Posts Tagged Efficiency

R.D.D.–Reality Deficit Disorder Can Make Us Crazy

Welcome to WANA Wednesday, based off my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media  and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer.  This is the day I dedicate to help you guys rock it hard when it comes to building your author platform and brand. This past week, while cruising the Twitterverse, I spotted a blog titled something akin to When Do Writers Need Multiple Blogs? So I am going to throw in my two cents here.

Um…never.

It is never necessary for a writer to have multiple blogs. Can we choose to have them? Sure. Is it a good use of time? Uh…perhaps not. See, here is the thing. When we step out and decide we want to be writers, most of us will not get paid for a while, which means that there will be a period of time where we will have to balance a day job along with social media, blogging and the writing of the actual book.

Additionally, most of us don’t have a house full of servants. Laundry, dishes and dust bunnies are not going to magically disappear because we have decided to follow our lifelong dream of being a career author. Spouses, children, friends and family will still need us, and, frankly, they should. It keeps us balanced. We need these multiple roles in order to be emotionally healthy.

Yet, too many of us, the second we discover social media, promptly develop a condition I call R.D.D.–or, Reality Deficit Disorder. R.D.D. can cause headaches, sleeplessness, heart palipitations, premature aging, hair loss, weight gain, a weird twitch in our left eye and a need to shout expletives. If left untreated. R.D.D. can be fatal…to our careers.

No one will stop us from having multiple blogs, but if we are spread so thinly we can barely remember our name, how useful is that to our career? We also have to look at what our real end goal is. Are we blogging to build our author platform–our BRAND which is our NAME–or do we have the goal of being professional bloggers? There is a big difference, and that is why it is critical to look at WHO is offering the advice.

This blogger (professional blogger and web developer, btw) recommended multiple blogs if:

A writer is blogging for pleasure and has multiple interests.

First of all, all of our blogging should be blogging for pleasure. There is no reason that a blog that supports our brand cannot be fun. Why are these activities assumed to be mutually exclusive? What is the point of churning out thousands of words a week if they aren’t serving to build our brand? Come on. Let’s work smarter, not harder.

When I coach writers how to blog to build a brand, it is their interests other than writing that are going to connect to readers. Blogging about our book and our writing process will wear us out quickly. And, to be blunt, since when is talking about ourselves non-stop ever been a good plan for connecting with others?

Ten years ago, who cared is an author could cook or garden? Now? Those hobbies are the very things that are going to help you reach out to readers. Readers don’t care about plotting or the future of publishing, so if we hope to extend our influence to persons who are not writers these interests become vital. Thus, to put them on a separate blog will actually undermine our ability to influence and convert blog readers to fans of us and our books.

Oh, and as far as needing separate blogs for different interests? Give the reader some credit. If we switch topics, it will not fracture their reality. Really. This is why blogs should always be branding YOU. Slap your name at the top and then you don’t have to strictly adhere to one subject. I do advise picking certain topics for certain days because that makes it easier to gain a following, but beyond that? Do we really think someone will short-circuit if they find out we blog about History on Mondays, Writing on Wednesdays and Friday is open?

If we have to maintain separate blogs for every interest, that is a formula to burn out and give up. Our plan for social media should not end with us curled in the fetal position in the closet clutching a bottle of scotch.

You might need more than one blog if you write under multiple names.

Again….why? Go to Bob Mayer’s site. We know he blogs, but he also has 5 other pen names. Would Bob have any time to write more books if he had a separate blog for every identity? Again, I think it is a tad insulting for us to assume that readers are morons. We “get” that Bob Mayer has sci-fi books under the name of Robert Doherty, and yet we live to tell the tale.

If you need a good plan for branding while managing multiple names, my books will show you how to do this and actually have time left to write more books. Having separate blogs all over the place is certainly one way to do it. Of course we also have the option of hand sewing all our clothes and growing our own food. Doesn’t mean that is the most efficient or best use of our time.

But what if I am writing YA, erotica, sci-fi, and cookbooks?

Invariably I get a question akin to this when I tackle this notion that we don’t need separate pen names and identitites for different audiences. First of all, if you are writing 6 different genres, blogging is the least of your worries.

Also, if you are writing YA, teenagers don’t read blogs. Sorry. They don’t. They text each other and hang out on You Tube. Blogging posing as a teenager is risky. If you are found out, you chance a massive backlash. We are in an age where people desire authenticity, so pretending we are something we aren’t is a huge risk.

If you want to blog to build a platform for YA, then your target audience will be adults. A lot of us buy and read YA. Blogging is not likely going to reach massive groups of teenagers, but it CAN reach massive groups of adults who want to relive the young and stupid years… *cough* Twilight.

If you need a separate pen name and identity to write erotica, again we need to look at time. How can we reasonably cook, clean, pay bills, go to work, write four different genres and build a solid separate platform for all? We can’t. Or we can, but not do any one of them all that well. If you write erotica and another genre, my recommendation is that you focus on building the platform that won’t cause problems with your employment. Pen names offer only a thin veneer of protection and the more content you post, the greater the odds your pen name won’t protect your privacy. Sorry. Wish I could tell you differently, but that is the truth.

But beyond the simple challenge of multiple names and blogs, we need to make sure we are addressing the REAL problem. We need to ask hard questions and make certain that this is not subconscious sabotage.

Are we setting ourselves up for failure out of fear? Fear of failure or even fear of success? Do I write YA and erotica because I fear success? Thus I hold back on both of them because success in either means answering a lot of uncomfortable questions and could create a backlash? Or do I fear failure? So if I spread myself too thinly, then I will have a reason other than lack of talent to account for my failure.

I had to face this choice, myself. I wanted to write every genre. I loved fantasy and women’s fiction and thrillers and NF. But eventually I had to choose if I hoped to enjoy any success. If I didn’t choose, then it would have been impossible for me to focus my energy. Lack of focus is a huge reason that too many talented writers never make it. They have chosen a plan that has very high odds of failure.

For instance, I can walk to the tip of South America wearing flip flops. It is possible. But, it takes so much energy and is so painful, that the odds are far higher that I will give up because I am so battered, bruised and exhausted. I am not telling anyone they must choose. Feel free to write 5 different genres and blogs to build platforms for each. Just make sure you ask the hard questions first. I, personally, had come from a very high-achieving family who was less than thrilled I wanted to be a writer. There finally came a day that I had to be honest and confess that I was terrified of failure, and THAT was the real reason I wanted to write 42 different genres.

At the end of the day, the same goes for blogs. We can have multiple blogs under different names writing on different subjects, but is that a good plan? I want all of you to enjoy success, and the fastest and easiest way to be successful is to embrace focus. Make every effort work together in perfect concert. A balanced writer who still has relationships, hobbies and time to sleep is a writer who can endure and turn out quality material for the long-term. R.D.D. is serious and not to be taken lightly. Focus, goal-setting and a group of friends willing to use tough love are the best cure.

Do you suffer from R.D.D.? How did you snap out of it? What are your greatest fears about choosing a genre? What ways do you recommend for being more efficient? Do you have any advice or tactics? Problems? Questions?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of May I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

Important Announcements

Leanne Shirtliffe is last week’s winner. Send your 1250 words in a Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

Tamara LeBlanc is May’s winner for 15 page critique. Please send your 3750 words in a Word document to kristen at kristen lamb dot org.

Make sure you join our LOVE REVOLUTION over on Twitter by following and participating in the #MyWANA Twibe. Read this post to understand how this #MyWANA will totally transform your life and your author platform.

Together Everyone Achieves More!!!! SUPPORT THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF AMERICA! Spread the word and save a life. Sigma Force saves puppies and kittens, too. Ahhhh.

In the meantime, I hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in th biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left over to write more great books! I am here to change your approach, not your personality.

This Week’s Mash-Up of Awesomeness

Three Signs You’re Renovating a Condemned Novel

Katie Ganshert’s Are You Growing?

LOVE this blog. One of the best I have read this year. Why Movie Prequels are Bad by Terrell Mims

8 Worst Movie Sequels EVER. Do you agree? By the brilliant Clay Morgan

Bayard and Holmes chime on on James Bond. Who was the best Bond EVER? Yes, I have a movie theme going. Sue me :P.

Kind Acts, Evil Doers and Everything in Between by the HILARIOUS and wonderful Tawna Fenske.

What About the Readers? by literary agent Rachelle Gardner

Interesting article about self-publishing success. Conversation with Scott Sigler (guest post for J.A.Konrath)

JA Konrath has a WONDERFUL list of ways to succeed in self-publishing. It is at the bottom of his post about booksellers (also interesting).

Gilliad Stern posted a wonderful review of my new book, Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer

How Podcasting Can Benefit Writers by Ron Vitale

Do stories need a theme? by the talented Jami Gold

9 Tips for a Successful Twitter Party

What it really means when your book gets rejected. Best-selling author and former editor of the Big 6 Rith Harris speaks on Anne R. Allen’s blog.

How to Avoid the Trap of Creating Unlikable Characters by best-selling author Jody Hedlund

Another great post about self-publishing by the hilarious Word Pirate with Tourette’s Chuck Wendig. An added bonus? 12 Ways to Tell if You’re a Writer

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Time Management for Writers–Getting More Done in Less Time

Photo via Happy Housewives Club, which is a FANTASTIC site, btw.

I have always struggled with organization, and frankly, if don’t make a list, I will be sorting baby pictures or writing out greeting cards in three minutes flat. I’ve always been envious of people who run their homes with military efficiency. You know the people I am talking about; those folk who aren’t afraid of their closets and actually know what is in every drawer. Show-offs :P.

Yet, I have to say that just because something is our nature doesn’t mean that we are to be a victim to our innate shortcomings. In fact, Bob Mayer gave a really interesting exercise in his Warrior Writer Workshop. He said to look at your Myers-Briggs personality…then look at the opposite of your personality, and likely that is the area you need the most work. I am going to take it a step farther. I believe that the opposite of our personality could be what keeps us from ever enjoying great success.

More on this in a second…

One of my all-time favorite books is Eat That Frog—21 Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracey. In Eat That Frog, Tracey gives an interesting rule.

Rule: Your weakest key area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.

 Tracey advises that you sit down and write out all that is required for you to do your job. We’ll take five for our purposes today. As a writer I must:

  • Have a good imagination
  • A solid command of grammar
  • Possess a modicum of talent when it comes to writing prose
  • Have the self-discipline to write
  • Possess superior organizational ability

When it comes to the first four, I totally ROCK….and then we get to that last part *winces.* Superior organization? Oh yeah.

That.

First of all, even when you write non-fiction, information needs to flow in an optimal way or it won’t be enjoyable reading. I just turned in my new book Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer and one of the largest challenges was taking all these lessons from my blog and making them flow like a book…62,000 words of seamless lessons.

Eep! Yeah, it was tough, but after 42 versions and a lot of alcohol, chocolate and crying, I got there.

Same thing applies to fiction. If we hope to be a successful novelist, we have to be masters at organization. We have to balance narrative plot points, character arcs, POV, setting, dialogue and keep everything straight and give it perfect timing. The greatest part of dramatic tension is relaying the right piece of information at the right time. We have to manage all these components over the span of 60-110,000 words. This is one of the reasons many aspiring novelists never get beyond the “aspiring” part. They believe that the talent to manage all of this information is something writers are born with, when in fact it is a skill that 99% of the time must be taught, and then refined with a lot of trial, error and shots of tequila.

Writing a novel is an entirely different creature, yet many new writers mistakenly believe that they can jump from short story to novel with no problem. Sure. That is like creating a three-bar melody and then believing we are ready to compose a symphony with a 100 piece orchestra.

Not happening.

And, if I look at where I have had the largest struggles when it comes to writing…it has always been in my ability to organize (or lack of ability as the case may be).

Ah, but if we look at my Myers-Briggs, I am an ENFP, which means I am highly skilled at concepts and BIG ideas…but I fall apart when it comes to execution because I have a hard time managing the details. If we look at the opposite of my personality we get…my husband. Seriously, there should be a picture of my husband below the ISTJ.

 Tigger married Spock.

ENFP (The Inspirer)——ISTJ (The Duty Fulfiller)

Kristen, you are being illogical.”

I have creativity, imagination and enough energy to power a small city, but it is clear where I fall abysmally short. Ah, the devil is in the details. 

I think this Myers Briggs test is a great exercise for getting a clear idea of what specifically is in our nature that needs to be addressed. But I want to take it a step farther.

In Eat That Frog, Tracey also introduces the Pareto  Principle. In 1895, economist Vincent Pareto noticed that society seemed to naturally divide into what he called the “vital few” and the “trivial many.” 20% of the population had all the wealth power and influence and the bottom 80% got whatever was left. He later discovered that this principle held true in all economic activity.

In short, 20% of our activity will account for 80% of our results.

This means that if we have a list of ten things to do, TWO of those items will be worth as much if not more than the other eight combined. But can you guess which items we are most likely to procrastinate on doing? Right. The two activities that could make the most difference. We are also most likely to procrastinate where we are weak.

Can you guess where I procrastinate? Yep, any activity that requires organizational skills. Whether it is plotting my novel or filing invoices, I do everything I can to get out of doing the chores that require I operate where I am weak. Yet, remember the rule I began with?

Your weakest key area sets the height at which you can use all your other skills and abilities.

This rule basically says that if I do not figure out a way to mitigate or correct my greatest weakness, that it will always be my single greatest limiting factor.

So what can we do?

First, buy a copy of Eat That Frog. LOVE this book and use its principles to get A LOT of work done. See, knowledge is power and once we become aware of our limiting factors, then we can take action. We aren’t at the mercy of our nature.

As far as time-management, I know organization will never come natural to me, but it does come naturally to my mother, my sister-in-law, and my husband. When I need a system worked out for me, I have learned that I don’t have to do everything. I can delegate. GASP! I know! Cool, right? Of course, delegating isn’t one of those things I do well, naturally either, so I have to surround myself with friends who will yell at me if I fail to delegate properly. Hi, Piper! Hi, Cid!

I also make lists every day and no longer try to just “keep it in my head.” I then look at that list and whatever item makes me cringe when I read it (FROGS)? That is what I do first. Remember, 20% of our activity is going to account for 80% of our results.

When I tackle the toughest items first, I actually get more accomplished overall.

How?

When we do the toughest jobs first, we get an endorphin rush from the sense of accomplishment. Also, since our toughest jobs are out of the way, the other “less important” chores go faster since we aren’t dragging our feet dreading the FROGS.

And how does this apply to writing? Well, I know that my prose is strong and I suffer no lack of imagination, BUT I do not naturally plot well. I used to get lost in the details and had a tough time keeping everything straight.  This is why most of the writing books I now buy have to do with various ways to plot. Instead of reading book after book studying my strengths (dialogue), I now focus on my weakness, because that area will be my limiting factor if left unadressed. I also know that my writing will be faster and clearner and require fewer revisions if I can strengthen this weak area. What is your weak writing area? Work on that FIRST.

So what are some issues you guys struggle with and how do you deal with them? Any books or resources you can recommend? Are you a master at organization and maybe can offer tips? Or, are you like me? A junk drawer junkie? How do you overcome the clutter?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of April, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of April I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.

This Week’s Winner of 5 Page Critique–Irene Vernadis

Happy Easter and happy writing!

Until next time….

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

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