Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 048: Katie Cross

Image of Katie Cross Title Card

I often mistakenly consider authors enlightened beings who have transcended social norms and risen above the petty things that keep me from being successful. Imagine how refreshing it is to be reminded that authors are just peoplewith the same anxieties, preoccupations, and insecurities about writing that you have!

“I realized quickly once I got into self publishing that there was so much more to it than writing.”

Today, I am joined by Katie Cross: author, mom, and all-around fantastic person. In this week’s Coffee Break, we delve deep into the hang-ups, must-haves, and take-aways of becoming a self-published parent, including the need to surround yourself with talented peers and learning to accept criticism.

“Even the haters can offer some really good insight… There’s always a new angle to come at the story and you can learn a lot about what you’re writing that way.”

But most importantly (at least in my opinion), Katie talks about taking yourself seriously as a career writer, shifting the sometimes insignificant feel of self publishing into a legitimate and self-affirming business.

“I need to back up and give myself the legitimacy of ‘I am an entrepreneur, I am running a business from home, and I am going to rock it!'”

I really hope you identify with Katie’s story and her super-approachable philosophy on work/life balance. Stop by her website and social medias to say hello! Also, be sure to check out the helpful resources Katie talks about in today’s episode.

Thanks for listening, friends, and keep writing!

Mentioned in this episode:

#kcrosswriting

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Tips for Writing While Traveling – WN 063

image for wn 063

Summer is wrapping up and things are starting to settle down for the fall. If I were still in grade school, I would normally be expected to write a short paper describing what I did for the past three months. I could talk about the places I’ve visited or the activities I participated in and title it, “My Summer Vacation, by Sarah Werner”.

But in today’s episode of the Write Now podcast, I’m going to take it one step further and talk about what I learned about writing while traveling, both this summer and while growing up.

If you’re like me, trying to write on vacation can be discouraging, if not downright impossible. Good luck trying to write longhand in the back of a crowded car or keep from getting carsick while reading. And have you ever tried getting some creative writing done at a family reunion?

But we are writers, after all, and writers write. So I thought I’d put together an episode that took a different approach to making the most of mobile creativity.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

How to Write on the Go

Sometimes being productive on a trip is just plain impossible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use vacation downtime as a creative outlet. Here are a few tips and methods of thought I’ve discovered in my efforts to capitalize on writing time on the road and away from home:

  1. Make a list of writing supplies. Write down a short inventory of the items, aids, and conditions that help you write successfully at home. Label each as a “must-have”, “nice-to-have”, or “unnecessary” contribution and pack accordingly. Be sure to consider tech limitations like internet and wifi availability and battery lifespans.
  2. Make downtime productive. Hours of driving and lengthy layovers are sometimes unavoidable. But instead of turning to distractions, use the time to develop an idea or stimulate your creativity. It isn’t often that we’re given the time to simply think things through. It’s also a great way to approach problems from a different angle.
  3. Set realistic boundaries with travel companions. It may not always be possible to sneak away for an hour or two of writing, especially during family functions. But establishing your need for privacy or workspace ahead of time can help others understand what you need while being respectful of the group.
  4. Be as wide-eyed and open as a child. All cheesiness aside, this method is especially helpful when you’re stuck somewhere for a while. Instead of languishing in boredom, allow your mind to get caught up in the moment. Relax your expectations and give yourself permission to experiment with whatever inspiration comes your way.
  5. Do a little research. To a writer, everything can be considered research. Your surroundings, the people you interact with, even your own thoughts and feelings. The details, quirks, and points of interest in your general vicinity can make all the difference when it comes to sparking ideas and gleaning inspiration.
  6. Journal. Taking pictures on a vacation is a great way to remember what it was like at that moment. But pictures can’t describe how you felt, what you were thinking, or the sensory details of the experience. A detailed journal can supplement pictures with the whole story… and act as a creative outlet to boot.
  7. Be okay with not writing. You don’t have to spend every second of free time taking notes or committing everything to paper. Simply experiencing the world and looking at your surroundings through a different lens will benefit your writing. Keep in mind that quality rest benefits your writing the most, so make sure to take breaks.

Hopefully these ideas will jog your creativity the next time you’re out in the wider world. I know it’s hard to write outside of normal conditions and environments (and comforts!). But I am a firm believer that even the most mundane travel has the potential to broaden a writer’s mind. With a little forward thinking, I’m confident you can find inspiration in any situation!

What do you think?

What methods work for you when you’re on the road? Do you have any travel tips that help you get into your creative zone? Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 047: Jeffery Weaver

Image of Jeffery Weaver - Title Card

Well friends, it seems Coffee Break has finally come full-circleand I couldn’t be happier! What started as an interview format offshoot of the Write Now podcast has become a medium in which inspired listeners can become inspirational guests themselves.

“There is something to letting people connect emotionally to a story that makes it really memorable.”

My guest today is long-time listener and author of A Recipe for Hope Jeffery Weaver. Jeffery chronicles the moving account of his wife Susan’s trials and eventual triumph over cancer, as well as the remarkable dietary discoveries they made along the way.

“A good writer couldn’t have dreamed up a storyline and an arc better than the one that we had…”

In today’s episode, Jeffery and I talk about past Coffee Break guests Jay Greenfield and Jake Heilbrunn, and how their stories inspired him to share his own. We also discuss discovering the joys of writing, the thought process behind building character-driven stories, and facing the fear of rejection.

“Don’t be afraid to get knocked down. Get off the road, go out and adventure, and see what happens.”

I hope you enjoy listening to Jeffery’s story and continue to find inspiration from all my guests. Be sure to visit Jeffery’s website and ask about the awesome cookbook he and Susan have put together. Stay healthy, keep writing, and thanks so much for listening, friends!

Mentioned in this episode:

#recipeforhope

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 046: Rachel Stout

Image of Rachel Stout Title Card

We talk a lot on this show about the adventures of self publishing and personal marketing. But there is also a lot to be said about traditional publishing today. There are many options and opportunities that just aren’t available to you as an independent author, and that may be okay with you! But if you do want to get read by the big five publishers someday, the first thing you’ll need is a good agent.

“The most frustrating thing is when you spend so much time writing your book… and then it can’t go anywhere because you can’t get anyone to read it.”

Rachel Stout is a former literary agent and current freelance editor and advisor who wants every author to know their options. With an insider’s knowledge of literary agencies and large publishers, Rachel dispels the myths surrounding agents by offering a comprehensive guide to getting your own through the Query Mastery program.

“Querying is hard… you’re going to get a lot of rejections not matter how good your book is.”

In this week’s episode of Coffee Break, Rachel reveals the truth about building a relationship with a literary agent, as well as the benefits and skills they bring to the table to help you get published. She also spills the beans on some common misconceptions about traditional publishing and literary agencies.

“Agents get rejected just as much as authors do.”

Be sure to check out the free information through Query Mastery and say hello to Rachel on her website and social media (links below)! I hope this episode shows you a side of traditional publishing and literary agents that you hadn’t considered before. I know I learned something new. Thanks, Rachel and thanks to you for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

#querymastery

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Do I Need A Writing Degree? – WN 062

Image of students at graduation, with title Do I Need A Writing Degree?

I always thought the #1 most-asked question I would receive as a writing podcaster would be along the lines of, “How do I write strong characters?” or “How do I develop themes within my writing?”

But the question I’m actually asked the most is, “Do I need a degree in writing?” Turns out, it’s an extremely complex question with an extremely complex answer. So hit “play” on episode 062 of the Write Now podcast, download the free PDF worksheet, and let’s dive in!

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

The #1 Most-Asked Question

I received an email earlier this week from podcast listener Kiefer that inspired me to create this episode. Here’s an excerpt:

“… My partner and I talked about this some the other day, with respect to a section in Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert where she talks about MFA programs as being unnecessary and often young writers go into them looking for a guarantee or a sense of validation. This talk has me doing some soul searching as the deadline [for the MFA program] is looming at August first.”

Kiefer’s question speaks to a number of fears and concerns that writers have:

  • That we can’t be writers without some kind of official credential or institutionalized permission
  • That we’re missing out on magical writing secrets by not getting a degree in writing
  • That an MFA or other writing program won’t be worth the $50,000-$100,000 price tag
  • That an MFA or other writing degree won’t guarantee a successful life as a writer
  • That we are looking for validation in the wrong place
  • That we are looking for validation at all
  • That we will cave to peer pressure/societal pressure and make the wrong decision

This is one of those questions where there’s not one right answer and one wrong answer. There are a ton of factors involved in the decision of whether or not a writing degree is the right fit for you, including (in no particular order):

  • Time
  • Money
  • Lifestyle
  • Goals
  • Feelings
  • Value

It can all seem so overwhelming, right? It’s OK. We’re going to navigate it together.

How Do I Navigate This Decision?

Today’s episode is here to guide you through these factors to help decide whether a writing degree is the right choice for you as a writer. To aid in that decision, I’ve created a free worksheet with eight questions for you!

You can download the PDF worksheet for FREE here:

Click here to download the worksheet PDF

This is the first time I’ve created a companion download for a podcast episode, so let me know what you think. 🙂

Helpful Links:

What do you think?

Am I forgetting any important considerations? Do you have a degree in writing, and was it worth it for you? Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 045: Ryan Dalton

Image of Ryan Dalton Title Card

One of the greatest perks of the Coffee Break series is getting to meet authors of every cut and creed. Going back and listening to previous episodes, I’m always surprised by just how different every guest has been. In today’s episode, we get to hear from an author who embodies two of my favorite genres: young adult literature and nerd culture.

“One of the best things about the ‘nerd’ culture is the complete commitment and openness to loving what you love.”

Ryan Dalton is the author of the ongoing trilogy The Time Shift, including The Year of Lightning and its newly released sequel, The Black Tempest. I sat down with Ryan to talk about the struggles of being a newbie author: finding your voice, building a “creative vocabulary”, and the ins and outs of traditional publishing.

“There can be flaws and frustrations in the traditional model… It will test your resolve and endurance for sure, especially if you’re trying to sell something that is fairly unique.”

Being marketable and finding your place within established genres is an obstacle for many writers. But with a little faith in an audience for what you love and a lot of perseverance, someone will eventually take note. As Ryan says, “Embrace your weirdness!”

“Of course getting the contract was great and the book deal itself was great. But the thing that actually felt the best was the validation… That felt amazing.”

Check out Ryan’s website and social media presence, where he’s always working on something weird and cool (be sure to ask how his tabletop game is coming along). He’s even available for live talks and panels. Tell him Sarah sent you and thanks for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

#yearoflightning #blacktempest

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 044: Aminah Iman & Jaqueline Stone

Aminah Iman & Jaqueline Stone Title Card

Horror has always had a special place in my heart. Turns out that’s true for a lot of writersincluding today’s special guests! (That’s right—this is the first Coffee Break to feature multiple guests!)

I had a blast recording this episode of Coffee Break with Aminah Iman and Jaqueline Stone, two horror writers from Red Ink Publications. I love the positive way they talk to each other throughout the episode, constantly supporting each other and building each other up. (They also both have fantastic laughs, and I think this episode will having you smiling along with us.) So… let’s talk horror!

“People say write what you know. I say write what you love.”

Aminah left her job to write in 2005 and is the author of 14 books, all published under Red Ink Publications (of which she is the co-founder and CEO). She clearly loves what she does, and has a big heart for helping other authors find success.

“I didn’t think it was ‘genre’ when I started writing. It was just… what’s in my head, and how can I get it on paper?”

Jaqueline was encouraged to start writing by Aminah, who mentored her through the writing and publishing process. She only made $11 in her first year of writing, but she didn’t let that discourage her.

“We wanted to show the empowerment of women in horror.”

After recording this episode, I kind of wanted to run around town, shouting encouragement at and/or hugging everyone I saw. Aminah and Jaqueline reminded me that there is great joy in writing, and that we should do what we were made to do without hesitation or fear.

“Don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not good enough.”

Be sure to stop by the Red Ink website and social media channels (linked below) to see what these wonderful ladies are up to today, and happy writing!

Mentioned in this episode:

#youhavetohavecake

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Self-Writing and Self-Talk – WN 061

Image for Episode 061

Welcome to episode 061 of the Write Now podcast! Today, we’re talking about how we talk about ourselves. (It’s very meta.) We’re not always aware of it, but the way we think and talk about ourselves can have an incredible impact on our self-esteem, success, and abilities as a writer.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Today’s episode is brought to you by the Liberty Podcast, which you can listen to on iTunes or via its website.

How Do You Write & Talk About Yourself?

I tend to be self-deprecating at times, often for humor. So if I stumble up the steps and someone sees me, I’ll say, “Yep, that’s me, the klutziest woman on the planet,” and laugh it off. Sometimes being self-deprecating is a good way for us to laugh at our mistakes and take ourselves a little less seriously.

But other times, it’s not good at all.

For example, I started a new project a couple weeks agoan audio drama called Girl In Space. I’ve been writing both professionally and for fun for yearsnonfiction, fiction, poetry, technical writing, ghostwritingand I thought that I could pick up scriptwriting quickly and easily.

Turns out I WAS WRONG. (And those of you who are scriptwriters and screenwriters are probably smiling at my naivete.)

I ended up sitting at my dining room table (where I’ve taken to writing lately), crumpled papers and notecards strewn everywhere, thinking to myself:

Wow, Sarah, you suck at this.

Sarah, you’re such an idiot.

Sarah, you’re a failure.

Sarah, you’ve never even taken a scriptwriting class. Why did you think you could do this?

Sarah, just who do you think you are?

Sarah, you’re worthless.

Maybe you’ve talked about yourself like this before, or maybe your journal is full of this type of self-talk. Maybe you don’t see any harm in it.

But as a lifelong writer, reader, and speaker, I believe that words have immense powereven the words we say to ourselves. Sometimes if we repeat something enough times (e.g., “I am such an idiot,”) we begin to believe it. We begin to expect it. And it begins to come true as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Be Honest. But Be Kind.

What kind of words do you use to talk about yourself? Are they similar to or different from the way that you talk about others?

I use my sister Rebecca as an example in this episode (sorry, Bec)I love her, and I would never say, “Wow, do you suck,” or “You’re so worthless, Rebecca.”

Instead, I say things like, “I really liked that poem, but if you tighten up the second stanza, it would work a lot better,” or “Wow. That novella was amazeballs.” I encourage her and build her up instead of tearing her down.

In the words of Dr. Brene Brown, do you talk to yourself like you would to someone you love?

Because you should, writers. Even when you’re frustrated with yourself. Even when you take up a project that doesn’t go the way you want it to. Even when it’s hard.

Now, I’m not advocating that you lie to yourself. I’ve seen and read about life coaches and career coaches who encourage people to look in the mirror and say affirmations such as, “I am the greatest writer who has ever lived!”

I love you, and I think you’re a great writer, but unless you’re the second coming of Virginia Woolf or James Baldwin, you may not be the greatest writer who has ever lived. (Real talk.)

Instead, there’s a spectrum, and I think it’s a good idea to find a true and healthy place on it. The spectrum goes from:

I AM SLIME <——> I AM THE GREATEST WRITER WHO HAS EVER LIVED

Essentially, it goes from flatworm to writing god. People with low self-esteem tend to think of themselves on the flatworm side of the spectrum, while people who are more confident tend to view themselves with an angelic halo.

But the truth is, we’re all somewhere in the middle. Because we are human. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. We take on too many projects and spell words incorrectly and forget to go to our 1:30 interview and trip up the stairs.

Are you truthful, are you loving, and are you kind? Do you realize you are wonderful and worthwhile despite your mistakes? Do you encourage yourself , and pick yourself back up when you make those mistakes?

The way that you talk to and about yourself could determine whether or not you publish that book of poetry, whether or not you finish your novel, or whether or not your audio drama ever goes live.

Who do you think you are? Well, you’re a writer, darn it. So get back out there and write.

Helpful Links:

How do you talk about yourself? Have you ever created your own self-fulfilling prophecy, for better or for worse? Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 043: Mark Rubinstein

Image of Mark Rubinstein

Hello, friends! I’m excited to share this episode of Coffee Break with you because in it, I get to interview one of my writing heroes! He and I talk about the psychology behind writing, what motivates authors, what keeps them going, and what gives them the courage to strike out on their own for the first time.

“Once I had found that little bit of courage to begin, the impulse and the impetus were there and the story got told.”

Who better to talk about the psychology of writing than psychologist, physician, and award-winning novelist Mark Rubinstein? Mark sat down with me to discuss the process behind his newest book, Beyond Bedlam’s Door, which draws heavily upon stories from his psychiatric career.

“One of the old nostrums is ‘write what you know’… and if you write about what you know, in essence, you’re writing about life.”

I hope today’s conversation gives you a better insight into why people need to hear and tell stories. Listening to Mark, you may also find that you know more than you thought when it comes to “writing what you know”, and that you do indeed have a meaningful story to tell the world.

“We’re all capable of imagining and of living vicariously through the creations of another, so why not create you own stuff?”

I highly encourage you to read and follow Mark’s inspirational Twitter feed and check out his wonderful collection of medical self-help and fiction novels. Keep writing, friends, and thanks for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

#bedlamsdoor

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Make Them Tell You No – WN 060

Title card image of woman in front of a rainbow wall

You might be thinking, “Sarah, haven’t you already talked about saying no?” Sure, we’ve discussed cutting unnecessary and unwanted obligations out of our lives to make room for what we love.

But the title of this week’s Write Now podcast isn’t a goal, it’s a challenge.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Saying “yes” to what you love doing is great. But there will come a time when you’ll have to get someone else to say yesto your work, your ideas, even you as a person. But this is where we run into the risk of rejection. And that is what keeps most of us from acting upon our dreams.

Dreaming is Easy

You’ve probably seen Shia LeBeouf’s infamous “Just do it!” video. Some may have chuckled, and some may have found inspiration in his rant. But secretly, we all know it isn’t that easy.

Putting yourself out there is scary. What if people laugh at me? we wonder. What if they tell me I’m awful? What if my name is forever tarnished by failure?

There is risk in actually doing things. Which is why you need to have real bravery to act upon your dreams.

Did you know? You are allowed to want things from your life. But as the saying goes, simply wishing won’t make it so.

When you look at your favorite book sitting on a table, you don’t think of the years of hard work, frustration, and self-doubt that plagued the author on every page. You only see the inspirational work which we dream of living up to.

Books are oddly passive like that—they don’t often portray the bravery it took someone to make it exist.

99 out of 100 roadblocks you will face as a writer will be based upon fear. The hardest part of overcoming a fear may be simply identifying what it is.

So what’s in your way right now? What are you afraid of? Chances are, yelling at you to “just do it” will only add to your anxiety. Lucky for you, there’s a way to move forward without adding undue stress.

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

This is the question you really need to ask yourself. And, as with most things, this only works if you’re being realistic and honest. What is truly the worst that can happen if you send your manuscript to a publisher? Or ask an employer for a raise? Or pitch an idea to an investor?

They’ll say no.

That’s it.

That is the absolute worst thing that can happen if you go after what you want. Granted, being ignored is tough, too. But at least with outright rejection, you have certified proof of your bravery. You can hold your head high and say, “I went for it! I wasn’t afraid to try!”

No one is going to offer you everything you want on a silver platter. And if they do, watch outthey’ll probably want your credit card information as well.

Dreaming is easy. Acting on that dream is hard. Just keeping reminding yourself that hearing “no” is the worst thing you can expect. And you can live through that.

My Challenge To You: Make Them Say “No”

As I’ve discussed in the past, saying “no” to others is difficult, especially if they’re persistent. But this time, it’s your turn to make it hard for someone to tell you “no”. Put that ball in their court. It’s easy to say “yes” to your own dreams. Doing nothing is the only thing keeping others from agreeing with you.

Keep working hard, my friends. Be brave and keep each rejection letter you receive as a badge of honor. You can do this!

Helpful Links:

This episode was a bit shorter and a bit different from the norm, but I hope you still found it helpful. Tell me your thoughts on my contact page! You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 As always, I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 042: Randy Wayne White

Image of Randy Wayne White Title Card

I talk a lot on this show about the “process” of writing, whether it’s finding the time and energy to write every day or looking ahead to publishing and marketing. But I must admit, I’m a fairly disorganized writer myself. I seldom write for myself with any real consistency, I rarely use outlines, and I hardly ever finish what I start.

Perhaps what I need (and other writers like me) is a different perspective on what it truly means to write.

“Imagine this: your great great grandmother or your great uncle had written one honest page about their lives. What a treasure! It’s a treasure potentially lost if we don’t write.”

Randy Wayne White is a veteran fishing guide, magazine contributor, and restauranteur. But as the author of over forty books, Randy seeks to leave a legacy of literary treasure in his wake.

Without any formal training, Randy’s love of books is the driving force behind his prolific writing. This is evidenced by his latest novel, Mangrove Lightning, the 24th installment in his Doc Weathers series of thrillers.

“Not having a plot line does not mean you’re disorganized. If you follow your characters faithfully, a conclusion will come. Either that or you’ll freaking run out of paper! You have to have faith in your characters.”

In today’s Coffee Break, Randy and I discuss his unique take on writing and self-promotion, the deep connections writing can create with readers, and the real secret behind his many accomplishments.

“Be relentless. If there is a secret to writing successfully–whatever successfully means–it’s this.”

Be sure to stop by Randy’s website and Facebook to see what adventures he’s up to now! I hope my fellow pantsers and haphazard writers find affirmation in Randy’s story. Stay relentless, my friends, and thanks for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

#docweathers

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 041: Megan Hannum

Image of Megan Hannum Title Card

There’s a lot to be said about the “process” of writing. For many, it’s the natural progression of an idea to a published work–with all the voice, tone, and theme boxes checked off along the way. But is there really a set-in-stone formula for publishing a successful novel or becoming a “real” writer?

“What’s a ‘fake’ writer? Does that exist? If you’re writing, you’re a writer. So just say it loud and say it proud!”

Enter Megan Hannum, developmental editor and writing coach extraordinaire. Through her website and blog, Whynott Edit, Megan helps seasoned authors and underrepresented writers alike reach the pinnacle of their craft.

“If you’re writing with the intention of sharing this with the world, you’re saying something to them. You’re saying something to your readers.”

In today’s Coffee Break, Megan and I discuss the benefits of developmental editing and post-first draft outlining, as well as the ever-changing standards of the writing industry, traditional versus self and hybrid publishing options, and the revision tools she uses to shape the stories that shape the world.

“Stories absolutely shape the world that we’re living in. They’re a product of it, but they also reflect it. So we have to see the world that we want to be living in the stories we’re reading. That means hearing from every voice out there, especially the ones that get silenced more often than not.”

Megan offers a weekly blog for writers, an email course on manuscript revision, and personalized coaching and editing services for marginalized authors. Stop by her site and social medias and say hello!

I hope today’s episode shows you a different side of the writing process. Hopefully, you’ll learn about some resources and options you didn’t even know existed! Keep writing, my friends, and thanks for listening.

Mentioned in this episode:

#whynottedit

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 040: Vahan Zanoyan

Image of Vahan Zanoyan Title Card

What constitutes a meaningful life? Do you need to travel the world or champion a noble cause to be remembered? Or could achieving greatness be as simple as enjoying a glass of wine while reading a great book?

We talk a lot on Coffee Break about writing and the challenges inherent to the craft. But seldom do we discuss the complexity and beauty of just living a noteworthy life, which is the only true fuel for inspired writing.

“The journey to becoming a writer starts with living.”

My guest today shares the many and varied facets of living a meaningful life. Vahan Zanoyan is the author of two books of poetry and three novels, exploring topics ranging from anti-trafficking advocacy to global politics. His latest novel, The Sacred Sands, recounts the geopolitical events leading to the Gulf War through his own experiences as a global energy consultant.

But whether he’s providing an insider look into the oil industry or raising awareness for social justice, Vahan has found fiction to be his most powerful tool.

“I believe you can expose the truth better through a story than just listing off a fact.”

Combining real-life people and experiences into works of fiction has exposed Vahan’s work to a wider audience, moving people around the world in a way a newscast could never hope to achieve. And if that wasn’t enough, we even manage to find time to discuss writing! Through constant learning, travel, and taking time to enjoy the finer things, Vahan can always find something in the world to keep him excited.

“It’s fun to research, to uncover. And once you absorb all this and then internalize it, to put it back out on paper through your own mind and soul… there’s nothing like it.”

Vahan is currently working on his fourth novel about the history of wine. Be sure to check in on his current adventure and take a look at all his work on his website. Thanks for listening!

Mentioned in this episode:

#sacredsands

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

SEO For Writers – WN 059

Hello, friends! This week, I’m discussing a topic that’s a little outside of the Write Now norm. Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a term you may have heard before. To some, it may sound like confounded techno-babble.

But really, SEO is just a bag of tips and tricks that help search engines like Google better understand your website. And best of all, it’s completely free!

If you’re still working on your website, you may want to brush up on episode 033 of the Write Now podcast, Do I Need a Website? first. But if you’re ready to move on, we’ll be exploring a few easy steps that will help search engines bring as many people to your site as possible.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Index That Content!

Modern search engines have become crazy smart. They use bots (or “spiders”) to index (or “crawl”) your site, making it easier for actual users to find what they’re looking for. But these digital spiders don’t see a website the same way we do. Luckily, a little housekeeping will help search engines better understand your content while simultaneously making your site more accessible to more users.

  1. Include “alt text” for your images. Spiders can’t look at a picture and understand what it is by the file name alone. Be sure to fill out the “alt text” option when placing images on your site. Simply writing short descriptions of your website’s pictures can really help boost its accessibility.
  2. Avoid Flash and Java plugins. You may want your website to look cool or have a lot of interactive features. But plugins don’t work well for mobile users or people who use screen readers. Remember, function always comes before form online.
  3. Offer video and audio transcripts. Did you know? 30% of the people who visit your site will have an accessibility issue. This includes color blindness as well as limited eyesight and hearing. If your website features video or audio, including transcripts increases accessibility, which in turn increases user retention.

Tidy That URL!

Now that we’ve helped the search engine’s bots index and understand our content, it’s time to clean things up on the user side. When it comes to your website’s address (or URL), you need a place for everything. Just remember to keep everything sorted logically. Nothing turns away users like a disorganized website! Here are some ways to keep your users’ needs at the forefront of your site.

  1. Use hyphens to separate URL words. For example, use sarahwerner.com/write-now-podcast, instead of sarahwerner.com/writenowpodcast. It’s a simple step that makes your website easier to traverse for users and bots alike.
  2. Keep URLs short and sweet. You don’t have to string together a parade of hyphens and words to get the point of a page across. Call your contact page “/contact”, not “/contact-me-i-would-love-to-hear-from-you…” You get the idea.
  3. Match URLs to its page. If your URL calls a page “/about-the-author”, it’s not a good idea for the actual title of the page to read “Sarah Werner”. Cutting down on confusion keeps your users browsing happily!
  4. Use real language. Eloquent wordplay has its place — and that place isn’t within the page titles and URLs of your website. When users want to read your blog, they probably aren’t going to click a menu option that reads “Fanciful Musings and Pensive Introspection” because they might not know what it means. It’s a blog. Just call it a blog.
  5. Avoid orphan pages. Every page on your website needs a home. Organize your content into more and more specific categories. For example, my “/forbes” page is accessed through my “/writing” page, which in turn can be reached from the “/home” page. So the entire URL is sarahwerner.com/writing/forbes Think of your website like a nesting doll and keep everything in its proper place.
  6. Limit user choices. When you overwhelm users with a sea of links, they’re more likely to leave than choose one! On any single page of your website, try to limit the user’s choices to six options or fewer. As with the above tip, limiting choice actually helps users find what they’re looking for. Just think of the alternative (an overcrowded mega-menu) as a really frustrating game of “Where’s Waldo?”

Empathize with Users!

Now that we’re nice and organized for both humans and bots, let’s talk about your actual content. Good on-page SEO means you’re writing great content that is easy to understand, stays on-topic, and gives users what they came for. Sounds easy enough. But you may have to set aside your inner wordsmith — and for some of you, this may be easier said than done.

  1. Answer the question. Every page on your website has a purpose. If someone is visiting that page, chances are they have a question that needs answering. A page labeled “Store Hours” should not serve up an exhaustive history of your company. Save that for the “About Us” or “History” page, where it belongs.
  2. Easy to understand. On the internet, clarity always wins out over creativity, which means this is not the time to break out the thesaurus. Your users are busy. They aren’t on your site to expand their vocabulary. Do them a favor: use short sentences and paragraphs with a generous portion of white space. Check the Flesch Reading Ease link to test your site’s readability, or go to File>Options>Proofing in Microsoft Word, select the “Check grammar with spelling” checkbox, and select “Show readability statistics”.
  3. Stay on-topic. Do you really expect users to use a weather widget on your author website over a site dedicated to weather forecasting? Concentrate on giving users what they’re looking for and avoid stuffing your content with needless keywords. Remember, modern search engines reward good content!
  4. Update content often. Relevant and meaningful content keeps people coming back for more. Fresh updates also keep search engine spiders happily crawling your website. A site’s activity and content quality keeps it high in search results, so keep that good content flowing!

Helpful Links:

I hope this episode was helpful in building your website’s SEO. But what do you think? Too much information? Not enough? Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂 I’d love to hear from you.

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 039: Robert Tanenbaum

Image of Robert Tanenbaum

What is the real value of writing in the modern world? Does it still possess the power to move people or capture the values of an entire nation? My guest today reminds me that the written word is still very much a force to be reckoned with.

“Doing a novel is… about many different things that matter to me. The integrity of the characters is reflective of my views of the integrity of the system. The fun part is: what is the story I want to tell that will highlight the kinds of things that we care about?”

I am very excited to share today’s Coffee Break with you, friends. I had the honor of speaking with attorney, politician, and popular American novelist Robert Tanenbaum. We talk about his latest novel, Infamy, and his newest work-in-progress, Without Fear or Favor, coming this September. But the conversation soon shifted toward such compelling topics as the virtue of the American judicial system, the essence of a great story, and the genius of our nation’s forefathers.

“We have to uplift the system of our government. Lying is not sufficient. Within the rule of law in our country, we’re capable of doing anything right.”

Having written over 30 crime novels and works of non-fiction, Robert captures the American ideal of justice and reminds readers that the honor and history of our nation’s most sacred institutions are worth upholding and defending. I hope todays’ episode moves you to inspire others through your own writing. I always encourage people to make their mark in the literary world. But don’t take my word for it. As Robert puts it:

“I believe most of us have at least one book in us.”

Check in with Robert to see how his latest novel is coming along! You can find links to his entire collection of work in the links below. Thanks for listening and keep writing!

Mentioned in this episode:

#roberttanenbaum

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

All Of The Best Writing Excuses – WN 058

Image for episode 058

Perhaps pathetically, perhaps hilariously, or perhaps ironically, I almost didn’t create this week’s episode of the Write Now podcast. I kept running into (figurative) barriers, which I soon realized were excuses — often the same excuses I use to avoid writing.

With that revelation, I figured that it was all the more important to talk about, and so here it is — I hope you enjoy it.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Sound Familiar?

You finally finish up a long day or night at work or in class, eat whatever meal is appropriate for the time of day, spend time with your family, get the kids into or up from bed, and realize that, despite all odds, you just might have some time to write!

You know it’s a rare occasion and that you shouldn’t waste it, but… first, you really should tackle those dishes. And the plants need watering. And, you tell yourself, you’ll feel much better once the living room is picked up or your office is clean.

And now that that’s done, come to think of it, you’re tired. You’ve had a long day, and you’ve just accomplished a lot! There’s always time for writing tomorrow.

But as you drift off to sleep, you feel that feeling — that gnawing, rotten, unfulfilled feeling deep in your heart that always creeps in when you’ve passed up an opportunity to write.

Reasons vs. Excuses

Did you know? There is a difference between a reason and an excuse.

Reason: A cause or explanation that tends to be logical and non-biased or objective. It’s pretty tough to punch holes in a solid reason.

Example: The pilot tells you your 6:00 a.m. flight can’t take off on time because the airplane engine is on fire.

Excuse: An explanation that justifies or defends a bad decision or a fault. They tend to be illogical or irrational, and often point blame. It’s easy to punch holes in a flimsy excuse.

Example: The pilot tells you your 6:00 a.m. flight can’t take off because he shared a hotel room with his co-pilot, and his co-pilot snored all night and he didn’t sleep well. 

One might wonder why the pilot didn’t have a cup of coffee, request a pair of earplugs, change rooms, call in beforehand saying he was unable to fly that morning, etc.

Excuses Are Easy. Writing Is Hard.

The fact is that excuses are easy to make, while life is hard. Responsibilities are hard. Writing is hard — especially after a long day of work. And sometimes the easy route is incredibly, overwhelmingly attractive. We’re only human, after all.

Often, we make excuses to cover up a difficult or painful truth. We lie to others and ourselves, whether consciously or unconsciously. We say we can’t write today because we’re not feeling well, but really, we don’t want to write today because we’re terrified of what happens when we finish the novel and no one likes it.

One of the most valuable writing skills that no one ever talks about is the ability to be truly honest with yourself. The ability to ask yourself, What is true? And the courage to answer yourself honestly.

Let’s Play: Reason Or Excuse?

What do you think?

  1. No one will want to read what I write. (Excuse: You can’t logically guarantee that absolutely no one will want to read your writing, and besides, you don’t need readers to be a writer and write.)
  2. I’m afraid. (Excuse: It may be honest, but it is not logical. It’s up to you to drum up the courage to write in spite of the fear — or to let the fear keep you from writing.)
  3. I don’t have time to write. (Excuse: You have 24 hours in a day, the same as me, the same as your boss, your FedEx deliveryperson, your local short-order cook, and the doctor in the hospital ER. The same as V.E. Schwab, Jon Acuff, Annie Dillard, Stephen King, and every other published writer ever. It’s up to you to manage, arrange, and prioritize your schedule to fit writing in.)
  4. Facebook/Twitter/Instagram needs me! (Excuse: No one is waiting with bated breath for your next post. And the world won’t cease to exist if you’re not there to witness all of the latest goings-on.)
  5. I’m too old to start writing. (Excuse: Unless physical complications or health issues keep you from typing or lifting a pen or pencil, you are never too old to start writing. Just ask Jay Greenfield.)
  6. I’m too young to start writing. (Excuse: Even if you’re 16 years old, or seven, or five. You can tell a story. You have important thoughts to share. Just ask Mark Messick.)
  7. I need to wash the dishes. (Excuse: Those dishes are still going to be there when you stop writing. Unless someone else takes care of them for you, in which case, rejoice!)
  8. I don’t have the right education. (Excuse: You don’t need a fancy degree or a special creative writing course to write. In fact, the best way you can learn more about writing is to read more and write more. So get to it.)
  9. I’m out of coffee. (Excuse: Go make or buy more coffee. Have a friend deliver some to you. Make tea. Or try writing without it.)
  10. I have nothing original to say. (Excuse: This is a popular one! But just because you don’t think you have anything original to say, that doesn’t mean you are incapable of writing. Write anyway.)
  11. My spelling and grammar are really horrible! (Excuse: That’s what editors are for.)
  12. Publishers today are only publishing garbage. My novel is going to be smart and amazing and wonderful. So why should I even bother? (Excuse: Someone else’s opinion or grasp on the market should never be a factor in whether or not you sit down and create what you were meant to create.)
  13. I just got off of a 12-hour shift and I have a newborn baby at home. I am simply too exhausted to write. (Reason: Holy crap, go get some sleep. It sounds like you are stretched too thin right now, and your priorities need to be self-care, work, and caring for your newborn. This might not be a realistic season for writing, and that is okay.)
  14. I’m writing a historical novel, and I need to do a ton of research before I can continue writing. (Excuse: This is where the line gets a little blurry, but I’m going to say this shouldn’t keep you from writing. Plow ahead, get your first draft done, and fill in the historical details later.)
  15. I’m undergoing chemo and I am exhausted and in pain. (Reason: You have other priorities more important than writing this season. Rest and heal — don’t further drive yourself into the ground. However, don’t deny yourself some journal or creative writing if you think it would be a healing experience.)

None of this is meant to be hurtful to you, of course, and it’s not my intention to make light of any of the above excuses. Rather, this episode/post is intended to be your kick in the pants — your reason to kick the excuses to the curb. 🙂

We’re Only Human.

It’s always good (and healthy!) to remember that we are human beings and, as such, we are not perfect. Fear is a very powerful motivator, and it can easily motivate us not to write.

But being human also means that we have free will. Often, it’s up to us (and only us) to smash the excuses and exercise the important writerly skill of being honest with ourselves. We have to make the decision to overcome the fear that threatens to overwhelm with us. We have to decide and want to put the pen to paper, or our fingers to the keyboard.

To do that takes courage. And by reading this post — or listening to this podcast — you’ve just shown me that you have courage. You’ve taken the first step to crushing those excuses that get in the way of you fulfilling your dream of writing.

So take another step and write today.

What About You?

What excuses do you use to avoid writing? Or what reason do you have for not writing right now? I’d love to know. Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 038: Renita Bryant

Image of Renita Bryant

We talk a lot on this podcast about what it takes to write every day. We even delve into branding and marketing your platform. But what happens after you’ve finally published your book? In many ways, proofing your final draft is the beginning of the real work. Today’s guest shares the joys of publishing her first book as well as some nitty-gritty details of publishing you may not have considered.

“I was so excited and so happy when I finally had my book in my hand. That’s something that nobody can take away.”

Renita Bryant is the author of Yesterday Mourning as well as the owner of independent publisher and consultant Mynd Matters. In today’s Coffee Break, she talks about her transition from Corporate America to indie writer, publicist, and advisor.

“It was very trying at times. Deciding that I was going to publish was scary and it was overwhelming. I was concerned that people would hate it or nobody would want to read it. Or what would my family think?”

Renita now shares her experience with her clients, advising new authors to “know their numbers” and manage money while on promotional tours and book signings. She admits things can get a bit wild once you publish your book. But throughout the entire process, she is constantly reminded of her greatest asset: her peers.

“People are so willing to help you. There’s something about being a part of the indie community that felt like you have partners here; you have friends here; you have people that actually care. And they’re trying to help each other.”

Renita is currently working on her second novel. Click the links below to check in with her or just to say hi!

Mentioned in this episode:

#myndmatters

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 037: Mya Kay

Mya Kay Title Card

My friends: I really enjoyed this conversation with full-time YA author, collaborator, and entrepreneur Mya Kay. An eight-time published novelist who recently set a record for the number of books dropped in one day, Mya is smart, savvy, and full of great advice for writers of all ages and backgrounds who want to find success writing and selling books.

“I am changing the world with words.”

Image of Battling Brelyn, the first book in The Clover Chronicles by Mya Kay.Mya writes YA fiction with a message of inspiration and faith, and touches on important issues that YA readers face, such as diversity, entrepreneurship, lupus, and the family issues that may arise in the life of a biracial teen girl.

“My biggest pet peeve is seeing writers who don’t treat their writing like a business.”

Mya treats her writing career like a business and encourages all writers to do the same. She also encourages writers to create every day (even if they can’t write every day), and is passionate about sharing the message that while writing is a difficult process, it should never be scary.

“Writing a series is a dream come true for me.”

Follow your dreams, and click the links below to follow Mya.

Mentioned in this episode:

#yalit

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Creative Writing, Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

How To Survive Your Day Job – WN 057

Image of Episode 057 Title Card

Hello, lovelies. There is a lot of sweet stuff in store for you in this week’s episode of the Write Now podcast, which takes a look at day jobs, writing for money, and what happens to a dream deferred.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

“Don’t Quit Your Day Dream.”

On April 14, 2017, I left my job.

I was a senior UX content strategist at a marketing technology agency for over five years. I left by choice, though I enjoyed the work and really loved my coworkers.

So why did I leave?

  1. I was working 80+ hour weeks among my full-time job, podcast work, Forbes writing, personal writing, and church work, and needed to restore balance.
  2. I felt called to move on. I ignored and pushed back against it for the longest time, but we can only deny our calling for so long.
  3. I was using all of my energy (creative and otherwise) at work.

My decision to leave my job was not a rash one. In fact, my husband and I spent the better part of a year weighing pros and cons, building up a “runway” of savings, and carefully planning what our new life would look like. Many people talk about taking the “leap” like it’s a rash, impulsive decision — but for me, it was anything but.

And even several weeks after having made the transition, I’m still discovering new pros and cons. While I do get to work on my own projects, take on opportunities I would have otherwise had to turn down, and work less than 80 hours per week, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

I miss the team I used to work with, not to mention the reliable income and benefits. And I miss being an authoritative expert — in fact, I feel like a surprisingly large chunk of my identity has been torn away. I went from being Senior UX Content Strategist Sarah Rhea Werner to… being Just Sarah. It’s weird.

Expectation vs. reality, dream vs. fantasy.

We’re writers, and many of us are prone to daydreaming. And sometimes our daydreams are fueled by images we see on Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and other forms of social media. Images that set a certain expectation in our minds of what the life of a writer looks like.

Images like this (from my own Pinterest board):

writing images from pinterest

These images often fuel dreams in which we quit our jobs and write for a living. We think going to be all inspiration and coffee and cozy sweaters and thoughts and ink and muffins (and maybe sunshine and rainbows, too, if that’s your thing).

But it’s not. At least, not all the time.

Americans (and maybe other cultures as well — I’m not sure) often suffer from “expectations vs. reality” syndrome. We get an idea of how something “should be”, and are then completely wrecked with disappointment when it turns out that’s not the case.

For example, we watch chick flicks and then expect marriage to match up to the Kate Hudson/Matthew McConaughey romantic ideal. But it doesn’t, and it never will. There is no “happily ever after” — no end to the hard work that we have to put in to enjoy a lifelong, functional relationship.

I’m not trying to be a downer. What I’m saying is that often, there’s a gulf between our expectations and reality:

image of expectation vs. reality

Left: expectation. Right: reality.

Looking to quit your job and live out your dream of writing for a living? Just make sure you are setting your expectations for reality and not fantasy. By quitting your day job, you are not going to escape hard work (because writing is hard work) or frustration (because writing is extremely frustrating).

With all that in mind, leaving my day job to write full time was definitely the right decision for me. But (and this is probably what you’re wondering right now) is it right for you?

Don’t overlook the good.

Sometimes, having a day job is the best possible thing for a writer. Now, this might not be something you want to hear. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

Many, many writers produced their masterpieces whilst employed at their day jobs. Wallace Stevens sold insurance while writing Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry. William Carlos Williams served as chief of pediatrics at Passaic General Hospital, and typed poems on a typewriter between patients. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote award-winning material for years while holding down jobs as a cook, a bartender, a waitress, and a magazine employee.

So maybe you’re in a good place right now. Maybe your day job provides you with fodder and insights for your writing, or maybe it helps keep the financial pressure off of your creativity. Maybe your day job is decent and gives you the space and income you need to create without fear.

But maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you are trapped in a toxic work environment or hemmed in with toxic co-workers (or both), or maybe your job is harmful to your body or spirit. In this case, you need to ask:

  • Is this a job I need to survive?

Or:

  • Is this a job I need to leave?

If you need to leave, then find a replacement job and leave. But if you think you can grin and bear it, here are some tips for surviving your day job.

Sing it with me: I will survive.

Here are some tips to help:

  1. Read and/or write over your lunch break. Take the time to lose yourself in words.
  2. Keep an idea notebook with you at all times. It will keep your brain focused on your story, and it’s a great way to keep your creative self literally present at all times.
  3. Get in early (if you’re a morning person) or stay late (if you’re not). Make your workspace work for you.
  4. Use standing-around time to write, plan, outline, or jot down ideas. Just make sure you get your paid work done first.
  5. Don’t dwell upon how frustrated/angry you are. Trust me. Negativity is a bad spiral that will suck up all of your creative energy.

Also, while you’re surviving, please be ethical and smart. Don’t write on company equipment or on company time. Not only is it ethical, it also ensures that you fully own your work.

Remember, no matter what, you are a writer.

You do not need to quit your job or write full-time to become a writer.

You do not need someone else to validate your writer status for you.

If you write, you can call yourself a writer.

If it helps, get business cards printed. Vistaprint usually has some kind of sale where you can get 500 business cards for like $15. (This is not an endorsement for Vistaprint — they’re just cheap and don’t screw up my stuff.) Here’s a business card design I created in less than two minutes using Canva:

A business card Sarah made in less than 2 minutes

Hand it out to friends, family, and whoever else might take one. Do it. Be it. Live it. You can do this.

Related things you should read:

Here are some links you may find useful:

What are your writing dreams? How do you survive your workday? Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 036: Barbara Kyle II

Image of Barbara Kyle

Oh, my friends. I have a treat for you today. Barbara Kyle (from Coffee Break episode 001) is back, and this time she’s talking about what makes a book a real page-turner—from characters to story structure, style, and even business.

“What is it that makes people want to keep reading long into the night?”

I always love talking with Barbara, who is an accomplished novelist and dedicated writing mentor to many. She has a knack for boiling down complex story creating and structuring advice into simple steps, and is always wonderfully positive and inspirational.

“Most people who are working on a novel have full-time jobs… and have to constantly fend off the well-meaning family and friends who ask, ‘Are you still working on that book?’ and ‘When can I find your book in the bookstore?’”

Today, Barbara and I discuss what makes for a page-turner, why it pays to help others along the way, how it feels to be misunderstood by family and friends as a writer, and much more.

“Nothing interests me as much as talking about writing. Well, my grandchildren do. But aside from that…”

Be sure to click the links below to learn more about or get in touch with Barbara!

Mentioned in this episode:

#pageturner

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 035: Kale Lawrence

Kale Lawrence Title Card: Image

For me, there’s nothing better than looking at a book on my shelf and thinking, “Wow, I have literally met that author!” So you can imagine my excitement at interviewing today’s Coffee Break guest in person. South Dakota native Kale Lawrence is working on the second book of her young adult science-fiction/steampunk fantasy series, Alex in Wunderstrande.

“Any author that’s ever written a series is amazing, and I look up to them because it is such hard work.”

Image of Alex in Wunderstrande BookIn addition to writing a book series, Kale and I talk about interacting with local authors and writing communities, taking the time to ensure your writing looks and feels the way you want, and the hardest (and often most overlooked) step of self-publishing.

“Self-publishing is a beast. I would recommend self-publishing to those who…have the ability to have someone either help them with marketing or are in marketing and understand the process.”

We also discuss the surprises that crop up in a writer’s life. There are always interesting people to meet and life experiences to draw upon. But sometimes the biggest surprise of all emerges from your own spontaneity!

“My strongest writing comes out in those chapters. That why I left some of the things unplanned.”

Be sure to click the links below to learn more about or get in touch with Kale!

Mentioned in this episode:

#wunderstrande

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 034: Jonathan White

Image of Jonathan White

Today’s episode of Coffee Break explores some truly wonderful paradoxes — the natural and spiritual world, science and myth, even human generosity and criticism.

All of these themes can be witnessed within the subject of the ocean’s tides. The ebb and flow of this elemental force has captured the imagination and curiosity of Jonathan White, writer, sailor, educator, and today’s special guest.

“It wasn’t something I planned… it was something I fell into. I’m fascinated by the natural world. I’m really fed by it.”

Jonathan is the author of Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean, a half-poetic, half-scientific documentary of some of the most spellbinding locations and people on the planet. In fact, during a decade of study and personal encounters, Jonathan has often found himself with a foot in two different worlds.

“You can have a spiritual/mythological perspective of the tide. But you can also have the modern science of the tide. It’s not like you have to fit them together or make them fit. They can coexist.”

In today’s episode, we discuss the great lengths in which writers sometimes must go in order to satisfy their curiosity. Jonathan shares the time and trials of assembling a book over the course of ten years and the criticism he attributes to its success. He also shares his stories of enigma and human generosity as he travels the globe in search of the many influences of the tides.

“There’s a time when you just have to go somewhere. I really did come to a point where I had to close my computer down and say ‘I just have to go and see what’s going on there.’”

I hope you’ll join us for this interesting conversation. But more than anything, I hope you’ll be inspired to act upon your curiosities and passions as well as seek out the people who share them.

Mentioned in this episode:

#tides

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Woooo!

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so you have nothing to lose. #winning

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Living A Creative Life – WN 056

Title card for living a creative life

Hello friends! So… right out of the gate, let’s address what some of you are probably thinking right now. You’ve read the title of today’s episode, you’ve seen the above picture, and you’re thinking “Yeah, okay, Sarah. I’ll just quit my job and start painting every day.” ::eyeroll::

But this episode is definitely not about supporting yourself financially with your creative work.

I’m not even talking about filling your day-to-day life with arts and crafts (even though those can be a fun way to express yourself). So don’t worry — you don’t have to hang macaroni art on your walls or plant flowers in shoes to live a creative life. I mean, I certainly won’t stop you from doing so, but what I’m addressing today runs much deeper than that.

Today’s episode of the Write Now podcast is about asking yourself some tough questions and, most importantly, answering yourself honestly. But first things first. What does it even mean to live a creative life?

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Dreams and Molds

Today, I mention one of my all-time favorite webcomics, XKCD by Randall Munroe. One of his strips really speaks to me. It talks about trading our dreams and aspirations in for the molds from which society tells us we should emerge. Heady stuff, to be sure:

Image of XKCD Comic 137

(I blurred out the strong language to keep this post family-friendly, but simply click it to read the whole thing!)

I’m also reminded of another work not mentioned in today’s episode that parodies “socially-sanctioned” creativity. The YouTube series Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared (also viewer discretion!) takes a more sinister look at how cultural norms poison and undermine our attempts to be different and creative.

I think these different works share a similar idea: that society has very defined expectations of us all.

We live in a world that encourages us to work hard and do well in school, get a job, get married, and raise a family, all while buying and owning the correct things at each stage of the process. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with this plan, and it works well for many people.

The problem emerges when it becomes an expectation of us all, regardless if it’s the life we want for ourselves or not.

Elizabeth Gilbert touches upon this in her book Big Magic. It may be that we were raised by parents who valued rules, or avoided risk, or who just had no creativity to begin with. These are difficult things to rise above, especially if we were raised in and/or work in these environments.

But I think that’s what it really means to live creatively in today’s world. It’s not necessarily about proselytizing a quirky lifestyle, sustaining yourself on creative work alone, or even creating something in your free time every day.

Living creatively is about deciding and shaping for yourself the life in which you want to live.

The Big Questions

Like me, you may not even realize which molds you’ve been stuffed into until you’re an adult. So how can you tell if you’re living creatively or by someone else’s terms?

Here are some big (and sometimes tough) questions you can ask yourself.

  1. Are you living the life you want to live? This simple yes-or-no question may be the hardest one to answer honestly. It’s easy to look at all the advantages you have and say “Yep, I’m good.” But answering “no” to this question brings up a lot of uncertainties and leaves you wondering, “Well, what do I want?” Having the courage to answer honestly will ultimately give you more control over your life.
  2. Are you living out your purpose or calling? Again, this doesn’t necessarily pertain to your career. We all have to eat, after all. But what were you made for? What are you supposed to be doing? What’s the one thing that makes you feel like a million bucks when you do it? You may not know the answer to this question yet. But don’t stop searching.
  3. Are you deciding for yourself what you want? When answering the above two questions, keep this in mind. Is this what I want… or what I was told I want? The same goes for your calling — only you can decide that. It’s important to identify where your self interest intersects with your upbringing, your beliefs, the people who impact you, and what society in general expects of you. You may find the life you truly want lies outside of all of these influences. And you know what? That’s okay!
  4. Are you shaping your own world? Trick question — the answer is always “yes”. Whether you are consciously steering your life or passively letting it happen, what you do shapes how you live. The real question is, are you happy with that? And it’s okay to say “yes” or “no”, as long as you’re being honest. Hopefully, your answer will lead toward taking the steps you need to live the life you want.

So what does this all have to do with living a creative life?

A lot, actually. Creativity is stifled by fear, public opinion, and the limits placed upon us by others and ourselves. By identifying what it is we truly want, we can more easily recognize the obstacles that keep us from living it out. Much like human beings, creativity can only truly thrive in freedom.

Inspiration to click on!

Here are some links you may find useful:

It is my hope that today’s episode helps somebody take a good hard look at their life. Is that person you? Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 033: Jay Greenfield

Image of Jay Greenfield

Today’s episode of Coffee Break proves a point that I’ve been trying to make for years. And that is: it’s never too late to start writing.

No matter your background, profession, or passions, everyone has a story to tell. And, as far as stories are concerned, today we are in for quite a treat!

“I had an extremely good teacher who was very encouraging… but he also was very realistic that this was not a good way to make a living.”

My guest today is Jay Greenfield, born and raised New York author of Max’s Diamonds, a critically-acclaimed coming-of-age novel set in post-World War II America. At 84 years young, Jay draws upon his rich life and prominent career in law to give depth and personality to his writing.

“Putting words on paper is easy. Making them weave well and editing is tough.”

In today’s episode, Jay and I talk about his life and career choices that led to publishing his first novel as well as the influences that have made an impact on the stories he tells.

“You really can’t do anything well unless you’re willing to give it a total commitment.”

I’ll let Jay speak for himself, but I hope listeners can connect with his honesty and gain inspiration from his accomplishments. Thank you for sharing your life and your wisdom with us, Jay, and good luck on your next book!

Mentioned in this episode:

#amwriting

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

How To Prioritize Your Writing – WN 055

How To Prioritize Your Writing - Title Card

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a life filled with tasks, obligations, and priorities of varying urgency and importance. Sometimes there are so many assignments on my plate that even writing everything down in a list doesn’t alleviate the overwhelming stress of it all. This may be one of the rare times in life where “looking at the big picture” does more harm than good.

Or maybe the handful of tasks you flutter between in any given day just aren’t getting done. You begin to realize that focusing on all the things really translates to focusing on none of the things. Picking and nibbling away at your to-do list only seems to give it chances to regenerate new tasks for you to complete. You work hard but are never able to enjoy the feeling of completing anything.

On today’s Write Now podcast episode, we lay down in plain terms exactly what it takes to tackle your list. You may not like it (you may even hate it), but if you want to actually finish that list and start making time for your writing, we’re going to have to talk about something that absolutely nobody wants to talk about…

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Time Management!

Yes, I know. You’re a free spirit and can’t chain yourself to a schedule! (At least, I am.) But stay with me here. Managing your priorities and dedicating time to actually finishing them will free up more time to write and enjoy life than you may think. That’s why I’ve come up with seven steps to manage your time for people who hate time management.

  1. Make a list. Write down all of your priorities. Full-time work, part-time work, family, writing, reading, etc. Group together small tasks into larger categories to make things more manageable. You may already be familiar with this step. But instead of leaving it here, let’s actually make this list work for us.
  2. Reflect on your list. Think about what’s really important to you (not someone else!). Rank your list of priorities based on how meaningful they are to you. Just don’t mistake “meaningful” for “fun”. The top of my list is always going to be my full-time job, not because it’s what I want to do the most but because it enables me to do everything else on my list. It may sound weird, but it’s okay if spending time with your family or your writing takes a back seat to your job in your calendar. You need to complete one before you can enjoy another!
  3. Be real about time. Start thinking realistically about time spans and how much each of your ranked priorities take up. Your full-time job isn’t just eight hours a day. You still need time in the morning to get ready, commute, break for lunch, and come home. Time is a real and limiting factor here. You have just as many hours in your day as everyone else. But remember you don’t have to do everything now. Focus on the top-ranked priorities in your life before devoting time to others.
  4. Block off the big stuff. It is impossible for human beings to multitask very well. You’ll be working twice as hard for a fraction of the productivity. And the things will never get done! Use a tool like a day planner or Google Calendar to schedule when and where you’ll be focusing on your top priorities. Start by blocking off number one in your calendar and work your way down. Remember: you don’t have to do it all now! If you’re honest with yourself about how much time you have and put first things first, you won’t have to resort to multitasking.
  5. Block off your free time. This is probably the toughest part for me. If I don’t plan what I’ll be doing in the precious little free time I have, I do nothing. Committing to a schedule is especially important for writers. Minimize the amount of marketing and platform building through social media with tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or paid services like Meet Edgar. Set aside specific times for education and research, around 1-3 hours at a time. Opportunities for education are literally infinite and you can spend way too much time caught up in “learning to do it right”. When that time is up, commit to putting an end to learning and actually start doing it. Schedule the time you need to write every day and then write, darn it!
  6. Hold yourself accountable. Stick to your schedule and consciously focus on that one thing while you’re doing it. No multitasking, no distractions. Not everything on your list can be your number one priority. But at the same time, not all top priorities stay at the top. There will come a time when you can say yes to socializing and “me time”. This list is not set in stone for the rest of your life. Maybe this list is just for one year, one season, or one week. But for now, hold yourself to what is most important to you (not someone else!) and stick to actually doing it.
  7. Cut yourself some slack. Life changes and priorities change – sometimes very quickly. When you’re thrown a curve ball or manage to drop the ball completely (both inevitable, by the way), be patient with yourself. Nobody is perfect, which means no schedule is perfect. Hold yourself accountable, yes. But stay flexible. Give yourself a little grace now and then. Just get back on the horse and focus on one thing at a time!

Comparing Notes

More than anything, I want the Write Now podcast to encourage you to write. Sometimes that means dedicating time to obligations that act as obstacles to our writing. Time is real so we need to be real with ourselves about it. Here are some tools I mentioned in today’s episode that may help you to manage your time:

Also, here’s an image of my own calendar. I don’t share it with many people, but I’m happy to share it with you:

Image of Sarah's calendar.

Finally! Here’s the interview I did with Spreaker, as well as my episode of the Spreaker Live Show with Rob Greenlee (my segment starts at about 40 minutes in).

Was this episode useful to you?

My method of time management isn’t the only right way. How do you make time to write? What works best for you? I’d love to hear your story!

Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 032: Sandy Kreps

Image of Sandy Kreps - Title Card

What’s the best way to break into professional writing? Sometimes you just have to fly by the seat of your pants! This week on Coffee Break, we talk about what it really takes to become a full-time writer.

“It isn’t until you take your job intentionally and deliberately… that people start to care.”

My guest today is Sandy Kreps, freelance writer, ghostwriter, and blogger on Modern*Simplicity, a website dedicated to helping people create stress-free lives. She and I talk about transitioning to becoming a full-time writer, the tools and attitudes it takes to get there, and the magic of connecting with people from around the world.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to throw something out there and get so much back in return.”

Sandy shares the honest ins and outs of her writing career, including the many hats a modern writer has to wear. Through multiple sources of income and her trusty bullet journal, she offers a fresh approach to paying the bills while also making time for passion projects. I hope today’s episode shows you some new ways to support a writing career. Thanks, Sandy!

“No matter what stage you are as a writer, the most important thing I could say is just do it and do it fearlessly.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#bulletjournal

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 031: Jake Heilbrunn

Image of Jake Heilbrunn

For me, it’s fascinating to look back and see an author’s humble beginnings through their earlier work. But it’s even more of a treat to witness a writer’s craft develop as they grow as people. This week on Coffee Break, we take a look at transition, self-discovery, and the pursuit of joy, both through writing and finding yourself through a “leap of faith”.

“I feel like my story is just a metaphor for having the courage to listen to your inner voice and take that leap.”

My guest today is Jake Heilbrunn, blogger, motivational speaker, and author of Off the Beaten Trail: A Young Man’s Soul-Searching Journey Through Central America. We spoke about the personal struggles that motivated his yearning for travel, the people whose stories he tells along the way, and what it took to leave his entire life behind.

“I felt like I needed something to nourish my soul that was so far from anything I could understand… Your willpower is finite, but your environment can change everything.”

We also spoke about the learning process of self-publishing, the secret to writing over 100,000 words in three months, and the importance of a mindset of gratitude. But the themes of transformation and personal betterment prevails throughout our conversation.  And, as Jake assures us, all of us are united in the need to discover ourselves.

“The first step is the hardest part. No one’s ever fully ready.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#leapoffaith

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Introvert & Extrovert Writers – WN 054

Image for Introvert and Extrovert Writers - WN 054

As a writer, you are uniquely gifted with a voice that is capable of understanding and giving language to the human condition. Pretty lofty, huh? Knowing this, it probably behooves us to familiarize ourselves with what it means to be human. And the best place to start is getting to “know thyself”, as the old standby goes.

So let’s start with the basics and ask, “Am I an introvert or an extrovert?”

In today’s episode of the Write Now podcast, we explore the places and social situations in which you as a writer flourish and the source of your creative energy.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

The Armchair Philosophy

Let’s get one thing straight: the classification of introverts and extroverts is not scientific. It’s simply an assessment of your personal reactions to social stimuli and how you prefer to rest. As such, there are many already-debunked myths about each kind of person that continue to pervade what we think when we hear these terms.

Introverts are typically viewed as shy, quiet, overly sensitive anti-social shut-ins with a penchant for collecting felines. On the flip side, extroverts are labeled as loud, self-centered, overly-friendly, people-loving leaders with energy to spare. But we all know these are just stereotypes. No one is truly one or the other. In fact, the term ambivert eludes to a fairly even mixture of intro- and extroversion. But yes, there is a definite spectrum here. And understanding where you thrive on that spectrum can help your writing in a big way.

Most people see writing as a quiet, solitary introvert activity. But some of the greatest authors of all time are extroverts. It all depends on how writing energizes you. Do you prefer exchanging ideas in a group? Do you need a quiet place in which to lose yourself? Or do you like mixing it up with a bit of both? You don’t have to limit yourself to just one method. Just be flexible and be sure to take time and refresh yourself between writing sessions.

Wearing Many Hats

As modern-day writers, we have to fill a plethora of roles that, on their own, make up entire job descriptions. On top of actually writing something, we are expected to:

  1. Read and critique others’ work
  2. Listen to criticism and praise
  3. Observe our surroundings
  4. Strategize, both novel plots and advertising our work
  5. Market ourselves as authors and maintain our platform
  6. Act as Public Relations to our readers and critics
  7. Speak about our processsometimes for crowds
  8. Communicate with editors and publicists
  9. Sell our writing as a product
  10. …and the list goes on…

As you can imagine, no one person is able to flawlessly perform all of these duties. But when we understand how much of an introvert or extrovert we are, we can identify our strengths and weaknesses. This, in turn, helps us discover the types of people we need to surround ourselves with and draw upon to be successful. It also helps us identify how and how often we rest and recharge.

One of the most helpful tools you can draw upon is a personality assessment. Whether it’s an extensive Myers Briggs test or a free evaluation like 16personalities, understanding how you make decisions, what motivates you, and how you interact with people is invaluable to a writer. I encourage you to take one, if you haven’t already. It never hurts to reconnect with yourself from time to time.

Helpful Resources

I hope you found this week’s episode useful! Here are the different personality tests I talked about:

As a writer, where do you get your energy? How does your personality reflect how you write?

Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Does Listening To Music Help You Write? – WN 053

Does Listening To Music Help You Write? - Title Card

It’s a question writers have been asking since owning copies of recorded sound was a thing. What’s the best kind of music to write to? Some swear by classical Baroque as a sure-fire muse. Others claim you should avoid listening to music while writing altogether. But how can you tell what’s right for you?

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

The Soundtrack of Your Novel

In today’s Write Now podcast, I discuss the idea of curating music, much like a museum or art exhibit is curated. What type of mood are you trying to achieve? What is the desired aesthetic you’re going for? Are you looking to jog yourself out of writer’s block and give your creative juices a jolt? Or are you trying to focus on the task at hand and be as productive as possible?

On the one hand, intelligible chatter (i.e., lyrics) proves to be one of the most distracting elements when it comes to concentrating. But the right inspirational phrase in your favorite song can create the positive emotion and, more importantly, the motivational intensity you may need to try something different. So which is best: a calming, lyric-less ambiance or a high energy, word-filled catalyst?

“Messy Minds”

Studies show no one is really that great at multitasking, at least not as great as focusing on one thing at a time. But neither is the human mind easily placated by just one external stimuli. We need to hunker down and get to work, but we also need some emotional incentive to jog our creativity from time to time. So the answer to the question “What kind of music should I listen to while I write?” may just be both.

Mellow and calming music (or even just good old-fashioned silence) may be best if you’re trying to focus on productivity and getting the words on the page. For those times when you feel burned out or uninspired, your favorite high-energy, passionate pop or metal anthem may help you discover some innovative new approach. You may find movie soundtracks or simple ambient noise sets a mood that coincides with your writing and helps set the mood. If you don’t know where to start, there are tons of curated playlists out there to help inspire the state of mind you need.

Just keep in mind that music can only help facilitate your writing — only habitual reading and writing will help you become a better writer!

Helpful Resources

Here are some of the articles I referenced in today’s episode:

What do you listen to while you write? Tell me all about it on my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 030: Janna Maron

Image of Janna Maron - Title Card

Sometimes the best way to share an intimate experience is to just tell it like it is. In this episode of Coffee Break, we explore the fascinating world of creative nonfiction and how to use storytelling to connect with readers on a more personal level.

“The creative nonfiction genre allowed me to do more self-reflection than I think is allowable in fiction.”

My guest today is Janna Maron, creator and editor of Under the Gum Tree, a reader-supported quarterly literary arts magazine. Under the Gum Tree features storytelling in the form of creative nonfiction and visual art, encouraging writers to share “stories without shame”.

“You ultimately have to create whatever community or support that you want for yourself.”

Today, Janna and I talk about discovering a passion project, the time and effort it takes to build it from the ground up, and the joys of sharing yourself with others. I hope Janna’s story inspires you to create something meaningful and have the courage to share it with complete strangers. You just may find your readers saying “Me too!”

“If you don’t see the thing that you want in the world, maybe that means you should be part of creating it and bringing it to life.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#underthegumtree

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Personal Branding For Writers – WN 052


Episode 052 Title Card

You’ve probably never thought of yourself as a brand. But guess what? You already are one! Your name, your reputation, and the writing you’re working on are all part of your personal brand. What you choose to do with it and how far you plan on taking it are up to you.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Living in a “Cult of Personality”

Whether it’s an author’s name or a corporation’s logo, seeing a name printed on something alters your perception of what’s inside. Oftentimes, our opinion of a book or a product is shaped by the people who create or endorse it.  True, personal brands are technically self-promotion and, therefore, a form of marketing. But marketing is just another tool you as a writer have to help find people who want to read your work.

Established authors often have access to publishers, who usually take care of publicity and marketing. But if you’re just starting out, you’ll have to wear a lot of hats if you want to get your name out there. Today, writers have to be able to play the part of web designer, content manager, and social media contributor on top of finishing their novel. It can seem overwhelming if you haven’t considered it before. But in episode 052 of the Write Now podcast, we’ll discuss several tips that will help establish your personal brand in a way that is not only manageable, but completely FREE.

DIY Marketing

The most common first impression you’re going to have to future readers will be online. If you’re new to the scene or you’re looking to branch out, here are some steps to establish yourself on the web.

  1. Google Yourself. It may sound basic (and maybe a bit weird) but you can bet it’s what your readers are going to be doing. What do you find? Do you like what you see? How are you portraying yourself? Everything (and I mean everything) associated with your name online can either hurt you or help you. The things you share, the comments you leave. These are what people associate with your personal brand. Make sure your name is leaving a trail of kind and useful content for people to find.
  2. Prioritize “Social” over “Media”. You don’t need to be on every social platform in the universe to stay relevant. Pick one or two and make regular, professional posts that cater to the interests of your followers without constantly trying to sell your book. Stick to the 80/20 Rule: post thoughtful, relevant updates 80% of the time and plug your book the other 20%. To help keep your personal brand consistent, refer to a mission statement and keep your profile picture and name the same across all platforms. And always remember to think before you post!
  3. Own Your Space. You may already be established on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. But what happens when those sites go down or disappear entirely? They take your entire personal brand down with it. Consider investing in your own website. It shows the internet that you’re legit and skyrockets your SEO (search engine optimization). Keep the URL simple and make sure your email and social media presence stays professional and relevant to who you are.
  4. Keep Your Ear to the Ground. Be sure to check up on who’s saying what about you and your writing. Make use of hashtags in your social media posts to help future readers find you. Use free monitor software like Google Alerts to easily see when your name or book pops up online. Leave only helpful and kind messages in comment sections and when you see incorrect or downright negative comments, do not respond!
  5. Don’t Forget to Finish It! Throughout this whole personal branding process, keep in mind that your writing is the most important thing. Without your novel, story, screenplay, or poem, you have nothing to market! So be sure to devote your best time and energy to actually finishing your writing. You can preschedule tweets and posts with apps like Buffer and Hootsuite. Remember to keep your work at the forefront of your personal brand.

How Do You Sell Yourself?

Share your own marketing tips and online networking exploits via my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Creative Writing, Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Should I Use A Pen Name? – WN 051

Should I Use A Pen Name? - WNP 051 Title Card

Besides all being authors, what do Mark Twain, George Eliot, Richard Bachman, J.K. Rowling, Cassandra Clare, Lemony Snicket, and Carolyn Keene have in common? That’s right– these are all pen names! But this isn’t just for well-known authors. Any writer may choose to publish their works under a pseudonym, and for a variety of reasons.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

An author by any other name…

If you’re publishing something you’ve worked so hard to finish and share with the world, why bother hiding your name? In episode 051 of the Write Now podcast, we explore the stories behind the pen names listed above. But here are six reasons why anonymity might make sense for you:

  1. Conceal your identity. This may be the original reason authors have used pen names but it’s still widely done today, and for a variety of reasons. It might lend credibility to a female author writing from a male point of view or vice versa. Using a pseudonym may protect an author writing on sensitive topics or in a medium outside their profession. Or it could be a simple matter of protection of privacy. There’s nothing wrong with a little anonymity.
  2. Invent a memorable name. Sometimes you just need to jazz things up a bit. Maybe your name is exceedingly common, too similar to another recognizable name, or just not a good fit for the type of book you’re publishing. In contrast to reason number one, you may want to use a pen name to grab attention, not avoid it.
  3. Distance different works from each other. Maybe you’re like J.K. Rowling and you want to mix things up from time to time. That may be difficult if you’re known as a “fantasy author” and you want to write a murder mystery. If your name has widespread recognition, that notoriety may stifle the success of your creativity. The solution may be starting over with a fresh moniker.
  4. Hide your productivity. If you’re blessed with Stephen King-like prolificness, you may want to consider spreading your work over a variety of names. Similar to the above reason, you may want to avoid being “type cast” as a specific type of author. You also may want to avoid your readers mistaking you for a think tank of ghostwriters.
  5. Combine a group of writers. In contrast to reason four, some book series like The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew are actually many different writers published under a single author’s name. This may be done to avoid reader confusion and provide a more consistent style and tone to a series. This may also be done to boost book sales by using an established author’s name recognition or license.
  6. Freedom to write. A pen name isn’t just for marketing and branding. It can even help an author as they’re writing. If the thought of criticism or “putting yourself out there” is holding you back, the simple act of changing your name can lend you the courage or mind frame to see things through to the end.

Is a pen name right for me?

Ultimately, the choice to write under a pseudonym is your own. If you identify with one or more of the reasons above, there are a few questions you can ask yourself before deciding to use a pen name:

  • Am I okay not receiving direct credit for my work? Will I want to consolidate later?
  • How will it feel to write under an assumed name? Will it free or hinder me?
  • How secretive do I want to be? Am I avoiding publicity altogether or just obscurity?
  • How will this name affect my brand? Website? Social media? Legal documents?

How would you go about choosing a pen name? Would it hold some special meaning to you? Does it sound good or have a pleasing alliteration? Are you concerned with alphabetical shelf placement or reader recognition? Or are you interested in assuming a more unique or memorable name? I’d love to hear your thoughts via my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 029: Paul Sating

Image of Paul Sating - Title Card

FRIENDS! On today’s Coffee Break episode, I’m featuring a kind of storytelling that I’ve never featured before: the audio drama!

“I wanted to tell fresh stories… It keeps me loving the art of writing.”

With us today is veteran podcaster and storyteller Paul Sating, whose Subject: Found and Diary of a Madman are (respectively) delightfully lore-filled and spooky-fantastic.

“I can’t wait for my alarm to go off in the morning because I get to go write one of those things.”

Today, Paul and I talk about audio drama, podcasting, waking up excited about writing, not getting discouraged, and tons more. I hope you enjoy it — and more than that, I hope you are inspired to start your own audio drama (or at least work on your own project) today!

“It’s just so much fun to experiment with the world you’ve already built.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#audiodrama

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

The Most Important Question A Writer Can Ask – WN 050

Image for The Most Important Question A Writer Can Ask

Sometimes the most important aspect of writing is not the words you string together but the questions you ask. So I’ve created episode 050 of the Write Now podcast to guide you along your way.

Help support my podcast on Patreon! >>

Just ask.

Some of us were trained early on in our writing education to ask questions — who, what, why, where, when, and how. Questions are crucial to understanding. But not everyone has had this education, and that’s OK! That’s why I’m sharing an excellent question with you today:

Why?

I know it sounds simple — it’s one word, and two-year-olds ask it all the time — but sometimes the simplest things are the most important. Asking why? allows us to chisel away at extraneous information until we find ourselves at the core of truth of a story, be it fictional or nonfictional.

  • Why did this character do X, Y, or Z?
  • Why did this character get angry when X happened? (Or, why did this character not get angry?)
  • Why did X happen after Y happened?
  • Why might this character not like the news he or she received?
  • …etc.

You can even get a little existential and ask things like,

  • Why am I writing this?
  • Why am I writing this now?
  • Why am I having trouble writing this?

These questions also make for great journal entries. 🙂

Stay curious.

There’s something happening to us, as a culture — in the media we consume and the stories we tell. A lot of people have lost their natural curiosity and stopped asking, “Why?”

My digital mentor, Seth Godin, said it best in his brief but brilliant article, “The Candy Diet”:

“Fifteen years ago, cable channels like TLC (the “L” stood for Learning), Bravo and the History Channel (the “History” stood for History) promised to add texture and information to the blighted TV landscape. Now these networks run shows about marrying people based on how well they kiss.

And of course, newspapers won Pulitzer prizes for telling us things we didn’t want to hear. We’ve responded by not buying newspapers any more.

The economics seem to be that the only way to make a living is to reach a lot of people and the only way to reach a lot of people is to race to the bottom, seek out quick clicks, make it easy to swallow, reinforce existing beliefs, keep it short, make it sort of fun, or prurient, or urgent, and most of all, dumb it down.

And that’s the true danger of anti-intellectualism. While it’s foolish to choose to be stupid, it’s cultural suicide to decide that insights, theories and truth don’t actually matter. If we don’t care to learn more, we won’t spend time or resources on knowledge.

We can survive if we eat candy for an entire day, but if we put the greenmarkets out of business along the way, all that’s left is candy.”

I believe that it’s our job as writers to re-light that spark of curiosity in people. It’s our job to get people excited about truth and possibility and making the world a better place.

It starts with you, and your willingness to ask, “Why?”

What question(s) are you asking?

What questions help you to be a better writer? Let me know! I’d also love to hear about your novel- (or memoir- or poetry book- or song- or blog post-) to-be via my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 028: David Galef


Image of David Galef Title Card

OK, so I might be biased, but I think today’s conversation with David Galef is awesome.

David is the author of more than 15 books, a former professor at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, and is now an English professor and the creative writing program director at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

“I like trying to excite people with possibility.”

Novels, poetry, short stories… if you can name it, David has probably written it. His latest book, Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, documents the history of flash fiction and provides tips and techniques for writing in this condensed genre.

“Readers interject themselves anyway into a good short storyI think they have to do it even more in a piece of flash fiction.”

Today, David and I talk about his new book, the power of brevity in writing, compartmentalizing your life to make room for good writing habits, and so much more. Seriously, this episode is packed with David’s wisdom, so get out a notebook and enjoy!

“I don’t want to dismiss any kind of flash fiction. I think there’s a huge tent. What I wanted to do in this book was write about the various kinds and explore the possibilities.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#flashfiction

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

What I Learned From Writing A Book In One Week – WN 049

Image: What I Learned From Writing A Book In One Week

HELLO DEAR FRIENDS! I am back in your ears with Episode 049 of the Write Now podcast, which showcases 10 lessons I learned while writing a book in one week. (That’s right: one week.)

Who you gonna call?

Some of you may know that I ghostwrite books in my spare time. This means I’m paid to write books (or blog posts, articles, memoirs, etc.) under someone else’s name so that they get the credit. This usually happens when the person is too busy to write, or perhaps an expert in their field but not a great writer.

Ghostwriting is fun and interesting for me, and I love doing it. So when someone asked me to take on a ghostwriting rush job with a deadline in one week, I said yes because I love a challenge and also I am insane.

(Want to hire me to ghostwrite your book? Get in touch with me at Write Now LLC!)

Here are the 10 lessons I learned:

  1. Writing is work. Hard work, and often tedious.
  2. Writing takes time. And yes, time is a very real and very limiting factor.
  3. The very best thing you can do is put your butt in your seat and commit to writing.
  4. Know how to prevent burnout — and know what to do if and when you do get burned out.
  5. The most important thing you can do right now is get your first draft finished. You can always edit, polish, and research later.
  6. Do not overcommit yourself — there are only a certain number of working hours in a day, and you should not more take on more work than those hours permit you to complete.
  7. Outlines are amazing.
  8. Dread is cumulative — once you start writing, you realize that it’s not as daunting or scary as you thought it would be.
  9. Realizing, “Yeah, I can do this,” and gaining the confidence I needed to write my own stuff.
  10. Accountability in the form of a deadline can be invaluable.

What lessons have you learned in writing?

Share what you’ve learned in the comments below! I’d also love to hear about your current work in progress via my contact page, in a comment below, or by emailing me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 027: Jocelyn K. Glei

Jocelyn K. Glei Title Card

Hey friends, I am thrilled this week to bring you an inspiring conversation with Jocelyn K. Glei. Jocelyn is a writer living in Los Angeles and is the former Founding Editor and Director of 99U. She has written several books on productivity and business and recently made the transition to writing full time.

“You’re shifting because you have to develop completely different habits, right?  You have to develop habits of, like, writing most of the day versus you know kinda working in an office environment…”

Jocelyn’s latest book, Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done tackles the very real problem of e-mail taking over so much of our time every day and gives practical tips on how to get your e-mail habits under control so you can be more productive.

“Writing is a way of thinking, or figuring out what you think, or clarifying your thoughts.”

In our conversation we talk about the balance between business and creativity, how she’s making the transition to writing full time, what keeps her focused, and the importance of learning from everyone around you. I think you’ll really enjoy it!

“Nothing worthwhile in life comes with instructions.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#plantheworkworktheplan

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 026: Patrick Hicks

Image of Patrick Hicks

My friends. I am so stoked to bring you this week’s podcast episode — a conversation with Patrick Hicks, poet, author, and the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana University as well as a faculty member at the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College. (Whew!)

“Whatever scares you to write… that’s what you should be writing.”

Patrick has written more than 10 books and has a wonderfully thoughtful take on the writing process and the publishing industry. His most recent novel, The Commandant of Lubizec, explores the death camps of the Holocaust and the people who worked at, lived in, and rebelled against them.

“I find it more useful as a fiction writer to write what I don’t know.”

Patrick and I talk about fiction as a shared dream between writer and reader, what it’s like to write (and research) a historical novel, how to see the world through a writer’s eyes, how traveling can change the way you write, how to deal with fear, and so much more. I hope you enjoy it!

“One of the things that I learned very quickly when my first poetry collection came out… we opened some champagne and I was like, Wow, this is great — look, it’s my book! Look, it’s my book! And about an hour went by, and my wife said, Patrick, you’ve still gotta take the garbage out.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#wordpower!

Note: I am INCREDIBLY sorry about the crackling noise in the middle of this week’s episode! I hope it doesn’t drive you too mad, and that you’re still able to enjoy Patrick’s amazing message!

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 025: Fauzia Burke

Fauzia Burke Title Card

Oh my gosh you guys. I loved talking to Fauzia Burke, the founder of FSB Associates, a PR firm that promotes books online. She is smart, insightful, optimistic, and experienced, and has a great laugh that will keep you smiling throughout this episode.

Oh yeah, and she’s here with us today to talk to you about marketing your book online.

“That was sort of my love affair with the web — it started with that one click.”

Fauzia went from working in traditional publishing back in 1995, when the internet was just beginning, to being the digital consultant who built Sue Grafton’s first website.

“There is a little bit of that in the self-publishing market… that whole idea of optimism, of joy, of just getting things done, of not waiting for permission… I think there’s a lot of empowerment in that.”

In today’s episode, Fauzia and I talk about the New York book publishing bubble, the joy and experimentation that come with self-publishing, being a Writer with a capital W, work/life/writing balance, social media marketing, the future of book marketing, taking risks, and more. I hope you enjoy it!

“Double down on what’s working — and ditch what’s not working.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#marketyoself!

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 024: Ginny Carter

Ginny Carter interview title card

Hey friends! I had a lovely time speaking with Ginny “The Authormaker” Carter, a professional ghostwriter and writing coach.

“You don’t want to get halfway through and then realize [you’re writing] the wrong book.”

I sometimes feel like I spend a lot of time podcasting about fiction writing and neglecting nonfiction, so hopefully today’s episode makes up for that. 😀

“Building up a whole new audience for a book is a lot harder work than using the one you’ve already got when you come to sell it.”

Ginny and I have a lovely conversation for you about the nonfiction book-writing process, different modes of publication, and Ginny’s favorite aspect of being a writing coach. I hope you enjoy it!

Mentioned in this episode:

#authormaking!

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Creative Writing, Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

30 Tips for 30 Days of NaNoWriMo – WN 048

30 NaNoWriMo Tips - Title Card

I love this time of year — the crisp November air, the interminable rains, the smell of decaying leaves, and NaNoWriMo. That’s right — Episode 048 of the Write Now podcast is here to help you get through this wonderful season of marathon creativity in style.

What is NaNoWriMo, and is it right for me?

That’s a great question! And the answer is:

  1. NaNoWriMo is short for “National Novel Writing Month”, and it’s a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days, from November 1-30.
  2. Maybe?  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

OK, I don’t mean to be flippant. NaNoWriMo is intentionally inclusive and tons of fun, but it can also be incredibly frustrating to folks like you and me who are busy, and may not have the time or energy to write 1,700 words every day.

Still curious whether or not you should do it? Check out Write Now Episode 027: NaNoWriMo And You for more insight.

30 Writing Tips for 30 Days of NaNoWriMo

And now… as promised, 30 writing tips for NaNoWriMo. Hopefully you will find at least one helpful.

  1. Remember you are a writer. Say, “I am a writer!” to your friends, your family, your coworkers, your reflection in the mirror… however best allows it to sink in.
  2. Don’t give up. It’s easy to fall behind during NaNoWriMo — after all, writing 1,700 words per day is no easy task. If you do fall behind, the notion that you have to make up for it and write 3,400 words the next day, or 5,100 the next can be enough to make you want to quit. But don’t.
  3. Schedule time to write. If it’s not on my calendar, I don’t do it. Blocking off dedicated time on your schedule to write every day not only gives you the time you need to write, but it also creates an appointment that you can’t let yourself miss.
  4. Don’t put it off. It’s so easy to sit down to write and “take just a moment” to check Facebook or sports scores. But don’t do it! Sit down and start writing. Facebook will still be there when you’re ready for a break.
  5. Don’t think — just write. Just start putting words down. Don’t overthink it right now — NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, not quality.
  6. “Embrace the suck,” as my friend Mark Adam Thomas says. Don’t pressure yourself into creating something perfect — give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft. You can turn it into something beautiful during editing.
  7. Tell your friends and family you’re doing NaNoWriMo. This advice also comes from Mark Adam Thomas, and it was especially helpful for me. If people know you are doing something that is important to you throughout the month of November, they will likely be more understanding if you need to duck out of obligations here or there. Plus, it adds accountability.
  8. Use the NaNo Buddy System. Connect with fellow WriMos on the NaNoWriMo website! It’s a great way to be held accountable and to meet folks who are going through the same thing you are. (Become my buddy here!)
  9. Stock up on snacks. You’ll thank me later.
  10. Don’t stop reading. I know, it can be tempting to exchange your daily reading time for extra writing time. But don’t do it! Or at least don’t sacrifice it all. Reading is essential if you want to grow as a writer, even during NaNoWriMo.
  11. Keep quick inspiration close. Stay inspired as you slog along with an inspirational quote on your monitor, a magazine cutout of what your main character looks like, or your favorite book at hand.
  12. Save the research for later. This is one lesson I learned the hard way. If you’re not sure what kind of lighting would have lit your character’s home in 1860, don’t stop writing to research it. Simply make a note and keep writing.
  13. Pump the music. Drown out noisy neighbors or psych yourself up for an awesome writing session with the right music. Lyrics optional. (I also love writing to rainymood.com.)
  14. Write what excites you. Sometimes we get stuck in the soggy middle of our novel, ready to give up, when all we really want to do is write the ending. Or the romantic scene. Or the one part where all the baby elephants run amok in the television studio. You do not have to write your novel in order — if you’re excited about the ending, write the ending!
  15. Use a prompt. Stuck? That’s OK. The internet is chock full of prompts. (I also have a set of story dice that are kind of fun in a pinch.)
  16. Turn off your phone. You’ll be amazed at how your productivity soars. And if you can’t afford to be out of touch, put your phone in airplane mode and adjust the settings to allow important phone calls through.
  17. Keep it portable. It’s cool if you want to write your novel wholly on a massive typewriter from 1916, but do note that it will be hard to write during your lunch break, on the subway, or any other time you’re on the go. Try using a journal, notebook, laptop, or other portable device so you can be ready to write whenever time permits.
  18. Identify and stay away from time-sucks. Do you have a bad Facebook habit? Maybe November is a great time for a Facebook fast. Or is there a TV show you’re watching but don’t really enjoy? That time might be better spent writing instead. The point here is to identify chunks of wasted time and replace it with writing.
  19. Say “no” to fear. Every writer — even famous writers — wrestles with writing-related fears (fear of failure, fear of writing subpar material, etc.). It didn’t stop them, so don’t let it stop you.
  20. Tone down your need to win. There’s nothing magical about hitting the 50,000 word mark — you can have a successful NaNoWriMo whether you write 1,700 words per day or 170. Seriously. Do what you can, write every day, and don’t give up.
  21. Take care of yourself. I know it’s tempting to say, “I’ll sleep once November’s over!” But… don’t. Please take care of yourself. Sleep regularly. Eat regular meals. Sacrificing your health is not worth it.
  22. Help your future self. This is a great mindset if you’re prone to instant gratification. Make decisions with your future self in mind — decisions that will inspire gratefulness, not regret.
  23. Don’t waste time formatting. It’s tempting to procrastinate by changing your novel’s font, or deciding to make the chapter titles ALL UPPERCASE instead of Title Case. After all, you’re still “working” on your novel, right? Wrong! Stop messing with formatting and get back to writing. (I like to use OmmWriter or a plain text document for writing just for that purpose.)
  24. Count it toward your 10,000 hours of mastery. I know the “10,000 Hour Rule” has been debunked. But it’s still important to invest time in mastering your craft — and NaNoWriMo is a great time during which to do that. If you’re feeling frustrated by your less-than-amazing novel and on the verge of quitting, just remember — you’re putting in the time now to better master it later.
  25. Try outlining. Are you a pantser like me? Then the idea of creating an outline may sound unbearably dull. But even the most high-level of outlines can help steer you back on track later on during NaNoWriMo if you get stuck.
  26. Boost your word count with chapter titles, quotes, etc. Feeling a little glum about your word count? That’s OK — just like Bingo, NaNoWriMo has a free space or two. Long, rambling chapter titles, quotes from sources that support your themes, and even meaningless rants by your character’s best friend can help carry you to your goal on a bad day.
  27. Use “but” and “therefore”, not “and”, to connect the dots in your story. The most boring stories link events using “and”: “Mary went to the donut shop and bought a donut. And then she ate it. And then she went home.” More interesting stories use “but” and “therefore”: “Mary went to the donut shop, but it was closed. Therefore, she decided to learn magic to conjure up her own donuts out of thin air.” I know those are terrible examples, but you get the idea.
  28. Got PTO? Use it! Most folks here in the U.S. are terrible about taking all of their PTO (paid time off — accumulation of sick time and vacation time). So during NaNoWriMo, if you have extra PTO, why not use it for a couple days worth of writing?
  29. Be patient. Writing is hard work, and it’s easy to get frustrated with yourself. So be sure to give yourself some grace and don’t be too hard on yourself during NaNoWriMo.
  30. Have fun! You love writing, remember? 🙂

Are you doing NaNoWriMo?

Be my NaNoWriMo buddy! Just sign up on the website or find me if you’re already a member — I’m username Juneva Spragg. (It’s a pen name from a million years ago… I’ve tried to change it to Sarah Rhea Werner, but so far it’s a no-go.)

***UPDATE: I HAVE CHANGED MY NANOWRIMO NAME thanks to listener Anika! I am now Sarah Rhea Werner.

I’d also love to hear about your novel-to-be via my contact page. You can also leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com — I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 023: Kevin T. Johns

Kevin T Johns Title Card

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

You guys! I had a blast talking with author and writing coach Kevin T. Johns (who just also happens to be a fellow podcaster as well)!

M School, Kevin's new novelKevin is the author of several books, including M School, a novel about teenage assassins that comes out October 29, 2016. He is also a really smart dude with some great insights about what it takes to be a successful writer.

“One of the secrets to success is just sticking with it. It’s just not giving up, knowing that nothing happens overnight, and that… if you really just fight through the hard times, somewhere down the road, there’s going to be some sort of payoff.”

One of my favorite segments from today’s show is about the expectations that aspiring writers have about what it means to be a writer — and the actual reality of being a writer.

“The doors that opened to me from publishing a book were none of the ones I expected, but it’s completely changed my life.”

Kevin and I had a fun and honest conversation about being too busy, the difficult choices that successful writers make, and making the most of the time we have.  Enjoy!

“Someone might hear, oh, Kevin has 3 kids and a day job and a couple businesses and he’s got a new book coming out — wow, Kevin can do it all! But the reality is like, I’m not that good at my day job, I don’t spend as much time with my kids as I wish I could, I’m utterly exhausted… things give.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#sacrifices!

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Save

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 022: Honorée Corder

Honoree Corder -- Title Card

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

Today I am proud to share with you a conversation I had with the wonderfully wise and delightful Honorée Corder.

Prosperity for Writers Cover ImageHonorée is a speaker, business coach, writing coach, and Writer with a capital W. She is also a smart, sassy, and successful entrepreneur who has published 20 books (including Prosperity for Writers) and knows what it takes to sell them.

“Nothing takes as short a period of time as you would like it to take… Everything’s going to take longer, cost more money, and require more effort, and so what? Just keep doing it.”

Honorée provides a refreshing voice for hopeful writers in a world that says all artists must be starving artists. Essentially, her goal is to help writers quit doing the things they don’t love so that they can do the things they do love.

“I want people to do what they love and recognize that they can make an abundance of money from that.”

Honorée and I had a great conversation about being a Writer with a capital W, self publishing, leveraged income, “BOLO-ing”, the four hurdles to becoming a prosperous author, and tons more. This is a great episode and I hope you enjoy it!

“The harder and smarter I work, the luckier I get.”

Mentioned in this episode:

#bolo!

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

What They Didn’t Teach You In School – WN 047

Episode 047 Title Card

We learned a lot of great things in school. But our educational system isn’t perfect, and there are some things we should have learned that we didn’t (and things we did learn that we maybe shouldn’t have). Episode 047 of the Write Now podcast is here to take a closer look at what this means for us today as writers.

What DID we learn?

First! Please note that today’s episode is highly subjective to my own experience — but I still hope you’ll connect with it and find some value for your own life. 🙂

Like I said above, we learned a lot of great things in school — that sharing is caring, for instance. And that John Keats wrote some lovely poetry, the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the squares of the other two sides, and whales are mammals. These are all very good things to learn.

We also learned that:

  1. Spelling, grammar, and handwriting are important, and the rules must always be obeyed.
  2. There was a vast difference between what I wanted to write for myself (creation) and what I was instructed to write by my teachers (regurgitation).
  3. A five-paragraph essay is the most essential thing you will ever write, especially in preparation for state-mandated proficiency tests.
  4. Failure should be avoided at all costs.
  5. Grades matter.
  6. Graduation is some kind of ending point.
  7. We need permission to answer a question, go to the bathroom, get out of gym class, etc.

We learned many things that made us successful in school, but not necessarily successful in life — and we never learned to un-learn these once we left school for the “real world”.

The School of Life puts it this way in the video:

“School curricula are not reverse-engineered from fulfilled adult lives in the here and now.”

You can watch the video here (it’s fantastic — and short!):

So… what DIDN’T we learn?

Our adult lives are structured differently than our childhood lives, and this is not something we are ever taught. It’s something we are left on our own to discover — which is great, except that many people never do.

Along those lines, here are several other crucial items that we never learned in school:

  1. We don’t need permission to live our lives or to call ourselves writers.
  2. What it actually means to live a fulfilled, successful life.
  3. How to make a living as a writer in the “real world” — how to write a query letter, whether or not you need an agent, how publishing works, or even the different career paths you can take as a writer.
  4. It’s OK to make mistakes. In fact, failure should be embraced and is a great way to learn.
  5. Language is fluid and organic — its main purpose is to facilitate clear communication. It’s OK to question tradition. It’s OK to end a sentence in a preposition or begin a sentence with a conjunction. It really is!
  6. How to think and live creatively. (h/t to the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert on this one.)
  7. We are free.

I hope today’s episode is valuable for you.

What about you?

What did you learn in school that served you well as a writer — and what do you wish you would have learned? What does it mean for you to be free and live a creative life? Let me know via my contact page, leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 021: Jenny Bravo

Jenny Bravo - Image

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

Aside from having an amazingly perfect name, Jenny Bravo is the author of These Are The Moments, as well as the Jenny Bravo Books (formerly Blots & Plots) blog.

Image of These Are The Moments BookJenny works a full-time job in addition to writing and blogging and producing online courses, so she was a natural fit for this show.

“I’m a planner by survival… So if I’m going to sit down on my lunch break and write… I’d better know what I’m writing.”

Jenny’s full-time job is in insurance — which isn’t glamorous, but it does afford her the creative energy to write over her lunch break and when she gets home.

“We have to stop wishing that our circumstances were different and just be OK with what they are and figure it out from there.”

Jenny and I have a beautifully honest conversation about writing sprints, not editing as you write, handwriting with pen & paper, being distracted from writing by the internet, keeping a scene list, our mutual love of Twitter, and tons more. I hope you enjoy it.

Mentioned in this episode:

You can listen to today’s episode using the controls above or on iTunes — and, while you’re at it, be sure to get your own copy of These Are The Moments, visit Jenny’s website, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. 🙂

Support the show!

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Crafting Your Mission Statement – WN 046

Crafting Your Mission Statement - Title Card

A mission statement is a valuable tool for a writer — it can help you understand your own story, remind you of your purpose, and guide you toward your goals. And Episode 046 of the Write Now podcast is here to help you create a mission statement of your very own.

Why would a writer need a mission statement?

Life can be hard. And overwhelming, painful, frustrating, and difficult to navigate. That’s why it’s a great idea to have a mission statement as a writer — a written statement that you can visit when you begin to question why you’re doing this. Why it matters. Why you are worthwhile, and why what you’re writing is worthwhile.

A mission statement is a valuable tool for a writer, and can serve as a beacon, a lighthouse that keeps you focused on your goal. So even though the waters may become choppy, and storms may be forming overhead, and sharp rocks await your every turn, you can be sure to steer yourself safely toward shore.

How do I create my mission statement?

A mission statement is one of those simple things that nevertheless can take a lot of thought. I recommend generating it through a thinking or writing exercise, and maybe even journaling about it.

Here are the steps I recommend taking in today’s episode:

  1. Think about where you are now and where you want to go. Think about how you want your writing to impact the world. Dream big. This dream is your vision.
  2. Think about the qualities you value — what means the most to you — and write down five. These values will serve as the guiding principles that will help you accomplish your mission. Some examples could include truth, beauty, innovation, generosity, prosperity, love, joy, uniqueness, creativity, fun, etc. When you have five, narrow them down to three. (It might be hard, but you can do it.)
  3. Think or write about how your three values will help you live out your vision. It might help to define what each of those three values means to you.
  4. Craft an “I am” or “I will” statement that explains how you will use your values through your writing to make an impact on the world. This is your mission statement!

It’s perfectly okay if it takes you several rough drafts to reach your mission statement. It’s also okay if your mission statement, values, and vision change over time. People change and grow, and that is awesome.

How do I use my mission statement?

Once you’re done, post your mission statement somewhere you can easily reference it — a corkboard in your writing office, a Post-It note on your computer screen, etc. You can then use your mission statement to:

  • Remind you of your purpose when you’re having a bad day/week/month/year
  • Understand your own story
  • Make hard decisions, and know what to say “yes” and “no” to
  • Guide you toward your goals
  • Remind you that you are making a difference

My mission statement.

I wouldn’t ask you to craft a mission statement without creating one for myself. Here’s mine:

I will use my podcasting and writing skills to tell stories that use truth, creativity, and encouragement to nurture, heal, and inspire others — and in doing so, help make the world a better and more empathetic place.

And remember, these words aren’t carved in stone. It’s okay if your mission statement changes with you — in fact, it’s healthy.

What about you?

Do you have a mission statement? Or have you created one since listening to this episode? Let me know via my contact page, leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com! I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 020: Andrew Coons

Image of Andrew Coons

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

Happy Monday, my lovelies (and yes, there is such a thing!). On today’s show we’re talking with poet and filmmaker Andrew Coons, whose very first book, Sin Eater, came out this month.

Image of Sin EaterAndrew and I had a great conversation about career writing, putting yourself in the environment you want to be in, anxiety, depression, self-worth, and getting back into the things you love after putting them on hold for college and a career.

“The fear in the past has always been — what am I writing for… and can I be good enough? But by letting that go and writing for the sake of writing, then I find that whatever pops into my head, I’ll run with it. And it becomes a lot more rewarding.”

Despite his love for all different types of writing, Andrew finds himself drawn most to creative writing, like poetry and novel writing.

“Even though I’m a corporate screenwriter, I am a writer. And I can take that badge and apply it to the creative outlets.”

Andrew also gave me some insights that I needed to hear about self-care and sacrifice, which I hope you find enlightening as well. All in all, it was a really great conversation.

I hope you enjoy this week’s episode. You can listen to it using the controls above or on iTunes — and, while you’re at it, be sure to get your own copy of Andrew’s book, visit his website, or follow him on Instagram. 🙂

Bonus: A screenshot from our Skype conversation:

Andrew Coons on our Skype Call

Want to support the show?

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

Becoming a Patreon patron also gets you an invitation to be a beta tester for the Writers’ Guild, a new online writers’ group & forum that I’m creating. 🙂

I will send you emails.

Seriously! Sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so really, you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Standard
Podcast, Write Now Full Episodes

Careers for Writers – WN 045

Careers for Writers Title Card

Perhaps you majored in English, or maybe you simply love to write — either way, you’ve dreamed of a career in writing. But what kind of careers are available for you, and how difficult are they to get? And how do you find one that’s right for you? Episode 045 of the Write Now podcast is here to help you think it through.

Stuck in a soul-sucking, toxic day job?

Stuck in a soul-sucking, toxic day job while you dream of being a paid writer? First off, I’m sorry. That sucks.

Second! Please know this: You are not trapped. You have a choice in what you’re doing for your career — even (and especially) if you want to write.

What careers are available for writers?

In today’s episode, I outline 10 different career paths for people who dream about writing. I have done most of these throughout my own career, with the exception of strict newspaper journalism (#2) and grant writing (#4):

  1. Copywriter (technical, marketing/advertising, and web)
  2. Journalist
  3. Ghostwriter
  4. Grant writer
  5. Freelancer
  6. Proofreader, copy editor, or editor
  7. Blogger
  8. Content strategist (this is what I currently do, so I had to add it to the list!)
  9. Volunteer writer
  10. Creative writer (either for others or for yourself)

Remember: It’s OK to start small.

One thing I forgot to mention in today’s episode is that it’s okay to start small. You don’t need to immediate land a job at the Harvard Business Review or the New York Times to be happy and fulfilled in your work.

If you’re working for your hometown newspaper or doing grant writing for a small nonprofit, rejoice. You’re getting paid to write and that is amazing!

The fine print!

Hey! Just a few quick things so that you don’t sue me:

  1. Please note that listening to this podcast in no way guarantees that you will find a job in writing. (I felt like I needed to say that.)
  2. Please note, too, that jobs in writing are by no means easy.

Good thing this is work that you love.

What about you?

Are you stuck in a soul-sucking day job? What’s keeping you there? Or are you currently writing for a living? If so, what’s that like? Let me know via my contact page, leave a comment below, or simply email me at hello [at] sarahwerner [dot] com! 🙂

Continue reading

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 019: Hend Hegazi

Author Hend Hegazi Title Card

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

Hello, my friends! Today’s show is an interview with Arab-American author Hend Hegazi, who has just published her second novel about gratefulness, forgiveness, and the universal yet hidden struggles we all deal with.

“Sometimes you’re missing that forgiveness in your own life, or you’re missing that love in your own life. And when you can write it down — when you can make a story — then you can get to feel those emotions that you so desperately need.”

Hend, who currently lives and writes in Egypt (and had to Skype in at something like 1:00 a.m. to make this call happen), is originally from the state of Massachusetts in the USA, where she studied at Smith College in preparation to become an optometrist — until tragedy struck her family.

“I try to be grateful for everything… but that doesn’t mean my life is free from difficulty.”

I loved Hend’s frank honesty, sense of humor, and insights about truth, faith, love, hatred, inclusivity, and being different — both as a Muslim-American in her life in the USA and as an educated, English-speaking woman living in Egypt.

“I’ve been a minority my entire life… When you’re the only girl in your high school who wears hijab, you get used to it. You have no option but to just be strong enough to deal with everything that comes your way.”

And bonus — Hend treats us to a reading from her newest book, Behind Picket Fences.

I hope you enjoy this week’s episode. You can listen to it using the controls above or on iTunes — and, while you’re at it, be sure to get your own copy of Hend’s books, visit her website, or follow her on Facebook. 🙂

Want to support the show?

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

It’s easy and in no way terrifying. Promise!

I will send you emails.

I’m not kidding! (Also: I’m wondering why I would kid about sending you emails.) IN ANY CASE, sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram | Pinterest

Listen:

Save

Standard
Coffee Break, Podcast

Coffee Break 018: Mark Messick

Image of Mark Messick

Subscribe to the Write Now podcast on iTunes!>>

Oh, hey there, friends. I have a new guest for you this week — meet Mark Messick, the 16-year-old bestselling author of more than eleven books.

“The reason I’m successful is because I was naive.”

Mark decided that he wanted to become an author at age 10, and found his chance as his family transitioned to a new home. During that time, he also transitioned to being home-schooled, which gave him the unique opportunity to focus and hone  his writing and marketing skills.

“Whenever I write a new book, I learn new things about myself… Sometimes I think that I learn more writing books than reading them.”

Mark has a great attitude and tons of positivity and optimism about the future, even though he admits that he has no idea what it may hold.

“I think it’s important to have something to strive for, even if it’s not necessarily super-attainable.”

You can listen to today’s episode using the controls above or on iTunes, and while you’re at it, be sure to get your own copy of Mark’s books, visit his website, take his Kindle course*, or follow him on Twitter.

“I think if you’re determined enough to do something, you can find a way to do it. “

*Disclaimer: Please note that this podcast episode is not an endorsement of Mark’s video course, as I have not taken the course myself. 🙂

Want to support the show?

You can help support the work I do here at the Write Now podcast and Coffee Break spinoff by pledging $1 or more per episode on Patreon!

Give Via Patreon

It’s easy and in no way terrifying. Promise!

I will send you emails.

I’m not kidding! (Also: I’m wondering why I would kid about sending you emails.) IN ANY CASE, sign up for my email newsletter here! I don’t email incredibly often and I certainly don’t spam, so you have nothing to lose.

Subscribe to Coffee Break (& Write Now).

You can listen to the full Coffee Break episode using the controls at the beginning of this post.

Or! You can listen and subscribe using your favorite app/website/podcatcher:

Help support this podcast! >>

I’m on social media.

Connect with the Write Now and Coffee Break podcasts on your favorite social media platform(s):

Twitter | Facebook | Ello | Instagram

Listen:

Save

Save

Standard