5 Writer’s Block Cures That Aren’t Coffee It doesn’t matter how much of a professional you are, writing for a living can be mentally taxing. In fact, being a creative period has its flaws. In your arsenal of craft enhancing tools, be prepared to […]
6 Questions to Ask Your Hero Fiction heroes generally fit one of three molds. They are bad boy/ Alpha males, billionaire/ Alpha males, or sensitive but strong/Alpha males. The variations can be endless, but mostly they are alpha males with some deviation. This doesn’t have […]
5 Questions to Ask Your Heroine
Stop treating your heroine like she is a byline in someone else’s story. Take the time to make her as real on the page as she is in your head. A strong heroine doesn’t just benefit your hero, but improves the depth of the story. If you aren’t sure where to start with identifying just who your heroine is then this post is just for you!
Who is your heroine?
I’m not just talking about her name. Who is she? An entrepreneur? A nurse? Does she generally hate chocolate, but love truffles? Was she voted most likely to succeed in high school? Or, was she a wallflower who nobody knew? These seemingly benign questions all add up to the person that is your heroine. Most likely, you already have an general scope of your heroine. It is still important to pause in your writing, and explore her further.
Knowing who your heroine is creates the internal identity that will dictate her actions in your story. If she is the shy demure type, she will need a strong catalyst to draw out her aggressive side. If she is ambitious and driven, a traumatic event will likely be what it takes to redirect her priorities.
Answer the question as fully as you can. Add quirks (scrunches her nose when she takes off her glasses), include personality words ( funny, endearing, infectious laughter), and also include how she responds to people she cares about (always brings a coffee for her work bestie). These specifics give your readers something to relate to, and give your heroine flesh.
What does your heroine need?
The natural question here for most people is what does your heroine want. That’s a valid question, and you should know the answer to it as well. What your heroine wants will give her some motivation to complete her arc. It is what she needs that will grow her. You’ve read stories where heroines refuse to develop because they are selfish or singular minded. You remember that frustration. At the base of this problem is that a heroine who doesn’t have a deeper driving force will not stop outside of her own comfort to evolve.
Yes, what your heroine wants is important, but what she needs will challenge her identity and her world.
So, let’s dive into that. Your heroine may want to buy a house to prevent herself from ever being homeless again. What she needs though, is to gain financial security for herself. In this scenario, financial security could mean not only buying a house, but also never being hungry or forced to depend on anyone else. That kind of power, opens a heroine up to be her truest self. Remember, the need is greater than the want. The want changes one thing, but the need changes everything. Don’t be afraid to dive into your heroine. You are the only one who can tell her story.
What is the urgency? What is your heroine’s deadline?
These questions repeat themselves across the board of character development. Characters, like us, need a motivating force to keep them on task. Deadlines are used to create tension, and to provide a setup for obstacles that your character will face.
Your deadline could be a specific time, but it could also be an event. Determine what brings the most pressure on your character to act, then write in a deadline that forces your character to grow. Your deadline should not be arbitrary. It should have meaning and consequences for your heroine. If she doesn’t hit her deadline, show the blow back. Don’t hide the repercussions. Your heroine’s experiences are your readers experiences. Don’t be ashamed about hurting their feelings.
Who does your heroine become once she makes her choice?
Whether she gets what she needs or gets what she wants, something will change internally for your heroine. What is that change? Does beating cancer make her stronger, fearless or does it make her more afraid than ever. Does letting go of the love of her life teach her to value herself more or does it leave her love starved and available to anyone. These are extremes, and the pendulum does not have to swing that far. It should swing though.
Your character is going to be changed by the choices she makes. Take the time to imagine your best case and your worst case scenario here. When the day comes and you’ve exhausted all your challenges, you will know who your heroine is and who she will be next.
Does your heroine want a savior?
Not every damsel in distress wants a knight on a white horse to swoop in and save them. Not every damsel is in distress. You have a choice to make here, and if you make the wrong one your readers will spot it immediately. Decide. Is your heroine the type who wants someone else to come in and save her or not?
Once you know the answer, it is important that you lay the groundwork within your story. Your heroine may not ever say out loud that she wants someone to save the day, but her internal dialogue may suggest she needs a little help. If that isn’t the case. If she is strong enough to save herself, then your catalyst must draw that out of her. Her strength could be the change that happens after she makes the major choice.
Treat your heroine as important and she will work hard to polish any rough edges in your novel. Write the details down as an overview to your character profile, but don’t be afraid to change them when needed. The idea is to make your writing process smoother. Edit to fit your needs.
What are some other things you ask your heroine before writing her story? Comment below.
6 Questions to Ask Your Antagonist Every good story needs someone your readers can love to hate. Your antagonist will readily fit the bill, if you do it right. The more you know about your antagonist, the easier it will be to pit them opposite […]
An Alpha’s Dream An Alpha’s Dream excerpt and all original works are copyright 2017 to Jocelyn Young and cannot be copied, reproduced, or distributed in print, digital or any other file without the authors express consent. Violators will be prosecuted within the full extent […]
Self-Care Tips for the Self-Publishing Author
Publishing is stressful. Writing for a living is not for the weak at heart. Just as it is important for you to continually work at mastering your craft, it is also important that you are attentive to your self-care needs. Not taking care of yourself will show in your work and in your body. Neither is a good look. It can be difficult to find the time in between making a living and having a life. I’m here to help. Here are five self-care tips for the self-publishing author.
Take your self-care seriously.
Every where you turn there is some article, blog post, Pnterest tip on self-care. It is the newest, oldest trend and can sometimes prove overwhelming to address. Of course, that means most of us ignore anything “self-care” related. Here is the thing, noone likes to be bombarded with an idea. Being bombarded with self-care suggestions is not a good reason to dismiss it’s significance.The ramifications of putting yourself last on every list and neglecting your mind, body, and soul can be devastating. From major physical health ramifications to mental fatigue and spiritual disconnect, most of these things can be avoided by simply taking more time to care for personal needs/ wants.
For some people, their self-care routine is a particular hair or spa appointment. For others, its a daily workout or free time for entertainment. The great thing is that all of those are the right thing for those people. Don’t feel inclined to make someone else’s way, your way. Instead, figure out what you need to nurture you while pushing through the long hours of being creative. Whatever your thing is, place it high on your lists. Carve out time, and make those moments sacred. Treat caring for yourself with importance. Treat yourself well.
Self-care is about penciling yourself in.
Working your schedule will optimize your production. Leaving things to chance increases the odds that they won’t get done. You can afford to put somethings off, but not everything all the time. Namely, not yourself.
When you create your work schedule, be sure to set aside thirty minutes to an hour that is solely about caring for your mind and body outside of writing. Yes, writing can be cathartic. There is peace and surrender in doing what one loves. It is still important to separate yourself from the work on occasion. Doing so benefits your clarity as a writer and allows you to nurture those parts of you that often go neglected when trying to write the perfect scene.
Your writer can come secondary to your mental, physical and spiritual health. Whatever your mode of release is outside of writing, do that. Spend that thirty minutes to an hour on something that benefits you one multiple fronts. Maybe, you declutter your desk for mental healthy and work organization. Maybe you take a long bath to soothe your aching muscles and work out the kinks in your climax. If you ar a parent, maybe that thirty minutes or so is your only respite from parenthood as well. Use it for reflection, exercise, or just to finish a hot cup of coffee. Self-care isn’t about extravagance. It is about taking a much needed moment to yourself to assess personal needs and address them. One small way a day, prioritize yourself.
Self-care is about listening to your body.
When I was working on the follow up to An Alpha’s Dream and before I started working on An Alpha’s Second Chance, I spent about a month working until four in the morning, and getting up at eigth to take care of my darlings until my lover made it home . Then, was dinner and you guessed it, back to work. After finally deciding I was tired enough to take a break, I planned a weekend off. I would not type, write, or even sit down with pen and papers to muse. I would take the weekend completely.
Three days off because I was tired, turned into two weeks of headaches, long restless nights where I couldn’t sleep, and unexplained sickness. Actually, the last part was a lie. It wasn’t unexplained. I ignored my body telling me that I was tired, that I was beyond tired and that it was on the verge of shutting down. So, on the first chance it got, it did just that. Finally, I had to see someone and get some real information. The diagnosis? Exhaustion.
Your body will tell you when you are hitting your limit. Whether it is falling asleep at the keyboard, or a shift in your normal attitude/ behaviors. Shortness of patience, disorientation while following your regular routine, and even loss of appetite are all signs that your body isn’t operating normally. If you notice it early, rest. Quit an hour early and take a nap if possible, read something you didn’t write, or watch your favorite show. One month of not taking proper care of myself cost me ninety plus days of writing and engaging with my readers. The routine I’d worked hard to establish was gone.
You are building a career, but that is only part of what you are doing. You are also building a life. When your body takes an uncharacteristic turn, listen. Rest.
Self-care is about what you consume.
Eat well, drink plenty of water, and read things that inspire you. The simplest advice is always the hardest to take. When it comes to self-care, most of it is simple advice. However, this is probably the oldest. Eat well, drink lots of water, and read things that inspire you.
Self-publishers can sometime keep long hours. Add to being an authorprenuer, the day to day of parenting, being a spouse, and other aspects of your life and what you have is a recipe for neglect. Missing meals, eating poorly, and not drinking water are such daily occurrences for most of us that it seems like a non issue. Except your brain needs proper nutrition and hydration to work well. Get your vegetables, fill up on super brain foods, and drink water.
Of course you can still have coffee, and cookies. Maybe add in a cup of hot tea and bowl of fruit as a substitute or one of your sweeter preferred snacks. Give yourself a fighting chance to get through the long hours and writers block. While you’re eating those great snacks and meals, enjoy a book, blog, or news article that does more than incite your rage. Find a story that is fun, and invites you in. Pick up that memoir that is inspirational and makes you think compelling thoughts. Check out a self-help book that prompts you to take positive changes in your life.
Self-Care is about putting your body in motion.
Writing is a sedentary career. There’s no way to deny it. Most of our work is done in front of a computer, sitting in our preferred spot and cranking out greatness. Our minds are working hard, but our bodies are not. The long hours alone take an immense toll on our bones and our blood flow. To lessen the effects of sitting for long hours, pick an activity that gets you moving.
Yoga. Pilates. Cardio. A walk around the block. There are numerous ways to add physical activity to your schedule. Be deliberate about how you move and when. Without warning, you will notice an increase in your energy levels, the restfullness of your sleep, and your overall health as your body adjusts to its new found normal.
Being a dedicated writer is wonderful, but your body needs more than just your talent to function. Pay the same attention to your mental, and physical health as you would your craft. After all, the health of your body has a significant effect on your quality of life and your ability to pursue things you are passionate about.
In short, feed you brain with good food, your body with good energy, and your heart and mind with good thoughts. In my mom voice, there is only one you. Take care of yourself.
What are some self-care tips you would like to pass on to others? Comment below.
What to do When Pressing Publish Feeds Your Anxiety It is no small feat to self-publish. While it is true you reap all the profits of a book doing well, it is also true you reap all the pain if it fails. The mental […]
An Alpha’s Second Chance Excerpt Book 1 is the sole and exclusive property of Jocelyn F.Young. Copyright Jocelyn Young 2018. It is subject to all applicable copyright laws. Duplication or reproducing of any parts or whole is prohibited and subject to legal action. An […]
Time Management + Self-Publishing : 5 Strategies to Efficiently Work Your Work
The greatest cost associated with self-publishing is time. Being that time is the most valuable commodity any of us have, it is imperative that we optimize its use. When self-publishing, knowing what publishing/writing tasks take the bulk of your time, helps in running your business smoothly. Here are some tips to help you efficiently maximize the time you spend working your business, while minimizing the stress associated with doing it all on your own.
Create a Work/Write Schedule That Shows Your Tasks and Dedicated Writing Days/Time
Not all tasks are daily tasks or even weekly. That being said, all publishing related tasks benefit from a clear, inclusive system. The simplest way to ensure that everything has been considered is to list the tasks to be completed, and then create a working schedule for when (and how) they will be completed.
There are two phases to your work/ writing schedule. Phase one of your schedule is represented by your work hours and days. Your schedule should consider any weekly recurring personal items. Don’t schedule two hours of writing time on the day and time you have a spin class. Be honest with your available working hours, and your willingness to work those hours. Create a working schedule that inspires discipline and results.
Phase two of your schedule is represented by the work that needs to get done. Include things like write blog posts, create blog post images, and schedule blog posts. Those examples work if you are keeping an author blog. The object of the schedule is to document recurring tasks that you must complete for your self-publishing brand and dedicated time to complete them. Your schedule is only as effective as it is accurate.
Use a Planner/Calendar to Document Time Spent On EVERYTHING
Your working schedule is for weekly recurring things, and your planner is for everything professional and personal. Here is where you would put things like expected consultations about your book cover, editor and cover designer turn around times. Promotions, Ad Boost, Page Reads and book purchases (for K.U. Authors) fit nicely and work to keep you on track of your publishing/authorpernuer goals. This is the place where you will also document your monthly expected word count (in order to meet your release date) and your day-to-day contributing word count.
Use your planner/ calendar to keep track of the success rates of your weekly schedule. At the end of the month, review what you have recorded. The real-time records will show you where efficiency adjustments are needed. If used to document word counts, you’ll be able to see how close or far you are from keeping your release date. Using a planner is efficient because it puts all your time needs in one place.
You aren’t limited to your professional life here. In fact, I strongly encourage its use for all things life related. So if you have to move your scheduled writing time for your nieces dance recital, you’ll know early. You can beam from the front row, and then go home to meet your writing quota. By taking the guesswork out of what has to be done and when, you reduce the pressure to get it all done right now. You have a plan. Get it done on schedule, or ahead. Both are better than trying to catch up from behind.
Maybe you aren’t the type who likes to write down all those details. No big deal. Apple, Android, and Google all have app stores overflowing with planner tech that will suite your needs. Try a few on and make sure they work efficiently for you. Pretty planners are just paperweights (or data suckers) if you never use them.
Prioritize Daily to-do-list By Time Costs
Prioritizing you to do lists doesn’t just benefit your professional life. Having a career does not lessen the responsibilities you may have to your family or other factions of your life. So, keep a daily to do list that includes expectations from your personal and professional life. Write (or type) everything you have to get done that day. Follow that up with how long each tasks will take to complete. Once you have a vision of your day, pick the items that take the least amount of time to complete. Do those first.
There is a science to this. Turns out, us humans, love finishing things. There is a certain thrill that comes from marking things off your lists and being able to move on to the next tasks. In addition to actually getting things done, you are giving yourself that much-needed boost to delve into the harder tasks. By prioritizing the things that take the least amount of time to complete first, you are making room from those things that may take more time or require more steps before completion.
Use your time wisely. I know. I know. My parents said that to me a lot too, and I hated it. Just because something is cliché doesn’t mean it isn’t useful. Remember you are a self-publishing author. The tasks you don’t complete for your business today, will still be there for you to complete tomorrow. Take the time to plan efficiently, and then work your butt off for your success.
Create Your Systems to Efficiently Manage Your Time
Here’s the thing about systems, they feel like a hassle to create. The upfront frustration is worth its weight in the time it saves. Don’t know how to identify a system? A system is simply your process written down. It compiles all the steps needed to start, and complete your tasks. Having a system in place eliminates two problems. The first, is where to start.
Of course you want to write a blog post, but what about the images? When do you outline the posts? Are you using a monthly theme? Answer all of these questions with your systems. Think of it as a checklist for your publishing action items. The second problem it solves, is what happens when you outsource. With your growing success, you will begin to outsource some of the work on your table. Having a system in place means that the work you hire out still meets your brand standards. All major brands have systems in place. It serves the same purpose for them as it will for you.
If you aren’t sure when to use systems for streamlining, then you are over thinking it. Start with your social media posts. Write how social media ties into your brand. Does it show your funny side? Does it offer readers close insight? Is it inspirational to other authors? Once you’ve determined your social media voice, and written it down, then go on to write how often you will post (add what days when possible) and what outside sources you will allow as influences for your posts. Your posts should be true to your system.
Deviation will most likely not break your brand, but consistency allows your readers to feel like they know you and what you stand for. From there, write all the steps it takes for you to complete the action. Design systems for any other tasks with multiple steps on your lists. By creating systems for lengthy parts of your process helps to assure you that nothing was missed during the execution.
Use Your Time Management Strategies
My final tip is the most basic. Use your time management strategies. I have listed the strategies that help me. Undoubtedly, you have more strategies you could add. The only way any of them are effective is if you use them. You are the boss. Treat yourself like an employer would and hold yourself accountable. Use the methods here in addition to those you have as a means for creating a thriving, self-publishing or any business.
If the strategies here don’t address your needs, tweak the skills you’ve learned until they do. Work out the details of what your time management must address for you, and then find sources that best help you execute. No one is going to run your business for you. That’s your job and you can do it.
What are some places in your work you know you can use a good system? Comment below.
Just Who Are Your Readers? : How Creating a Readers Profile Can Focus Your Writing Efforts. Yes, you are writing the book you want to read. However, if the only person who wants to read it is you, then you have a hobby and not […]