Writing is not for perfectionists, and perfectionists I think probably drive themselves crazy being novelists. …Writing is provisional in almost every way. Which is to say, any sentence that you write and finally make as good as you can make it, and part with, and publish, if you’d stayed with it a little bit longer, you might could make it a little bit better… You just have to get reconciled to that.

Just as you have to get reconciled to things like this: At the end of a given day you stop writing, and you think to yourself, okay, I’m stopping today; I’m gonna go do something else. If you sat there and you wrote a sentence that hour, 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, you would inevitably have written a different sentence than the sentence that you write at 8 o’clock the next morning. That could be completely crazy making but it isn’t, you just have to get used to it…

“Richard Ford Talks about Writing and His Novel Canada.” Politics and Prose Bookstore Coffeehouse. 23 May 2012. Web. 14 Jun. 2012. http://www.politics-prose.com

Scrivener Has What You Need

It’s taken me all this time but I’m finally taking the plunge. I bought Scrivener.

Writers have been praising Scrivener for awhile, but I’m slow to warm, and skeptical. I thought, how could a software that only costs $45 be any good? Without checking it out, I figured they had probably never done any updates, and it was no doubt out of date. Wrong. It’s up to date. It’s fantastic!

I’m still working my way through the tutorial, I haven’t really used it yet, but if the program works in real life the way it’s working in the tutorial I’m going to be so happy.

One of the hard things about writing a novel, or any long writing project, is organization. Word and Pages just do not have the features that a writer needs to keep a lengthy writing project organized. Scrivener has those features.

You have to put yourself in the way of luck which is to say you have to do the work; you have to write the books.

Richard Ford

“Richard Ford Talks about Writing and His Novel Canada.” Politics and Prose Bookstore Coffeehouse. 23 May 2012. Web. 14 Jun. 2012. http://www.politics-prose.com

Writing Schedules

Instead of writing I spent time researching how to stick to a writing schedule. It seemed perfectly reasonable at the time.

Part of the challenge of writing is actually showing up to do the work.

Jennifer Niven

Niven, Jennifer. (4 Jan. 2017) For Writers. Retrieved from http://www.jenniferniven.com/writers/

Looking at Jennifer Niven’s website it’s clear to me that she adheres to a writing schedule. I suspect the same is true for all successful writers. Still, it helps to notice it. Learning from example is second only to experience and sometimes I think it triumphs over experience because it opens your mind to new possibilities.

My “research” (goofing off) also uncovered an article that said routine ignites creativity. It’s interesting, at first thought I would have said spontaneity ignites creativity and routine stifles it but after thinking about it I realized it’s true. Like Pavlov’s dogs we can train ourselves to be in the writing zone.

Takeaways

  • Create a writing schedule
  • Write in a specific place
  • Adhere to a ritual (i.e., have a cup of tea as you sit down to write, listen to a certain type of music while you write)
  • Make sure to write at a time of day that coincides with your natural productivity (i.e., if you’re a night owl don’t try and be an early bird)
  • Use structure (self imposed rules) if you need to (i.e., timed free writing, not allowing yourself to edit while writing)
  • Connect with other writers to find the support and encouragement that you need

Sam Tanenhaus: …You know what you’re going to do in January 2005. It will be published I believe in November…or late fall 2009, so that’s almost five years. Is that a typical length of time…?

John Irving: Actually it’s short for me…it’s quickly developing for me. I wrote the first sentence of this novel seven months after I heard that last sentence and that’s fast for me. I usually don’t get to the first sentence in less than a year, often more, but this time I got there in seven months, from the last to the first sentence.

John Irving talked to Sam Tanenhaus about his book, “Last Night in Twisted River.” Interesting from a writing perspective, John talked about turnaround time from story idea, to the start of writing a story, and to finishing a story and having it ready for publication. The video is approximately 5 minutes.

Tanenhaus, Sam. “A Conversation with John Irving.” NY Times. 5 Jun. 2009. Web. 1 Jan. 2017.

Creating a Professional Author Website

If you’re getting ready to create an author website, I recommend looking at official author websites. It’s a good way to carve out elements that you like and those that you don’t.

As you do your research one thing you’ll notice is that most author websites have the same elements.

Website Research Takeaways

Website

  • Invest in a dedicated .com
  • Make sure your meta description tag (the description that shows up on search engine results underneath the website address) identifies who you are and what your site is about. I don’t know a lot about this. If your website builder says that it’s automatic make sure you know how to modify it if it’s not the way you want it to read.

Pages

  • Promoting your book(s): Promote your book on your homepage. There should be a picture of your book cover, buttons/links to online retailers where people can buy your book, and a description. I have seen links to book excerpts too. Some authors highlight only their most recent book on this page and then have a separate page that highlights all their books. I have seen this formatted grid and blog style.
  • About: Authors typically have a picture of themselves and a bio that can be as short a couple of sentences to as long as a couple of pages. It’s written for their target audience and it focuses on their qualifications as a writer and/or their qualifications for writing the genre.
  • News and Events: If you’re going on tour here is where you list/promote it. I have seen this formatted blog style.
  • Media and Contact: If you have a literary agent or instructions for how people should contact you this is where it goes. I have seen thumbnails of book covers on this page with instructions to click on them for the high resolution images needed for media promotion.
  • Blog: Some authors include a blog on their website but you don’t have to include one.

Elements

Make sure to include a sign-up for email button.

Side Note

I wish there were more Indie author ready website templates. It’s a market that webhosting companies should be cultivating. Wix has a couple. WordPress.org, which requires a bit more tech skill, has some beautiful templates that would make a great starting point for an author website.

Indie Publishing Advice from Mark Dawson

Mark Dawson, a successful indie author (Forbes estimated that he made $500K in 2015 just from Amazon), talked to Publishers Weekly about self-publishing. It was a good read and I’ve included my takeaways below.

Love this quote. Writing snobbery exists. These days, the snobbery of traditional publishing being better than self-publishing is ridiculous. Mark’s answer is perfect.

PW: Isn’t there still a stigma to self-publishing?

Mark: There is. But fuck that, I don’t care. And let’s be honest here, there are lots of really bad traditionally published books that have bad covers and are full of errors.

Mark’s Advice – Takeaways

  • Invest in professional editing
  • Have a professional website
  • Spend the time to build and maintain an email list of your readers/fans
  • Facebook Ads are worth it
  • Literary Agents are still the best way to sell subsidiary rights

Khalifa, A.M. “Breaking Down Barriers: PW Talks with Mark Dawson.” Publishers Weekly, 29 Dec. 2016. Web. 30 Dec. 2016.