Decluttering … Clearing the Mental Clutter

Continuing the series Inspired by The Life-Changing Magic of Cleaning Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, let’s spend some time this week talking about the ways in which we can declutter our minds as writers.

mindful mindfulness

You know how it goes; you sit down to write and you start thinking about that item you need to add to the grocery list, you recall that really annoying thing a coworker said to you and you start analyzing why he or she said it in the first place, you remember that your child has a soccer practice tomorrow and you start mentally trying to figure out if you have time to pick her up afterward or if you should arrange a ride for her with another player’s parents…the list goes on. Now if you’re capable of simply “emptying your mind” of all of this useless information by a simple exercise of willpower…kudos. If you’re like me, and need some reminders for how to declutter your headspace, here are some things to consider:

  • Write down all of these bizarre and/or unproductive thoughts you’re having. Putting these things down on paper empties your mind of them, allows you to look at them, analyze them and then put them aside for a time when they become more relevant. Also, any writing gets the writing juices flowing. Who knows, maybe stream of conscious ranting about an interaction at work could create a meaningful dialogue in an upcoming chapter of yours!
  • Focus or meditate on nothing. ‘Now empty your mind of all of your worries and attachments,’ she says, calm as a cow in the downward dog position, her yoga pants screaming enlightenment as she hums a long ‘Ommmmmmmmmm,’ followed by Namaste–or something ridiculously cliché to that same effect. As silly as it sounds, trying to think of ‘nothing,’ or meditating is serious business, and something I would never call myself talented at. Trying to actually let go of the idea that you and all of your little problems and anxieties are at the center of the universe is like trying not to blink. Practicing this focus on nothing will help temporarily remove our focus on that giant ego we all have (and would never, if only begrudgingly admit to having), and help you become present in the task at hand: namely, writing.
  • Put on some music, and go out for a walk or run or a spin on the bike. Exercise (with or without music) is a fantastic way to help you process all of those nagging thoughts cluttering up your mind space. Exercising with music supposedly activates your frontal lobe (the area in your brain associating with higher mental function), and not only that, it gives you something else to meditate on–lyrics perhaps. Focus on the words in the song, seek inspiration in the creativity of music. Meditate on putting one foot in front of the other if the whole Namaste thing is too much for you. Moving meditation is my favorite form, and it always helps boost my creativity.
  • Take a nap. If you have way too much going on in your head to write, take a snooze. Let those things drift away into Never Never Land and wake up feeling refreshed. A nap is like a reset button later in the day. We only get more and more stressed out starting the minute we shut off the alarms anyway, so go back into that bliss-like state of nothingness that is slumber. Maybe you’ll even dream up an interesting scenario for your main character to overcome in the midst.
  • Listen to a podcast or call a friend. A one-sided conversation with a podcast is my favorite means for readjusting my focus. If I want to write about anxiety or loneliness and I’m unable to focus, I’ll search YouTube to see what some of my literary or philosophical love interests have said on the matter. Listening to someone I truly respect and whose opinion I long to have on any matter in my life always get my brain gears turning. Especially since I can’t talk back to them, but can only entertain the conversation in my mind. This makes me want to write to no avail; it makes me want to express my thoughts triggered by someone else’s ideas. This same effect can be achieved by calling a friend who you love discoursing with as well–just make sure to not get too carried away and forget to get back to work at all. 

 

 


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

From the Archives: “Back to Writing on the Road to Self-Publishing”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: May 18th, 2010 ]

Ezines – they are a fast and free opportunity to self publish. Moreover, publishing in ezines can help you get motivated to write your book, and even promote your book after publication.

We’ve discussed the idea of publishing excerpts of your book as individual articles or stories. You can simply locate a website and query that site’s webmaster about publishing your article. Make sure you include your biographical byline, which mentions your book as well.

This is more of the same, but concentrating on ezine publication.

There really are countless ezines in existence now, each with a specific niche or category. And all of them are voraciously hungry for content.

Rather than seeking them out individually, you can place your articles into databases that ezine editors frequent for content. They use your article free of charge, and in exchange, include your biographical byline, which, again, includes information about you and your book.

Here are some to check out:

http://www.ezinearticles.com

http://www.ebooksnbytes.com

http://www.connectionteam.com

http://www.netterweb.com

http://www.ideamarketers.com

http://www.goarticles.com

http://www.knowledge-finder.com

http://www.articlecity.com

Don’t send an article you’ve already published last week. Instead, write another chapter of your book first (since finishing your book the main goal, after all.)

Have fun. Keep writing.

zines e-zines ezines

Well, it’s not 2010 anymore … and what is the state of the zine, much less the state of the e-zine? I haven’t heard as much about these lovely creatures of late as I used to, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a thriving communiting of ziners floating around the interwebs where I can’t see them.

A quick foray around the news feeds I follow turns up, well, actually, quite a lot! This week alone, zines have been featured in local newspapers from coast to coast, as well as a handful of higher-profile national news magazines and online compendiums. The Hudson Valley One hosted an article just last week titled “Revolution in your hands: New Paltz hosts weekend of zine making & reading,” in which I learned a fabulous nugget of information: there is an actual job description called “Zine Librarian” at the Sojourner Truth Library. How cool is that?? (Very cool.) And two weeks ago, eCollege Times hosted an article titled “Print Isn’t Dead: Take a page from local zine queen Charissa Lucille,” and includes an interview with an ASU alum and zine shop owner from Phoenix, Arizona, who dishes on everything from putting together a team of writers to what the future of zines will look like. And late last month, the OC Weekly hosted an article titled “LibroMobile’s Zine Mission,” about a mobile truck (think of a food truck, just stocked with zines and zine-making materials!) powered by the dreams of one enterprising young woman determined to put the materials for creative self-expression into the hands of area teens. And an article from LA Weekly titled “A New Exhibit Traces the Influence of Zines and Books on L.A.’s Art Scene” hints at the long and ongoing legacy of zines on the West Coast as part of the culture-shaping punk aesthetic.

So zines haven’t gone anywhere. What about e-zines?

Well, there are fewer articles than there used to be. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, really. But if you spend much time on the E-Zine Directory (www.ezine-dir.com) you might just find yourself overwhelmed by how many e-zines there are these days. There are e-zines on wine-making and e-zines which are the official newsletters for towns and counties in Alabama. There are e-zines about alternative music and e-zines about spirituality and enlightenment. There are e-zines about feng shui and the paranormal, e-zines about parents of “difficult” children, e-zines about small businesses, and e-zines about voice talent and voice coaching.

In short, there seems to be an e-zine about everything. The content of most e-zines has shifted, however, away from what you might think of as typical “punk” content and the arts/music/literature scene which still dominates the physical zines. E-zines have broadened to become the territory of everyone with something to say ….

And that, as a self-publishing blog dedicated to the freedom of expression, we can get behind.

 

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing News: 2.20.2017

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

In a fast-paced world, articles with bullet points (especially numbered ones) seem to rule as far as attention grabbers go. Consumers look and see a title like “8 tips for how to self-publish your novel” and think, ‘I’ll read the all of the emboldened points and skim the ones that interest me most, and then I can get back to my really interesting Facebook news feed.’

Ricardo Fayet, provides one such streamlined list for those thinking about taking the plunge into the self-publishing world. Fayet’s list is one worth going over because, while it is concise, it has some insightful tips that one might not consider off-hand.

  1. Know your audience
  2. Create a writing routine and be consistent with it
  3. Give your manuscript to readers and gather reactions before publishing
  4. “Know your budget and do your research”
  5. “Always hire a developmental editor”
  6. DO NOT design your own book cover
  7. “Don’t think of distribution as digital vs. print” — there’s a market for both!
  8. “Build your mailing list before you publish your book”

Within each of these tips, Fayet has pretty sound advice that is fleshed out succinctly, but with enough information to persuade you that he’s done his research. Click the link above and pluck what piece of writer wisdom you can from it!

For a more heart-warming piece, we’ll turn to the story of Dawn Reed, a woman who had the (quite achievable) dream of publishing a children’s book. Reed’s story had been rejected several times over, which would turn some dreamers into cynics or quitters. However, Reed had a more realistic (and optimistic) understanding of these rejections.

I think of Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) who was rejected by over 20 publishers and Norman Bridwell, writer of the Clifford the Big Red Dog books, who was turned away by 15 publishing companies…and I keep going,” says Reed.

Rather than let the rejections stop her in her tracks, Reed simply chose another route–that of self-publishing. While working with a self-publishing company, a bizarre thing happened. Dawn received an email saying, “Hi. Your dream is over. Your book will never be published…” Reed was obviously crushed, but turned to things such as prayer as a way of coping with what seemed to be both terrible and impossible news.

Luckily, after probing and inquiring about the strange email, she received word “from the Vice President and Director of Production,” she said, “His email account had been hacked, and that’s why I received the harsh notice. I was so relieved!”

If you consider yourself a fellow dreamer, lover of writing and self-publishing, read this article to see how Dawn dealt with the possibility of her dreams being shattered time and time again, and how she turned out to still become a self–published author nonetheless. It’s an inspiring article that I’m sure many of us can empathize with.

 


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Decluttering … The Desk & Workspace

In the coming weeks, we’re going to be drawing some lessons from Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Kondo’s approach is based on a “secret” she claims starts with discarding things you don’t actually use or need and proceed by organizing your space “thoroughly [and] completely, in one go.” Kondo goes so far as to assert that, “A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.”

So as a writer, I wanted to see what lesson Kondo’s “magic of tidying up” had to offer. First off, I’d like to discuss how writers can declutter their workspaces, be that a desk or an entire room they write in.

cluttered desk tidying up

1) A cluttered desk means a cluttered mind.

 

This is simple. If there are things on your desk that you are not actively working on, or that are not helping you in some way with the task at hand, remove them! Having to shuffle through piles of bills or checks or having to worry about spilling a bottle of nail polish or a half full cup of coffee that’s now ten days old and definitely has mold growing on it, is absolutely going to affect your productively. For me, a messy workspace equals a great amount of stress. I spend half of the time that I should be working thinking about how I really need to clean. When you’re writing and have useless thoughts like that weighing you down, your writing will come across as inhibited and will probably lack the focus and precision that can actually captivate your readers.

2) A cluttered room will also mean a cluttered mind.

If you’re lucky enough to have a whole room devoted to your writing space, make sure you organize it in such a way that it promotes creativity, provides a sense of comfort and that drive productivity.

  • With regards to creativity: Keep books of authors who really inspire you on a shelf in this room. If you have another artistic hobby that can help you get the creative juices flowing when you’re feeling writer’s block such as music or painting, keep room for those activities in there as well. Then when you’re feeling stumped, you can walk over to a blank canvas and let a paintbrush speak where words have failed you, or let your guitar sing out a calming melody. This way you have access to other things that keep your creative juices flowing–rather than resorting to Facebook or Twitter when you’re at a loss.
  • With regards to comfort: You ultimately want to feel comfortable in your work space. If your chair is ratty and uncomfortable, you’ll subconsciously be focused on how numb your rear end is going while you’re writing, which who knows, could make for some interesting writing, but I doubt it. Have a chair, or a giant bouncy ball, or a bean bag–or whatever sitting apparatus you find most appealing–that you like sitting in. Use lighting that is not too invasive or flourescent that will just remind you of how life in a cubical might be. If you like playing music while you write, have a stereo playing in the background.
  • With regards to productivity: Keeping only the essentials on your desk will be the first step (scroll up to number 1 on this list if you’ve already let what I said escape you). Some things that promote productivity are the tools of the trade: if you write on a notepad, have one of those and a pen. If you’re a laptop kind of gal or girl, have that out and make sure that desktop isn’t cluttered with 1,000 windows of recipes for dinner, iMessenger conversations and eBay bidding wars. If you’re a list maker: utilize a bulletin board (or the more crude, tack it right to the wall approach) with a list of what you want to accomplish for each coming work session. Remove items you’ve completed, pat yourself on the back, tidy your desk after you’ve had a mad writing session, and get ready to do it all again next time!

Remember that there are very few spaces in life that get to be “just ours.” We often share space with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Make your little writing corner a haven, a place you love being in and get excited about entering. Clutter will make this space feel like a burden that needs to be dealt with, rather than a place you go to do what you love. So this week: DECLUTTER!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com

From the Archives: “Book Review Leads for the Self Published Author”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

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[ Originally posted: September 12th, 2008 ]

Getting your book reviewed is an important part of book promotion for the self-published author.

If you are seeking book reviews: BookPleasures.com is a website you may want to investigate. They’ve been known to write book reviews and even interview authors for additional exposure. There is more information on their site at www.bookpleasures.com

Another opportunity exists at http://www.reviewyourbook.com where you can submit your book for a possible free review and listing on their website. There’s no fee (that I could see) and every little bit helps.

If you’ve written a travel log, or a book that fits the description of “travel log” (a memoir involving a foreign locale, for example), you may also want to look into: sketchandtravel.com

Good luck and have fun!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

A lot of time has passed since 2008 when I first posted some go-to reviewing resources to our blog, and while some stalwarts are still in business (including BookPleasures and SketchandTravel) several others are no longer in operation–at least not in any incarnation which would be useful to you, our readers. Hence the line through one of the sites listed above.

There are, however, quite a few new and wonderful resources, many of which remain free, including:

  1. www.ReadersFavorite.com (free!)
  2. www.digitalbooktoday.com (offers a slew of options, some paid, some free)
  3. www.SelfPublishingReview.com (charges a fee, with multiple packages)
  4. www.IndieReader.com (expensive, but offers a “rush” option which is useful)
  5. IndieBRAG at www.bragmedallion.com (charges a small fee, ebooks only)
  6. www.BlueInkReview.com (charges a small fee, but flexible)
  7. www.MidwestBookReview.com (charges a small fee, but gives great exposure)

There are, of course, a thick pile of reviewers who are always willing to review in exchange for free book copies, but these are scattered throughout the internet and in no one place.

Just because a book review is free doesn’t mean it’s the only review you’ll want … or need. So consider your options–all of your options!–and pursue the ones that are both time and cost effective for you!

(And if you have any review websites we’ve missed that you’d like to see posted here, drop me a line!)

book review

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Self-Publishing News: 2.13.2017

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

In this article, Jeremy Ryan Slate asks the question, “Why use a publisher at all?” in lieu of the question, “Why publish at all?” when confronted with the reality that only 1% of books published in 2016 ever made it to an actual bookshelf.

Slate uses the example of a book by Jared Kleinert called, “2 Billion Under 20” to really send his point home. Kleinert’s book–which focused on millennial entrepreneurs–did well initially. However, because the author went through a traditional publisher, when the book’s sales began to fizzle out he wasn’t able to use/repurpose the content of the book to generate sales because he had waived the right to do so with his publisher.

Thus came the impetus for Kleinert’s next book, “3 Billion Under 30,” which he decided to self-publish, for a handful of reasons, some of which are elaborated on in this article. First was networking–the stories he compiled to make the book came from over 75 entrepreneurs, all of whom used the book as a platform for their brand, in turn helping Kleinert establish his own brand. Secondly was the press component: when you self-publish you can promote the text on your blog, website or other social media platform by publishing excerpts–a liberty you do not get when going with a traditional publisher. Lastly, Kleinert–a true businessman–has come to realize that the free market has made it more profitable for editors and designers to freelance than it was for them to work for traditional publishing companies. Thus, the best of the best are accessible to self-publishing authors who are willing to pay to have professionally designed and edited books, of the same (if not better) quality provided by traditional publishing companies.

To read more insights from the entrepreneurially minded, read the full article by clicking the link above!

Maryann Breukelman’s first published novel is entitled, “The Secret Bookstore” and is described by the author as “a modern fable …a sort of a fairytale for adults.” Written under the pen name, Magnus Fox, Breukelman identifies with the main character, who embraced the fear of the unknown so as to find a path to self-discovery–much like the author feels she herself did by self-publishing this piece. Breukelman has written many manuscripts, but most remain hidden away or abandoned before she decided to explore writing in a new genre with “The Secret Bookstore.”

“The novel follows the journey of Fox, a disillusioned accountant who finds his life thrown into chaos at the appearance of a mysterious woman urging him to seek out a secret bookstore and ultimately his true purpose in life.

Fox is faced with the decision to leave his comfortable life behind and risk it all in the quest. The book follows that journey into the depths of a distant forest, chronicling Fox’s growing obsession as he faces a series of extraordinary events.”

This book can be read as an entertaining tale of adventure, or as a more philosophical plunge into the question of “why self-publish?” or what our purpose in life might be.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry. This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

A Book is Like A … CAT?

Run a search on Google for “A book is like a…” and you will find that nearly everyone has a handy simile, thousands of entries dedicated to comparing books to start-ups (I suppose they do often keep us up at night and drive us into bankruptcy), to children (they are demanding and require discipline as well as inspiring great pride in us, I expect), to frigates (‘handle with care; this thing might sink you!’ perhaps?), to the good Doctor’s faithful TARDIS (it is bigger on the inside and leads to Narnia–oh, wait).

But so far as I can tell, nobody has yet compared a book to a cat, although the comparison is so perfectly neat as to defy the rules of Internet, which dictate that you can find someone comparing any one thing to any one other thing somewhere, no matter how hyperspecific we want to get about the details. (SEE: Why having an ulcer is like “having a burglar alarm go off inside you” … IN RUSSIAN.)

And a book is most definitely not like a dog. In no way could it ever be like … a dog. So happy to see you after work, so congenial and eager to please, so pleased with even the smallest investment of time or the teeniest of bones thrown its way.

But a cat:

c39purrvcaaoxkk

  • A cat is not dignified and neither is your book. Inspiration won’t come to you easily, or conveniently, but instead unload itself all over your lap whenever you’re least prepared to take advantage of it. It’s difficult to please, but it also can’t clearly articulate what it wants or needs to be what it needs to be, so you end up dancing in circles, trying to keep the blood flowing to your legs.
  • A cat … lurks. And so does your book. It will sit on your desktop, on your laptop, on your cloud storage platform of choice … and wait for attention. Demanding attention is what cats and books do best, only passively, and without wanting to be touched except on their hyperspecific terms so don’t even think about getting cozy.
  • A cat has a mind of its own, and yeah, so does your book. Its characters will run off in completely unexpected directions, your plot will do loop-the-loops instead of following your very thorough outline (or mental sketch, at least), and the ending never feels quite right once you get it in there.

But most importantly, a book is like a cat in one last meaningful way:

  • A cat is worth it. And I guarantee … your book is, too. It’s worth the struggle, the lack of dignity, the lurking, all of it. And yes, it’s a wonderful feeling when you’re done and have the manuscript off to a publisher–but completion, like a cat, is never a fixed point in space or time. Pretty soon you’ll have more ideas cascading in to fill the gap, and the process begins again. The act of being an author is the real work, and the real reward. Just as a cat is its own (self-important, sometimes) reward.

And that, my friends, is how a book is like … a CAT!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com