Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lessons from The Profit Applied to Writing

The Profit, staring Marcus Lemonis, is a reality show appearing on CNBC. Marcus tackles failing businesses, invests, and assists the owners, if the deal works out, in rebuilding and relaunching their businesses.

The Facebook description of The Profit series states: Self-made multi-millionaire Marcus Lemonis is the only business turnaround expert on television investing millions of his own money to save small businesses.  

In the venue of the reality television show, Marcus shares, sometimes with a twist of are-you-kidding-me drama, about business success using the three P's: People, Process, and Product.

PEOPLE, PROCESS, and PRODUCT (as it pertains to writing)

People

The initial drafting and revision of a book involves me, myself, and I. Then there's my mentor/coach, Kat Duncan, who provides guidance, accountability, and has graciously offered to edit the series. And last, but not least, those folks that have and are providing Beta Reader feedback. Yet, primarily, the People aspect is simple because overall the majority of the workload and production falls on my shoulders.

But then again, maybe not so simple.

If I am experiencing health issues and am unwell, I cannot write, revise, or work on writing related processes adequately or at times if at all. Due to not being well, I am far more behind in my projected revision schedule for the series than I could have predicted.

I have sought medical care, which has determined what my condition is not, yet I continue to experience fatigue, lack of focus, and other not-fun symptoms. Bottom, line if I can't function properly and am unable to produce, there is no Process or Product.

Process

I lightning drafted all five (5) books in the series. Lightning drafting requires quite a bit of "putting in" of additional text and serious time-consuming revision effort.

Creating a GMCD chart for the first draft and then making a check off list for the revisions provides a road map and guidance.

The process involves sitting with self in front of the computer terminal and eliminating distractions.

Product

My books are my product. With the contribution of the first two categories, People and Process, a book is written.

Yet, I do not have a completed Product yet.

The mock covers pop.

An editor is lined up.

Before I have a Product, just not a concept, People and Process must perform and come together to create the completed book series.

PEOPLE, PROCESS, and PRODUCT Game Plan

Addressing People Issues

My ability to function, as a writer, and to focus, concentrate, and write MUST be addressed. I continue to conduct research of possible solutions and have yet more doctors appointments scheduled.


I have my older computer set up across the room to play my exercise videos (Oxycise, for instance), with a goal of exercising first thing, before I sit down at the computer.

Also, I am adding a few mineral and vitamin supplements that hopefully will assist in getting my health back on track.

Addressing Process Issues

Better eliminating or avoiding distractions is a MUST.

Lack of focus, hopefully addressed by addressing People issues, has increased my levels of distraction, therefore I have discovered a software that blocks all internet access except for the sites I specify (AutoCrit, for example) and another software that limits computer time in spaced out increments so that I take a break every hour to hour and a half.

My current revision plan is flawed and the process IS NOT working; therefore, I need to step back and reassess. Ask around, do more research as to what might work better.

How might I better tackle the revisions in a more successful, efficient way?

First item on list, is to research and to reach out to writerly resources for advice.

Addressing Product Issues

Product Issues will be on the table by and after People and Process issues have been addressed.

Tabled and marked: To Be Done!

THE PROFIT

highly recommend checking out this reality TV show!

Thanks to you, Marcus Lemonis, this writer gal just may be on her way!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Keeping On (Even When Your Butt's Dragging)

My rear end is bumping over plowed rows of ground filled with tractor tire ruts and dirt clods.

Persistent. Determined. Dogged. Single-Minded. Resolute. How about adding Stubborn to the mix? Maybe Pig-Headed. Or perhaps a Never-Give-Up attitude?

Writing a book involves, at a minimum: Plotting, Character Sketching, First Drafting, Revising, Rewriting, Taking Out, Putting In, Editing, Designing Covers, and Creating Book Descriptions.

Going through the process of all of the above, topped off by health issues that affect concentration, focus, and energy levels, and--I don't mind admitting it folks--my butt sure is dragging.

Truth be told, I am far behind on my potential schedule for finishing the five-book series and writing other series and books.

Don't get me wrong, I sought and am still seeking medical care. Every day, I aim toward wellness; however, the issue has taken much longer to resolve than I could have imagined.

All of adult my life, what I lacked in formal training or current knowledge, I made for in enthusiasm. I learned whatever I needed to learn quickly, and pitched in as soon as possible into most tasks.

Yet, as I grow more physically weary, even my positive "onward" tendencies wane.

For the next several days, I need to rest more, yet even if it's a short time a day, I will move forward on the revisions. Baby steps, for just a bit, until my energy level increases. Not any where near the pace I desire or need to maintain, yet I will continue to move forward.

My parents taught us to keep on keeping on. No matter what. Quitting was never an option. If you committed to something, you followed through.

Thus, although at a slower pace, I keep on. Onward!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Listen to Me Now! (Using Dragon NaturallySpeaking Software)

Hearing my story read back to me has been a phenomenal help to my story crafting! The suggestion that I read my writing out loud has always caused me a great deal of discomfort; therefore, having the software Dragon NaturallySpeaking read the paragraphs to me works quite well.

Why is it the one thing you dread, resist, fear, dislike and avoid, is THE one thing that you need to do the most to succeed in your goal?
After hearing my voice on a tape recorder years ago, I have avoided reading aloud.

Hearing myself made me cringe and flush hot with shame and embarrassment. The tinny high-pitched nasal-sounding me that talked into the microphone ran for the hills and hasn't been seen since.

No matter how hard I try. I can't seem to overcome that fear. If I try to read aloud, my revising stalls out completely. Instead, I am using Dragon SpeaksNaturally software. The Read That (Test to speech) feature reads back paragraphs at a time.

Earlier on, I listen and make edits to flesh out the first draft, then later toward the end of the revision stage, the voice reading back to me helps me to vary sentence structure and adjust the sound of the word flow.

As the voice reads, I follow along in the text and make edits as needed. If I need to stop the voice, I press the Esc key, make more extensive edits, then select the text and either click on Audio, then Read That or say, "Select next four paragraphs" then "Read That" into the headset.

Hearing the flow of the words in the story had taken my writing to a new level. I highly recommend the Reading Aloud advice, but if that's not possible, Dragon SpeaksNaturally is the next best thing!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Dear Writer... (An example of what not to do)

I recently dropped by a writer's blog (I followed the author from a post that I found odd...curiosity pulled me in). On this writer's blog, she blogged about how readers SHOULD read her short stories, SHOULD read her novels, SHOULD leave reviews, etc., etc., etc.

Really, you're telling readers what they should and shouldn't do? Look, fellow author, I realize you have "worked your a-- off" (your words, not mine), but...

Wait! I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. I'll checked your offerings on Amazon. I'll download a sample or two of your writing. Then, we'll see.

Dear Writer, perhaps YOU should consider:
  • Creating or commissioning book covers that don't look similar, faded, and are displayed in a cartoon-type format.
  • Revealing the genre of your work. Are the books graphic novels? Horror? Thrillers? Romance?
  • Showing not telling in your writing. (Savvy Authors offers several classes on showing versus telling. Also, Show or Tell? A Powerful Lesson on a Crucial Writing Skill [Kindle Edition] sells for $0.99 on Amazon.)
  • Intriguing and enticing the reader with your book descriptions.
  • Using your blog to share the positives of your books, instead of sharing a whine-fest.
  • Changing hobbies or careers. (If you are that unhappy, do us readers a favor and MOVE ON. Life's too short for you to be that whiny and miserable.)

As writers, perhaps before we even consider telling our readers what they should do, first and foremost, shouldn't we do what we need to do as authors?

Dear Writer, perhaps YOU should!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Lightning Drafting Downside

I tried lightning drafting and finished the first drafts of five (5) books. However, I am now left with EXTENSIVE revision and editing. So, for those soon-to-be writers or writers looking for a quick first draft, my suggestion is DO NOT lightning draft.

During a lightning draft, for instance, an author rushes to get their story on the page. You might type: INSERT fight scene here or include dialog with just a name of the speaker only so that you keep on typing.

These shortcuts require going back through the skeltonized material and fleshing out and at times even rewriting scenes.

Had I slowed down the first drafts, the process might have taken twice as long; however, with this route, it's taking a great deal longer than the process would have had I slowed down the first draft and ended up with a close-to-final version in the first place.

Instead of taking perhaps one and a half to two times as long, this technique has resulted in taking three to four times as long.

From one writer to another, I highly recommend NOT lightning drafting. It's doing double duty and creates additional prolonged revisions.

Once this current series is complete, my goal will be to complete stronger first drafts not lightning ones.

Back to revision. Onward!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Hitting Send

With my first-round of revisions finished, I attached the book to an email to send to my writing coach and mentor for a final review before editing. I sat with the cursor pointer hovering over SEND.

Ten minutes later, pointer still hovering, hubby dropped by and said, "You've already done the hard part. Sending it is the easy part." (Gotta love that man!)

That loveable man was right, so I pressed SEND.

Book #1, Series #1, sent.

Second later, the questions started:
  • Does it include too much telling versus showing?
  • Is there enough emotional connection with readers?
  • Are the character growth arcs strong enough?
  • Might I use more similes and metaphors?
  • Was the POV deep enough?
And on and on until I realized there are four more books to revise. (Kathy heaves a massive sigh.)

I look forward to the coach/mentor's comments and then will go on from there. First, I need to step back from the book, let someone else review and share their insight, then I'll perform another review.

One thing I am learning is that my writing process proceeds in stages and layers.

In the future, once this series is complete, my goal will be to write stronger first drafts so that less revision is required.

Also, I realize that you can take classes to help you grasp craft, but its the act of actually writing from which a writer learns.

And, boy, am I learning...