The Writing Life

The Bulletproof Secret to Doing Anything Better

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Try. Measure. Improve. Then repeat as needed.

Every writer I’ve ever talked to always wants to achieve more.

(Even Hugh Howey.)

We all want to reach more readers, sell more books, write better stories, and so on.

All of us, writers or not, want to do more and do it better. The question is, how?

I’m no guru, but I believe the secret to improving anything in life is to keep trying new things. And then – this is crucial, this is where most people drop the ball – actually measure your results.

Write them down. Compare. See if they’re working. If something isn’t giving you the results you want, drop it and move on.

Every day, you have a million choices and opportunities headed your way. You can’t embrace them all. Which ones will you take on?

Never give up. Just keep trying new things and measuring the results. If something works, do more of it. If something doesn’t work, stop doing it and move on.

That’s pretty broad advice, but it works. Try it today.

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How to Make Writing Your Career: Word Cafe Interview with Yours Truly

Word Cafe author interview

Just for the record, the lace doilies were not my idea. Now you know.

Hey, this is cool. Join me over at Word Cafe for an interview where I reveal everything I know about:

• Building a full-time career around writing, as a novelist and a copywriter — and what a copywriter does, exactly.

• How my first book from a New York publisher actually started out as a short story — and how I grew it into a novel.

• The pros and cons of being a hybrid author (both traditionally published and self-published).

• What my fiction writing process looks like. (It’s both crazier and more straightforward than you might think).

• And, of course, my top piece of advice for writers.

Read the complete interview here. >

P.S. Also, I’m giving away a few autographed paperback books to my newsletter subscribers. Don’t miss out. Click here to subscribe to my author newsletter. >

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The Easiest Way to Organize Your Thoughts

Imagine if there was a way you could instantly spark new ideas, organize your thoughts and get more done every day.

As a writer, my brain is constantly loaded up with new ideas.

But I’ve found a way to quickly break down my thoughts, sort them out, and get organized, so that I can be productive. With a program called Scapple, I can think clearer, work faster and be more creative. Continue reading

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How to Tell Good Inspiration from Bad

Yes. You.

Yes. You.

The other day, I was fielding questions about my upcoming novel when the topic of inspiration came up.

How do you know when you’re inspired by a really good idea?

And more important, how do you tell a good inspiration from a bad one?

I had to think long and hard about the answer to that. Because it’s not what you think.

Continue reading

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Life Is a Filmstrip, Not a Snapshot

antique camera

Picture a snapshot of your future, and then you can find a way to get there.

We tend to think of life in moments, as if you snap a photo, and that’s your life.

Fixed, unchanging.

But it doesn’t work that way.

Life is more like a filmstrip. It’s constantly in motion. Wherever you are in life right now, next year will be different. It might be better. It might be worse.

More often than not, the difference depends on what you do today.

Five years from now, most people will be doing exactly the same thing they’re doing right now. Will you?

Or will you come up with a plan to make life better?

A plan doesn’t have to be complicated. You don’t have to have all of the answers right now. All you need to do is start thinking about what you want the snapshot of your life to look like five years from today.

Once you figure out where you want to go, then you can make a plan to get there.

Figure out what you need to build a bridge from today to tomorrow.

You might need training. You might need to enroll in a class or an apprenticeship program.

That’s where a lot of people get hung up. I’m too busy, they say. My schedule is packed. I don’t have time.

The truth? You do have time.

Like everyone on this planet, you have 24 hours a day, 168 hours per week, the same as everyone else. If you sleep eight hours a night, and work eight hours day, that still leaves you 56 hours a week for everything else.

Turn the television off. Spend half an hour a night reading a book. Books will change your life.

The average millionaire reads a nonfiction book every month.

Before I became a full-time writer five years ago, I read hundreds of books.

Not just how-to books about writing, but also all of the novels I could find to use as models for my own writing.

I started reading the Wall Street Journal and business magazines, too.

Take your time. Reread something if you have to. Understand it. Everything you read makes a difference.

Reading will make your life better.

Whatever you read today will give you knowledge that you didn’t have yesterday. And that will help you plan tomorrow.

Changing your life doesn’t happen quickly. It takes time.

Success is a process of getting better.

Changing your life isn’t just one thing, but a series of things.

It’s not easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

The difference depends on what you do today. Picture that snapshot of your future. And start planning a way to get there.

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