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Posts Tagged ‘Flylady’

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

How often have you overspent on a “deal” that was guaranteed to help increase your income, but left you broke instead? How many times have you lacked the funds necessary to buy that eBook that could teach you ways to improve your marketing strategy?

If you’re like most Independent Authors, myself included, the times for either scenario are many. So what can you do to safe-guard against those ups and downs in your finances and take control of your spending?

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This blog, The Road to Writing, will be discontinued Dec. 31, 2011. If you would like to continue receiving great tips and inspirational posts please remember to subscribe to my new blog by RSS or email for LOL Mondays, Spirit Wednesdays and Toolbox Saturdays.

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My Father has often said that, when you start having nightmares about your job, it’s time to move on. I can’t say I’m having nightmares, exactly, but I’ve certainly begun dreading doing anything remotely connected with being an Independent Author. However, I don’t think it’s time for me to “move on.” It’s time for me to go back to the beginning and rediscover why I became an Indie Author in the first place.

When I began, my first love was crafting entertaining stories. I spent a lot of time on Writing.com reading and contributing short stories, poems and monologues. I enjoyed giving editing tips to the authors there, especially to those in whose works I saw potential. When I sat down to work it was a pleasure, an escape even.

Flash forward to July 14, 2010. Spending 30 minutes to work on my current project, Prayerfully Yours, makes my shoulders slump, my brow pucker and my feet drag. I dutifully set my timer and check it every few minutes, trying to cheer myself on with the mantra “only X number of minutes left, then I can go play.”

What happened?!

I lost sight of the reason I began this journey in the first place. I began listening to all the “advice” out there that said I needed to market the hell out of myself to get anywhere. Marketing isn’t a bad thing. Independent Authors need to do a lot of marketing to get noticed. All of that is true, but the at some point each of us has to answer one question: what is more important, getting noticed or doing what you love?

For me it’s doing what I love most, writing. While I will be doing the Problogger 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge with the SITS community*, doing what I love most means I won’t be doing a lot of other things. It means spending less time following all those tweets, less time trolling the internet to find the latest self-publishing articles, less time doing anything that takes me away from what I’m meant to do — write.

In order to do less, yet be as effective as I’ve been (perhaps more so), I’ll be following my mentor, Marla Cilley’s (aka FlyLady), advice: “by letting go of your ineffective old habits and establishing simple routines” and “Take your babysteps to recognize when you are stressed out. Find a more fun way of doing the same old thing and reach out for help!”

How about you? Have you forgotten why you began your journey on The Road to Writing?

*The challenge for all us women bloggers begins July 19, so hurry if you want to sign up.

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How often have you overspent on a “deal” that was guaranteed to help increase your income, but left you broke instead? How many times have you lacked the funds necessary to buy that eBook that could teach you ways to improve your marketing strategy? If you’re like most Independent Authors, myself included, the times for either scenario are many. So what can you do to safe-guard against those ups and downs in your finances and take control of your spending? Budget.

If your primary goal is to continue to improve yourself, whether that means your writing or how you market your product, having money allocated specifically to continued education assures you that the money is there when you need it without having to ask the dragon (aka credit cards) to fit the bill. Using a budget for those funds also forces us to think before we buy.

Michael Martine of RemarkaBlogger suggests in his post “The Most Important Question You Need to Stop Asking Yourself“* that you first set training goals, something specific like learning how to take advantage of social media to market your book, and then take a look at how you spent your “training” money in the past year. (If you’ve read The Money Book you’re a step ahead already.)

From there he tells us to set our quarterly budget by taking the amount we’re comfortable with spending over a year and dividing it by four. As Michael says setting a training budget helps us decide between what is a good buy and what would make us “the victim of others for their gain.”

What I really like about this approach is that, while we’re setting a spending limit, it’s based on past experience. As Simple Life in France puts it in “How to budget for inspiration not deprivation” by building a budget at the end of the month, or in this case upon last year’s spending, “your budget is just an honest friend here to tell you the truth about the way you spend your money. You’re making observations, not judgments.” As my mentor, FlyLady Marla Cilley, says, in order to improve ourselves we need to get rid of the “stinkin’ thinkin’.” That means not beating ourselves up each time we overspend, but rather making an effort to do better this month.

If you want to budget for your continued training, basing it upon last year’s spending and reviewing it at the end of each month can be a real stress reliever, especially when you can congratulate yourself for staying within your limits on The Road to Writing.

*This is a cached copy via Google. I was last able to access the RemarkaBlogger web site on June 29,2010, at 2:30 p.m.

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How we live our spiritual lives is a passion for me, so it’s really no surprise that I’ve begun work on Prayerfully Yours, a book about prayer (obviously :P). I wish I could say that taking care of my spirit is a number one priority and that I have it down to a science, but I can’t. Like my favorite “get organized” mentor, FlyLady Marla Cilley, I’m still working on integrating spiritual disciplines into my life… and I bet I’m not alone.

As Independent Authors, Freelancers, people who “do their own thing,” we often have to work much harder than the “regular Joe” with a typical 9-5 job for financial security (and sometimes just because we’re crazy, driven individuals :D). We get so busy doing we forget that we are human beings. We were created as much to be as to do. As we push ourselves harder to make that deadline, market that book, get our name out into the public view, we often discover that we’ve become drained, that we’re beginning to live fractured lives. Usually this realization comes on quite suddenly, though it wasn’t a sudden shift in what we’ve been doing that caused it in the first place.

So what can we do to slow down and reconnect with our spirit? Keri Wyatt Kent, author of Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, offered three practices in her guest blog on MacGregor Literary:

  1. Community — “Join a small group, preferably not made up of just other writers. Pull yourself away from the writing for a time to actually nurture others by praying with them, listening to them, simply enjoying them. Celebrate and enjoy the gift of friendship.”
  2. Inspiration — “Walk through a garden or an art museum, read really great writing. In a way, this is a form of listening prayer, of hearing God through beauty… Such activities are not a waste of time—they feed [your] soul, which nurtures [your] writing.”
  3. Sabbath — “You may be worried that taking a day off will put you further behind. But Sabbath actually has the opposite effect.  In the weeks that I don’t write on Sunday, my overall production (measured by words written, articles finished, whatever) is higher than it is on the weeks I don’t stop. And on Mondays, after a day of rest, my productivity soars.”

I would add just one more to the list:

4.  Be present in the moment. Focus on one thing at a time. If you’re working on a project, then focus on that project and not the to-do list that’s growing longer than your arm. If you’re with your family on an outing, then concentrate on what they’re saying rather than on that deadline that’s fast approaching. When you’re fully in the present, you find great new ways of expressing life’s little things in your writing later.

Being an Independent Author is not easy and it’s not always fun, but it can be fulfilling, especially when you remember to care for your spirit while 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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