The One Simple Trick to Getting More Done

Today’s post is inspired by this You Tube video.

It’s twenty-six minutes long, but there are a lot of good tips in it. I’m not going to rehash them. I’m using this video as a springboard.

There is actually a very simple trick to getting more done, but it requires discipline to follow through with it. Ready for it?

Here goes:

Limit how much time you give yourself to doing the task you want to do.

That’s all there really is to it. I tried two different methods. One was giving myself a set word count to finish. I couldn’t stop writing for the day until I hit that goal. On average, it took me all day to reach it. I found if I don’t set a limit on how much time I’ll give myself to write, I’ll actually write more in a shorter amount of time.

For example, I used to give myself 6-8 hours to write 3,000 words for the day. On some days, I would get to 3,000 words, but on others, I would only get 1,500 or 2,500 words. I rarely ever wrote over 3,000. Why? I guess it’s because my mind was fixed on 3,000 words at a maximum. But I also would let myself check social media, emails, You Tube, and do other things with my time while I was supposed to be writing. Then I started giving myself 1 hour per book to write in as much (or as little) as I could for that particular day. I found that I not only got more words in, but I got more time freed up afterward to exercise or relax.

I know this sounds like it wouldn’t work, but it does.

Here’s the key: You have to get rid of ALL distractions AND you have to focus only on that one book for the ENTIRE time you have devoted to it.

You can listen to music if it tends to motivate you for writing. You can even take a drink of water, tea, coffee, etc. You can stretch your muscles if you need it. You can also use the bathroom as long as you come right back to the computer. No cheating on this one.

But you can’t do any of the following: answer phone calls, make phone calls, check the internet, listen to TV, watch TV (even if it’s out of the corner of your eye), listen to the radio, engage with anyone on social media, talk to someone (throw people out if they come into your room, or find a library/cafe/park to write).

The basic idea is that it must only be you and the story. Nothing else matters.

See what I mean? This requires a lot of discipline, and it’s not easy. Some days, you’ll do better than others. I have fallen out of this routine after implementing it, and it’s lowered my progress each and every time. So you have to be dedicated to this method.

It’s really easy to do, and yet, it’s not. The bottom line is how determined are you to write the book?  If you want it bad enough, you’ll do this.

So, let’s say you have one book you’re working on, and you’re crunched for time. Give yourself 30 minutes to give your 100% attention to it. When those 30 minutes are up, you’re done. You can’t go back to that story until tomorrow. So, if you didn’t get much done on your first day, you have extra motivation to get more done the next day.

This is a process. It takes time to develop this habit. It won’t always be easy to stick with this. If you fall off the wagon and slip into old habits, give yourself some grace (because we’re only human), and just hop back on the wagon tomorrow.

I used the example of writing for this post, but this tactic works for a lot of other things, too. It can be used for social media, emails, blogging, formatting, marketing, cleaning a room, exercise, etc, etc.

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Writing for Passion Buffers Writers From Fickle Trends

Today’s post is inspired by an excellent blog post I came across in a Facebook writing group on The Ghostwriter Game by Sherry Ficklin.

Writing for passion offers wonderful buffers that I didn’t even consider when I decided to leave the rat race of trying to keep up with the trends in the indie publishing world. There have been several trends I’ve noticed over the past ten years I’ve been in this business.

Here are four trends I’m aware of that has played a big role in indie publishing:

1. Exclusivity to Amazon. This meant authors had to enter the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program, which later gave birth to Kindle Unlimited. Authors who entered this program could only sell their ebooks on Amazon. They could not sell it on any other retailer. In return for this, Amazon gave these books special rankings (aka visibility) not granted to books not in the program. Greater visibility means more sales (or, at the very least, more pages read money).

2. Writing to market. If authors wanted to keep sales going, they had to figure out what types of books were selling the most and then write books tailored to that audience. (I fell into this particular trend, which I have come to regret. But I learned a lot of valuable things from it, so it was worth slogging through the pain of being immersed in it.)

3. Ads. This one gained serious momentum in 2018 and is still riding high. Authors are talking about how it’s “pay to play” now. In order to make money, you have to spend a lot of money. Some authors spend $1000 to $10,000 a month on ads. These ads are mostly run through Amazon or Facebook, and yes, people really do spend a lot of money to get noticed. So if you’re not playing this game, your sales are taking a hit. Even authors writing to market have to run ads to stay relevant.

4. Ghostwriters. This is the latest trend. I’m not sure when it started, but I suspect it was around 2017. That’s when I noticed that in order to stay relevant, I had to get books out as fast as possible. Before 2016, I  used to be able to release a book and rest for a month or two before I needed another one to keep sales going. I can’t speak for other authors on when they noticed they needed to get books out faster to keep a steady amount of sales coming in, but 2016 is when I noticed it. (Hence why I began writing to market at that time.) Anyway, over the years, the time period between release dates has gotten shorter and shorter. It started out that a book would fall off the map of visibility in 90 days. Then it was 60 days. Then it was 30 days. And at the time I’m writing this (March 2019), it seems like you need to get a new book out every week or every other week to stay relevant. This is where ghostwriters come in. There’s no way in the world an author can stay sane while getting all of those books out so quickly. Authors need breaks. No one can work without a break. So ghostwriters are a trend. They help authors stay relevant in the indie publishing world.

Why writing for passion buffers against trends:

I don’t fault authors for doing any of those trends. As I said, I did one of them myself. They keep authors afloat in an ever-changing landscape. But chasing these trends is stressful because they aren’t consistent. They only work for a while. And believe me, this ends up taking a toll on the author. This is why some authors have personal assistants to help them. They can’t manage all of this load on their own. There’s only so much any one person can do in a day.

Chasing trends is really about chasing money. Yes, money is important. I’m not going to pretend it isn’t. We need it in order to pay the bills and eat. Who wants to work at their job and NOT get paid? Writing is work. It’s work authors enjoy, but it’s still work. Just because you enjoy your work, it doesn’t lessen its value.

But when money becomes the focal point of what we do, it can hinder us from being able to enjoy writing. Most writers I talk to started writing early in life. They wrote because they loved writing, and they had stories they wanted to share with the world. When you replace that passion with the quest for money, it makes writing a chore. As I said in the last paragraph, money is important, but it needs to be placed in the right perspective to avoid making it the only thing that matters.

This is where the benefit of writing for passion comes in. Writing for passion gives you something other than money to aim for. It focuses your attention on the story itself. It frees you up to indulge in the characters’ lives. You immerse yourself into the story, and, as a result, the story becomes the reward.

When your focus is on the story, your eyes go off of the trends. It no longer matters what the new gimmick is. All that matters is writing a story you can give 100% of yourself to. So while other authors are chasing trends at a frantic pace, you can relax and enjoy the world you’re creating. I’ve written plenty of stories for passion and more than I care to admit for money, and the difference between the two is like night day. Writing for passion energizes you. It excites you. It makes you eager to wake up. Really, what it does is produces a joy in you that money can never give you. Money is a temporary pleasure, but the joy that comes from working on something you’re passionate about brings pleasure for a lifetime. When your focus is on the joy of writing for passion, you will stay level while the rest of the world is on a crazy rollercoaster ride.

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The Imperfect Husband is Now Available!

I’m very excited about this one. It’s a romantic comedy, and those are always fun to write. And for those who were upset that I didn’t resolve the subplot between Tony and Mark in Book 3 of this series, I did it in this one. So this wraps up all the loose ends in the Misled Mail Order Brides Series.

Quickly, here are all of the books in this series:

the bride price front cover  the rejected groom front cover  the perfect wife front cover  the imperfect husband front cover

  • The Bride Price is Sep’s romance. (Sep was Joel Larson’s brother-in-law in Shotgun Groom.)
  • The Rejected Groom is Anthony (aka Tony) Larson’s romance. (Tony is one of the twin boys Richard and Amanda had.)
  • The Perfect Wife is Mark Larson’s romance. (Mark is the other twin boy Richard and Amanda had.)
  • The Imperfect Husband is Annabelle Larson’s romance. (Annabelle it the daughter Richard and Amanda had.)
  • This is Annabelle Laron’s romance. She’s the daughter of Richard and Amanda Larson.

So, now that I’m done with Richard and Amanda’s children, I have started writing about Tom and Jessica’s four daughters. Nelly’s Mail Order Husband should be out before the end of the year. (I’m already halfway into writing it.)

But since this is about The Imperfect Husband, let me get to it…

the imperfect husband front cover

As I wrote above, this is a romantic comedy. The hero, Ben Martin, has a terrible time knowing what to say around Annabelle. In desperation, he decides to join Annabelle’s women’s group (disguised as a woman) so he can learn who she is as a friend, rather than a love interest. Keep in mind it’s all a comedy, and while I have a couple of serious moments, the overall tone is fun and light. Below, I’ll share a couple of snippets that are part of my favorite scenes to give you an idea of what you’ll be getting with this book.

This is my personal favorite in the series. It’s also the longest book, and again, it ties up all of the loose ends I left hanging from the previous books. Most of all, there’s a happily ever after ending.

If interested, here are the links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble




Google Play

Okay, so now that I’m done with that part of the post, here are a couple of snippets that made me laugh while I was writing the book:

Snippet #1 (Annabelle arrives at Ben’s house)

Annabelle’s mother was the first to talk when they reached the door. “Good afternoon, Ben. How are you doing?”

Ben, having forgotten his mouth was full of peppermints, started to answer, and one of the half-melted pieces of peppermints flew out of his mouth and landed right on Annabelle’s dress—directly above her right breast. Face warmer than the hottest day in August, Ben hurried to dig his handkerchief from his pocket and held it out to her.

….. (later in the same scene) …..

Once he made sure he was done with the peppermint, he headed to the parlor.

“It is a sign of things to come,” Annabelle was telling her mother in a hushed tone. “Every time he’s around me, something bad happens.”

“You mustn’t look at things like that,” her mother said in a quiet voice. “Ben’s a good young man. He’s just nervous, that’s all. After some time, that will go away.”

“I don’t think so. I think he’s going to be spitting peppermints at me for the rest of my life.”

Snippet #2 (Tony confronts Mark and Ben in Ben’s house) – Ben’s reaction still makes me chuckle (though this does show that Tony had not forgiven Mark at this point in the series, and yes, Mark will finally get the point)

“I thought I heard you telling me to come in,” Mark replied. Then, after a moment, he asked, “I assume the first night as a married couple didn’t go as hoped?”

At first, Annabelle thought he was asking her the question, but then she realized his gaze was focused on someone behind her. She looked over her shoulder and saw Ben gesture for Mark to stop talking.

Tony noticed it, too, because in the next instance, he let go of Annabelle, ran over to Mark, and gave him a swift punch in the nose. Then he headed right for Ben. Ben let out a startled shriek and darted around the furniture, successfully avoiding him.

“You’re not going to force Annabelle to be your wife,” Tony barked, his face red from the effort of chasing Ben around the room. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to get to punch Ben, he returned to Mark, who was wiping his bloody nose with a handkerchief.

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