*Fair Warning: this is a long post. So get comfortable… 🙂 Feel free to skip to the end to read my personal thoughts. Please feel free to let me know – in the comments – how you “plan your day” if you do and what your favourite planner/planning system is. Thank you for reading.*
This year I have been focused on productivity and productivity habits/methods/systems/tools. One of the reasons I have been so focused on productivity is because I have been fighting a personal battle of being well enough to be productive. I have also had to learn to be kinder to myself. I am my own worst critic at the best of times but in the times when my own body is the enemy to my productivity, I am usually even worse at criticising myself.
As I have shared on here, a few months ago, I am a Migraineur and I live with Chronic Migraine on a daily basis. The last year has been particular difficult and trying as my Chronic Migraines went from bad to severe, from 10 a month to about 20 – 25 a month now. I have had to accept that on the bad days I can’t get writing done and beating myself up mentally about this does not get me anywhere and just ends up creating more stress for me. And one thing Chronic Migraine does not like is Stress. But I am determined that this Migraine will not steal more of my life and creativity than it already does. So I have been researching and trialling many different productivity methods/tools in order to turn my chaotic into calm.
The concept of “Yo no Bi” (Japanese)
~ transl. Beauty Through Use ~
I recently shared a post about returning to the world of planning Filofax-style in my new Kikki K. I also shared the fantastic Day Designer undated template I found for planning out my day. But after a few months of using this system, I was feeling underwhelmed and under-motivated. (*I meant to use “under-motivated specifically instead of unmotivated. The motivation was there but the system underwhelmed me.*)
There was nothing glaringly wrong with the system but I knew something was missing. There was too much “plan” and not enough “usability”. I ended up feeling more frustrated and restricted than calmer and more organised. My planner system was simply not the right plan for me personally.
As much as I love my digital tools, I knew that ultimately I love unplugging and using paper and pen. For the last year I have also been getting back into the world of fountain pens and beautiful paper. (A whole other rabbit hole to fall down into.) I made a pros and cons list about what I wanted vs what I needed in the “perfect planner”. This was my list:
My “Perfect Planner” Wish List
Must be pen and paper.
Preferably fountain pen friendly.
Minimum A5 in size and fairly portable.
Enough sections to be able to fit in everything from deadline dates, a chronodex, appointments, tasks to do and a “clean and simple” space for writing – working through story ideas, character development, and a brain dump.
A system with enough structure to make my perfectionist-me happy and enough adaptability to make my creative-me happy.
A system contained within itself, something that can be taken with me on the go and be usable anywhere and everywhere whether at my desk, at a cafe, on a plane/bus/train or while travelling.
Simplicity not complication.
Beautiful function. Functional beauty.
Something both aesetically beautiful in design but fully functional and practical in usability.
Once I knew what I truly wanted and needed, I knew what to go looking for. As a stationery addict I could spend a lot of money on many products that would match all my needs and wants. But the key to me in this instance is that I don’t need more stationery for the sake of feeding my love for stationery. I needed a productivity system that would allow me to feel more organised.
I have finally found the system that works for me. I have finally found the Zen in my “Almost-Every-Day”… find out more…
I am allergic to lists but love organisation. I am one of those people who cannot write if my desk or surroundings are cluttered.
For the longest time I have been looking for a project planner that has nothing to do with lists. This month I finally found it:
Productivity Tool #1.
What is it?
Droptask is the visual project/task manager for the person who is allergic to list-making. I am a very visual person. I have always written down notes in a mind-map as opposed to paragraphs of text. I like shapes and colours.
Droptask fulfills all of these wants for me.
Above is a trilogy of screenshots about my current WIP.
Droptask comes as a basic free app or the advanced pro option. Although the free option is perfectly suited to project management, I have opted for the pro option for its advanced features.
The best two features about the pro option is the ability to create unlimited sub tasks and task dependencies. For me a project, in this case a manuscript, is not just one whole concept but a whole sum of smaller parts. This is where the ability to have unlimited subtasks and task dependencies comes in.
Droptask broken down
Main project: The Tattooist
Group: Complete Rewrite
Tasks: 95k Rewrite*
Tasks: Broken down in 5k increments (5k – 95k)**
Task Dependencies: 10k needs to be completed before 15k can be done, 15k needs to be completed before 20k can be done.
*95k Run through final edit
**2.5k per day
Other groups related to same project:
@Home / @Office / @Computer / @Errands / @WaitingFor / @Email / @Calls / @Submissions
Research / Fact-Check / Editing
When you date a task, Droptask emails you the current deadline (today) + the next deadline (tomorrow) plus the final deadline date. A great little prompt every morning to get me focused on what needs to be done.
Extra added bonus
You can have more than one person working on a project.
Droptask (basic subscription): You can have one extra person per project (limit of 5 projects).
Droptask (pro option) you can have unlimited extra people per unlimited projects.
So in this way I have one screen for everything related to my current WIP.
Droptask is THE project manager for the person who hates lists but loves getting things done.
What is your favourite task manager? How do you tick off tasks? Pen and paper? Lists? Apps?
“Life is busy. Time doesn’t stop. Distractions abound. We all have the same 24 hours in a day that never seem enough. Catching up is today’s middle name.”
Well all of these are relatable to me or rather were relatable to me. But this year I have decided that I need to “get my shit together” and “get shit done” by organising myself with a time-management system that works for me.
Years ago, in the late 90s and early 2000s, I swore by my Filofax. I carried this little magical folder around with me for both work and pleasure. This was in the time before smart phones, tablets and light laptops and Facebook. This little leather hold-all (file of facts stuff to do/keep/remember/store) was the perfect organiser for me.
If I needed to remember something I would write it down in here. If I needed to update a friend’s new contact details and store their birthday date, I would write it down in here. If I needed to keep an appointment schedule, I would write it down in here. If I needed to manage a deadline on a specific project/task, I would write it down in here. If I needed to write notes down, I would write them down in here.
But then the digital world bloomed and suddenly I had access to first software then apps on everything from smartphones to tablets to transfer my Filofax into. Eventually I stopped keeping a physical Filofax, I stopped keeping an address/birthdays book and I moved everything online. But now with the plethora of digital task management, schedule management and time planning tools available I got stuck with too many tools and not one compact system.
Last year I tried to go back to my Filofax days but found that the standard Filofax method just would not do it for me anymore.
I realised that it wasn’t the tools – digital or Filofax – that was the problem but that my system of organisation had failed me.
Now don’t get me wrong I can spend hours trialling the perfect productivity app, searching for productivity hacks and collecting beautiful paper notebooks. But GTD is not about what tools you use, whether you’re modern-digital or old-school-paper but rather it is simply a very simple, achievable, measurable system to Get Things Done and out of the way before Getting The Next Things Done.
Mind like Water
Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend. – Bruce Lee
In karate, there is an image that’s used to define the position of perfect readiness: “mind like water.” Imagine throwing a pebble into a still pond. How does the water respond? The answer is, totally appropriately to the force and mass of the input; then it returns to calm. It doesn’t overreact or underreact.
The power in a karate punch comes from speed, not muscle; it comes from a focused “pop” at the end of the whip. It’s why petite people can learn to break boards and bricks with their hands: it doesn’t take calluses or brute strength, just the ability to generate a focused thrust with speed. But a tense muscle is a slow one. So the high levels of training in the martial arts teach and demand balance and relaxation as much as anything else. Clearing the mind and being flexible are key.
Anything that causes you to overreact or underreact can control you, and often does. Responding inappropriately to your email, your staff, your projects, your unread magazines, your thoughts about what you need to do, your children, or your boss will lead to less effective results than you’d like. Most people give either more or less attention to things than they deserve, simply because they don’t operate with a “mind like water.” – David Allen Excerpted via Getting Things Done (The Book)
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them. That’s why David Allen created Getting Things Done®. GTD is the work-life management system that has helped countless individuals and organizations bring order to chaos with stress-free productivity.” Excerpted via David Allen’s Getting Things Done website.
Something zinged in me and I knew I had found my perfect productivity hack. Best of all it works.
GTD : From Chaos to Zen
GTD is about breaking up your day/project/schedule into tasks vs next tasks, actionable tasks vs someday tasks. It is about realising your brain works better at focusing once it is decluttered. Instead of cluttering up your brain with times, deadlines, things still to be done, I need to do a brain-dump. I need to write down all the to-dos and notes and tasks then break them down into simple daily tasks. Instead of trying to do everything and being left finishing nothing, GTD helps you focus on the most urgent tasks in small, bite-size chunks.
GTD works for anything whether it be household chores / work / event-planning / project/task management / meeting time-sensitive deadlines. It works with the most basic task to the most complicated project.
So now that I have told you about my HOW “Get Shit Things Done” system, I am going to spend the next few weeks sharing the WHAT tools I use to Get Shit Things Done.
So stay tuned…
Productivity Posts Coming up: Digital vs Paper vs Hybrid Organisation
My Top 3 Digital Productivity Tools (Series)
My Ultimate Favourite Productivity Tool
My favourite tools to track my Writing Progress
How do you get things done?
Do you have an organisation system or do you just wing it?
Are you a digital or paper or hybrid (digital and paper) organiser?
How many times have you had a word on the tip of your tongue but it won’t come to you? As a writer, I have to find new words and synonyms all the time. The worst thing you can do is keep on repeating the same words through a manuscript. But sometimes it is harder than one thinks to find new ways of saying the same thing. It can also be difficult putting an action into words. Sometimes even us writers just draw a blank when it comes to “that perfect word”.
I am in the middle of editing one of my manuscripts and I cringe at how many times I have overused certain pet words. Yes I use a dictionary and yes I use a thesaurus but sometimes even these great reference tools are not enough. What about those times when you can’t think of the exact word but you can describe what you are trying to say. Then what? A dictionary nor thesaurus won’t cut it at these times.
Well recently, I found the perfect tool to solve my word issues. I came upon it quite by chance and it was a fortunate chance indeed. Realising I needed an updated dictionary and thesaurus, I thought I would search for one in the App store (Apple) that I could download onto my iPod Touch. So I entered a search term for dictionary & thesaurus. There was a whole list of various dictionary&thesaurus combinations but one app stood out to me…
I couldn’t believe my luck. This is exactly the application I had been searching for. It took me less than 10 seconds to download it. I have been using this application for about 2 weeks and it has changed my world! Now if I want to say something is green I have a whole list to choose from to describe green. The application also works a bit like a word association game. If you type in a phrase, it comes up with all the synonyms associated to the words in that phrase as well as the actual phrase.
Wildcards can also be used in the search terms to customize the results…
Find words that start with bl and have a meaning related to snow >
Find words and phrases that start with blue >
Find any words related to snow >
(These are just some of the more specialized ways you can use Reverse Dictionary. All info quoted from the App’s store’s app.)
The great thing about this application is that it also contains a number of full dictionaries and thesauruses. So if you have found a word but you want an expanded meaning of it then you just click on the “more definitions” and it will take you to a list of dictionaries and thesauruses: Everything from Dictionary.com to the Oxford Dictionary. There are also a couple of useful dictionaries for fiction authors: Rhymezone, Mnemonic Dictionary, Idioms and the Urban Dictionary and for Word Nerds – The Online Entymology Dictionary.
The good news is that this application is available in both Apple and Android.
So if it’s on the tip of your tongue and you just can’t find the exact right word… If your manuscript is covered in red pen from your editor with large “Please find another word!” all over it… Don’t waste time. Download the Reverse Dictionary. This little app will change the way you write and make your editing life super-simple. Your editor will love you and your manuscript will shine.
Do you desperately want/need someone/thing like this?
I love being a full time writer. This is a dream come true and wish fulfillment. Do I miss the EDJ? (translated=Evil Day Job) Short answer = No. Longer Answer = Sometimes. Hang on, didn’t I just say I love being a full time writer? Yes I did and Yes I do. But I would love it even more if I could do only that, just that: FULL TIME WRITING. The realities of life as a full time writer in this age is that I only get to write 50% of the time on a good week. You see what I miss about my EDJ is that as a Manager I had secretaries, employees and amazing assistant managers. In other words I could get on with my job of being a Sales Guru Manager. I could multi-task the priority tasks because someone else would be delegated those pesky daily must-do tasks. The reality of my life as a full time writer looks a bit like this…Except in my reality, Johnny Depp lives in my fantasy world…
Johnny sums up my quandary. Life as a full time writer without employees, secretaries, social network secretaries, personal assistants or assistant managers means that I don’t have 100% time to JUST WRITE. Sometimes the daily tasks overwhelm me so much that I want to throw my hands up in frustration or find a local wall to bang my head against. In a perfect world, I could lock myself away in my hidden writer’s cabin in a place far, far away from the evils of modern distraction including all and any of the following: telephone, mobile, email, blogging, twitter, facebook, website ect. Not mentioning life in all it’s weirdness. But unfortunately the reality is that I can’t lock myself away in that dream cabin. (Now the current dream and wish.) I need to be accessible. I need to be up with what is happening in the world of publishing and social network. I need to blog at least once a week so that I keep my audience. I need to update my website. I need to retweet/reply to tweets on twitter. I need to update facebook. I need to answer emails. I need to complete this ms by such and such a deadline. I need to…I need do…. I need to… Which leads me to not having 100% time to JUST WRITE.
As much as I bitch about life in the modern digital world where information is on hyper overload, I believe you need to keep your friends closer but your enemies even closer still… So I am all about finding great online digital tools that help make my life as a full time writer more manageable…
Today I would like to share my latest find with you…in the hopes that should you find yourself looking more like the first picture in this blog than the writing writer you thought you were meant to be…this little gem of a tool may just make your life a little more manageable.
Available for Mac, iPhone, iPod Touch 4th generation, Android, Windows
Price: Free. Free. Free. Free. Free.
Organize tasks and projects to get more done
Access, interact, and update from anywhere
Perfect for small projects, or larger collaborations
Tight E-Mail and IM integration
“Listen…What’s that? That’s the stress-free feeling of having everything under control. Tame the Beast with the only task management application that is designed to work the way you do. = Producteev“
So that is what the application home page has to say … This is what I have to say.
I love this application/program. I have been using it for about 2 weeks and for the first time in months I feel on top of things. I love how this application synchronizes in real time on all your devices. So when I enter a task or tick off a task as done on one device it lets all my programs know. It e-mails me when I have a task due or when I have forgotten a task. One thing I totally love it for is that you can use it in groups too. I have not used it in this way yet but could see the advantages. For instance you could sync your schedule with your editor’s or cover artist’s schedule so that you are on the same page. Likewise you could use the group function to sync tasks with your writing group/ critique partners. It syncs beautifully with your calendars, your email, your reminders and your notes. Best of all I love this app because it is F.R.E.E. and available for most of the digital platforms. The great thing too is that if you do not have one of your devices near you, you can log onto the web application of this app and all your tasks will be there for you. So it may not make coffee for you and may not answer your emails or post your blogs for you but it will put you back into the control seat in your task management. An organized mind writes and edits more clearly.
So get organized. Click on the Producteev logo in this post and download this app onto all your devices. You won’t be sorry. It won’t cost you a thing but it will save you so much time by putting all your must-hatch eggs into one neat basket. Unclutter your desk from the mountains of sticky notes, filofaxes and calendars. (Save some trees by using less paper.) In the words of the Producteev guy, Tame the Beast that keeps you from being a Writing Writer.
This incredible software is free for you to download and is available for all the operation systems – Apple Mac OSX, WindowsXP/Vista/7, Linux, IOS and Cydia…
I downloaded this software yesterday and within about 5 minutes immediately noted the ease on my eyes while using it last night. I can answer yes to all the above questions. I also tend to use my computer mostly at night. After using it for two night’s use I am convinced and persuaded that this software is a MUST-HAVE. Scratch that. After 5 minutes I was convinced.
You download it, then you choose your location and timezone and the software does everything else automatically. At nightfall, it changes the lighting on your screen to match an evening atmosphere. Gone is the bright white glare and it is replaced with a soft orange-yellow glow that is like a silk pillow on your sight.
The developers have done extensive interviews and research on sleep disorders/deprivation…their results are here.
As for any questions you may have…find the answers here.
So what are you waiting for…download it now and revolutionize your computer use and ease your eyes…
Picture this scene. You are lying in bed trying to get to sleep. You just start falling into the land of zzz’s and BOING! An idea has popped into your mind. It is the voice of a character. Just as you try to turn over and fall back asleep, it is already 4am and you have had about 5 minutes of sleep, a picture of the next scene in your WIP pops into your head. The first voice of the character you heard has nothing to do with your current story. Which thread of thought do you follow down the winding road of imagination? The new one or the current one? But what if you want to follow both? How do you choose? None of these thoughts are even that cohesive, just snippets that are invading your sleep-deprived mind. It is not as if they make any sense.
You need a Mind-Map.
Mind-mapping is one of my favourite ways to work through all those detours in the road to a great story. It is the law of Imagination that just when you are working on your current story, a brilliant idea or three hit you simultaneously. This is when I pull out my mind-map.
If you have never mind-mapped before, it is like note-taking but in a more visual form than notes. It is notes in picture form. Mind-mapping notes are perfect for those barely cohesive thoughts that you know will lead you down some wondrous path but first you have to connect all the dots. So out comes a mind-map.
Mind Maps just Zing for me. I am not a big note taker. Even at school, I detested pages and pages of notes. Instead I mind-mapped all my subjects. With mind-mapping you can zone out the unimportant and the fluffy, but you can zoom in on the essentials. You have to use bright colours. I have a pencil-case of coloured markers and highlighters specifically for mind-mapping. The great thing about mind-mapping a story is that you can put the mind-map in a place where you can always see it and that way always have a clear view of your story’s plot.
I use Mind-Maps to map my character profiles, my plot, the story arc, the back story, the setting. You get the drift? You can mind-map anything. It does not take long and you can fit what you might take over 10 pages of written notes to put into one mind-map.
The great thing about a mind-map is that it can also navigate you through the tricky parts in your WIP. If you are starting to feel lost in the story and need to figure out whether you have taken a wrong detour or just a more scenic route, you can refer back to your mind-map. It works the same way a road map does when you are driving. One look down at it is all it takes to steer you back onto the right road and miss the potholes.
I use an art-poster pad for my mind-maps. That way they all stay together. I can also keep it next to my bed so that I can jot down that stray thought (path) into a current or a new mind-map at 3am in the morning. Strangely enough that is the most active time in my imagination for new stories to germinate. But you could use any pad of paper or even a notebook for mind-maps. I do advise using unlined paper though.
I love my software so you know that I have some digital software for mind-maps to mention too. These are the top three I prefer to use:
FreeMind – An open source free download for that will work on any operation system whether you use apple, windows or any other OS. This is one of the simplest software programs to use. There is barely any learning curve and it is perfect for you if you are not big on complicated software with all the frills and whistles. This will do the job.
Mind-Node – A mac download that is available both online or in the Apple App store. There is both a free and a pro (paid) version. There is also a touch version that is downloadable for either your iPod touch or your iPad. The one drawback of this is that it is only available to mac users. Sorry pc folks.
Mind-Meister – A free or a paid download that you can sync through your pc/mac, your laptop/notebook, your iPod touch, your iPad and even your twitter/Facebook. The great thing with Mind-meister is that like Dropbox it is a secure online storage. You can also, like Dropbox, share and collaborate on mind-maps with other people though an online account. This one is a new favourite of mine.
Try Mind-Mapping. Whether you try the old-fashioned pen and paper way – make sure you have multiple coloured markers for this, it only adds to the fun – or one of the digital software, you will look at plotting in a whole new light. For those pantsters who cannot imagine taking copious notes this might be the perfect introduction to a very effective way to plot and still give you that freedom of just letting the imagination roam. Your imagination can still roam, you can just mark down the highlights in bright colours so that you don’t lose those wanderings. You could even draw pictures if that is the way you prefer to think. For plotters, you will love the new way to plot because you get to indulge in plotting that story arc or character profile but taking less time to do it.
Try Mind-Mapping out and let me know whether you had fun.
It might just revolutionize your next story.
What’s your favourite way to make sense of those random 3am imaginings? Do you mind-map already? Are you a note-taker/note-scrawler? Do you use a dictaphone/recorder to tape your thoughts. Share with me how you make sense of those 3am thoughts.
In real life you may fall into one or the other category but what about in the virtual and digital world of social media? Are you a shy and retreating Wallflower or are you the life of the party and a Social Butterfly? You may wonder what it matters whether you are shy in social media or not but if you want to network and you want to make connections – you need to become a social butterfly if you aren’t already.
Social Media is called “Social” for a very good reason.
You must be social for it to accomplish its task.
Not only has social media changed the business world but it has changed and continues to change our personal lives. If you meet someone new at a party and you want to meet up later in the week, how do you get in contact with them? You ask if they are on Facebook. There are two reasons why people are more willing to give out their Facebook profiles rather than their home address or even mobile phone number. If you friend request them they can learn all about you from your Facebook profile before choosing to accept. Secondly it is safer to give out your Facebook profile than it is to give out more personal information, like your home address, to a virtual stranger.
In this modern day and age more networking and more connections are made and forming through the social media and social networking sites. There is no point in being an ostrich and sticking your head in the sand hoping that life will just go back to being simple.
Most industries rely on marketing savvy and promotion savvy. Everyone and every business has something to sell. Whether this be a service, their name or a talent. The way this is accomplished in 2011 is through social media and social networking. It simply has the largest exposure without a very high monetary cost. An effective and engaged social presence on the internet is more beneficial and powerful than advertising copy in a magazine or on tv.
So what is your presence in social media? Do you have a presence or are you scratching your head as you read “social media”? If you do have a presence, is it effective and engaging? Are you using social media to your best advantage? Do you know why you need social media and what you want from it?
If you are a creative; a musician, an artist or a writer, social media can be either your friend or your foe. This is even more important for a relative unknown or an up-and-coming-not-quite-there-yet star. The creative industries are one of the most difficult industries to get a foot in the door. They are completely subjective industries where most times you are judged on yourself and the impression you give before they will give you a chance to be judged on your talent. This brings us to the old scenario where a young and hopeful graduate is ready to enter the work-world but in countless interviews is told that though they have the qualifications and the look, they don’t have the experience to get the job? This always leaves the young graduate despondent because how does he/she get experience if they can’t get a job in the first place?
So as a creative wanting to break into your chosen sphere, how do you get the bigwigs – these are usually corporates who think with their wallets and guard their time jealously – to sit up and pay attention to you?
You get online! You could do a number of other cost and time consuming activities to engage their attention but at this point your cost and your time is probably limited. So the easiest way is to build an effective and engaging social media that is market-savvy to your specific industry. How? Below is the set of tools available to you in social media…
Now you may be looking at this and think there are way too many options up there and counting away the hours it will take to build a social presence in each of these media tools…Fear not! These may be all the tools available to you but you do not need to use every one of these tools. You need to choose which are the best tools. When considering that, you need to focus on these factors:
What is best for you as an individual?
What is best for your talent/service as a marketing tool?
It is all about who you know in this world so what is best for your talent/service as a networking tool?
What are the most popular social media sites used by your future colleagues in your industry?
What are the most popular and watched sites by the bigwigs and decision makers in your industry?
So before reading on, take a notepad and a pen and write down these 5 factors. Then answer them.
Are you starting to form a picture of your social media presence yet?
I am going to tell you about what I use in social networking. I am a writer and my product is my words. So the social media sites are perfect for someone in my industry. I am however also an experienced sales and marketing manager so I have a little more of an insider track on how to sell a product and how to market it.
The social media/networking sites I am listed on are, from longest running to newest:
Facebook (personal profile)
WordPress – Blogging
Twitter (personal profile)
Facebook groups (related to writing)
Facebook group admin / creator (related to writing)
Facebook Fan Page
Twitter (writer account)
Facebook (separate writer profile)
Twitter chat host (a weekly writing craft chat)
Now from the above you will see that I have two Facebook profiles and two Twitter accounts. I also have 4 WordPress blogs. Now although writers and most creatives can be accused of having multiple personalities this is not the reason why I have different profiles / sites on the same social media/networking sites. I have a private life and a professional life. I use my personal profiles for personal networking with friends and family and not necessarily friends who are in the same industry as me. I use the professional profiles for anything and everything related to my writing business.
“Writing business”? But you thought writing was a “creative” industry and not sullied with the muddiness of “business”? Wrong! If you are writing as a hobby then yes it is purely creative. But if you are in this for the long haul and hope to make a living from your creativity than you MUST look at writing just like you would any other job or any other Business. Believe me if you want to get noticed and make it in this business, you will need to work harder than at anything else you have ever worked at.
For me the most effective methods of getting noticed and building a readership/following as well as networking with decision makers has been Facebook, Twitter and Blogging. Facebook is still one of the most preferred and effective tools out there. As we hear constantly in the media, if Facebook were a country it would have the third highest population in the world. The next effective method, especially in the writing and publishing world is Twitter. With Twitter you can reach hundreds of followers as well as follow and connect with the who’s who in whatever industry you want to break into.
Then there is blogging. Blogging is incredibly effective to market your actual product – which in a writer’s world is our words and our ability to hold a reader’s attention so that they keep coming back for more.
I have 4 separate blogs that are all writing related but differently marketed. This blog is my creativity and inspiration blog. I blog here on creative exercises, creative tips and tools as well as spotlighting up and coming authors and creatives in the industry. In my other blog, Wrestling the Muse, I blog about my lessons learned while undertaking the adventures of full-time writing. Then I have a poetry portfolio blog, Soul Photographs, where I blog poetry and all things related to poetry. Just recently I started my fourth blog, Amazon Wanderings, where I will be blogging about my adventure traveling. You probably wonder why I need 4 blogs and why don’t I use one blog with 4 different uses. I have done it very specifically to create niche blogs and niche readerships/followings for each blog. Yes it means I have more blogs to upkeep but this is when a blogging schedule comes in handy.
So in answer to my initial question: If you are a Wallflower when it comes to social media, why are you retreating? How are you planning on getting noticed in your industry?
Watch out for Part 2 coming tomorrow on how to stop retreating and how to become an effective social butterfly…
Tell me in the meantime: What social networking do you find works best? What social networking baffles you? What social networking do you dislike or find unnecessary?
Join me here tomorrow when I share with you how to effectively market yourself. Remember writing and publishing is big business. Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. It is time to get market-savvy in social media….
We all have had this at one point or another…no I am not talking about Writers’ Block
nor am I talking about instructions on head massage over SKYPE or a G+ Video Hangout…
The thing, you thought would never happen to you has happened!
Your hard worked over WIP is lost not to mention all the countless hours of research. You may have updated a program and through a glitch all your work in the old program was lost. You may have spilt your necessary mug of coffee all over your keyboard and the machine fried. You may have opened one of those hilarious forwards from your Aunt May and it spread tentacles of a dangerous virus right throughout your system and all your files have been wiped clean or deleted. No matter how it happens, it happens to every writer who works with a laptop/computer. If it has not happened to you yet, do not think you are one of the lucky ones, it will happen and it will also happen at the most inconvenient time. You have just got to a crucial point in your WIP that unveils the whole twist in the story’s tale. You may have just typed end on your final edited draft but not yet transferred it to any disk-key or printed it yet. Whatever way it happens, it spells disaster. Yes I hear you say….”It’s ok. I back-up.”. When was the last time you backed up? What did you back up to? Did you back up right before the computer/program crashed? Did you back up to an email folder on your computer or even an alternate folder on your computer? Now, before rushing off to back off, I need your attention for just 5 minutes more. I just need to tell you one more thing…
You see I tell you all the above because I speak from bitter experience. But what is experience unless we can learn from it. This has happened to me twice. The first time was a disaster because although I did backup, the backup folder was on the same computer that crashed. I lost everything. Research, articles, the WIP’s, emails and yes I lost the backup too. It all disappeared into a dark vortex of hot lava when my computer was fried from onboard chargers on an international flight. The worst thing was that I had over 800 brand new photographs from my trip which I was planning on sifting through when I got home for a travel article. The disaster was out of my hands in this instance. A clever IT guy managed to get a lot of it back but the most important stuff was frizzed and burnt out when all the electrical components in my laptop were fried by the onboard chargers.
Then after much pulling out of hair and stamping of feet and many french translations, I took a deep breath and bought an Apple laptop. (All of my previous had been Windows PCs.) Then I started backing up to external sources and I got very pedantic about backing up. I backed up before exiting every work session. I am still a tad on the obsessive side with backing up.
Then this year I found Dropbox at a friend’s invite in my inbox. When I read up on it, I was skeptical of using an online storage facility. How could I be sure nobody else would access my documents/research/photographs. So I ignore the invitation and then I had a second scare hit me with a program update that unfortunately deleted all my work. Even though I had it all backed up externally this time, it still took me hours restoring it. So what happened? I didn’t wait for the third disaster. I accepted the dropbox invitation and signed up immediately.
Ever since then, fingers crossed, with no third disaster I am breathing easily. I am not saying nothing else will go wrong. It might. But now I know that all my documents are safely uploaded and updated to dropbox. It is even done automatically. Once you have loaded up a document to Dropbox, every time you make changes to or update it, the document is automatically updated in Dropbox. Dropbox is online storage but it also lives in a little window on your finder or explorer on the computer. So you do not even need to open up the online storage to view the folders there, you just go to the dropbox folder on your own computer. With dropbox you can also synchronize all your mobile pda’s, iPads, netbooks or iPods to the same dropbox folder. This in turn will synchronize with your main computer/laptop. So wherever you write and whatever you write on, it will be both backed up and updated to Dropbox and will also immediately be available on your main computer as well. You can back up practically anything to Dropbox: documents, images, graphics, music, you name it and you can back it up. Dropbox is now so popular that many word-processing programs have a dropbox option that will sync with your dropbox.
Your work is also 99.9% safe. (There is no such thing as 100% safe.) It is also very secure. Your account is password activated. You can then also put different passwords on each of your files that you upload. If you wish to make the work public, there is that option too. Also if you wish to share something with a colleague or another writer or just share some images/music with friends and family, you can create a shared folder that is also password activated and is only accessible to you and the other person. This is really great for critiques.
Oh…did I mention Dropbox is free. Not just that, for every friend you invite you get extra space on your storage account. You already start off with 2GBs when you sign up but the more friends you invite, the more space you get. So tell me…have I convinced you to at least take a look at it? Here are a few more tricks that Dropbox can teach you…
I have just signed up at Bloglovin. I was directed to this site through a blog that I have just started following. From what I can see, this is another great way to increase your blogging network as well as publicise your own blog.
It is very simple to sign up. It is a fantastic site to have if you follow many blogs and cannot seem to keep track of all your subscriptions.
Try it out. You may just meet many more bloggers out there.
I think that I have mentioned in previous posts that I have a small problem. It costs me in time and money but I am addicted. The thing is I don’t want to be cured. They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have one. While I will admit an addiction but I do not believe that it is a problem. In fact, it has been an asset in many ways. But in case this is the first time you have come across one of my posts about it I will clue you in:
I am a software junkie…Any software – photography software, graphic design software, organisational software and my favourite writing software. Lucky for me I also happen to use an OS (Operating System – computer speak) that is RICH in PHENOMENAL software development. I am a MacGal.
Well today I came across a new yummy program and it’s called….
Circus PoniesNotebookversion 3.0
But before I tell you anymore about this. I am going to confess, here and now, to another addiction in my life: I am a stationery junkie…Since I was very young, I have loved pretty pens, pencils, highlighters, notebooks, writing paper and all things stationery related. As I grew older this grew to include white boards, pin boards, cork boards, filo-fax binders, journals and the ever useful sticky notes.
Now, I guess you are wondering why I mention my stationery addiction in the same post as my software addiction. Well, it all has to do with this little circus of a program.
This is going to be a review in progress since this program has just come to my attention and I have just downloaded the (very generous) 30 day full featured trial version. But just looking at the videos on the developer’s website had me hooked.
From the little that I have been able to figure out, in an evening, a truer name could not be found other than the current moniker. This really does seem to be a digital notebook of circus ponies. Like any decent circus pony, this program has lots of tricks up its sleeve.
So today I am going to do a very summarised review but I will be linking through to a number of review sites at the bottom of this post where you will find more concise reviews.
The first thing that sums up this program is the top blurb on the developer’s website: