Wednesday, 15 November 2017

How Setting Yourself a Writing Challenge Will Help You Get Sh1t Done!

November is National Novel Writing Month -  NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is an international movement to encourage budding wordsmiths to spend a focussed period of time, working on a book. 

The idea is to write 50,000 words in a month, which translates to roughly 1,600 words a day. 

A tall order and a tough challenge. 

You have to be committed to write that many words every day. You need a plan, you need discipline and you need to not faff around self-editing as you go! The idea is just to let the words come, stream of consciousness. It’s the one time when quantity trumps quality, because the point of the exercise is to get the words out of your head an onto the page, so you can do something with them. 

I’ve successfully completed the challenge twice. 

Once in 2013 when I started writing my second book, Solomon’s Secrets and once in 2015 when I was writing my 4th book Gabriel's Game, Part 2: The Black Knight.

After writing and publishing the four novels of the Sheridan and Blake series in quick succession over four years, I’ve not started a new fiction project for around 18 months. 

Most of my writing in 2016 and 2017 has been non-fiction, blogs, content and training materials as I have built up my Amy Morse consultancy business

However, one of my goals for 2018 is to publish another fiction book

I shared some tips in a previous blog on planning and executing a successful NaNoWriMo, based on my experience with my books, but NaNo has not been my only writing challenge. 

I completed and published my first book, The Bronze Box in 2013 as part of a 365 project – I did one thing a day for a whole year towards my goal of publishing a book. 

That was how I started blogging (read the story here) But I have also done a 'mini nano' in August and shared my tips in another blog

It’s time I took on another writing challenge. 

I recently read an article by Marc Guberti about banking a year’s worth of blog content. It’s inspired me to get ahead of myself for 2018 and really nail my content marketing for my Amy Morse, Write Your Way To Success consultancy business. 

The secret to completing any writing challenge is to break it down into manageable steps. 

50,000 words sounds a lot in 30 days (and it is). But when you break it down, 1,600 words a day
sounds more manageable. 

Writing a book is a big deal but really, it's just one word after another...

When you break it down further, that’s 2 stints a day of writing 800 words. 

You can write 800 words in an hour if you focus and put your mind it. 
(More if you voice transcribe it!)

So, 1 hour in the morning and 1 hour in the afternoon and boom, you’ve written your 1,600 words. 

So, how does writing a year’s worth of blog content break down? 

I’m going to set my deadline as the end of the year. 

That gives me just under 2 months. 

I need 24 articles – 2 blogs a month and I’ll also write some ad hoc content in between, and continue to host guests so I can publish a blog every week. 

In my coaching practice with businesses, I recommend minimum 1 blog a month, working up to once a week. 

As a seasoned blogger and writing coach, I’ll be sticking to my routine of weekly blogging. 

So, we have 6 weeks until the end of the year, 24 blogs. That’s 4 blogs a week. 

I’m going to draft these blogs; they won’t be finished, so, I will draft them, then polish them as and when I publish (the chances are, I’ll probably want to change them on the day I publish them anyway). 

If we say an average blog is 800 words, which takes me an hour to bash out in draft form, that’s 24 hours of work. 

Let’s say, 4 hours a week or 1 hour 4 times a week. 

So, twice a week, I need to allow 2 hours for writing, for example, an hour Tuesday morning and afternoon then an hour Thursday Morning and afternoon. 

Or, I could write one article a day and easily have enough content written by the end of the year, but realistically, there will be days when I won’t find time to write as I have a busy schedule, especially in November. 

Another option, and I enjoy doing from time to time, is to take writing retreat days

I take myself off to somewhere for the day with the intention of just writing. 

I go to a hotel or a coffee shop and pitch camp for the day. 

It’s important to plan ahead and decide in advace what the goal for the day will be. 

However, experience has taught me that if I don't write regularly, and then try to cram it in a day, it rarely works out. 

For me, a combination of some regular, short stints of writing and a couple of chunks of time where I just write, is the most manageable and productive combination. 

So, my plan is to write a couple of times a week, plus have a couple of retreat days.

24 blog articles in 6 weeks - could you do that? 

Tell me in the comments, or select a letter...

a) Hell yeah! That's easy, I write every day!
b) If I made a plan, I could pull it off!
c) Maybe... I might need a kick up the backside to do it, though!
d) Maybe... but I'd get stuck for ideas!
e) No way! I'd never fit it in!

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Actual Things People Say When You're Self Employed

Reflecting on a conversation with my mum last week - who has a habit of calling me in the middle of the working week - I realised, I'm frequently on the receiving end of well-meaning comments because I'm self-employed.

Not that I'm keeping track, but these are some actual things people have said to me in the two years I've been self-employed. 

Many of these comments have come from close family members (not just my mum!).

Anyone who isn't self-employed, and never has been, generally has no idea what it means to run your own business. 

Even people who have been self-employed don't really understand what you do because you don't have a shop front, employ other people or rent an office somewhere - therefore it's not a real business...

There's some absolute classics here...

  • "What do you do at home all day?" (Mum said this last week on a Tuesday afternoon phone call!)

  • "I don't know what you do, but I'm sure you're very good at it."

  • "Oh, I assumed you had kids and you were doing this to stay busy while they're at school?"

  • "You just drink coffee with your friends all day."

  • "But you don't work many hours, you're not employed full time, are you?"

  • "But you don't sell enough books, do you? No one makes money from selling books."

  • "Why don't you get yourself a nice little part time job?"

  • "So, you're unemployed then?"

  • A caller comes to the door... "Day off today, then?"

  • "It's nice that your husband supports you while you pursue your hobbies."

My answer to all these is usually an incredulous look, quickly corrected into a polite smile and an, "Erm, well I run a business!"

What about you? 


Recognise any of these?


If you're self-employed; what well meaning, ignorant or just plain patronising things have people said to you? 


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Monday, 17 July 2017

The Crippling Blank Page - One Tip to Get Writing

The toughest part of writing is getting started.

Having ideas is one thing, committing them to paper is quite another!

Ideas is not something I struggle with - I wrote about my 5 current book ideas back in May.

I'm still yet to make a decision on what fiction project to start next. Instead, my writing time has been filled with creating content for my upcoming eCourse - Build Your Blog. 10 step by step workshops to grow your business by blogging.

I've blogged about getting the creative juices flowing in the past too - 'Conquering Creative Constipation'.

But, there is one quick tip I want to share with you about how to get going in the first place. 

How to start on the journey into writing regularly, and building those all-important regular writing habits we must have in order to make progress with our writing project - be they creative or otherwise...

Whether you're writing a book or writing a blog, writing regularly, little and often, is the only way to do it!

Watch the video here:

One tip to get you going with writing: 

Write unintentionally! 

Happy writing!