Overcoming Writing Road Blocks

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Don’t you hate road blocks?

Whether or not you’re attending the free call on book writing tomorrow, you’re probably struggling with some sort of writing obstacle. I won’t use the term “writer’s block” because I don’t think it’s a legitimate malady. In fact, I’m of the opinion that most writing obstacles are self-inflicted. We are a people prone to making excuses; why should writing be any different?

Yet I’d bet when the deadline is looming and the check is imminent, you find a way. We all do. That tells me that we create our own personal speed bumps, brick walls, black holes, which is where our creative writing gets delayed or forgotten.

Time to change that. Here are a few ways to overcome your own personal writing obstacles:

Give yourself a deadline. Either choose a contest you’d like to enter that has an actual deadline, or set a pretend deadline for yourself. “I will write 50,000 words by January 15th”, for example. Just make sure when you set such deadlines, you do so in public — be accountable to someone for that goal. You’ll be amazed at how much better you adhere to your own goals when someone is watching.

Schedule your writing. Can’t give that book manuscript more than 30 minutes a day? Then write it down, put it on your Outlook or Lotus Notes calendar, and time yourself. Thirty minutes with no interruptions, breaks, or other work getting in the way can be quite productive. It’s your own mini-deadline. That in itself may motivate you.

Insert a “what the hell” moment. If you think you’re stuck on plot or character, give yourself permission to just write without worrying about keeping it, as in “What the hell, let’s just try this…” Expect it to be bad. Expect to revise it. Expect it not to go anywhere. Use it as a means to move ahead.

Stop looking back. One of my worst habits was getting stuck in the first few chapters. I would always look back, edit, overthink it, or give up because it wasn’t going anywhere. Instead, press ahead.

Don’t get lost in the dream. Show of hands; how many of you start that novel with its success already burned into your mind? That’s a great way to hurry the process to the point where you can’t possibly see the finish line for all the fanfare of your first author’s event (still all in your mind). How can you possibly live up to that fame when you get stuck on details somewhere in chapter seven? Focus on today, and on the story.

Have patience. I remember a friend saying to me she couldn’t be bothered to finish her book. “It’ll take me two years after it’s written to get it published!” And yet here we are, five years later, and she’s still struggling to finish the book. Don’t let time and distance dissuade you. Instead, work on it passionately and forget about where it’s going or where it isn’t.

What are your obstacles? How have you overcome them? Which ones still haunt you?

6 Ways to Increase Writing Client Contact

call_buttonOn a recent client visit, I realized just how long it had been since I’d first contacted him. Nearly a year later, I was sitting in his office downtown getting my first writing assignment. There are a few reasons why I don’t enjoy client meetings, but in some cases, those meetings are essential to getting the job. In this case, it cemented a relationship that was halting and indirect up to that point. I left an impression with him, and he left an impression with me. We’re now partners in his business communication pursuits.

It’s that added point of contact that did it. That’s not to say all face-to-face meetings will go so well. I’ve had many that were complete wastes of time, to the point where I do hesitate before spending time and money traveling to client locations. But when a client prefaces the conversation with a list of projects he’d like to talk with you about, it’s a no-brainer.

Alas, not all clients live next door.

Still, there are ways in which writers can reach out to clients and leave a more lasting impression. Here are a few:

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You Owe It To Yourself & Your Writing Clients To Be Backed Up

dead computerLast week I suddenly wasn’t able to send email. My host fixed the problem when I called but I was never sure exactly when it happened or what emails didn’t actually go out.

This morning I got word from a client that four of the 13 articles I’d written for them had not been received – more than a bit embarrassing since I’d already been paid.

Sighing, I went first to my sent mail and found two of the articles attached to email to the client. I simply resent those, suspecting they had gotten caught when my email was down.

One of the other emails I’d obviously sent without attaching the article, (yes, not attaching happens to everyone) and the fourth title was mysteriously missing.

I asked my computer to find the two missing articles I knew I had written with no results – I even tweaked the titles, but got nothing. Then I remembered with this client I actually save the articles to my desktop and when payment arrives delete them. Did I mention I’d had only about a quarter of a cup of coffee at this point?

Automatic off-site backup to the resuce

With the next gulp of my home-made cappuccino, I remembered that I have Carbonite (that’s an affiliate link). I found it in my system tray, clicked on it, entered partial file names one at a time since I’ve never used the restore function, clicked restore and voila, my files were restored to me and the program even told me where to find them. In short order both were off to the client with apologies. Total time from an almost panic reading the email to sending the final missing one – 20 minutes, and if after not finding the two missing ones and gone right to Carbonite, it would have been more like 10.free content for writers

Leo Laporte, aka The Tech Guy whose radio show I’ve listened too off and on for years says if you’re not backed up off site you’re not backed up. He promotes Carbonite which is how I found it, but there are other offsite backup solutions. Even free ones – Gizmos offers a guide to them that is fairly techy but usable.

We need offsite backup in case the tornado, earthquake, theft of the computer – whatever destroys whatever backup system we have at home. With a good offsite backup system you can access your files from anywhere from any computer.

Backup simply has to be automatic

LaPorte also makes the point that your backup needs to be automatic. It needs to happen without any help from me, and Carbonite does that. The first time I loaded it it took over night to copy everything, but it never interrupted my work once. Ever since the only thing I’ve had to do is pay the $60 every year – and I know whatever I need is there when I need it. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I’ve failed to back up even thought I truly know better. Automatic backup is just what I need and you need it too.

I don’t care how good you are about backing up your computer on a regular basis – if you’re not doing it daily, and even multiple times a day as the best of the auto backup programs will do, you’re not really backed up.

If you can afford it, buy an auto-backup that’s got an excellent reputation which gives you support. It’s tax deductible and this isn’t a place to be cheap. If you must use a free one, make sure it does what you want and is encrypted.

However you do it, make sure you’ve get backed up automatically offsite.

How are you backed up?

Write well and often,

Anne Wayman

Avoiding Writing Client Guilt

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver a cup of Starbucks this morning, my writer friend and I were talking about some of the strange ways clients try to get their way with us.Yes, they do have some control over the project — after all, it is their project.  However, some clients use some pretty bizarre methods to avoid payment, insert control, or just vent frustrations. Between my friend and me, we landed on the most commonly used tactic of all — guilt.

Most often used to avoid payment, guilt is one powerful little weapon. Why? Because it works. We writers are a bit of a skittish lot sometimes, and some of the more unsavory clients can smell the hesitation. But there’s a better way.

Here are a few ways in which writers can avoid client guilt and overcome it when it happens:

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