Okay, I’m not one to brag on myself, but for real, y’all, I’m proud of my pandemic-era accomplishments this year. I’ve had a zillion books and storylines in my head for years now. I wrote a book in 2019 that I whole-heartedly believed in, and it got shut down by publishing agents who didn’t even bother to read the first page—if I got any response at all. It was brutal!
I had always thought of self-publishing as giving up, or admitting that I’m not good enough, but this whole pandemic situation has basically turned everything on its head for everyone, everywhere. So I decided, why not? I chose to take charge of my own dreams and realized that I have every right to determine my own success—and you do, too! So here you go. Here’s how I’m on track to self-publish eight books in just five months. My hope is for this to encourage you to just do the things you’ve been putting off for so long. So here’s what worked for me; maybe it will work for you, too!
I Picked a Topic I Love
I have written seven travel books in a series and one self-help book for young Christian girls. All are now published except for the last in my Lost and Found travel series. It’s coming out the day after Thanksgiving! Why did I choose to write a book about faith and a series about travel? Because I am absolutely passionate about those topics.
Choose a storyline, character, or title you are passionate about and run with it! When you’re excited about something, you want to work on it. You want to keep going when you’re done for the day. You want to share it with the world. And all that means you’re truly motivated to see it all the way through. Pour out your passion and you’ll find you never run dry.
Need some help deciding? What to Blog About: Ideas to Help You Get Creative
I Fed My Creativity
When I needed to, I found a place where I could be alone and wrote with no distractions. When the pandemic made sure I couldn’t go to a coffee shop or anywhere else charming to be inspired, I went on my noisy back porch and “got out of the house” that way. When I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop for lunch, I treated myself to sushi delivered to my door because it’s my favorite food, and it wasn’t every day. Back before the pandemic, I took a couple of “creative retreats” for myself in a hotel in D.C. Often, I do my best thinking while I’m working out, so I do something to move my body every day to get the creative juices flowing!
What helps you be creative? Is it being alone? Having experiences? Listening to a certain type of music? Do you think best in the shower or on the run? Find out what you need to be your most imspired and creative, and then make an effort to do that!
How do you practice writing a book? You write every single day. For me, it was my blog. I’ve been blogging pretty consistently for the last 14 years in one form or another. When I first started, I wrote massive e-mails home to a list of family and friends who wanted to hear about what I was doing in Japan. Then I started my own free blogging website and wrote about my travels and experiences in D.C. Several years ago, I finally took the plunge and purchased a domain and paid for the website you see today!
The most important thing was that I wrote every. single. day. Blogging has made me a more concise writer, a more audience-aware writer, and a more prolific writer, and whether it was notes about my trips, outlines for potential blog posts, or pumping out five blog posts a day to be scheduled for later, all that writing was what got me to a point where I could write seven books and publish eight books between June and November of this year!
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing in a journal, on a blog, notes about storylines or story details on your phone, or a series of short stories, writers need to write every day. Just like athletes need to train, eat well, and sleep enough every day, you need to train yourself by writing every day. What are you going to write down today?
I Wrote Short Books
(and one was mostly done already)
Biting off an entire novel was going to be more than I could even think about chewing. So I chose to write a novella instead of a novel. Actually, it started as a 10-page short story to entice people to sign up for my blog’s newsletter. That 10-pager quickly turned into a seven-book series of novellas, which I wasn’t even going to publish to paperback, but then I decided to do it!
So, start small and let your creativity grow as it will! It may become bigger than you ever thought it might, or you might even find another path with it than you ever dreamed. But you’ll never know if you don’t take that first, little bite. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed at the get-go; start with something amazing, and let it grow into the incredible force it’s supposed to become.
I Kept a Schedule
Creative people are not exactly known for their rigidity. We’re often thought of as “flighty,” “eccentric,” or “fickle.” But I’m here to tell you, I need a little bit of structure to help me go a long way in reaching my writing goals. I treated writing for my blog and my books like a job. I needed the structure, which also gave me deadlines, which helped me finish my books quickly!
When I was writing Princess Culture last year, I wrote on the book during the day, then focused on the blog in the evenings. (This was while I was still posting new blog material five days a week.) With the Lost and Found Series, I would dedicate one week (sometimes stretching into 10 days) to writing one of the books, then one week (or so—I can be flexible!) catching up on my blogging tasks. (This was during the pandemic when I had cut back to posting new blog material just three days a week.)
Find a schedule or structure that works for you! Maybe you do your day job during the day, then give yourself a couple of hours each night to work on your book. Maybe you get up an hour earlier and write on your book then. Maybe you can devote four hours in the morning and four hours in the afternoon to writing. Maybe it’s your kids’ nap time. The time is there, you just might have to structure it to your best advantage.
More here: Reasons to Consider Self-Publishing
I Had a Goal in Mind
My original goal this year was to have Paradise Lost and Found ready to send out with my website’s re-launch on June 1, 2020. My next goal was to publish it to paperback with Amazon by the end of the same month. The next goal was to publish one novella in the series by the last weekend of each month so my newsletter subscribers could have something to look forward to each month. Having goals in mind gave me the motivation to make those goals happen!
With Princess Culture, I needed a boost in productivity. So during my creative retreat at a hotel in D.C., I decided that I didn’t need to finish anything. I just needed to start each chapter. I knew the topics for each chapter, but the thought of completing even just one of them was too overwhelming. So I dedicated one hour of each day to one chapter, and I just started. Often, I didn’t want to stop, so I didn’t! I don’t think I finished a first draft of any of my chapters, but just getting them started took so much pressure off of me and my process!
So what’s your goal? Is it 10,000 words a week? Is it 500 words a day? Is it to get your story’s outline finished by Friday? No goal? No problem! You can create a goal right now. Your goal can just be to start!
Motivation: How to Add Your Book to Goodreads
I Googled Often
This is a life skill that applies in basically any situation. Don’t know how to do something? Just Google it! Someone else has had the same dilemma, and someone has probably written about it. I’ve Googled tips for using Scrivener, how to self-publish, how to land a literary agent, and more.
If you never ask, you’ll never know. Whatever it is, just Google it. No judgement!
No need to Google this: How to Self-publish on Amazon
I Knew When to Ask for Help
I am a trained proofreader. I have written and edited documents and outreach materials for NASA. But you know what? I’m also smart enough to know that I can’t proofread my own work. Seriously, your brain knows what you meant! I knew I needed an editor who could proofread for mitakes, inconsistencies, and content, so I asked my friend Jackie, who is an editor in New York, if she would be my editor for the whole series for consistency’s sake. I pay her for her time because I know how valuable her skills and time are, and she’s been great to work with! But I had to reach out and ask.
So, do you need an expert’s take on a situation in your book? Find one and ask! Need a proofreader? Ask! Maybe you don’t know any editors, but I’ll bet you know an English teacher. Need a beta reader to give you an honest opinion of your book? Ask! Know when to ask for help, and be humble enough to know that you need help sometimes.
I Just Started
Starting is both the easiest thing and the hardest thing. Taking that first step or writing that first word can be kind of intimidating! But it’s also incredibly freeing. The pressure’s off! The thing you’ve wanted for so long has begun! Taking that first step is always the hardest. The next is easier, and the next one is even easier. Just go for it!
So whether you need to just start every chapter, just start that outline, or just start the publishing process, just start.
Want more writing tips and how-tos? Check out my Writing and Publishing Page!
Love this post? Pin it for later!