Kicking Off Our FREE Writing Blog with 9 Keys to Success
Over the last five years, I've rediscovered my love of writing. In some ways, it's not that hard and in other ways, it's one of my life's greatest challenges. My first writing coach surmised that everyone has a book in them. Some are better scribes than others. Yet a relative few actually achieve their goal of completing a work and publishing it - of taking that leap from aspiring writer to published author.
I've learned a lot during my writing journey. I love to share tips, hazards, and shortcuts with others. So in 2023 I'm dedicating my last blog of each month to a writing topic. I hope this may inspire you to pursue your own writing goals this year.
For those new to my blog and website, it is geared toward introverts and provides the "hidden half" of our society with the strength and motivation to stand tall and embrace their introversion. Writing - whether journaling, blogs, or books - is a great way for introverts to control the ideas, thoughts, and apprehensions swirling around in their heads, so I believe these monthly writing blogs may be especially therapeutic for fellow introverts. However, these writing blogs are crafted for anyone interested in writing. I hope you will join me throughout the year. Subscribe below and the writing blog will drop into your email so you can read it whenever you have time and recall it throughout your writing journey.
I have had a lifelong connection to writing. When I was 10, while others in the neighborhood were playing sports, I was writing and publishing a neighborhood newspaper. In high school I joined the school newspaper as writer and later co-editor. I attended a summer journalism camp and had ambitions for a journalism career until my parents steered me toward something they perceived as more stable and lucrative. After three decades in the business world, retirement re-opened the door to my writing interests. I have fallen in love with writing all over again. I'm just self-published my third book. I've learned a lot along the way and would like to pass on some tips for writing, publishing, and marketing to others who aspire to realize their dream to be an author. I hope you will join me the last Wednesday of each month for my monthly blog on various writing topics.
Keys to Success
I've identified 9 recurring themes that pop up throughout the writing journey that I believe are critical for your success:
PURPOSE: Decide on your purpose for writing. Perhaps you want to journal as a form of self-care. Maybe you want to chronicle life events in a memoir for your kids and future generations. How about writing articles for magazines or your blog to share a unique perspective? Maybe you want to create a calling card for your business. Or perhaps you want to write a book to share information (nonfiction) or an escape (fiction) for others to enjoy. Each of these is writing. You'll return to your purpose throughout your writing escapade. Maybe you aren't sure what your purpose is yet. We'll cover more on this subject next month in "Getting Started."
PASSION: You really have to love writing. That doesn't mean you crave writing all day, every day, but that you truly enjoy the process. You are all busy, many with young kids and a regular job. Carving out time to write can be hard. You need that love and passion to help you push through the rough spots and life's busy schedule. Later, as the initial writing is complete and editing, publishing, and marketing become front-and-center, you will need to assess your interest in those new activities as well. If you don't have a passion for them, you can pay others to publish and market your writings. And although there are amazing ghostwriters out there who will document your story for you, generally the writing needs to come from you. So start there. Despite my teenage passion for writing, once I entered the corporate world, I assessed I just didn't have the time to dedicate to writing. However, my draw never waned and I soon began journaling to help me manage work stress and maintain my writing connection. Later, I was able to dedicate more time to my passion for writing.
LEARN: Especially as a new writer, learning is critical so you can lean on the experiences of others and climb your own learning curve faster. There are lots of writing, publishing, and book marketing podcasts, books, and blogs (like this one), as well as writing coaches and consultants. I've listed many on my resources page for your consideration. Tap these resources to understand the process and options. However, it is critical you also filter the advice. Everyone has their own strengths and styles. You will need to select which writing, publishing, and marketing approaches fit your talents and interests. Otherwise, doing something you just don't enjoy will be neither fruitful nor sustainable.
FOCUS: Along the lines of the filtering mentioned above, don't get dragged into a FOMO (fear of missing out) mindset. You can't do everything. You'll never get anywhere if you try. Scan resources and options, select what fits for you, and focus your time on getting good at these items. We'll return to this critical mindset throughout the year.
REAL EXPECTATIONS: Okay, I'll tell you now writing takes time, as does publishing and marketing. You may hear of those that crank out a book in a month. This is unrealistic for 99% of us - and doesn't seem very enjoyable either. Furthermore, the average author sells 250 books in a year. And considering the Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowlings sell a lot more than that, the average sales of most others, and especially newbies, is far less. I don't want to be discouraging, but if you expect to quit your day job, find an agent that gets you published by Simon & Shuster who then places you on the Barnes & Nobles feature table, and that you sell 10,000 books right off the bat, that is quite unlikely. That is why you need to be driven by passion and purpose first and foremost. That's not to say you can't exceed 250 or 1000 sales per year, but be sure your eyes are wide open and set reasonable goals along the way.
ORGANIZE: I am VERY organized. I'm not suggesting you need to go to extremes, but those who actually finish book projects and excel in sales are the most organized. Approach this as a project. Set up a reasonable and achievable schedule for writing. We'll cover how to do this in February's "Getting Started." Carry this timeline out to publishing (whether indie/self-publishing, hybrid, or traditional as covered in May) and marketing. Start with a basic schedule and as you learn and filter for your approach, add them to your project timeline. It is my experience that a timeline helps drive the process but tight deadlines drive you away. Why add the stress of having to write so many words/pages each day or that you must publish by a certain date? Who is setting those goals? Be reasonable and flexible with your schedule and you will enjoy the process much more.
RESEARCH: You will be involved in a lot of research along the way. Initially, this may focus on learning about writing as described in 3. LEARN above, but later you may also be researching subject matter for your book. You will also be researching editors, publishing options, and marketing paths. Allocate enough time for these activities to make your whole process more efficient and effective.
TARGET AUDIENCE: This will also be a recurring theme that we will flesh out next month and throughout the year. You will want to identify the target audience for your book and then write, publish, and market to that audience. You may believe everyone will enjoy your writing, but it just doesn't work that way. After all, you have genres that you prefer, as do others. Identify your target audience. Make sure it is narrow enough. Envision who those people are and what they like and reach out to them through your writing and marketing. Your success will depend on getting this step right.
CELEBRATE: Writing can be a bit laborious and lonely. This is especially the case for introverts and those that are driven by their own initiative and a detailed project plan. However, if you celebrate milestones along the way, you will enjoy the process much more and continue to find the motivation to go to the next step until your project is done. Don't wait to just celebrate completion. Celebrate steps along the way, perhaps including creating an outline, writing that first chapter, gaining reader feedback, selecting your editors, graphic designers, and publishing avenue. Each is a monumental accomplishment so don't skip the celebration!
Everyone has a story in them. You do! Our 2023 journey below will help you get there. You may just be starting, join me for each of the 12 steps so you know the whole process as you get started. It's like reading the instructions on the IKEA furniture brochure before you get started. Usually, when I just dive in, I find I'm either missing a piece later or I've got an extra piece and have no idea where it belongs. This is your roadmap. Let's get started!
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We continue our Keys to '23 with a deep dive into Phase 3: Enlightenment. This is a critical stage as we begin to flip the script from one of confusion and frustration to possibilities and strength.