How To Become a Lean, Mean, Writing MACHINE

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In my most recent branding and social media book, I talk about blogging and teach how to do it well. I’m a HUGE fan of the blog for a number of reasons. Blogging is fabulous for platform-building, cultivating a readership, and streamlining our writing. Blogging is the most stable form of social media.

Unless the Internet implodes? Blogs will remain. But blogging offers writers a significant edge beyond the platform.

Getting in THE ZONE

When we’re new, it’s tough to filter out the world and “get into the zone” where words begin to flow. We might futz with the coffee machine, check e-mail, tidy the kitchen and do everything but write. If one looks at a lot of the big name writers, many were originally doctors, lawyers and journalists.

Blogging is journalism of The Digital Age.

Many of the most effective, prolific and most highly awarded novelists began in journalism—Jack London, T. Jefferson Parker, Jonathan Maberry are the ones that quickly come to mind.

Journalists possess unique skills that can make us stronger and more successful writers. A journalist can’t wait for the muse to visit to write about that big chemical company fire. They write whether they feel like it or not. They aren’t playing for fun, they’re “playing” for keeps.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Image courtesy of Reuters.

Many of us are working multiple jobs and serving in numerous roles—caretakers, employees, spouses, parents, grandparents, etc. The world’s job is to stop us from writing. Our ego is our enemy. Our insecurities would love to burn us and our dreams to the ground. Friends and family are often enemy agents. Not being a pessimist, just a pragmatist,

Steve Pressfield calls it The Resistance. Seth Godin calls it Retile Brain. When I started blogging, it took HOURS. I perfected every word, every line. I had the attention span of a gnat with a bad crack habit.

Now? I homeschool, have four cats and a dog and run two companies. When I’m writing, I’m present, vested and bulletproof. I’ve literally continued writing with a kitten scaling my back and Spawn whacking me with a NERF sword while Dora the Explorer blares in the background. It no longer matters.

Right now? I have Shingles. Does it hurt? Like hell…but not right now. I’ve blocked that. I’m writing.

Did this happen overnight? NO. It took practice, but this is why I’m fond of blogging. It can be a warmup. It’s running lines or spending time in the batting cage. It hones our focus and trains us to put on our game face instantly and remain fully in the zone until the play is complete.

Journalists get the story. They can think when bombs are going off and gunfire is all around. They can be pushed, shoved, beaten and only the story matters. When they’re on, they’re ON.

Tighten the Writing

Great journalists learn to hook early, get to the point ASAP, captivate attention completely and then end. We can take a lesson. If we can say it in one sentence, we don’t need five. One powerful word is better than three inferior ones. Journalists cut the fluff and go for the guts. So do superior writers.

The car hurtled west towing a swirl of black exhaust into the light of day. It was low and old, with Baja plates and a loose muffler that dangled and sparked on the dips. ~T. Jefferson Parker Iron River

Look at HOW MUCH information we glean in TWO sentences and how many questions are raised in the reader’s mind. Why are they speeding? The condition of the car. Location. Time of day. Something important is making the driver ignore a muffler that would make the rest of us stop and find a coat hangar or a mechanic. But not THIS driver.


We are ALL works in progress. I’m always hunting for ways to streamline and say more with less.

Journalists also see details others miss, meaningful details. Blogging will make you notice people and the world in a whole new way. While other writers offer the obvious—“He had dull brown hair, glasses and wore a polyester suit”—we’re offering the meaningful. “He had the kind of face you forgot even while you were still talking to him.” (Daniel Suarez, Daemon).

The Office

The Office

Immaculate Deception

Journalists make deadlines. They ship. Perfection is an illusion. We could all edit our WIPs forever and someone will not like our work. No work will be “immaculate.” That’s a lie. We cannot write books (or blogs) by committee. It’s a good way to go crazy. Just accept not everyone likes what we have to offer. Not everyone likes my blogs (GASP!). They’re too long, too short, too conversational, etc.

I got razed on a Huffington post because I used the word “awesome.” Really?

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Am I going to quit using the most awesome word in this awesome world because one person thinks the word awesome is “unprofessional”? Nope. I think that they should find another awesome blog and have an AWESOME time reading something that appeals more to their ridiculous and boring preferences.

Blogging builds rhino skin and fires out perfectionism. Writers that make a living write a lot. Let go, move on, write more. The great part about blog-training is you’ll write leaner and faster and only get better over time. The last book I wrote? The editors I hired were thrilled because they could edit the meat of my work because the draft (although imperfect) was already clean. 

Yes, there are other ways to train/hone the same skills, but I am all about doing MORE with LESS. Blogging builds the platform, reaches readers and cultivates new fans, all while helping us become better today than we were yesterday.

What are your thoughts? Are you struggling with getting in and remaining in the zone? Find it difficult to filter out distractions? Are you seeing ways you can hook earlier, end stronger? Say less with more? Are you improving when it comes to procrastination or excuses? What other ways have you trained yourself to be a better writer?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


Back to School!

Upcoming Classes: NEW!!! Going Pro Series

Going Pro Craft, Going Pro SocialMedia/Branding, Going Pro Business, Going Pro All the Way! (ALL THREE).

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. very useful advice! As a dreadful procrastinator, I shall heed!

  2. A shingles sufferer also, we write through the agony. Love the example. I’m slowly getting better with my descriptions and character development thanks to your writing advice.

  3. Enjoyed this. Thanks! Definitely a challenge to juggle so many things while in pursuit of your dreams, but we do have the power. It mostly has to do with focus. So, whenever you can, Do – Write! Cheers! Joy

  4. Awesome.

  5. This is a freakin’ AWESOME post. Loved it. I sometimes get discouraged with my blog. I do a good job of getting 50-300 views a day, but so few follow or join the email list. I must be doing something wrong? I’ll keep stream-lining. To know what OTHER AWESOME benefits I’m getting from it helps me not give up. Thanks for your AWESOMENESS!!!

    1. On same boat and equally devoted.My problem is medium.hope to master it.someone rightly said-no pain no gain..right?

    • annerallen on August 27, 2014 at 11:29 am
    • Reply

    I agree with this 100%, Kristen! Blogging IS the most stable form of social media and it teaches us a whole lot of things we may not even be aware of. (Like that skin-toughening thing. When I got my first death threats because some a**hat chose to misunderstand a post I wrote, I got a crash course in “you can’t please everyone.”) I get so mad when people say “blogging is over” or “blogging doesn’t help authors.” Maybe not ALL authors, but it sure is the best way I know to build a platform and get our names out there.

  6. An awesome post. My son and I moved in with my sister, and while I can write with noise–any noise–she’s still having a hard time getting in the zone where nothing can penetrate. I hope she reads this. maybe it will help.

    1. It was helpful. Don’t expect anything over night but I’ll try. Please, just be patient with me and get him a hand held video game! haha. Maybe I can teach him the quiet game. haha.

      But it was helpful. Thanks for mentioning it. Karen always has great advice.

  7. It’s been hard for me to keep up the blogging habit, and to stay focused on my fiction. I have chronic pain and fatigue (and ADD tendencies). It’s easy to blame that, or to say nothing happens in my life to write about. You just gave me that kick in the pants I really needed. I know blogging is good in all the ways you say.

    O.K. I admit that my real issue is belief in myself. I don’t think I have anything worthwhile to say. My characters might, but I don’t. You reminded me to put that aside and do it anyway.

    Thank you! You’re awesome! 😉

  8. Thanks for this. It was exactly what I need to hear right now. My blog is doing less well than my FB page and it’s frustrating. I was wondering whether it was worth the time – but yes, it is. And better focus will help me find that time. Thanks.

  9. People always ask me how I write as much as I do. If only they knew how little time I actually DO write. Honestly, it’s all about forcing yourself to sit down and put the words to paper, and there is no one who can tell you how to do that. As a writer, you are your boss, and you must teach yourself discipline.
    Thanks for another AWESOME article. 🙂

    • shanbam3 on August 27, 2014 at 11:39 am
    • Reply

    Oh, god, exactly what I needed to hear. This was inspirational, and thank you for sharing! I just reached the end of a work in progress last night and I’m preparing to go back through it with the lean, mean, revising eye. This article helps set the intention nicely 🙂

  10. This is really interesting and well-written. I can relate to your section about Immaculate Deception as it usually takes me far too long to write a blog post. Perhaps I will set myself a challenging deadline for my next one and see how it turns out!

  11. I am definitely guilty of the perfectionism when it comes to my writing.
    What winds up happening is I become paralyzed and write nothing at all! Or I fall so far behind I have to make up for lost time and submit something so shoddy, I can’t even be proud of it. The struggle is real, folks. Fortunately by blog is my brain baby and I have given myself deadlines and daily goals to keep me from falling into those pitfalls, but it is still in the honeymoon phase. Procrastination may once again rear it’s mean little head.

    I am definitely going to be looking into the resources you have to offer. They seem quite AWESOME!

  12. I wish it weren’t true (“The world’s job is to stop us from writing.”). But of course it is. How appropriate that this latest blog post of yours, Kristen, is exactly what i just groused about on my own blog. I’m a follower of your blog because you always cut to the chase and tell it like it is. best wishes, deb 🙂

  13. The only place I’m blogging is on my Facebook page. I have a WordPress account, but have yet to use it. Frankly, I have a novel I’m writing and extraneous blogging doesn’t appeal to me. This book is my personal monster and I must wrestle with it daily; chores and animal care fill out the remainder of my life. I will say there is no vacation time when one is a destitute writer. I live 20 miles from Lake Tahoe and haven’t gone all damn summer. I will be on Amazon Kindle next month. Oh, any suggestions on using A/K vs. CreateSpace? What’s the deal as they both are Amazon? Back to work-and I appreciate your overall wisdom, Kristen. See you around!

    1. If you blog at all, DO NOT do it on FB. FB could vanish, decide to delete your content because they rearrange the digital furniture. Also, search engines will never direct new people to FB content so it dimities your efforts. As far as the A/K vs. CreateSpace? No idea. Haven’t used either and not my area of expertise. Kait Nolan would be a great resource. Friend her on Facebook. She ROCKS.

    • Tamara LeBlanc on August 27, 2014 at 12:11 pm
    • Reply

    I’m still a bit of a procrastinator. I think I’ll always be one of those. I’m an avid TV watcher when I’m not working in the office or in the yard or doing the other 80 million things I do every day. TV helps me relax and I like a good show (The Walking Dead, The Musketeers-BBC, The Strain, Seinfeld and Big bang to name a few) So it’s tough not to hunker down and escape with the boob tube while putting off writing.
    But, I’m trying to do better.
    Also, I LOVE this quote of yours “If we can say it in one sentence, we don’t need five. One powerful word is better than three inferior ones.” I’ve been trimming excess from my work in progress and these are words to live by!!
    Thanks for your wisdom!!

    • Ron Estrada on August 27, 2014 at 12:12 pm
    • Reply

    Ever since I announced to the known universe that I intend to finish a novel every two months while working a full time job, I met the Resistance. How can you have the time to craft your characters? Art cannot be rushed? A production schedule? Novelists can’t work to a schedule? I found it easy to tune them out. I’ve tried the other way. It took me five years to write the first book. I’ll write six over the next twelve months. Will they be worthy of a Newberry or Oldberry or Raspberry award? Probably not. But I’d rather have moderate sales of 6 titles than great sales of one, especially if a publisher keeps 83% of the receipts for the great one. I’ll be shunned by the NY Times. But I’ll still be awesome.

  14. Not all writers are “great journalists”, but this AWESOME post shows you exactly why journalism is a perfect working model for authors.
    There are many times when I don’t think I’ve written enough, job constraints and all, but I recently attended a writers’ party. A number of my old friends still haven’t finished the projects they were working on in 2011-2012. My first novel was published in 2013, and my second is being edited by my publisher. Yes, attending this party was quite the morale booster… 😈

  15. Nice.Keeping in touch with your posts is helping.few technical issues are to be mastered before i can show you my improvement.Help in that aspect would be a boon.

  16. Great post. Right on target. And that’s from a journalist’s perspective. I will hyper-link your post from my website later today, if that’s okay.

    1. Sure, and THANKS!

  17. I agree with every word you said. After 35 years working for TV and constant deadlines I can do all the stuff you say. Also the intro and the out words. In the last week I’ve written 28,000 words ad I set myself a deadline to reach a certain number of words before I went on holiday. It worked I just put myself mentally back in the workplace. I must blog more often though 🙁

  18. Great post Kristen, as a Journalism school graduate and having worked in TV news for many years, the discipline of meeting deadlines is drummed into you very quickly. But I would say that the most important thing I learned in that time was to figure out quickly — is there a story here? Is this just some interesting stuff, or is there truly something “new” here that could and should be reported.

  19. Thanks again for your encouragement, Kristen. I’m passing this along to my daughter, a work -from-home mother of a precious one-year old, with a great blog that she’s finally getting back into.

  20. Interesting. I agree blogging helps your writing skills and helps you just get something out. But I’ve got two problems. One, my blog seems to be attracting fewer and fewer visitors. Following conventional advice, I blog about something In know a fair amount about – horses – one day a week. On alternate weeks, I feature guests bloggers, most of whom put up animal themed posts. I seemed to have more visitors when I did my thing weekly, but I found it too distracting from my real writing.

    That brings me to problem #2. The blogging doesn’t seem to help me get my novel done. I’m having the hardest time finishing it. I know where I want to go, but I don’t want to work on the in-between sections that will get me there. Need a magic pill to combat this block.

    It’s super that you can do all that you do. Wish I had that kind of energy.

    1. Don’t follow conventional advice. It’s a good way to burn out. Blogs take all forms and can be very short. Problem 2 is just making the writing a priority. And I am not being snooty because I struggle too. What we do is not easy. Just accept it is a hard job but a rewarding one.

    • lala412 on August 27, 2014 at 1:48 pm
    • Reply

    I just started my author blog today (well, technically yesterday). My problem, like another said, is the whole belief in myself thing. I’ve always been too able to see everyone else’s point of view – which is great in helping to solve arguments, but horrible when someone tells you that everything you’ve written needs to be changed because your pov is *wrong*… It takes me a couple of weeks to snap back from that. Like you said. No committees. Going to try and blog every day, though at this point, not quite sure about what. 🙂

    1. I started with once a week then three times a week. For a long time I blogged 5 days a week and loved it but now am going back to three. Over the summer I post a lot less because traffic is always a lot lower. I’ve found 3X a week WAY easier than once a week. Too easy to forget.

      And confidence comes from DOING. I had ZERO confidence when I’d only written a couple blogs. Now at nearly a thousand? Say whatever you want.

  21. Reblogged this on Logan Keys Fiction and commented:
    Gotta love this take here. Dare I say awesome?

  22. I’m having a hard time getting back into my writing. Been trying for a year (coincidentally stopped because of law school, which I was hoping would make me a better writer as well as a lawyer) and I started my blog on here to do just that. It’s helped. My big problem is my brain is fried after work and I just can’t make it squeeze out a lot of words, creative or otherwise, because I’m tapped for the day. Still working on that. So I’m open to suggestions on how to fix it 🙂

    1. Talk about that. Blogs are a conversation not a presentation. Get people sharing and that will create community. Best of luck with law school and blogging. GO YOU!

      1. That is true. I think that is one of the things I always forget about blogging. I get so caught up in the presentation that I think I lose a lot of the value of what I really intend to share because I lose sight of the conversation that can be held.

  23. I can totally relate to the kitten on the back of the chair and noise galore around me with four homeschooling kids of my own and a fifth adult son who wants to talk at the most inopportune times. Thanks for the encouragement.

  24. Fantastic blog, Kristen. I published my debut indie thriller in 2012 and am currently working on the sequel. Every scene is a struggle and I’m a SLOW writer. I’ve slated this fall to learn about Goodreads and Twitter. Guess I’ll add blogging to my list. You make it look so easy, and that’s the mark of a great writer. Love your stuff.

  25. My blog birthday is today! Started blogging this day last year. I’ve enjoyed it but I have struggled to keep to a schedule and I’ve been a journalist all my life. When I started my goal was to write once a week but I missed one, and then found it difficult to get back to it, which meant a whole months went when I didn’t blog at all. So I’m really interested that you think blogging three times a week is easier than once a week. Think I will have to raise the bar for myself. Love your blog – it’s very inspirational.

  26. This is a great post. I love that you mention the idea of doing more with less. Right now I am building up posts before I make my blog public and I was trying to find a niche. But I am interested in too many things and some things I want to do would be better as posts by category instead of niche’d writing. So now I started a nicheless blog to see how it works out for me and I’ve let go of the idea of perfection and now embrace getting things done and moving on for more.

  27. I’m a princess when it comes to writing. It takes soooo long to get back into it after a distraction that I do declare a ‘distraction free time’ in my household when I write. Normally I try to squeeze it in the two hours no one else is home after work. I’m quite in awe of your ability to write with the kitten and the nerfs and the Dora. I’m sure it’s something I need to learn.
    Thanks for your tip on the ‘lean’ part of blogging. I’m yet to master that.

  28. Thanks for the inspirational advice. I wish you better health and a quick recovery from Shingles.

    When I began blogging, my main purpose was to keep myself writing when I just was not able to stay focused on my fiction projects. When I am more focused on writing fiction (for sale, hopefully), blogging tends to fall by the wayside. Then, sometimes, both fall by the wayside. I think I’ll be printing out this post of yours for those times.

  29. I want to become a Lean, Mean, Writing Machine…although it’s much harder than becoming a Lean, Mean, Running Machine – and I haven’t accomplished that either. Anyway, your article was ‘awesome’, just ‘AWESOME’. Thank you for the inspirational post.

  30. I love your posts and this one is no exception. Feel better!

  31. As if there weren’t enough reasons to love blogging, you just offered even more. 🙂

  32. I hear the advise a lot and it’s so simple – to write better, you must write. I admit, I’m not very good at taking that advice, but I still need to hear it. Thanks, Kristen! (I reblogged this post. Does that count for 2 entries? 🙂 )

    1. Yes it counts. And all of this is simple, but simple is NOT easy.

  33. Good advice as usual, Kristen. I finished rereading Rise of the Machines last night, taking copious notes all the way. Thank you so much for such a helpful book! I found so many useful tips and ideas, but probably the biggest “aha!” moment for me was your point that fiction writers are storytellers, so we need to show that on our blogs and in our bios. Seems so simple but I’d never looked at it like that before. Brilliant!

    1. Thanks! Hey, blogging can be serious fun if we approach it with new eyes. I appreciate your purchase and your passion!

    • johnfindley on August 27, 2014 at 6:40 pm
    • Reply

    Thankyou Kristen

    John Findley

    Woodleigh, Victoria, Australia

  34. Thank you for an encouraging post. Blogging is very intimidating sometimes for me, as is writing. But I can’t stop writing, so I’m pretty sure God gave the desire to me for a reason. I think my main issue is that I have so much to do between managing and writing my blog and editing my fictional work, that it’s hard for me to fit it all into the time that I get home from my day job. So, still working on that!

  35. Thank you for this. Growing up, my heroes were newspaper writers, particularly the columnists. Since starting blogging every day, I look at my daily entry as “my column,” and there are days when “making it perfect” loses out to “getting it out there.” Which reminds me, I have a column due…

    This one’s a keeper!

  36. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  37. Reblogged this on Safire Falcon and commented:
    Reblogging to save for later. I’m the world’s biggest procrastinator when it comes to writing. And the excuse is trying to figure out what direction to take my blog in. I spend time thinking about it instead of writing and allowing the evolution to take place.

  38. Thanks, Kristen. Good advice. I have no problem writing every day; I have the gift of good discipline. I spent an hour one evening and bragged to my wife that I had knocked out a thousand words. Her reply: “Are they any good?”

    What I liked about your post is the idea of the blog as the batting cage. Excellent analogy that hits home for me.

    1. Ignore the “any good” part. They are THERE so that is good enough. And when words are fresh, we aren’t objective. Either they are BRILLIANT or DOG POO. Let them sit and keep writing.

  39. I am a terrible procrastinator and i’m trying to get back into the groove of actually posting blogs, so this was really helpful. =D

    I’m brand new to your blog, Kristen, but I’ve gotten some wonderful advice from it already. I look forward to reading more!

  40. Just a new bee in this blogging world. Thanks for your awesome post . Learnt a lot 🙂

  41. Thank you Kristen, you have certainly encouraged me to continue as I was becoming discouraged
    because of lack of traffic of viewers on my blog. I am aware that I can be long winded sometimes, I am not a trained writer I write because i love reflecting so sometime I go round in circles as I tell my stories hence people not attracted to my blogs. I really like it when you say see the meaning details which reflecting is all about.

    1. If you can get a copy of my newest book, it teaches HOW to blog in ways that are easy on you and attractive to READERS. It might help. Best of luck!

      1. Thanks again Kristen, I was just wanting to find out if the book was available in paperback or hard cover.When I went on to your site it was advertised as an ibook. Is it possible for me to get in either paper back or hard cover?

      2. First, I hope you feel better real soon.

        Second, I think your blog is AWESOME.

        Third, please excuse my ignorance, but what is the name of your book? I think I very much need to read it.

        I’ve been blogging for about two years, but I haven’t managed to get any real traction or earn much of an audience. It’s incredibly discouraging to watch my Google Analytics go from 12 to 10 to 7 and back to 12. I feel like I’m doing something wrong, but I’m not sure what that something is.

        1. Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. At the bottom of the post I have all the links to buy where you prefer. And yes, I am biased, but I believe it would be a HUGE help for you.

        2. I just want to thank you tedthethird, for sharing your expereinces it makes me feel encouraged that I am not the only one struggling to get viewers on our sites. I will keep it until I reach the point I am able to interest readers.

  42. I am here to CURSE SOCIAL MEDIA, not Praise it. I think a lot of our problems with writing these days has to do with the multitude of distractions on the Net, itself. Before I got my first computer, I had an electronic typewriter. Sure, it cost me a small fortune in erasing cartridges, but I actually wrote! I got a 300 page story written. Unfortunately, it was in the arena of Fan Fiction, so I couldn’t publish it, but I got it DONE.

    I realize that this advice might be counter-productive to people who want to become more devout bloggers, but perhaps a month away from the INFORMATION SUPER HIGHWAY might not be such a bad idea. Unplugging the internet modem. Hiding it away, or at least turning it off. Putting our email on VACATION mode and going to the nearest stationery store and buying an honest to God paper notebook, (SPLURGE AWAY!! ) Maybe one of the old fashioned looking books with the parchment looking paper and a few trendy new pens. I for one am PEN crazy. It’s a sad addiction but I’m not willing to get help for it just yet. 😉

    Anywho, with a few fancy pens or pencils, some white out or good old fashioned erasers and a brand new notebook, SCRIBBLE!!! Take that story, that’s been burning a hole in your head, and WRITE IT OUT. Take yourself to the library (preferably one with a cafe ) or a Starbucks, buy a favorite drink, and a muffin, sit down and spill your guts (and NOT your coffee) into that brand new (PAPER) notebook.

    I’m preaching to myself as much as to anyone else here. I have a trilogy I want to commit to a document page, but before I do that, I want to get it onto real paper, using real pens, and to do that, I need some REAL time ….real LONG time away from this….killer of our time… the NET.

    More than a few times this week, I’ve contemplated the possibility of getting the net out of my home altogether. I’m still considering it. Hopefully, I’ll be able to take my notebook to the library deck and work there. Or even the park. Just so long as there is sun, warmth and no place to plug in a computer.

    Anyone up for the challenge? Ironically, to find out, I’d have to come back to this page, when I’d rather disconnect my net. OY! What a dilemma!

    1. Unfortunately, this is unrealistic for anyone who wants to make money off books. And this profession requires intense discipline. I write an average of 3,000 words a day and my computer is on all the time. But, when I am writing, I am writing. The Internet is no bigger distraction than television or reading or cleaning out the garage or shopping.

      There are tools like Write or Die that will remove all access to the Web for a specified amount of time. We can set it for an hour and it will not allow Internet access until the time is up (you have to completely reboot your computer to cheat).

      In The Digital Age, writers are finally making a living. Instead of 15%, we’re making 50% or more and can write and publish at the pace we want, not the publisher’s schedule. For the first time in history, more novelists are making a living wage and some are out-earning doctors and lawyers. But, social media and that platform are what make that happen.

      Some of us want to look back at the “good old days” but even as late as 2006, we had a 93% failure rate. Only 7% of all books published (traditionally and nontraditionally) sold more than 1000 copies. This stat is from Book Expo of America.

      If it takes me learning to exercise self-discipline in return for being PAID for the work I do and paid a fair and decent wage? I think I can turn off the computer and discipline my time. But this profession isn’t for everyone and there are a lot of reasons why.

      James Rollins, Jonathan Maberry, and Ann Rice are all very active on social media, but they also make their deadlines. Tess Gerritson blogs. The most successful indies are prolific at publishing and they are on-line. Thus, we are wise to remember that distractions are distractions. If it isn’t the Internet, something else will creep in. We are responsible for saying, “NO.”

      And I do a lot of writing by hand. I close the computer, set a timer and write.

      1. Hi Kristen!

        First off, thanks for that suggestion. I’m gonna have to look up Write or Die. And you’re right about the distraction issue; personal responsibility. You are responsible for the time you waste or use wisely. I spent most of this day off the computer entirely. But the problem isn’t the computer or the net, but how it’s used. So, as Nancy Reagan once recommended, dealing with another addiction, I’ll “Just Say NO.”

        I just bought a small container of Swiss Mocha International House Coffee and plan to spend the rest of this weekend plotting out a trilogy I want to write. Notebook and pens at the ready. (Starbucks is great but too expensive.)

    2. I have to agree, in a huge way! I began my WIP with ‘old school ‘ paper-pen, simply because I had no computer! Now, I am recuperating from a fractured leg, yet not much enthusiasm to get back to my WIP, yet, I know I will soon. I own both a laptop as well as a taplet, yet I still the bulk of my story long-hand, which enjoy a great deal more!!!

  43. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read at this very moment. I just spent way too many hours fretting over every last detail of the blog I’m about to launch and this post washed away my anxieties in a matter of minutes. Phew. I love your take-no-prisoners, no BS approach, Kristen. Great post.

  44. Thanks, Kristen. I’ve been letting my blog slack (not a post this week!) and I know I should just push through and get it done. With the way comments have dropped over the years, I often feel like I’m writing for no one but myself, so why bother? I am a trained (though non-practicing) journalist, so I should know better.

    • Rachel Thompson on August 28, 2014 at 9:28 am
    • Reply

    Starting out in fiction I soon realized I had problems. The cure was doing journalism– at first not paid which morphed into remittance. Besides dead lines and other professional requirements the best part was editors standing on my shoulder. I learned anything I wrote in 600 words I could say better in 400 words. The experience was invaluable.
    The disadvantage of blogging your way to professionalism is you don’t have the press hounds of hell spiting fire on your neck. I see a lot of bad blogs. Kristen has this right– the more you write the better you get. But my caveat is; blogging is good practice only if you are aware of your mistakes. Blog readers aren’t editors and are very likely to blow sunshine up your skirt.
    Arther C. Clarke said he wrote 2 million words before his first short story was accepted. His effort wasn’t wasted because most of that went through the editor’s meat grinder. That’s how he and I learned a lot. My advice to bloggers is take any opportunity to do real journalism. Sure blog away, but unless you hone the craft you may be wasting your time.

    1. Yeah, but they are readers and some of the cruelest comments/feedback I’ve ever gotten were on my blogs (justified or not). That’s where you get the rhino skin. People hide behind monikers and say HORRIBLE things. And blogging is just like writing a novel. We need to be reading and studying the craft of writing at the same time, but the blog can give us the way to put this knowledge into practical application and practice. And sure, it’s different than writing fiction, but we do learn to write more actively, get to the point and use one sentence instead of five, lessons that cross-apply to any area of writing.

      There are bad blogs and bad books and bad writers. Sometimes it’s because people are new, often they are unteachable. They believe because they are fluent in their native tongue they can write. Blogging can fire that out quickly. And what I love about blogging is I could tell when I was getting better because I was gaining more interest and more comments. This allowed me the opportunity to develop my authentic voice far faster than if I’d tried to do it with books or stories that remained unpublished or disappeared in a contest vortex.

  45. I can write with cartoons on and five boys playing in the room with me. Give me total quiet and I lose what’s left of my mind. What will stop me writing is my emotional state. Now granted I have a high rang of crazy but when I have an out of control abusive kid in my group home that constant fear and stress that’s when I have to force myself to write. Sometimes I edit because it’s easier and then at least I am getting stuff done.

  46. Blogging is the last thing I sometimes care to think about at the end of a long writing day and I LOVE to write. I know blogging is a necessity and I do a fair job at keeping my posts current and interesting. I love how you brought journalist in to this. This makes so much sense to me – they cannot sit around and wait for a muse or for inspiration to strike, if a writer wants readers then they have to write. This was a help and a great way to kick me in to gear for a blogging boot camp. Cheers, Kristen.

  47. I Blog regularly and am also published through PDMI. I found, my sales came from the Blog more than from any reviews I’ve had, and I’ve had quite few

  48. I couldn’t agree more. When I started out writing, I ventured into the world of blogging. It was a fascinating adventure. It allowed me to hone my skills as a writer, network around the world, and most importantly, it allowed me the opportunity to venture into other writing realms. One of which is the world of writing flash fiction. It taught me to write lean and mean, and led to a book deal, and a sequel, all based on my flash fiction shorts!

  49. As ever, a fantastic post and one well timed (how do you do that? Are you in my braaaaaaaaaain?
    Just when I was thinking of maybe giving up blogging, this reminds me of why I need it. Why I love it. Why it’s necessary as a stepping stone towards helping me churn out the stories burning in my brain.
    Thanks Kristen, you’re awesome (!) as ever.

    1. (((HUGS))))

  50. Reblogged this on andrewgodsell.

  51. I am glad I “found” your blog!! Your advice is real, practical and timely and totally awesome!!!! A total amateur, your explanation of keeping it short and to the point is invaluable. I think I use too many words but I am working on that and obviously need to work harder! Thanks!

  52. Great post, Kristen. So glad to hear it. I love blogging both for my own post and responding to others. It’s cozy and friendly and you have a moment to think about what you want to say and the word count to do so. I’m very wordy and I know writing the blog and commenting on others, helps be curb that tendency. I now don’t feel as guilty for enjoying it all so. LOL
    I’m sorry to hear about your Shingles. That’s the pits. Hope the healing goes well and quickly. I’ll share.

  53. Sorry to hear you have shingles. Ouch! Love the phrase “immaculate deception.” Keep up the strong pace!

    • Vickery on August 28, 2014 at 7:13 pm
    • Reply

    Thanks for the motivation!

  54. Some really good advice there. Sum: leave the censor in the basement and produce some texts 🙂

  55. Hi Kristen, I love your blog. Yes, if you want to be a writer you have to write more – how AWESOME is that advice. And about developing Rhino skin from blogging, I love that as well. Thanks for taking the time to write your blogs, you are always a great motivator, even for us who have no cats, dogs or shingles and just have the day to day challenges of making it to our laptops.

    1. Well, I love you guys and y’all are always so awesome to take time to comment. I know there were pros who offered time and advice when I was a newbie so paying it forward and thrilled it helps you!

    • Leah St. James on August 29, 2014 at 4:32 am
    • Reply

    So true about journalists and efficient, fast writing (at least for newspapers). I got a job in a newsroom a couple years ago (no background…not even a single class). They found out I write fiction and offered me a blog. (How lucky was I??) Now it’s a weekly column, but it’s been an eye-opening transition. Editor: “Leah, your opening graf just went on and on and on.” Me: “But it’s a blog….isn’t it?” 🙂 The veteran reporters amaze me with their ability to consume large amounts of information (sometimes complex) and distill it down to tell a compelling story that fits within the newspaper’s space constraints.

  56. You are so awesome!

  57. I love that word AWSOME! Yes this was an awesome post!!!

      • Rachel Thompson on August 30, 2014 at 1:03 pm
      • Reply

      There are many good reasons why the AP guild lines and many news outlets don’t use the world awesome– and I agree with the rational. Writing outside the industry standards box, and poorly, won’t get you paid.

  58. Every writer needs to read this. So many think they need a quiet cabin in the woods with no distractions. But if you have any electronic devices, there is no escape.

      • Rachel Thompson on August 30, 2014 at 12:55 pm
      • Reply

      Doing journalism teaches you to stick to dead lines, work fast and ignore everything around you ( unless it’s story related then you see every detail). There is no cabin in the woods for a working writer.

    1. SIGH… so true. (electronic devices and ‘no escape’) . That’s why I MISS the days of the typewriter. I accomplished SO much because it was only me, the page, and white out and it got done. Kristen was right in saying that there will always be distractions, but I’ll take talking over laundry any day! 😀 So now, I’m going to go jump in the shower and consider tomorrow’s plans, which include sitting on the COUCH with a notebook and three purple pens, and scribbling out the basic map for three stories I want to work on.

      Hmmmmmm….. I still to have my typewriter as well as unused cartridges. I used it a few months ago and am SOOOO tempted to take that dinosaur out for another run. See where my imagination takes me. I’m grateful that I only work part time, so the only gadget I have, apart from my lap-top, is my cell. My next cell phone is going to be THE MOST BASIC…. just phone. No net. Less hassle trying to learn and a LOT LESS expensive trying to pay.

      Either ironically or coincidentally, Kristen’s cover for this blog is a TYPEWRITER. I laugh, as only ten years ago, my typewriter was IT for me. I wanted a computer but didn’t think the day would ever come when I could afford it. Now I’m, as mom would say, ‘wishing my cake, dough’.

  59. Kristen,
    Thank you so much for your TIMELY post on blogging! I am fresh back from RWA Nationals and finally motivated enough to start my blog for my book to be. I know there is a market for my book as everyone I have spoken to wants to read it. I just have to get it written. Yes, I need to get your book on blogging as well. I need some stuff on my wordpress account that I have missed, just not sure what all it is. Also using FB and Twitter to publish on, which you say is not a good idea. Last time, I attempted a book, during NANOWRIMO, I wrote myself into a corner (did not have an outline). This time I have the outline and I have written a first chapter that has needs a lot of work. But I have decided to take my readers on a journey with my thoughts as I write my book and this is the focus of my blog. I am attempting to blog once a week, normally on Tuesdays, and add tidbits to gain interest in my book. TIME is my enemy. I am gone 12+ hours a day—as a commuter into town, where I teach and tutor elementary students. I need to cook dinner and feed animals when I get home and then it is time for bed. We are gone from 6:00am-6:00pm M-F. I love the way you cut to the chase in your blogs. I definitely need to tighten by writing as you can tell from this post. As you say practice is key and I will continue reading yours and others blogs to see and analyze what works well. Thanks again and I will be ordering your book soon.

  60. Reblogged this on One Thing Or Another and commented:
    I need all the advice I can get!

  61. I love your conversational way of writing. I truly believe this is a more sincere way to write and I also like to write this way on my blog. As for the word awesome, I can’t live without it because it is simply awesome! 🙂

  62. This was a very useful post, Kristen. Sometimes I feel a little bit under pressure with my blog. It’s like posting twice a week would be “too much”…
    Of course I had added the categories “Guest posts” and “Interviews with fellow Authors”, but then I sometimes feel like these posts are so numerous that my blog starts living on them instead of my own posts… (and here the pressure is again)… HAHA
    I already show signs of stress… I wonder how this will be until Christmas. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing all your knowledge, Kristen!!

    1. How well I do relate. For me, just getting my story going has been an act of God and Congress (and you know what congress can be like ! 😉 ) Priorities. Priorities!

      Well, I finally found the solution for ONE of my problems; For my research stuff, I will come to the net. For writing, however, I am going to do my VERY BEST to stick to…. MY TYPEWRITER. Yes, you read that right. I still have my typewriter, and so, when it comes to writing the first draft, that will come before I commit said stories to document page and USB (flashdrive) I will be sticking with my typewriter. Possibly even for first draft blog posts. THEN, when I find another free weekend, I will commit said works to blog and /or document.

      I spent better part of this weekend actually accomplishing something because I determined to get off this plug-drug and clear my head with outside writing. Fresh air, people, new perspective. And it worked. I did map out my ideas for the stories I want to work on. Now, all I have to do is find the time to build on those foundations. Despite single-hood, a free weekend is not as easy to come by as it used to be.

      Anywho…. I have all the respect in the world for people who can turn off the NET and just write when they need to. I wish I was one of those people. Perhaps I can train myself to work, net free, yet again, but for now, when it comes to writing for myself, I need to keep a safe distance from distraction and go to either paper and pen or paper and typewriter. I find I get more done when I’m not thinking that I have to check emails or do…whatever else. Or …what’s new on youtube.

      Someone else here mentioned that attention spans are shrinking. So very true. Too many things competing for our attention. Now our BRAINS are what need De-fragging. Too much technology in ones life is not only financially draining, it’s doing a number on our ability to stick to one thing and get it done.

      With all of that said, I will finish mapping out story plans and then begin to work on my blog and the inconsistency issue therein. But first things first….

  63. How did I stumble upon this so perfectly? Great post. Thank you!
    When I was younger I wanted to be Jack Kerouac. I wrote bad poetry. Recently my baby died and it got me writing again. Nothing feels better. I will continue to follow you for tips as I have aspirations to keep this up- potentially write a book on this subject. Grief is fluid. The fact that mine changes so often means I find countless (and therapeutic) reasons to write that aren’t always just about the dead baby. Thanks again!

    1. Awww, you POOR thing! ((HUGS)). I am SO sorry. Losing my father suddenly what what propelled me to begin writing.

      1. Strange isn’t it? Well, maybe not. I guess when you hurt that bad a big open wound forms and it allows all that creative stuff you had hidden away seep out. I am by no means a very good writer at this point. I just know that I feel compelled to write often and that the subject matter is reaching and helping a lot of people in my situation who find it hard to express the little details that surround losing a baby. Kristen, I did not even know what a “blog” really was until a few months ago! I posted my “birth story”..the big tragic tale..on blogger and it ended up reaching thousands of people. I felt so blessed to be receiving emails from random women all over North America thanking me for sharing my story and my on going journey through grief. I made a wordpress account last night to try to force myself to write about (and do) other things. Healing things. My plan is to document my adventures in the kitchen and furniture restoration attempts. HA! We shall see how well that goes. I find it hard to stop circling around the same subject of losing Hayden.
        I am sorry for your loss as well. They say when you lose a parent you lose your past and when you lose a child you lose your future. I don’t really know about that. You lose your future when you lose your parent too. And there is no way of determining which is worse. It’s like that dumb question “If you had to chose, would you rather be deaf or blind”….Uh…neither!?

        1. Right now I am losing both my grandparents who raised me. My grandmother has dementia and it is HORRIBLE. My father died suddenly and unexpectedly and it was like being hit by a train I didn’t hear coming. There was no time to prepare mentally or emotionally for losing him. But with my grandmother I lose her then have her then she is gone again. One day she is herself and the next she doesn’t know me. I’ve been really tired over the past few days and I think it’s because she finally had to be put in a care center. She’s deteriorated too much for home care. The only stable thing I’ve ever had in my life. My grandparents and the home I grew up in are going away and it really is a long good-bye.

          Bad things happen, but we can bring great beauty from the lives lost. I founded WANA (We Are Not Alone) so writers would never have to struggle alone. I am so sorry for your loss, but proud that you where brave enough to talk about it. You cannot imagine how much comfort and sanity you’re bringing to others who are suffering. As far as being a “good” writer, you wrote well enough to make your point and reach hearts. Your skills will improve with practice and just keep being courageous. Sometimes the bravest thing we can do is cry…a lot.

          Wonderful to meet you and know you. I wish the circumstances had been better ((HUGS)).

          1. ouff! Dementia is NOT fun. I was raised by my grandparents too. My great-grandmother died in April, 4 short days before her 100th birthday and only 2 weeks after Hayden was born still. She was my best friend growing up. She lived in the basement at our house up until I was in the 9th grade. In the past 5 years her dementia really started to take flight and It was really difficult to watch. My grandfather’s health is not very good and he doesn’t listen to the doctors or slow down and take care of himself. I am scared all the time when I see their number come up on the phone that something happened. At 25 knowing your parent probably won’t have many years left is so hard. This is the reality of the children raised by grandparents. Our time with them is shorter. I feel for ya!

    • marycheshier on September 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on Travels with Mary and commented:
    Fabulous post! Thank you

  64. I’m a newbie to your blog. I have to say …”it is AWESOME!” (Am I allowed to use an exclamation point? If not, get over it. It’s just me. Ha.) Anyway … you are awesome. And though I missed your August contest (by three lousy days), I am writing to let you know how grateful I am I came across you. It’s September 3rd .. morning in California, and I’m reading parts of your blog to my wife over breakfast and are both chortling (not sure I could define “chortling”. Suffice it to say, you’ll know it when you hear it) at your humor. GOOD STUFF. Thanks.

    1. LOL, AWESOME! Sigh. Some people. Great to meet you!

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