Archive for October, 2009

It is my experience that web site design should be left to those who know what they’re doing.  It’s all too easy to buy a user-friendly program such as Front Page and whip together a site with all manner of bells and whistles (much to the annoyance of the visitor).  Or, somewhat better but no less unprofessional, is to buy a package deal from your web host that includes some kind of basic web design program.

Why am I being hard on writers who try to cobble together a site?  Because I am one of those writers who used to design web sites and I am by no means a professional.  Unless you’re a natural who understands both html and css (and whatever other web standards that crop up) putting together an eye-catching, user-friendly site can be difficult at best.  At worst it can be a complete disaster.  If you don’t believe me, check out Web Pages That Suck 2.0.

So what’s an Independent Author to do?  We all know it’s almost career suicide not to have a web site.  My suggestion is to make friends in the web design industry.  Find a starving student willing to design your site for a big discount (or free for the practice 😉 ).  Or, if you can afford it, spend the money on a professional who will design and maintain your site.  (Maintenance is crucial for sales.)

Barring all that, go ahead and design your own site, but keep it simple.  A clean look says professional more than all the “really cool” stuff combined.  When in doubt, check out Web Pages That Suck 2.0 to make sure you don’t fall into any traps.

With a little money and some effort you can have a great web site that stands like a clear road sign pointing to your work on The Road to Writing.

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One of the biggest obstacles I have to overcome on a daily basis is time management.  There are times I wish I had a way to magically create a perfect time slot for my writing where my daughter didn’t need my attention for a couple of hours and I could work in peace and quiet.  As of this moment, however, that magic ability has yet to appear. The best I can manage is whatever time I can snatch while she plays on the living room floor and I sit on the couch where she can get to me at anytime.  Beyond that I have to wait until she goes to bed and hope I’m still alert enough to create comprehensible sentences.

Because she’s my reason for pushing on, I know finding the time to write is essential.  I have another reason (and it’s as much a fear as anything else) I absolutely must find the opportunity to write and my daughter is also at the root of that one as well.  You see, it is my dream to stay at home with her, so I absolutely must write (and publish) to make enough money to attain my goal.  That can feel like an insurmountable mountain at times, especially when just starting my career.

I have no doubt there are a lot of writers like me, searching for ways to make more time for their craft.  While I don’t have the answer to how to do this, I know of a few resources to help us.

Perhaps the best for anyone not working on a project that demands large blocks of creative time is Flylady.  Marla Cilley (aka Flylady) advocates a system of 15 minutes at a time.  This system is designed to work in all aspects of home life and can be adapted for writing also.  The best part is that children can begin to understand that Mommy or Daddy will be able to play with them as soon as the timer goes off.  (Flylady’s way of keeping things movings is to use a timer.)

Another writer once said her husband  helped her fix a way for her to sit on top of the fridge to work while her son played safely on the floor below her.  Being creative is what writers do.  Putting that creativity to work finding a way to snatch a few minutes to write is a logical step.  I’ve personally discovered I can work on a project during lulls at my day job.  It may not be as satisfying as sitting at my computer for a couple of hours, but it keeps me going in the right (write? 🙂 ) direction.

I am positive there are other resources available that actually help (and many that don’t) with time management.  My suggestion is to try several.  Keep doing those that work for you and discard those that don’t.  As for the fear of making enough money, remember that by continuing to write despite obstacles puts you closer to your goal.  I also recommend not quitting your day job until things pick up (or until your investments can provide for you, but that’s a subject for someone who is financially savvy to discuss).

Time is a commodity everyone must decide how best to use and writers are no different.  However, when you use your creative impulses, you may discover some unique ways to create time to work on The Road to Writing.

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In his book The Courage to Write, Ralph Keyes tells us that every writer worth his or her salt has a fear of writing.  It’s not just a fear of being rejected by a traditional publisher, although fear of rejection often causes the would-be author to become what Ralph calls a “trunk writer” (someone who writes something, then puts it in a drawer or “trunk”).  There’s also the fear of the blank page (or blank screen).  We writers give it the nice euphemism of “writer’s block,” but more often it’s fear.  What if I can’t come up with anything?  What if I do and it’s crap?

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The second most important thing to becoming an independent author is to research your options. (The first is, of course, to write, but that is an entry for another time.) I spent a lot of time doing google searches for the “right” publishing company, trying to decide whether to stick with a traditional publisher or strike out on my own with a print-on-demand company.

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