Writing on, and about, an island

Archive for the ‘Career’ Category

Kickstarter for Authors

In Books, Career, Writing on March 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

Most of you’ve probably heard of Kickstarter, the crowd-funding site that’s claiming it’ll deliver more money to artists in the US than the Government contributes.

Now, here’s a version just for authors. What do you think? If nothing else, it makes you think about what the time you spend on publishing your book is actually worth in real dollars…

Why Keeping a Notebook by Your Bed Can Change Your Life

In Books, Career, Tasmania, Writing on March 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Following on neatly from my post on my midnight light-bulb moment, this article by award-winning Tasmanian author Rohan Wilson – “Winning the Vogel Can Change Your Life” – illustrates beautifully how, no matter what time inspiration strikes, you should heed it.

I’ve interviewed Rohan, and his success couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. He’s also a very talented writer – but there’s no doubt in my mind that he’s made his own luck.

 

For Success, Let Your Ideas Sleep – and…

In Books, Career, Writing on March 26, 2012 at 10:04 am

I’ll get to the and in a minute.

Last night, after an inspiring weekend away at my East Coast shack, I had the kind of light-bulb moment that creative people dream of. Around midnight, – seemingly out of the blue – I sat up in bed and thought, Oh My God – I have to do this! There was no sleeping for me last night…

The idea in question will deliver me many of the things I want for the future – it’s sustainable, creative and profitable. And it’s so blindingly simple and elegant – as all best ideas are – that I could cry or laugh.

Interestingly, it’s an idea I had about 10 years ago, in my mid-twenties. I had, until last night, consciously forgotten about it.

Ten years ago, I’d recognised the idea as the bloody good one it was; I’d looked at it from every angle I could think of, trying to see how I could turn it into reality.

Unfortunately, as good as the idea was, I simply couldn’t see how I could let it be the best it could be in the mediums available to me. If you have to force something, then it’s probably not the right idea or the right time. So, I let my idea go (if you love something, and all that…). It’s a similar concept to knowing when to ‘kill your darlings’.

Except I obviously didn’t kill this one. I just buried it for a while.

My sub-conscious hung on to it until last night, when – presumably after a bunch of obscure triggers and letting my mind do its wandering/wondering – it came back to me in full force. And, this time, the production of it is not only perfectly possible – it’s perfect.

The landscape for writers and publishers is so vastly different now, and that is the crucial factor in the viability of my idea.

I’m so excited about this idea that it’s taking all my willpower not to drop everything else to get onto it. I’ve committed to self-publishing my novel, however, so the idea will have to wait a month or so (funnily enough, the plot for my crime novel has been a sleeper, too – it’s taken 5 years of germinating to come into bloom).

So, sometimes, for success, you need to let go of an idea that’s not working at that moment in time. Let it sleep for a bit.

And the and…?

Well. It’s simple:

Keep your mind forever open.

Checklist for Self-Publishing an eBook #2

In Books, Career, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on March 14, 2012 at 11:16 am

Since my previous post on this, there have been developments on the to-do front…

February

  • Complete editing of book GOD, NO… moved to March
  • Book design – internals, cover, epub compatibility CLOSE; rolled over to March
  • ISBNs x 2 (one for hard copy, one for online) DONE
  • Buy WordPress publishing template DONE (Templatic’s Publisher theme)

March

  • Complete editing
  • Complete book design
  • Create my author site* – including ‘store’ function**
  • Make a promo video

14 April

  • Launch author site (including video and free first chapter)
  • Email press release/teaser/video to book-publishing and media colleagues, plus to Titanic interest group and forums (the Titanic being a major plot device) – 15 April is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship, so I don’t want to miss that marketing boat…

Mid-May

LAUNCH!

Later…

Publish hard copy

*I’m going to have to bite the bullet on what name I go by as a fiction writer, as it’ll be my site URL. As I’m published in mainstream press under my real name, do I ‘liberate’ myself with a pen name (and, as Richard Curtis writes, possibly Perish by the Pen Name in the process), or do I have the guts/ego to be myself? My real name has traction already in publishing circles, so that’s probably the sensible, strategic way to go… Hmm.

**After a meeting with my web designer, he’s advised me against going down the path of the Templatic Publisher theme (while lovely, it’s too complicated as it turns out). He’s recommended customising a WordPress site that then redirects to a BigCartel ‘bookshop’, where the transactions will be handled fuss-free by the Pulley app (both ebooks and traditional books). At the moment, we’re looking at 1A3 Template for WordPress – but it’ll depend on how well my author logo (which includes a signature), masthead, style sheet (colours, fonts etc) fit into it. It looks pretty lean, but as it’s designed for writers, it can be beautifully customsied, and it suits the spare look I’m going for (to match my writing).

The Pros (and Cons) in Being Your Own Book Publisher

In Books, Career, Crime & Mystery Writer, Writing on March 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

If you’re interested in publishing your own books – and avoiding the middle man – I’d recommend a read of indie author Susan Kiernan-Lewis’ blog. Her latest post on being savvy about the pitfalls of self-publishing is a good one. I enjoy her straight-talking style (she works in advertising, as I do) and the new angle she puts on the business of being an author, and the fact that she’s both pragmatic and passionate about pursuing her book-publishing dream.

Monday Morning Inspiration for Creatives

In Career, Writing on March 5, 2012 at 9:44 am

How to find your purpose and do what you love? This Brain Pickings post has some pointers… Not least, of course, the Holstee Manifesto.

Where Writers Write

In Books, Career, Island Life, Tasmania, Writing on March 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

I’m very interested in the daily schedules of writers. I’m very interested in the routine within writers’ mornings. And I’m VERY interested in where writers write. The below image is of super-successful Tasmanian writer Katherine Scholes‘ writing desk and view. I know Katherine through my family, and she lives in a beautiful boat-like house on the edge of the beach in the same beautiful seaside suburb as me (her view’s a little better than mine). Her career and approach to writing always inspires me to keep going…

Image: from author Fiona Palmer‘s site.

The Portable Career

In Career, Writing on February 29, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I plan to go into more detail about my concept of the ‘Portable Career’ at a later stage; for now, I’d like to touch on the two things that make the Portable Career something to aspire to. With a Portable Career…

  1. You can work anyhow, anywhere, anytime (a bit like The Goodies!)
  2. You can change your medium to suit your message

What is a Portable Career?

It’s my term for working with total independence and flexibility – not only in location, but in the medium. In the 21st Century, it’s what everyone should be considering – to create less dependence on external forces beyond your control (hello, GFC 2.0).

“It’s not the strongest who survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most adaptable to change.”            (Charles Darwin)

A Portable Career is about adaptability, it’s about freedom of time and space, and freedom to flow from one way of expressing your message to another, according to the situation.

Work anyhow, anywhere, anytime

This is the obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career. More than any other time in history, we have the ability – thanks to the internet – to make the conscious choice to work when, and where, we want. It goes beyond the conventional concept of ‘freelance’ – which still imposes financial/corporate system restrictions on the individual – and enters the realm of ‘whatever you can imagine, you can create’.

For me, a Portable Career is one that’s inherently based not on fixed products/services – ie tangible objects that are vulnerable to external forces – but on unfixed products/services – ie intangible objects that can fluidly adapt to the marketplace.

So, for example, selling online products (such as ebooks) or services (such as webinars) in a sustainable way from a no-fixed-address to an infinite audience is far preferable to sitting behind a desk, doing the 9-5, selling your skills to someone else and having a cap on your earnings and influence.

Change your medium to suit your message

This is the less obvious definition and benefit of a Portable Career, but it is the most profound one.

I change jobs and job titles often, and I have an ever-expanding eclectic set of skills, experiences and interests. I have struggled my whole career with the concept of job titles, struggled to pin down what it is that I ‘am’, and what it is that I ‘do’ – because everyone else expected me to do so. Not only have I failed to define my career in simplistic terms, so have others (I get introduced as some pretty weird things at parties!).

At times, I’ve felt on a different planet to friends and colleagues who all seem to have a chosen career path. I was alternately jealous of their certainly, and smug about my ability to be a chameleon. I’ve felt unfocused, and had a niggling sense of dissatisfaction that I couldn’t put my finger on, no matter how successful I was.

But two things happened to change that.

First, I realised I was a Scanner. Second, I read something that prompted this gob-smackingly simple, yet awe-inspiring thought:

You are not defined by the medium you work with; you are defined by the message that matters to you.

Wow. So – and without wanting to sound too self-helpy – this translated into “I should stop trying to define myself a ‘writer’ or whatever. Instead, I can view writing as simply one of the many mediums I use to communicate my message.”

By liberating yourself from conventional, restrictive and outdated job titles, and allowing yourself to change your medium to suit your message, a whole new way or working opens up. It is, I guess, the ‘intellectually portable’ approach.

So, what’s your message?
Your message = is your life purpose.

Once you’ve worked out what your message is – and make that the foundation of everything you do – you are free to change the medium as much as you like.

Time spent thinking about your life purpose is a priceless investment. I recommend Steve Pavlina’s famed method of defining your true life purpose. According to him, you’ll know when you’ve worked it out, because it’ll make you cry… This is what I got halted at, at attempt #75…

To treasure my unique voice, to tell the truth in the face of non-truths, to create with courage, to live with freedom, to love my children and to leave something for them to be proud of once I’m gone.

How do you put a Portable Career into practice?

A Portable Career means thinking laterally about my skills, talents and experiences. I do not restrict myself by conventional and accepted career paths or choices; just because I write, doesn’t mean I’m locked into being ‘A Writer’ ­– I can choose to be an entrepreneur, for example, with writing being just one channel. It’s big-picture thinking.

Now, rather than being a writer, or a journalist, or a stylist or a magazine director or a [insert job title here], I consider my self to be working to express my message, through whatever medium is appropriate. My message informs my decision on what jobs I take on (or not), how I relate to clients and what way of working I am ultimately aiming for. If you always keep your message in mind, everything flows much easier. There’s no forcing something that’s not meant to be.

It’s amazing how much focus that gives you.

Writing a Novel While Working Full-Time

In Books, Career, Crime & Mystery Writer, Freelance, Writing on February 23, 2012 at 12:07 pm

I wrote my crime novel during the Tasmanian winter of 2011. I wrote it while working full-time in advertising and running a successful freelance business, and managing a high-energy home life…

I have always gotten more done when I am at my busiest. To write a novel in 3 months, I wrote 1000+ words a day.

What I know now, about writing a novel while working full-time, is that you must let go of two preconceived (and false) writing concepts…

1. There is a perfect place for writing

Nope: there is no such thing.

If you wait for the perfect place to write, it won’t ever happen. I’ve fallen into this trap before. When I was younger and single and uncommitted, I wanted the cliched writer’s desk, study and all the trappings that go with it. Now that my life is – and looks like it will always be – perpetually chaotic and crazy, I know better.

Now, all I absolutely require is an uncluttered work area.

Generally, I work on my laptop in our study – or while sitting on my bed. Or on the couch. Or the kitchen table. For easy transportation, I also pasted my entire novel (in A4 sheets) into a scrapbook, which I’d take out into the park at lunchtime to work on. I’d also work on it while on the bus to and from work.

Occasionally, when I have been granted precious solo time, I have worked at my shack on Bruny Island. I don’t necessarily get lots more done there, but I’m grateful for the inspirational environment and the chance to totally immerse myself in my book.

2. There is a perfect time for writing

Nope: there is no such thing.

Writing is like anything else in life – you either choose to make it a priority, or you don’t. Simple.

When you work full-time and have a family, life is a non-stop juggling act. It’s easy to put yourself and your writing dreams last. I know this only too well.

But, if you passively wait for the perfect time to ‘be a writer’, something else is guaranteed to sabotage your intent.

So, then – and now – I have had to make choices:

Do I relax during my weekday lunch hours… or do I work on my book?

Do I lie in on weekends… or do I work on my book?

Do I watch something on TV… or do I work on my book?

Do I read a magazine on the bus to work… or do I work on my book?

You get the picture.

There is no magic formula

Writing a novel while managing the demands of a career and a family comes down to discipline, drive and lots of little decisions (that really add up).

Even when I didn’t feel like writing, I would still do it.

Even now, I have to work hard to continue to make writing a priority. It is somewhat exhausting. But I have committed to giving my writing the respect it deserves. And I keep my eye on the prize.

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