A Hard Day's Work

Writer Wednesday!

I have a lot planned for this segment on my blog. And I'm super excited to get to it this fall. I apparently... have a lot to say.


But I thought I should first start with one of the most honest truths I can give you.

This probably won't be a revelation of any kind. And it definitely won't be something new you haven't heard.

But it's important.

And it warrants repeating.

I know that I've mentioned it in several of my previous blogs, but today I thought I would take the entire post to reiterate the point.

How do you make it big and get your book to sell? Is there some secret formula or recipe to writing full-time? What is the magic potion to selling my book????

I know what it is. I do. I promise.

And! I'm going to tell you what it is... Are you ready?

It's easy.

So super easy.

I don't know if you're ready....

Just kidding! :)

Here it is...

Hard work.

That's it. It's just a whole bunch of hard work.

Does that disappoint you? Were you expecting something more? I hope not. I hope it excites you.

I hope you read those two life-changing words and said to yourself, Hard Work??? I can do that! I can work hard! I can work as hard as I need to!!!

And you can. You really-really-really can.

I've said it before and I will continue to say it, Writing your book is the easiest thing you will ever do in this career.

It is.

That should tell you something about what you've gotten yourself into. Does writing a book sound easy?? Uh, no. Did it feel easy??? Hell, no.

Or if you're in the middle of it right now, do you ever think you'll finish???

Probably not.

Or at least it feels that way.

Writing a book is nothing but blood, sweat and tears. It's the outpouring of your soul. It's a journey of discovery, of hammering out exactly who you are in the darkest recesses of your heart.

It's painful. And monotonous at times. It's terrifying and confusing.

It's a whole lot of work. But I'm telling you. I. Am. Telling. You. It is the easiest thing you will ever do.

(In this career.)

Because as soon as that book is finished, edited and stamped with the most gorgeous cover you've ever seen, the real work begins.

And let me tell you this work NEVER ends. Never. Never ever.

If you want that book to sell, to do well, to make it to the NY Times Bestseller list and go number one in every single country on this planet... Then you are going to need to start working.

And by that, I don't mean tweet about your book until your fingers go numb. Despite popular opinion, that is not the way to sell books.

I mean, be creative with your marketing. Find the right blogs to promote your work. Develop relationships- real, genuine, authentic- with your peers and find a support group.

And never give up.

In my real life (As in, not the internet one.), I have a tendency to downplay the success of my books. It's just my personality type. In all other things, I can be the world's happiest optimist. When it comes to the success of my books, I am somehow the opposite.

Zach is constantly reminding me that I am NOT a failure, even though it feels like it most of the time. And that I have been successful, even when I question when and where.

It's a very good thing I have him. For so many reasons.

But this attitude I have, this insecurity and confusion, carries into all parts of my life. On top of that, I have this job that people want to hear about. And by that, I mean, know every single detail of everything it encompasses. They want my quarterly reports, and how much money I've made since I started, they want to know why people would buy my books, they want to know how I got started and what goes on in my head to make me think I could actually do this thing for a living.

Sometimes I am horrified shocked by the questions perfect strangers are willing to ask.

And until recently, I have been very subdued with my answers.

How did your career take off?

My answer would be.. Well... I actually got kind of lucky.

Actually, I used that answer for a LOT of questions.

And then one day, I had answered the same kind of question with that same kind of answer, and I realized I was lying. I had just lied. I had lied big time.

I looked back at my 60 hour work week. I looked back at the previous weekend where I hadn't left my house and spent all of Saturday and Sunday writing, and then started again on Monday and kept at it until Friday. I looked at my house that I had fought to keep clean during breaks in chapters. And the laundry that I had debated over folding because really I needed to get 2k more in that day. I looked at my four children who I balanced my time with. Feeding them, clothing them, mothering them. I looked at my husband who needed to be fed at some point, and so there were meals to cook and dishes to do. I looked at the books I'd already managed to write and put out and the blogs I'd spent hours writing, the giveaways we'd worked so hard to come up with. I thought ahead to the ten other projects I just couldn't wait to start.

And I realized something very important.

It wasn't luck that got me here. Maybe luck tripped Reckless Magic to be free at the exact same time my second book was already out and my third just two weeks from releasing.

Maybe it was luck. But even then I would argue some miracle of God over spontaneous timing.

Luck is cold and callous. Luck doesn't fortune anyone. It's selfish and fickle.

Luck has nothing to do with book sales.

Not ever.

When I look back at my work weeks, and work weekends, in my early mornings and late nights, that's not luck, that's a whole hell of a lot of work.

I once read a JA Konrath blog that said something like, you'll never find a successful writer at his kid's little league game or curled up on the couch binge-watching Netflix marathons. Successful writer's don't have time for that. They're working.

Now, I'm massively paraphrasing him. But the point is the same. And while I would argue that you should make time for your kid's games. And you have to find a balance between family and work, you still have to work. And you have to work a lot.

I believe this is true for ANY profession.

Nothing irritates me more than the disrespect the masses have for rich people. And let me just say, I am by NO means rich. And I came from a place of being very-very-very poor. My middle-class-status has been tirelessly fought for. And I am thrilled to be here.

But I look at the "poor" of the world as they loathe the one-percent and I get sick to my stomach.

Success is hard people.

I would argue that Success might be the hardest thing in this world to accomplish.

Sure, there is that very tiny number of people that just wake up rich. But the majority of wealthy people in this world fought with their life to get where they are today. And they fight a daily battle to stay there.

Do you think Donald Trump just flipped his gorgeous comb-over the right direction and a billion dollars magically dumped on his lap? No. He came from nothing. And he took giant risks and worked nearly every second of every day to get where he is. And he continues to work that hard to stay where he is. He took risks, none of the rest of us are willing to take. He gambled with everything, with his reputation, with the money he'd already worked so hard to make. He worked and worked and worked and never gave up.

Side note: That's just an example. I'm not really all that passionate about the Donald and his money.

If you want to be a writer and sell your books, you're going to have to do the same thing. And here's the kicker. You probably most likely might never reach billionaire status. You might not even make a big list!

I haven't.

Instead, you'll work your fingers to the bone and simply get to write for a living.

But that's the goal right? That's what we want. That IS the dream. And there is beauty in that. There is satisfaction and purpose.

So you want this?? You really-really-really want this??

Then you have to make it happen. You're the only one that can, so you might as well jump in with both feet.

And just because I love you so very much... Here are three tips to help you get started.

Disclaimer: I am not perfect. And I don't know everything. But these are important if you're willing to listen.

1. Give Up TV.

Give it up. Give it up. Give it up.

The master himself, Mr. Stephen King, likes to say that "TV is the killer of creativity." It ruins it. Smashes all those pretty, masterful thoughts you had into the ground and then stomps on them with the heel of its boot until your imagination is nothing but ash and dust.

And let me ask you this. You want to write for a living? You want to finish your book and sell it to millions of people and get your name on big lists?

Then what is TV doing for you? How is it helping you with your career? How is it working with you to accomplish your goals?

You want something to do to spur creativity? READ. Read everything. Read every genre and every author and never stop reading.

But TV is mindless. It's working in complete opposition to what you need your brain to do. It's working against you. It's actively fighting your success.

I promise you.

I've been off TV for three years now. (Do I sound like an addict? I was.) I used to spend my nights in front of the TV with a DVR full of my favorite shows.

And I'll tell you what. It did absolutely nothing for me but distract me from my dreams.

I work most evenings. And I have to. I have four kids that require a lot of attention during the day. I like to keep up with my house and laundry. And I like to cook dinner every night.

I don't have a moment in my life to spare for TV. And when I finally sit down to peaceful hours in the evening, I have to utilize those to their full potential.

Now, I probably sound like a work-aholic. And I am a little bit. But let me ask you, what is wrong with that?? We live in this self-centered culture that believes in the power of the all-holy ME. Me. Me. Me. I need time for me. I need to do this for me. I need to sit down and put my feet up and zone out because that's the only thing that will help ME relax.

This might be radical... and crazy... but why??? Why do you need so much time for "ME?"

Let me rephrase.

If you're writing a book... aren't you already doing that for you? Isn't that already your goal and dream and wish all wrapped up into one monumental task?

This society we live in hates the idea of hard work and dedicating ourselves to hard work and then in the same breath loathes those who are successful because of hard work.

I don't get it.

Me time doesn't have to be lazy, brainless time. Me time can so easily be hard work time. Pour-yourself-into-everything-you-do time.

Yes, you're tired. Yes, your life is hard. Yes, by the end of the day, you don't feel like doing anything else but getting those feet up in the air and your brain glued to something that will take the pressure off thinking.

But why?? Why do we want our brain to stop working?

I often look around at my to do lists and the daily goals I set out to accomplish and I think to myself, I'm trying to be Super Mom. This is going to end badly.

But you know what? So far it hasn't.

And you might argue that I am just days away from burning out completely. But here's the difference between a true workaholic and myself. I'm not struggling to work every second of every day and ignore everything else. I'm fighting for a balance between family, work and friends. I'm working hard so I can play hard.

And if I want that balance. If I want to volunteer in my kids' classrooms, and enjoy my happy hours with my favorite people then I have to give up the meaningless things in my life.

I have to cut the fat and get down to the lean meat.

Then it's all possible. Then I can write 7.5k a day and still make dinner and still hang with my kids and still fold laundry.

Yes, my days are packed. But I end each one with a sense of fulfillment. And I'm proud of how I spend my time. And I get things done.

Hard work feels good. I promise. And giving up TV feels even better.

2. Write fast.

I get a lot of books out. A lot. I write novella series at the same time I write full-lengths. And I churn out books at an pretty crazy rate.

I do. And I used to be embarrassed of that. But now I'm really trying to be proud of it.

This year alone, I plan to publish six full-length books, one co-written book, a novella series, half of another novella series, three additional novellas and two books that you won't know about for a long time.

In one year.

And so far, I'm relatively on schedule. I've already released three of the full-lengths. I'm halfway through writing my fourth and the co-written book. I've finished one novella series and the second half will start soon. I've written two of the additional novellas and the third is scheduled to start next month.

The only thing I've had to give up so far this year, is Bet on Me.

But I plan to prioritize that soon.

How do I do it?? How do I get so much done??

Well, you know my first secret. No TV.

The second is that I can get a word count done. And I mean done.

Currently, I'm working on 2.5k words in an hour and a half. On average. Sometimes I'm faster. And sometimes I'm a little slower.

That is a little insane.

There was once a time that I wrote 23,000 words in one day. In. One. Day.

Does this reason annoy you??? Do you feel like that will never be you??

Well, let me be honest and say that I wasn't born with this skill. I didn't naturally come by it.

And that's because word counts are born by typing and typing is a skill that you learn. If you practice and practice and practice, there's no way you can't get faster. Type faster. Be faster.

Now, this does not mean that everything I write is gold and I'm ready to publish as soon as I finish typing the last period. Oh, no. Definitely not. That's basically blasphemy.

But that's what the editing stage is for.

If you write every day, if you consciously work on this skill and focus during your writing, you will get better.

It's impossible not to.

That also means that when you sit down to write, maybe shut off the internet. Except for Google of course. You need your research tools. :)

But it's really hard to get word counts done if you're checking Facebook every other minute.

If you want my trick, I set out two hours in the morning. Two hours in the afternoon. And then two hours at night. I write 2.5k words in those two hours slots and end the day with a 7.5k word count.

Does every day end this successfully? Er, no. But it's my daily goal and I make it easy to accomplish.

Sure, life gets in the way, but my high standards keep me reaching for something. When I push myself, I get things done.

Also, I give myself incentives. Like... I can't check Facebook until I get to 2.5k written. And if I really want to, I bunker down and focus.

The real message here though, is not exactly to Write Fast, but to Write Often. The more often you work on this dream you hold so closely, the sooner you get to reach it.

And that's not just hard work, that's exciting work.

3. Dispel the rumor that you don't have time to write.

Dispel it. Spit it out and never let yourself hear it again.

It's a fat, ugly, horrific lie that will murder your dreams.

You do have time to write. You do. You always do. And if you don't think you do, reevaluate how badly you want this thing.

Because when you want it bad enough, you will find time.

We find time for the things we hold dear, for the things we treasure and value.

I have four kids. My youngest is two and my oldest is seven. I love my husband. I want to spend as much time with him as I can. He's my favorite person in the world. I love my extended family. I love my friends. I love my weekly Bible Study. And I love going out. I love my hobbies: reading, playing the piano and online shopping. I love a clean house and laundry that's folded and put away. I love cooking and making homemade, healthy meals. I really, really, really love to sleep. I love life. I love all parts of it.

I also love to write. I love it with everything I am.

When I take away my writing and I look around at all the other things I need/should/have to accomplish, I don't have time to write.

And it's my full-time job!!!

There is just not enough time in my every day life to fit in word counts and get everything else accomplished.

If you were to look at my daily to-do lists, you would think I'm crazy.

And maybe I am.

They are VERY detailed and down to the minute of when I can do this or when I have to be done with that. They're also about thirty tasks deep. And honestly, most days, I only get 75% through them. But the point is, I'm trying. I'm putting it down and I'm working hard to get to the end.

There will never be a moment in your day where your time-management will speak up out of the blue and say, "Here's an extra hour today, write during this time!"

And even if your day did say that, one hour isn't going to make any difference.

Whenever I tell people I'm a writer, I usually hear back that the other person would love to be a writer. Well, maybe not usually, but it happens a lot. I love this. I love that everyone has a story to tell. I love that something has been stirring in their creativity and tugging at their imagination. I always, always encourage them to pursue their story.

But the second thing I hear most often, is, "Well, I'd love to write that book. I just don't have the time."

And maybe you don't. Maybe you work harder than me and Donald Trump combined and there is not a spare moment in your day. But maybe you're just telling yourself that because you aren't willing to carve out the time?

I'm sure there are lots of reasons for this. You're scared. You don't know where to start. You feel silly and insecure. I could go on and on.

But if you've conquered all those reasons and the only thing standing in your way now is finding a few spare moments?? You have them.

You already have them.

Get up early. Go to bed late. Write in the thirty minutes it takes you to bake your dinner. Or in the fifteen minutes you have between homework and soccer practice. Write instead of watching TV or stalking all the people you can't stand on Facebook.

Write instead of reading.

There. I said it.

Put my book down right this second and go write your own story. :)

Say no to your girl friends and stay home Friday night and make headway on that novel.

Let the laundry go one more day and get those words down.

You can't be a writer unless you start writing.

And you can't publish your first novel unless you finish writing that story.

That's the simplest truth I can give you.

This job is hard. Oh. So. Hard. And there will be more moments than you can count where you just want to give up and walk away. In just one day!

But if you have a passion for this, you will find a way to finish. You will find a way to write beautiful words and move people's souls.

You will.

So stop standing in your own way and get to work.  



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