Writer Words

Writing Tips: Finding Time

Time is such a valuable commodity. We all have the same amount. None of us gets more hours in the day, unless you have one of those cool necklaces Hermione had. If you do, can you send me one?

So assuming you’re an ordinary person without magical powers, you have the same 24 hours I do. Most days it doesn’t feel like enough. Especially when I’m on a deadline and anxious to get a few more things done before the school bus gets home. Or before the kids wake up. Or before my favorite show comes on.

We have to have priorities, right?

If you’re adding writing in as one more thing to do in your day, you’re probably wondering where you can find the time to write.

Here’s the secret… you don’t need much!

Yes, a book is not something you can finish in a day. It’s going to take you a while. But you don’t have to kill yourself to make it happen.

Personally, I like to write in thirty minute blocks, or longer. But this is my full time job, so I have all day. If you’re looking for some time, you can find it in small places.

Can you get up thirty minutes earlier? Trust me, I hate this suggestion. It’s one I balked at for years and years and years. I’m not a morning person. At all. But I decided over the summer that I was going to do it because I wanted to. Because I wanted more time to dedicate to my work. I’m not as tired as I thought I would be, and I’m getting more done.

What about at night? Can you stay up a little later? Again, same rules apply. You don’t need much time, and if you think this could work for you, turn off the TV (my big issue with it because I never did) and write.

What about, you’re going to laugh, in the bathroom? Let’s face it, we all have longer breaks in the bathroom at one time or another through the day. Can you write on your phone? Not a whole book, but for five minutes? You won’t get much done, and you’ll take a really long time to finish a book if you only do this, but it’ll add up. Just make sure you don’t lose track of time!

Waiting, for anything. Just like above, there are going to be times in your day when you’re just waiting. Doctor’s offices, grocery lines, carpool, commute, anything. Can you, again, pull out your phone for a few minutes and write a hundred words or so?

Can you write on your lunch break? Some people can’t, but if you have access to a computer during your lunch break and your company will allow you to do something non-work related, write for thirty minutes. You’ll be shocked how much you can get done in that amount of time.

Try it!

I think the best thing is to give yourself a week or two and try a few different options. Try getting up early or staying up later for a week. Try sitting in your car on your lunch break with a notebook or a tablet and writing. Try five minute bathroom breaks. See what works for you, then keep doing it.

For me, I have to have a schedule. When I first get up, I check my email so I know there isn’t anything sitting there waiting for me to answer it. After the kids are on the bus, I start writing. I write until lunch, and then get back to it afterward. But if I need to do something during the day, like a doctor’s appointment, I like to schedule it in the morning so I don’t mess up my flow. Figure out what works for you and start writing!

What tips do you have for finding time to write?

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

Writing Tips: Find Your Niche

Welcome back for another tip for you as a writer!

I want to talk today about your niche. It’s common in business to look for a niche. A small section of a market you can serve. You want to be able to set yourself apart so people can find you.

Writing isn’t much different.

I write contemporary romance. That’s not very specific. There’s well over 100,000 contemporary romances available for sale.

I write small town contemporary romance. That’s not much better.

I write small town contemporary BBW romance. We’re getting a little better.

When I tell people what I write, I tell them I write small town contemporary romance based on ordinary people you’ll want to be friends with doing extraordinary things for love that will give you hope.

That’s kind of a mouthful, but it gets the point across.

When you write a book, you need to be able to tell people what you do quickly. You’d be surprised how many people lose interest when you say you are an author. They insist they don’t read, so you need to hook them before they assume your book isn’t for them.

Which goes back to your niche.

What books do you love? What books grab you? What books have you walked away from knowing they changed your life?

Harry Potter, all of them, were books that changed me. But I knew I didn’t want to craft an entire world.

Emily Giffin was one of my favorite authors when I was younger. There was something about the emotions and the way she drew me into a story that I loved.

Jill Shalvis is a favorite now. She’s basically my idol for romance novels. I taught myself what a good small town contemporary romance novel was by reading Jill Shalvis. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

The only problem was my niche was really a mansion. There’s nothing tiny about it, but I found my niche when I started writing about women I could relate to. Women who were overweight. Women who wanted love and friendship and cupcakes. Women I wanted to be friends with.

BBW romance is still a huge niche. But like I told a friend recently, if you go too small, you won’t have enough readers.

How do you find this though? How do you know when you’ve gone small enough? Or not small enough?

Unfortunately, I think you just have to keep trying.

Write a book. Write some more books. Never stop writing. Advertise, promote, and tell everyone you know. The right readers will find you. When you start to see that happening, you’ll know you’re in the right niche. That it’s the right size for you to be found.

Here’s my warning… Don’t go into a niche that you can’t get out of. You might love to write single dad romances, but you might not want to write them forever. Or food romances or military romances or any other different kind. It might be a niche that’s popular now, or that you like, but make sure it’s something you’ll still want to write if the popularity diminishes. Or in ten years. Maybe you won’t know, but at least think about it before you jump in.

If you want to write, at the end of the day, write. You will find your readers. They will find you. But make it easier on both of you by finding a niche that you love, and it’ll come across in your writing.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

Happy Labor Day2017

I’m taking a few days off to spend time with my family. The kids start school on Wednesday so we’re enjoying the last little bit of summer! I’ll be back next weekend with more advice and questions!

If you want to check out past questions, go here.

Have a great day!

 

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Be Brave

I’m back with another tidbit of advice for all you aspiring authors out there. Be brave!

I was trading messages on Facebook this week with a reader. She shared with me that she’s a writer also, something I didn’t know. I asked about what she writes and if she used a pen name and she shared that she’s not yet published.

She said that she’s anxious about sharing her writing with people. I told her I am, too.

Every. Single. Time.

My lesson for you this week is to be brave. I’m an introvert. I’m also a people pleaser. I want people to like me. And yet I chose a career that requires me to put myself out there and accept criticism from everyone!

It’s not easy!

But every time I get an email from someone who loved something I wrote. Or read a review (the occasional reviews I read) that says something about the book that was amazing. Each one that offers a suggestion. They all mean something to me. Even the reviews that aren’t positive are an opportunity for me. Something that can help me be a better writer.

But I still hesitate when I finish a book. I still wonder if anyone is going to like a book when I hit publish. I don’t think that’ll ever go away. After thirty-four published books, I still get anxious.

But I do it anyway.

If you’re thinking of becoming a writer, or you’ve written a book but haven’t taken the leap yet, find a friend or close family member. No, a friend will not be the best person to give you criticism, but they will give you a bit of confidence. That person will tell you your story is good, hopefully, and encourage you. When you’re starting out, you need a little bit of that.

No, you don’t want someone to lie to you, but you want someone that you know will be gentle with your feelings. Or at least will be able to deliver suggestions gently.

The first person who ever read a story of mine was / is my best friend. She gave me a bunch of notes, but I knew they were coming from a place of love because she wanted to help me. Yes, an editor will want to help you also, but an editor is a paid professional. She won’t hold back. Your friend might just enough not to hurt your feelings.

 

No matter what, at the end of the day, you have to be brave to share your stories. You have to let a piece of you out into the world. To give other people permission to say something you created, something you worked hard on for weeks, or months, or years, isn’t any good. And to give them permission to say it changed their life.

Because when it’s all said and done, those are the emails, the reviews, the comments you remember. Those are the ones that will change your life, not just theirs.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

Writing Tips: Stick To Your Guns

Last night, hubby and I watched The Founder. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the story of McDonald’s and how it got started. The McDonald brothers opened their first store in California and ended up being a success. They franchised, but it didn’t work well because they didn’t have a good handle on quality. When Ray Kroc came in, he wanted to franchise and had ideas on how to do it.

In the end, Kroc ended up taking over the company from the McDonald brothers. He basically pushed them out, and in many ways, they let him. They didn’t fight him hard enough when they had opportunities to, they let him use the name and didn’t challenge him, and they didn’t foresee the ways he would screw them over.

It was a fascinating lesson in business, and also a sad story of how two intelligent, creative people were taken advantage of by a business-savvy individual.

Why does this matter to writing?

One thing I learned from this movie is that you have to stick to your guns. The brothers didn’t want to sign anything at the beginning. They did because one of them had a dream of seeing McDonald’s as a franchise all over the country. But they didn’t want to sign.

They never should have, and hindsight is always 20/20.

If you embark on a writing career, you’ll have a lot of people telling you what you should do. Write certain things, submit to certain publishers, join certain organizations, everything you can imagine and then some.

Only you know what works for you.

When I started writing, I knew I wanted to indie publish. That means no publisher backs me. I write the stories I want. I find my own editors and choose all the people I work with. I was told many times that I should submit to one publisher or another. That I should do one thing or another. That I needed to write one type of story or another.

It was hard not to listen.

That’s one of the big things about any business, but it’s even harder, in my opinion, with writing. You want to be successful. You want to earn money. You want to find readers. So when someone gives you advice, it’s hard not to listen. It’s hard to say the ‘expert’ that’s telling you what to do is wrong.

The reality is, they might be wrong for you.

When people give you advice, most of the time, they aren’t trying to fool you or harm you. They want to help, but you need to go into a career like writing, or any career where you’re self-employed, with a plan. Figure out ahead of time what you want your career to look like, then stick to your guns when all those well-meaning people try to tell you how to run your world.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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