2017 Goals: Halfway There?

As regular visitors know, I’m a massive fan of setting goals. During the last couple of years, I have aired mine in public for some extra motivation (accountability!) and as an exercise in ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyway’.

If you’re interested, the posts are here: January 2016 and January 2017.

So far, this year feels like my most productive ever, but I know there is still so much I want to do! Also, I want to make sure I don’t let my motivation or progress slip over the second half of the year.

Time seems to be flying past faster than ever and I know how easy it is to lose weeks – or even months – if I don’t stay focused on my main goals. It’s too easy to get caught up in the latest ‘shiny thing’, in learning about all the possibilities in this exciting publishing landscape, or just in the day-to-day ‘busy work’ of running an author business.

So, I thought it would be a good idea to do a halfway check-point to see if I’m on track. I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit nervous…

Writing

I set the goal of writing two new novels and finishing, editing and publishing the Worried Writer book.

Progress Report:

Stop Worrying; Start WritingStop Worrying; Start Writing is finished and out in the world! Yay!

Writing two new novels… Um. Not started, yet. Need to prioritise this for the remaining five and a half months of the year.

My initial thought is ‘Argh! I can’t write two novels in under six months’, but some quick calculations shoot down that objection… Let’s say I have five months. That’s 20 weeks.

2 x 80,000 words = 160,000 words

160,000 divided by 20 = 8000

8000 words per week is 1143 words per day.

That sounds much more manageable, doesn’t it?

I will, however, have to get strict about prioritising writing new words, though. I find it frustratingly easy to let writing slip down my to-do list even though it’s the most enjoyable and fulfilling part of what I do, as well as the most important!

Publishing

I planned to rewrite and publish Beneath The Water and my supernatural book, and to get The Secrets of Ghosts made into an audio book.

Progress Report:

I landed a new publishing deal with Lake Union for Beneath The Water and have just finished the structural rewrites. It will be published early 2018.

I am currently working on the editorial notes from my agent for the supernatural book and am planning to have that finished by the end of next week.

I did get an audio book made, but I chose my novella, The Garden of Magic, instead… The narrator, Tracey Norman, did a fabulous job and was a joy to work with.

Also, I have decided to attempt the narration for the audio version of Stop Worrying; Start Writing. I’m going into the studio next week!

 

Learning

I have been consuming less and creating more, which is excellent as I think I’ve been skewed in the wrong direction for a long time! I’ve still read some brilliant books, though. One really useful ‘craft’ book I discovered is Alexanda Sokoloff’s Screenwriting Tricks For Authors.

On the business/marketing side, I’m working my way through Mark Dawson’s Ads For Authors course. Even if you aren’t ready to spend money on his paid training, he offers loads of information (and a mini video course) for free, and his Self Publishing Formula podcast is excellent, too.

Creativity

I still haven’t started scheduling ‘artist days’ to refill the creative well. Must do better!

Walking isn’t strictly ‘creativity’ but I do think it helps me to think (as well as having health benefits) and I’ve been sticking to my daily habit of a morning walk. I would like to increase my stamina and distance, though, and maybe add a second walk in the afternoon (or a yoga session).

Community

I planned to keep up with my newsletter for my mailing list subscribers and I wanted to increase the size of my list.

I also planned to continue with the monthly episodes of the podcast and to add more content to this site.

Progress Report:

I created a ‘perk’ (a free short story) and have been giving that away via Instafreebie to grow my list.

I’ve been keeping up with my newsletters, sending them every 4-6 weeks, and have had some brilliant conversations with readers which feels amazing!

If you are interested in hearing about my fiction releases, giveaways and exclusive content, sign up here!

I have also made more of an effort with Facebook and have started a dedicated page for The Worried Writer (to keep the ‘stuff for writers’ separate from my author page).

I’ve kept up with the monthly podcast, but could do better with adding more content to this site… However, I was delighted to be listed in the ‘Top 100 Websites for Writers’ by The Write Life – yay!

Also, I was interviewed on the Self Publishing Journeys podcast (link to my episode here), and am planning to do more guest spots on other podcasts.

My lovely brother has given me his old video camera and I am looking into adding some videos to my websites or, perhaps, starting a YouTube channel.

Finally, I’m considering attending the ScotsWrite conference in September.

Your turn! How are you doing with your 2017 goals? 

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The Worried Writer Episode #28: ‘Guarding Your Writing Time Is A Matter of Training’

In this ‘just me’ episode, I give a writing update and answer a couple of questions.

Writing update:

I’ve been on tight editing deadlines all month with my latest novel, Beneath The Water, but the end is truly in sight. Huzzah!

I mostly enjoy editing and rewriting as it’s a brilliant chance to make things better. I’m always grateful that I’m a novelist and not, say, a stand up comedian. With writing, you can work away at something for ages before going public and you get loads of chances to make it as good as possible.

Of course, the flip side is that no book ever really feels finished. If I didn’t have deadlines – either external ones or ones I set myself – I would truly never let go and just keeping on tinkering.

Having said that, I’m really looking forward to letting this one go, now. I’ve hit the ‘I’m sick of it’ stage and other shiny ideas are clamouring for my attention.

Next month, I’ll still be in rewrite mode as I’ve had the edit notes for a different book from my agent. It’s a bit of a departure, genre-wise (supernatural thriller-ish) and I am really excited about getting back to it.

I’m also planning to record the audio book of Stop Worrying Start Writing. Lots of you have asked me to narrate the book myself (thank you so much for the vote of confidence) so I’m going to give it a go. No promises, though… If I start and it’s a disaster, I will book a professional!

Listener Question:

This month’s question comes from Janine. She asks two questions and they are both excellent so I attempt to tackle them both.

Janine wrote:

I’m really struggling to find time to write. Specifically, I seem to cave whenever I have writing scheduled but people want me to spend time with them or do them a favour. I have a deadline in August and I’m terrified that I’m not going to meet it. I do feel guilty spending time on writing, which is probably why I cave so quickly. Any advice gratefully received!

Following on from the previous question, I’m considering booking myself into a hut for 3 nights in order to get some work done. Is this something you’ve had to do yourself? And is it something you’d recommend, or is it better to fit writing around life in 20-30 minute slots as I have been doing? Perhaps I’m worried that if I book it, I won’t have the stamina to write and edit all day!

An extract from my answer:

Guarding your writing time is a matter of training and every time you break your plan to write and cave in to other people’s needs, you are training everyone around you to believe that you are not serious about your writing and that it simply isn’t that important. Worse still, you are training yourself to believe the same.

 

If you’ve got a question you’d like answered, please email me or find me on Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Recommended:

If you are interested in what makes stories work, then I highly recommend Lani Diane Rich’s  How Story Works podcast series.

Lani is an alumnus of the podcast (listen to her interview: ‘Claim Your Awesome’) and is a bestselling and award-winning author of twelve romantic comedies. She has also been teaching story craft for years and is absolutely brilliant at explaining the concepts. A big turning point for me came when I took her novel revision course back before I was published. I was working on the book which became The Language of Spells and Lani gave me an encouraging critique of my opening chapter which gave me a much-needed boost, but she also managed to explain the three act structure in a way in which I could, finally, grasp it. I still use her techniques in my revision process and if she ever teaches that class again I definitely recommend it.

I also give a quick shout out to Annie Lyons (another brilliant podcast guest) who reviewed Stop Worrying; Start Writing with these amazing words:

If Stephen King is your writing godfather then Sarah Painter is the writer’s best friend – kind, honest and full of wisdom.

Stop Worrying; Start Writing is available now from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook and in paperback, too!

 

My guest next month is historical crime novelist M.J. Lee, also known as Martin Lee. We had a great chat about historical research, Martin’s writing process and views on writers block, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for listening!

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

 

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The Worried Writer Episode #27: Tracy Buchanan ‘Write A Novel That You Want To Read’

My guest today is Tracy Buchanan, author of The Atlas of Us, No Turning Back and the number one bestseller, My Sister’s Secret. My Sister’s Secret was one of the top ten bestselling books of 2015 and has been published in the US, Denmark, Italy, Hungary and Germany and My Weekly said it was ‘both heartbreaking and uplifting’.

We talk about the pressure of writing under contract, plotting using an Excel spreadsheet, Tracy’s writing routine and the opportunities for authors in this new publishing landscape.

For more on Tracy and her books, head to www.tracybuchanan.co.uk or find her on Twitter or Facebook.

In a quick intro (I’m very tired!), I give a happy and grateful update on the successful launch of Stop Worrying: Start Writing. It hit number one in the creativity chart and got to hang out with Stephen King in ‘authorship’. Meep!

I have also been bowled-over by the wonderful feedback and reviews (phew!). Here’s a small extract from one of the Amazon reviews:

‘The best book on writing and productivity I’ve read in years. Sarah tackles the fear we all feel when it comes to our writing in such an honest way that I was left feeling like here was someone who really understood…This book, was refreshing because it deals with the things most writers truly face, and more than that it really offers actionable steps to help see you through the other side.’

Dominique Valente, Amazon Reviewer

You can get Stop Worrying: Start Writing from all good retailers including Amazon UK, Amazon US, Kobo, iBooks or Barnes&Noble.

Next month, I’m planning a ‘just me’ episode so that I can give proper attention to some of the wonderful listener questions I have received.

If you have a writing (or publishing) question that you’d like me to tackle, please get in touch via email or Twitter.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

In the interview:

On Tracy’s writing process:

‘In the past I would just be very dreamy and just start writing it and let it lead me… but I have to be a lot more disciplined now.’

On writing the Atlas of Us:

‘It was a really cathartic, wonderful experience and it helped me with all the infertility stuff I was going through.’

On getting started:

‘Write a novel that you want to read.’

‘First drafts can be rubbish, just write and enjoy it.’

On her routine:

‘I need to get the boring stuff out of the way first… That usually takes a couple of hours and then I start writing.’

‘I don’t really have a daily word count. My aim is to write as much as I can as quickly as I can.’

‘I really find walking helps me unblock plot issues.’

‘I’m trying to do things like go to the cinema and see that as work or go to a museum to get inspiration, but I’m being really rubbish at that!’

Recommended:

FB groups

Absolute Write forum

Listening to podcasts like this one!

‘Listening to other writers and hearing what they are going through feels like a support network, it really helps because you don’t feel like such an alien and so weird.’

Writer’s retreats such as The Urban Writers’ Retreat

Thanks for listening!

If you can spare a few minutes to leave the show a review on iTunes that would be really helpful. Ratings raise the visibility of the podcast in iTunes and makes it more likely to be discovered by new listeners and included in the charts.

The Worried Writer on iTunes

[Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to rate a podcast on your device]

Also, if you have a question or a suggestion for the show – or just want to get in touch – I would love to hear from you! Email me or find me on Twitter or Facebook.

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Publication Day Contest for Stop Worrying; Start Writing!

Hooray! My first non-fiction book, Stop Worrying; Start Writing is finally out in the world!

It has had some wonderful reviews already (pause for big sigh of relief!):

‘I’m a huge fan of The Worried Writer podcasts so I’ve been really looking forward to this book. I read it in one sitting, and it was even greater than I expected! I’ll definitely be dipping into it again very soon. It’s full of honest, practical advice for writers, delivered with warmth and gentle humour. I found it wonderfully reassuring and empowering, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever struggled while facing a blank page, or at any other stage of writing a book.’

Amazon Customer Review

‘To me, it felt like Sarah was taking solely to me, voicing my own personal thoughts. It was a strong voice and not at all patronising. I made pages of notes as I was reading, and that’s what I feel should go alongside reading a book about writing, something to go back to after you’ve finished and to help you to move forward yourself.’

Sarah Thorogood, Amazon review

‘Inspiring, comforting, warm and wise. Both new writers and established authors will find something helpful here.’

Keris Stainton, YA author.

‘The best book on writing and productivity I have read in a long time. It tackles the fear and self-doubt we all feel when it comes to our writing in such an engagingly honest way, that there are times when I was laughing aloud because here was someone who truly understood. Written with such heart, Sarah, in her characteristically kind, and gentle way that listeners of The Worried Writer podcast have come to love and appreciate, offers solid, actionable advice that will inspire you to approach your writing with enthusiasm and renewed determination!’

Lily Graham, author The Cornish Escape and The Summer Escape

The ebook is available in all of the major retailers, including

Amazon UK, Amazon USKobo, Nook and iBooks, and it’s available in paperback, too:

UK Paperback

US Paperback

If you have read the book (thank you!) and would consider leaving a review online, it would be massively helpful. Reviews make a massive difference in the visibility and success of a new book!

LAUNCH DAY CONTEST!

So, I’ve put together a lovely bundle of stationery. It’s not just pretty, though, it is the perfect starter-set for some of the techniques set out in the book. Whether you want to track your word count, give yourself reward stickers, brainstorm story ideas, or plan your time, this collection will help you to get started.

It includes a very fine Leuchtturm hardcover notebook (with grid paper), cute washi tape and stickers, sticky notes, and my favourite pens for brainstorming, planning, and doodling – Stabilo fineliners.

I will also include a signed paperback copy of Stop Worrying; Start Writing in the package!

To enter, simply email: sarah (at) worriedwriter.com (or use the contact form) with the subject line ‘contest’ and, in the body of the email, the last word of the third chapter (‘Make Friends With Your Worries’).

I will pick three winners at random. First name out of the hat wins the bundle and the next two will each receive a signed paperback of Stop Worrying; Start Writing.

Good luck!

The contest is open worldwide and ends on Friday 21st April, 2017 at midnight (GMT).

 

 

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