write about it.

The Fix

If you call yourself a writer, writing is one of your life’s tasks. Like any professional, you’ve got to turn up every day and get to work.

Be brutal with the activities filling your day. No, I’m not suggesting unemployment, divorce or animal services.

Eliminate the non-essential:

Quit Facebook.
Delete the email app from your phone.
Watch television only on the weekend.
Turn off notifications and internet access while you write.

Protect your time and concentrate on developing the habit of writing every day.

You’ll know you’re succeeding when it feels like writing is taking over your life.

That’s a better problem—trust me.

2. I Can’t Find My Voice

Before J.K. Rowling had her way, the Philosopher’s Stone was a long-sought artifact from the Middle Ages. According to legend, it could turn base metals into gold.

When they write the history of our craft, the writer’s voice will stand as the Philosopher’s Stone for writers—an elusive entity you can spend your whole life chasing, yet never find.

Your voice isn’t something you go in search of. You already have a voice, but you need to develop it through continued, disciplined practice.

The Fix

Short-story writers can develop their voice by writing short stories in the style of their writing idols, and then adding their personality.

Copywriters can take a proven copywriting formula and make it specific to their industry.

Prefer poetry? You could take an English translation of Japanese Haiku and write a poem following the same structure.

Test the confines of the niche you’re writing within, and you will develop a voice people will listen to.

3. First Drafts Feel Impossible

Many writers hate first drafts.

There’s the horrible moment when you open a new document, stare at the white screen and wonder, “How am I going to fill this page? What will I ever say?”

Unless you’re remarkably creative, it’s natural to feel afraid.

Think of the musician who experiences stage fright before going on to wow the audience, the actor who struggles to remember their lines before getting a standing ovation, or the athlete who paces nervously around a dressing room before going on to win gold.

The Fix

Start writing or typing. Write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.

Don’t edit, or censor yourself, or hold back.

Like the athlete who stretches before an event, free writing will warm up your mind to the task at hand.

Once you feel more confident about what you’re going to say, stop and write a quick outline of it. Then, write your first draft.

4. I Hate Editing

And you thought first drafts were hard?

I was a journalist for several years, and learned the fundamental difference between writing and editing the hard way.

In a newspaper, it is the job of two separate people to write and to edit the same news story.

They are two different skills that engage different parts of your brain.

To write is to compose; to edit is to arrange.

The Fix

If you’re starting off, you probably can’t afford to hire an editor.

Allocate one portion of your day to writing (mornings are good). During this time, write without censoring yourself or making dramatic changes to your work.

Later that afternoon or evening, print your work and mark the changes you need to make with a red pen. Then make these changes in one editing session.

If you still hate editing, Stephen King has strong words for you: “To write is human, to edit is divine.”

5. My Writing isn’t Good Enough

Perfectionism is a nasty vice that almost every writer must overcome.

When you’re new to the craft, your writing probably isn’t good enough. Your desire to improve your work and become a better writer is a noble one.

However, if this desire is holding you back from finishing whatever you’re writing, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Neil Gaiman would agree. He says, “You learn by finishing things.”

By finishing even the duds, you will learn more about your strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Most importantly, you will gain the confidence to keep going.

The Fix

Take out the last piece of writing you abandoned.

Read it, making a list of what’s wrong with it, and then set a date on your calendar. Commit to finishing your work by this date.

When this date comes, share your work with someone e.g. your writing group, your writing coach or members of your email list.

Then go and write something new, something better.

6. I Don’t Know What to Do With My Unpublished Work

Most writers have stacks of unpublished essays, articles and stories in their drawer, notebook or on their computer.

Your personal slush pile is part of the writing process.

Not every piece of work is meant to see the light of day. You don’t have to do something with everything you write.

Some pieces serve as markers for your journey towards becoming a better writer, or as evidence that you’re doing the work.

The Fix

You can gain more value from your growing slush pile by starting a blog.

It is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to share your work with the world.

Blogging will also force you to consider what your target audience wants, instead of what you think they need.

It takes time and patience to become a proficient blogger. But it’s the perfect outlet for new writers because it gets you into the habit of sharing your ideas.

7. I’m Afraid of What People Will Think

‘What will my mother say when she finds out I’m writing about sex?’

‘What will my friends think when they catch me writing about the world and all its ugly imperfections?’

‘What will my wife/husband do when they see themselves in my work?’

New writers find it difficult to separate their personal lives from their work. Fiction writers, for example, often face a disconcerting moment when they reread a piece and find parts of their personal life scattered on the page.

I’ll never forget the first time my wife read a short story I’d submitted to a competition. She asked if the woman in the story was her. I didn’t admit it then, but she was right.

The Fix

Accept the world as your source material.

For your work to be authentic, you must draw on what you see, feel and experience.

This doesn’t mean disrespecting the people in your life.

Several years ago my creative writing teacher recommended that we take people from our personal lives, and change minor details about them (such as their age, sex or backstory) so that they become harder to recognize.

You’re going to have to get comfortable with people loving, hating, or (worst of all) not caring about what you have to say.

Why these Barriers to Writing are Worth Overcoming

If writing were easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing.

These struggles and frustrations represent opportunities for you to improve and to grow as a writer.

They are signs that you are making progress.

You can overcome any of them with continued practice, by getting help from an expert, and by sharing your work with those who are better than you are.

What you must never do is give up because filling a page is too much work.

What you must never do is to let difficult moments dissuade you from seeking out new ways to improve.

What you must never do is quit because the craft is more difficult than you thought.

What you must do is write.

Now it’s your turn. Which limiting belief holds you back as a writer? Please share in the comments.

Your audience is waiting.

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Can Hobbies Make You More Creative?

Creativity is the holy grail of writing. It is at the core of what we do every day as authors. In my book, Steal Like an Author, I discuss a number of methods to foster and explode creativity doing everyday things. But, I totally missed the benefits of great hobbies as a way to grow creativity. A bow that is continually strung will quickly lose its spring. A mind that is always working, and never doing other things, will suffer in a similar way. Elizabeth Yetter in her article explores 20 great hobbies that can be a helpful distraction to writing and actually aid authors to improve their creativity. You can read the original article here:

20 Hobbies for Writers That Inspire Creativity


Every writer needs a hobby or two. Here is a list of great hobbies that can inspire your creativity.

1. Wood Carving

From a block of wood and some simple carving tools, you can create the most beautiful pieces of artwork. The similarity between writing and wood carving is that you start with a blank and fill it in with imagery or words.

2. Hiking

Many people find hiking to be a very inspiring hobby that not only sparks creativity, but gives writers the exercise they need. Hiking trips can be planned ahead of time, alone or with groups. The only things you really need are a good pair of hiking boots and thick socks. If you are hiking alone, take pen and paper along with you for those spur of the moment inspirations.


3. Jewelry Making

Jewelry making is a very relaxing hobby that allows you to explore different colors and bead shapes. Make period pieces or take a dive into steampunk. Create jewelry for every mood and season.

4. Bird Watching

Bird watching is not only a relaxing hobby, it also puts you in touch with interesting people who share the same hobby. Learn about the birds you spot, learn the myths surrounding their existence, as well as the old superstitions, and weave the hobby into your next series of mystery novels.

5. Painting

It doesn’t matter if you can’t pick up a pencil and draw the shape of a horse to perfection. When you paint, the rules of drawing go out the window. Find artists that inspire you and learn different techniques. Explore different mediums and use what you learn in your next book.


6. Gardening

Gardening can be very relaxing and buying flower and herb plants for the garden is exciting. Gardening can inspire your writing in many ways, from the lore and superstitions to gardening as an occupation.

7. Running

Running burns off excess energy and the day to day stress of writing. You don’t have to run for miles or enter into a marathon to enjoy the benefits of running. Many writers enjoy this hobby as a way to clear the mind and to come up with new ideas.

8. Video Games

Yes, video games. They aren’t as bad as we are made to think. I enjoy playing the Elder Scroll games and find them to be relaxing as well as inspiring.

9. Yoga

Stretch, pull, twist, and relax. Yoga is a calming and physically beneficial hobby that can inspire many ideas. Some writers I know practice yoga every morning before they sit down to write. They find that it helps them prepare for the day mentally and it increases their creativity.

10. Knitting

I knit between between articles and blog posts. Lately, I have been knitting hats to donate to a women’s crisis center. Knitting is one of the ways that I “cool down” after I finish writing something or after I hit a certain word count on my book. It’s a moment of relaxation and knowing that I am giving back by donating my knitted items to those in need.

11. Acting

Do you have problems creating believable dialogue or getting your characters to interact casually? Acting can help you with that. From setting the scene to the creating the mood, acting lessons and trying out for stage plays will give you a deeper insight into the building blocks of story telling.

12. Candle Making

A lot goes into making candles. There’s more than one kind of wax, numerous different colors, wicks, and candle scents. Then there is the shape of the candle. You can use pre-made candle molds or you can make your own, original molds. By the time you are finished, you will have a beautiful candle to light up and create the right atmosphere for your next book.

13. Dancing

Sometimes you just got to get up and move about. Dance alone, learn to dance by DVD, or take a dance class. You never know when you can put some dancing into your story.


14. Genealogy

Genealogy will take you down many roads, from family stories and strangely beautiful photos to wars and forgotten customs. Researching your family’s past will open your eyes up to the world and the lives of the past. All of this is great inspiration for novels of all genres.


15. Cooking

Cooking has long been a hobby of mine, and it is what landed me my job at as the bread baking expert.

Cooking not only sparks creativity, it is also tied in with your production levels. You can cook in bulk and prepare meals ahead of time so that you have plenty of healthy meals to heat up while you are working on a writing project.

16. Model Building

Model building isn’t the popular hobby it used to be, but the things you can build will spur an endless array of story ideas. There are model kits for so many things, from buildings and ships to rockets and cars. Any item you build can inspire a story or several.

17. Playing an Instrument

Were you in a band back in school? Have you ever had an interest in learning to play an instrument? Learning to play an instrument takes time and determination, but it can also be a very relaxing and enjoyable experience.

18. Sewing

Years ago, when my two oldest children were small, I would sew them costumes for playtime and for Halloween. Dressing up and creating a magical world for them was fun and enabled me to write up a number of sewing articles. Now that I have a new little one, I am getting back into sewing costumes and dreaming of magical things.

19. Astronomy

Staring up at the stars at night and learning the myths surrounding the constellations is a beautiful way to use your free time. This hobby can inspire numerous book ideas, from science fiction to tales of mythic proportion.


20 Ghost Hunting

Heading out and searching local haunts will not only inspire your creativity, you will also learn about local history and catch up on old gossip. Many ghost hunters have turned to writing books, both nonfiction and fiction.

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Writing Time, How Do You Manage it?

I think that time management is the hardest part of writing. There are so many things that fight for your attention. Once you start writing, you need to keep the momentum going or you might flounder as time goes on. As you get closer to finishing, there are so many details to attend to.

I found this article by Laura Spencer to address many of those issues. You can read the original here:


Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day.

So why do some writers accomplish so much more than others?

The answer is better time management.

If you’re a new freelance writer, the demands on your time may surprise you. You expect to have more time as freelancer. What you don’t expect is that you have to manage your time well to achieve that goal.

Of course, if you’ve been a freelance writer for a while you already understand the demands freelancing can place on your time.

Freelance writing is about more than just writing all day. It’s also about running a business.

In this post, I provide six easy steps for writers to manage their time.

Step 1: Set Your Work Hours

Many freelance writers mistakenly believe that they have to work evenings and weekends to succeed. However, no one can work for long periods of time without a break and still produce good work.

If you’re a writer who works long hours just to stay afloat, know that you’re setting yourself up for burnout.

Some causes of working too many hours include:

  • Not charging enough for your work. At the low-end, some of what freelance writers charge is scary. It works out to far below minimum wage. These freelance writers are trapped working long hours just to make ends meet.
  • Not setting boundaries. Do your clients call you in the evening and during the weekend? Are phone calls constantly interrupting your work? While you need to stay in touch with clients, it’s also important to set reasonable limits.
  • Not learning to say “no. Are you working on a project you shouldn’t have accepted? Nearly every freelancer makes this mistake. Learn to ask potential clients questions before accepting a new project.

Step 2: Estimate Project Time

This is a tricky skill, but it’s vital to learn to estimate project time.

For new writers, I always recommend keeping project time sheets. (I know, I know–you thought you were done with this.) Record every task that has to do with your project–not just the writing tasks.

Some examples of what to include on your time sheet include time spent on:

  • Client Meetings
  • Email Communications
  • Project Agreement
  • Research
  • Interviews
  • Actual Writing
  • Proofreading
  • Revisions
  • Billing

In short, you should start recording your project time the instant a client contacts you and not stop until you’ve received final payment.

Over time, you’ll learn how much time you actually spend on each project. (Be prepared. It will likely be more than you thought.)

Step 3: Establish Working Hours

You’re running a writing business. Most other businesses have hours they are open and hours they are closed. Your writing business should be no different.

And just like a business, you should charge extra if a client requires you to work during non-standard working hours. Most business professionals will understand and accept this.

If a client is pushing you to work nights and weekends without a good reason, you have to wonder why. If they’re this difficult to work with, will they also be difficult to collect payment from? The answer is probably “yes.

Of course, you may want to consider time differences and your client’s location when you set your working hours.

Step 4: Schedule Non-Billable Tasks

Non-billable tasks don’t bring in income, but they have to be done for your business to stay afloat. It’s easy to put them off until you are hopelessly behind.

When I started as a freelance writer all the “extra” things I had to do came as a big surprise. Those extras included:

  • Talking to prospects
  • Marketing
  • Sharing through social media
  • Tax and accounting tasks
  • Website maintenance

Instead of putting off non-billable tasks, work them into your schedule. Set aside a small amount of time every day or week (depending on the number of tasks) and get them done. Treat this scheduled time as you would time scheduled for projects.

If you stay current with your administrative tasks, you’ll never get stuck with an administrative nightmare.

Step 5: Use Time Management Tools

A time management tool can help you save time, or not, depending on the tool.

There are a lot of time management tools available, but when it comes to freelance writing not all time management tools are created equal.

When evaluating a time management tool, ask yourself:

  1. Can I incorporate this into my processes seamlessly?
  2. Does this tool take into account small businesses (such as freelancers)?

Some time management tools are so complicated to learn and use that you actually spend more time on the tool than you would without it. Also, many time management tools are designed for teams and do not consider the needs of a solo professional such as a freelance writer.

If the tool is easy to learn and use and not overly complex, it is worth considering.

Step 6: Take Breaks

It may seem counter-intuitive, but making up for sloppy time management by working more hours creates more problems than it solves.

For one thing, it will wear you out. And most of us slow down as we get tired. That means that a tired you will take longer to complete tasks–causing you to need to work even more hours to catch up. Do you see the vicious cycle?

Also, writers have friend and family relationships we need to spend time on. A supportive network is especially important for writers, who often face rejection. But those relationships must be nurtured, and that takes time.

Your Turn

What are your writer time management tips? Share your thoughts in the comments.


Struggling for Book Ideas?

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Are You Struggling For Book Ideas?

Every writer struggles from time to time with collecting the right ideas for books that they want to write.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could quickly find those ideas, and know up front that the books you write about those ideas would have the best chances of being popular?


What if you had simple ways to kick-start your own creativity and insight, pulling up amazing ideas for publication?

I used to agonize over which ideas to pursue, and usually had plenty of remorse for not selecting the “other” idea, because the ones that I chose just didn’t give me any good results.

I finally found a couple of secrets that made finding and selecting great book ideas so much easier.

The first one is that popular books spring from popular ideas. Just think about it. If you are trying to start a “new” conversation, there really aren’t that many people tuned into that new idea or listening to that new channel. However, when you are able to add relevant thoughts and ideas to the “current” conversation, there are a lot more people willing to lend an ear.

In the book, Discover Book Ideas, you will learn how to find those conversations. How to discover what book topics are popular, and how to add your personal style and flare to make your book unique and amazing.

The second secret is that each person has relevant interests, knowledge, and skills that other people need and want. Discover Book Ideas will help your self-discovery of what you already have to offer. It will also help you find other people with the same interests and teach you how to get in front of those who really NEED what you have to teach them.

It has been said that everyone has a book inside of them. The reality is that it probably several books. You have so much to offer. Discover the right book ideas, and let your own personal creativity produce something worth spreading the word about.




When is Your Writing a Success

I remember self publishing my very first book. It was a children’s book, and was the result of a complete family effort. My wife and children helped me illustrate it, and I was very excited to get it out.

I managed to talk a number of friends and neighbors into buying the book and felt that it was a success.

Since then I have had a number of people ask me when a book can be considered a success? I think that the answer to that might be somewhat individual, but getting a book finished and published feels like a great success to me, no matter how many times I have done it in the past.

This article by Nanci Panuccio really hit home. It made me think again about successful book writing. I hope you like it. You can read the original post here:

How do you measure your success as a writer?


Is it by how much money you earn from your writing?

Is it the publishing contract? Nailing an agent?

Sure, those are external markers of success.

But what does success as a writer mean to you?

Years ago, when I began writing in earnest, a dancer friend and I had an interesting debate.

She asked me how a writer could consider oneself successful if he or she didn’t write a bestseller that sold millions of dollars.

My friend was a wealthy widow in her early fifties who spent her days pursuing passions full tilt. In addition to ballet, she studied piano privately in her home driven by the sole ambition to play her favorite piece of music, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Which to me sounded like the purest, most reverent reason to pursue a musical instrument.

Publishing was the furthest thing from my mind at the time. I was more concerned with learning to write something worth reading.

Pretty much like her goal to play Rhapsody in Blue.

I reminded her: Both of us took our dance practice seriously, even though we didn’t aspire to dance in the American Ballet Theater. We’d both performed on small stages and neither of us had become rich from doing so. In fact, we’d sunk hundreds and hundreds of dollars over the years in dance lessons and dance gear.

Did that make our pursuit any less successful? Wasn’t it enough that we were stronger, more flexible, more buoyant with every lesson? And that we got to do this thing that made us feel deeply connected to music, to our bodies, to ourselves?

Didn’t she find enormous accomplishment in learning piano? Without a booking at Avery Fisher Hall? Did the absence of getting paid, or even the goal of getting paid, make her achievement less triumphant? Wasn’t it enough that after five years of deliberate daily practice, she could play Rhapsody in Blue almost without falter, and was becoming more fluent with the keys every day?

I thought she was a remarkable success.

She didn’t see the connection. When it came to writing, she believed money was commensurate with quality, the logic being that if a writer isn’t selling books, that must mean nobody wants to read them. To her, proof was in the sales.

Publishing is a worthy goal. It pushes us to write the best we’re capable of.

But when we chase the holy grail of publication, it’s not really money we’re after. Or fame.

What we really crave is validation.

We want to finally earn the right to call ourselves a writer. How else can we legitimize the enormous amount of time we spend taking a project from its nebulous beginnings to gleaming finished product?

But a story or book will fail or succeed on its own terms. Whether it sells or how well it sells has little correlation to quality.

In the end, it is your satisfaction with the work that determines its success.

Anyone who believes you’re not a successful writer until you’ve scored a major book deal is missing the point.

They’re focused on the end result. Not your experience of doing the work. Which is really the biggest payoff, in my view.

We just need to remind ourselves why we’re driven to write in the first place.

We write for what we discover we didn’t know about ourselves. To luxuriate in what it means to be alive and human, with all its messiness, pathos, frailty, and beauty.

Writing can be exquisitely empowering. Because we get to interpret and shape the narratives of our own lives and our own past, rather than let someone else interpret it for us. We get to explore our own relationship to what we’re writing about which can be a deep, scary excavation into self awareness and self acceptance.

We want our voice heard.

Writing connects one heart to another. What elevates writing into a work of art is that, ultimately, it allows both writer and reader to feel seen.

We long for this connection.

Amanda Palmer says this:

There’s no “correct path” to becoming a real artist. You might think you’ll gain legitimacy by going to university, getting published, getting signed to a record label. But it’s all bullshit, and it’s all in your head. You’re an artist when you say you are. And you’re a good artist when you make somebody else experience or feel something deep or unexpected.

That’s the real validation most of us crave.

Success is not just about hitting the apexes.

It’s the multitude of small successes along the way. Success to you might mean that you get to do this crazy thing that makes you feel more alive and more fully expressed than just about anything else. That despite all you’ve got going on in your life – kids, a career, the day-to-day busyness of living –  you still devote time and energy to writing something that deeply matters to you.

If you’re writing anything – a story, a memoir, an essay, a novel – your work is already a success.

Because it’s there on the page. That’s huge. Because there are scores of people who dream of writing and never sit down to actually do it.

You’ve made the commitment. You’ve taken the risk. Which is something to celebrate already.

Even if your manuscript gets rejected by agents and publishers, yes, it is still a success.

Because you’re learning from that failed draft. You’ve written something complete and whole. This in and of itself is a major gain. And it’s only from writing that rejected manuscript that you’re gaining the nutrients to write a better book next time.

Writing something worthy of publication is a marathon. Not a sprint.

As Richard Bausch says:

Just try to make contact. Two pages a day adds up to more than 700 in a year. So don’t expect anything but the effort and learn to do that over time. Good things will happen.

So enjoy the process.

Know that you’re getting better page by page, sentence by sentence, word by word. Look for those small, incremental strokes of improvement. Those small successes do add up.

Who is right, Stephen King or Orson Scott Card?

 How to Draw Readers in Emotionally

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