Productivity

davidseah-progress-trackerLawrence Kasdan said ‘being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.

For self publishers this even more true–not only are we constantly writing but we’re on Twitter or Facebook or Goodreads connecting with readers and promoting our books.

I’ve been doing a lot of productivity research lately, mostly listening to podcasts because I can do that while cleaning or folding laundry.  I’ve learned a lot, particularly that an author is only as good as her tools!

Using software like Scrivener or Hootsuite can really help with writing and managing social media but only if you use them! Unfortunately using them is the hard part. I’ve tried a lot of to-do list software while excellent and somewhat fun to use, they didn’t work for me.

‘Write Book’ was way too big of an item for me (even when broken down into word count goals) because it was mixed in with the laundry, dinner and helping my kids with their homework.

Enter the Progress Tracker

I found something that works better: The Task Progress Tracker.

This is basically a worksheet created by David Seah that breaks a big job down into small pieces and then lets you track your time spent on each project. When you’ve completed a project, you’ll also know how much time you spent on it which helps you plan better for the future–so double bonus there!

Here’s how I use it:

1. Print out a worksheet and staple it to a folder. I keep all associated materials to the project in the folder.

2. Then I take my book outline and transfer each chapter to a line. Alternatively, you could use this to track how much time you are spending on Social Media or book promotion. Showing up on Twitter and Facebook is half the battle!

3. Use Online Stopwatch to time 15 minute increments of work on a project. (You can do anything for 15 minutes!)

Not only does this make me a better planner, on days when my only option is to grab 15 minutes, I get the stuff that needs doing done.

Do you have any productivity tools that help you to focus?

 

 

Seven Point Story Structure with Dan Wells

I was listening to Writing Excuses the other day and Dan Wells (Partials, John Cleaver Books) did a great break down of his take on the Seven Point Story Structure. With NaNoWriMo coming up quickly, I thought I’d share that info here.

He’s also got a presentation of the Seven Point Structure on YouTube, so I’m linking to those videos as well. ( Scroll down for the videos.) They are well worth watching, especially if you are struggling to come up with a plot.watch full xXx: Return of Xander Cage 2017 movie

He runs downs the plots of many books and movies as examples including Harry Potter, Pride & Prejudice and The Matrix. I’ve also worked up a set of worksheets based on this structure (because after you know it, it is fun to find it in all of your favorite show and books.)

I’ll do a quick summary , give you some worksheets and a Scrivener Template* and you can watch the videos. It’s an awesome way to kick of NaNoWriMo with a strong start. (And increase the chances you’ll have something that you can eventually publish.)

*Please Note: The Scrivener Template must be imported. You cannot just double click on the file and have it open. If you don’t have Scrivener or want step by step instructions for using it, please download the free Author Toolkit.

Quick Notes

Here are a few quick notes on the presentation, so that you can get  jump on the information. The worksheet has a cover sheet that includes these notes:

The Hook

This is where your characters start from. You set up your character’s world and set their stakes (what they have to lose) in this part.

Plot Turn 1

This is the event that sets your story in motion.  It moves you from the beginning to the Midpoint. You character’s world changes here.

Pinch 1

Pinches are where you put pressure on your hero from your antagonist to force your hero into action.

Midpoint

The midpoint takes your character from reaction to action. At the midpoint, your character determines that she must do something.  (This can take place over a series of scenes.)

Pinch 2

Pinch 2 is where your story takes the ultimate dive. Your hero is literally sitting in the jaws of defeat. Everything has fallen apart.

Plot Turn 2

This point moves the story from the Midpoint to the Resolution. Plot Turn 2 is where you character receives the final piece of information that he needs to make it to the resolution. (No new information can be introduced after this point.) You character finally understands he has the power to achieve the resolution.

Resolution

Your hero completes what he sets out to do.

 

Download the Worksheets

7 point story structure worksheet - Self Publishing Toolkit

How to use the Worksheets: The first page contains the definition of each point and three examples. The second page is blank. Since your story will likely have more than one thread, you can assign each thread to a column and see how they weave together to form your story.

Watch the Videos

This is a 5-part series and they are listed in order. It’s worth watching all of them to get the concepts completely drilled it into your head.

The Indie Author Toolkit

I am super, unbelievably excited to announce the debut of the Self Publishing Toolkit’s first child: the Indie Author Toolkit!Download the SPTK Author Toolkitdownload full film Carol 2015

The Self Publishing Toolkit’s Indie Author Toolkit has everything you need to write your next novel in one package–all you need to add is your imagination.

Inside the Toolkit, you’ll find:

  • Scrivener 30 day free trial (This is the only program you need to write a novel! It is the total package from start to finish.)
  • The Scrivener Quick-Start guide to get you up and running as fast as possible.
  • The Self Publishing Toolkit Scrivener Template – This template takes all of the best practices outlined in the Self Publishing Toolkit and puts them to work for you. It also includes tips inside the program to advise you as you work.
  • Grammar Matters – A quick reference quick to the most common grammatical mistakes and how to fix them. Also includes a complete guide to punctuation.

The Indie Author Toolkit is yours to download. Simply fill out the form below and get free instant access to this one of a kind toolkit.

 

Setting the Mood: Writing Music

Music inspires your writing!When it comes to Self Publishing, the more books you have, the more money you make so productivity and concentration are a top priority. Music, whether it’s your favorite movie soundtrack or white noise, helps to get you into the zone, improve your focus and achieve your goals. Here are three of my favorite free online sources for mood setting music:movie Rings streaming

RainyMood

RainyMood gives you a non-stop sound track of rain that is so realistic, it will have you checking the windows to see how wet it is outside. You’ll love using RainyMood when proof-reading or editing. I’ve discovered it sets the perfect atmosphere to keep me focused for long stretches of time. In fact, I’m listening to it as I write this post.

Pandora

No matter what kind of music you are in the mood for, Pandora’s got it. You can set up stations for each of your books to make slipping into your writer mode that much easier. If you’ve never used Pandora, give it a go. Pandora learns what you like (and what you don’t) and will suggest new artists based on your preferences. I have found so much inspiration on Pandora, both for life and writing, that I can’t recommend it highly enough. Pandora is free, but ad supported. It’s $36/year to get rid of the ads.

simplynoise

Want the world to go away for a while? Writing in a busy cafe or coffee shop? Simplynoise gets the job done . You can live stream white, pink or brown noise for free. They also have a free downloadable 60 minute Thunderstorm track as well as a donate and download option for an Ocean Waves track and white, pink or brown noise. These would be perfect for timing your writing sessions.

Do you have a favorite site that you’d like to share? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list.