Tuesday, August 15, 2017

10 Procrastination Beaters

Sandy Wright (Song of the Ancients) one of my writing partners, wore a tee-shirt to our weekly writing meeting. I immediately coveted it. Now, as a disclaimer, I finally have the other commandments under control. Stealing? Check. Killing? Check (well, except in my murder mysteries). Adultery? Check. But covet . . . I struggle with covet. Sigh.

Anyway, her shirt read: “Author: Putting the PRO in Procrastination since . . . I don’t know, I’ll look it up later.”  Too funny. You can see why I coveted it.

A quick Internet search turned up some other clever procrastination sayings:
I’m taking care of my procrastination issues . . . just you wait and see.
Procrastination: Working tomorrow for a better today
Procrastinators Unite . . . Tomorrow
I procrastinate and that’s okay because I’m 10 times less likely to become a serial killer.
I got so much procrastination done today.

And so on. Very funny stuff. Unless, um, you’re one of “them.”

You know what I mean. Now, of course, all of us uh, put off “stuff”. Occasionally, that is. All of us, at some point, find junk-drawer-cleaning more engaging than a blank page.

You’re not who I am addressing today. I’m talking to the professional procrastinator. The owner of The Big P. The one who would rather start a fourth blog (Who, me?) than edit pages for submission to an editor.

Yeah, you! (and me)

So what is the best thinking about how to beat back the procrastinator bug? Try out some of these ideas and see if they help.

First, you should examine why you are procrastinating. Some authors suffer from “fear of success”. “What if my book is good and then I can’t write another. I’d be a one-book wonder.”

Others suffer from “fear of failure”. “I’m a fraud. What makes me think I can do this? I’m just no good.” In both cases, in the author’s mind, finishing the book is NOT an option, so the author finds myriad reasons to delay the work.

Some authors delay a task because they don’t want to work that hard. They are facing 300 pages of revisions and edits and they know they will be difficult. The author has spotted numerous troublesome areas that have to be fixed. Will the book need to be re-written in various places? Will 50K words have to be eliminated?

Some authors (and this is my main issue, I believe) are just not very good finishers. They love new beginnings. The next bright and sparkly book idea attracts long before the current opus is done. They want to move on and feel the thrill of discovery in the new project.

Whatever your reason for procrastinating, as Cherry Adair puts it, “Finish the damn book.” You have to wrestle procrastination to the floor or deliver the knockout punch to it. Writing a book means you have a complete story, and that you not only prettied it up (with edits) but that you revised it until it’s as good as it’s gonna get.

Here are 10 suggestions. I’ll bet one or more will work for you.

1)   Stop thinking about the task and get started. Too much thinking hinders. Set a time to start. Just getting started creates positive energy. Worry creates negative energy.
2)   Make a list of the steps needed to finish the task and post them in your work area. When you do the first one, cross it off and give yourself a treat (like checking email).
3)   Set a timer and work on your dreaded task for 15 minutes (30? 45? You decide).
4)   Do the hardest thing first. The rest will not be so difficult to gear up for.
5)   Make a list of what NOT finishing will mean. Don’t do the pros. Only the cons.
6)   Blab to the world that you’re going to finish The Great American Novel by November 1st so you can do NaNoWriMo. Ask friends to hold you accountable.
7)   Find the place in your environment where you are most productive. Make it more so by not allowing in distractions (Internet, phone messaging, etc.) until a goal is met (# of pages, # of minutes, particular task).
8)   Visualize before going to sleep each night what finishing will look like and feel like. You create a mindset for success at your most vulnerable time—right before sleep.
9)   Confront your fear. What is holding you back from completing the task? Sit your issue down and face it down. Tell your issue you’re not going to be hostage any longer.
10)  DECIDE to stop procrastinating. Yes. Decide. It was a decision you made to avoid the task (even if subconsciously), so consciously decide to stop.

Bloggers love it when others share their posts. If you found this helpful, would you spread the word on your social media outlets? Here are some copy/paste messages.

Facebook: Writers, do you own The Big P? We’re talking PROCRASTINATION. Sharon Arthur Moore has a listicle post about causes and what you can do about your Big P issue. Read 10 Procrastination Beaters to see if it helps. http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp

Twitter: #Writers, does The Big P (Procrastination) hold you captive? @good2tweat ids causes and 10 solutions http://bit.ly/2vwwSWp

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Building Your Writing Platform-How Much is Enough?

  Okay. I admit it. I’m out of control. I started my fourth blog. Whaaat???

I hear you saying, “Sharon, you are not a model for other bloggers on keeping up with the three (whaaat???) blogs you already had. So, what’s the deal?”

The thing is, I’m insecure. Nobody knows me. Nobody reads my books. Nobody . . . You got the idea. So how do I combat the insecurities as I do battle to convince myself I’m a professional writer? Yep. I write more. Not on my novels, of course. I write tweets for my four accounts, I blog on my four accounts, I post on my five Facebook pages, and try to periodically update my website. And ask me to guest post for you, and I’m there.

All of this, okay, sure, I know it . . . all of this is the illusion of a platform. My attempt to point a dozen fingers at myself so that people will find me, notice me, read me. But if people don’t see the hands on which the fingers reside, they never see them pointing.

Ah, the conundrum. No hands with fingers pointing? Then how do people find you? Hands with fingers pointing, but, still, how do people find you?

Platforms are the stuff of conference sessions, on-line classes, and dozens of books. All part of your marketing plan, right? I was pretty green about the jargon of the writing field when I first began to professionalize my writing. In my first writing conference, I saw a session about “developing your author platform.”

Platform, I remember wondering? Platform shoes? Train platform? I was bumfoozled. What in the heck is platform in relation to writing. It sounds silly now, I know, but I honestly didn’t get it.

At the session, I learned that an author’s platform is simply about increasing your visibility and name recognition. That’s it. The corollary being that visibility/name recognition translates to book sales. Okay. I got it. McDonald’s has huge visibility and name recognition. Starving? Get a Big Mac.

But are people “starving” for the kind of books I write? And where Ronald McDonald has maybe a dozen others vying for that burger sale, I am in a sea with millions of authors, thousands of whom write culinary mysteries. One fish in a large sea. How would anyone cast a hook my direction?

Supposedly, the theory goes, I become a household name because I offer substantive content on my Twitter, Facebook, blog, and website accounts. And because I offer substantive content, I will be “discovered”. Oh, and I must write great books, too.

Discovery hasn’t happened yet. And I know I’m not the only author to be wondering what else I can do. So I started another blog. Maybe this one will be the straw that turned to gold (instead of breaking my back). 

Oh, FYI. Whereas, STREETWALKER is still on Amazon, MISSION IMPASTABLE isn’t available right now while I change publishers. One more impediment.

Want to read more? Check out this article
Article from Writer Unboxed on Writer Platforms:

Please point a finger at me! Tweet or post on Facebook to get people to read this article. Here’re a couple to copy/paste. Thank you!

Twitter: What #writing platforms are supposed to do and how much is enough. Read @good2tweat’s post http://bit.ly/2vkbQdx

Facebook: Authors, do you ever wonder how much is enough for your writing platform? Does your platform translate to sales? See what Sharon Arthur Moore thinks. http://bit.ly/2vkbQdx

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Essentials of Revision

-->I was on a panel at the most recent Public Safety Writers Association Conference. Our moderator for “The Essentials of Revision” was Austin S. Camacho, thriller writer and editorial director at Intrigue Publishing. On the panel with me were Lori Rader-Day, George Cramer, and Jim Guigli.

As is usual, we were given questions in advance so we could prepare a bit. One of the questions was about my revision process. I shared this picture of a word cloud I made for free at the website www.worditout.com.

This is the first chapter of Slipping into the Future, a women’s fiction novel I’m writing. The size of the word indicates frequency of appearance in the text. When I look at the word cloud, before editing, I see that my main character, her father, and her brothers’ names appear a lot. That’s good. I also see some words I need to edit out: just, like, about, back, and many more are bigger than they should be. Search and change or delete. Easy.

 The audience didn’t know about doing word clouds so I felt I contributed something to the discussion. I also distributed a handout with some tried-and-true and (maybe) new-to-you techniques. People like stuff for later reference. Here is most of the handout.

Tried-and-True Revision Tips
Focus first on plot structure, point of view, and pacing, followed 
by characterization and dialogue.
Read aloud to hear your pacing and dialogue.
Search for your killer words (really, just, actually, was/were, etc.).
Don’t work in isolation—have a writing group or buddy to read your work.
Put it aside to “percolate” and to get distance after completing 1st draft.
As you read, list what needs to change, but keep reading! Fix later.
Circle passive voice verbs and replace with strong verbs.
Do the hardest first, whatever that is for you.
Reward yourself for meeting a revision goal (e.g., deleting clichés, 
revise 50 pages, etc.).

Maybe New-to-You Revision Tips
Change the font and print out the manuscript. You’ll read closer.
Read your draft three times and make changes each time.
Compare scenes to a template: who, where, when, what, and why.
Does each scene end with a hook? Does each chapter end with a hook?
Make a word cloud to see which words you used most. I use worditout.com
Select “the” for a word search. Often, “the” is unnecessary.
Edit chapter by chapter from the end to avoid flow and missing things.

Now. Don’t you feel as if you were there? Nah. Not really. You missed all the humor stuff. Join me next year at PSWA Here’s the link to where you can sign up when they put up the new registration materials.

Do you know others who would like to read this post? If so, please post on social media. I’ve included a Facebook message as well as a tweet you can copy and paste. Thanks for you help.

Facebook: Do you struggle with making novel revisions? Maybe these ideas by Sharon Arthur Moore-Author will help. Especially check out word clouds. So cool! http://bit.ly/2unHUOT

Twitter: Novel #Revision can be more fun with #wordclouds. See @good2tweat’s revision ideas and how to do word clouds at http://bit.ly/2unHUOT