5 Reasons To Love Scrivener

 

I love Scrivener.  If the subject comes up I turn into a ridiculous gushing fangirl when describing how much I love it and why. I’d been trying to explain my nerdy love of this particular writing software to a group of writers a while back and they finally broke down and let me show them why. I taught a whole class on the reasons why I love it and how to use it. Shortly after it dawned on me that I should share this information with you, my readers.

Of course, there are way more than five reasons but these are my top five.

1. Setting up your book into individual scenes.  When I wrote my first book I did what most new writers do. I wrote it in Microsoft Word. That meant one long running document that made finding what I was looking for difficult and screwing up my document easy. When I discovered Scrivener before starting my second book I was amazed. There was a learning curve but just the idea of being able to break up my novel into scenes and being able to move them around and put them all back together was AWESOME!

2. Importing an existing document.  Most times by the time writers find Scrivener they’ve already started a manuscript.  Once I figured out how easy this was I was sold. The figuring it out took a little while but now that I know, I’m sold! Easy peasy.

3. Compiling a document.  This is one of the best features of Scrivener. You can save your work in many different formats and in many different places. You can put different parts of your document together, add notes, print, and format it all with one little button.  I use this for the many ways I back up my manuscript daily. I cannot say enough how many times this has been a saving grace. No joke.

4.  Project Targets.  Keeping track of your word count, project count and daily session count. This feature is a whiz of a productivity tool. Set your deadline for your project and you can see exactly how many words a day you must write to accomplish your goal. Deadlines are incredibly motivating for me so I adore this feature. And it’s sooooooo easy!

5. Corkboard/Outline View.  Putting each scene onto a virtual index card and being able to move them around however you want? Seriously cool. Being able to see a list of your outline with a touch of a button? This feature makes plotting simple, easy to move, add information, change and color code.

These features are only the beginning of what you can do in Scrivener. Can you tell I’m a fan?

A solution to the learning curve

If you’re put off by Scrivener because it’s one more piece of software to learn I  have a  solution for you. I’ve put together a Free course called Scrivener Basics.  The course teaches the bare bones of Scrivener with short videos and in a way that will make it easy to learn. You can choose what you want to know and get started quickly.

Sign up in the box below to get Scrivener Basics for free!

 

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Interested in joining The Confused and Terrified Writer’s Group? What do you get?

Access to any free classes I create, options for the beta release of my paid courses, emails with info on fun, new productivity and visual content tools and a Facebook Group just for us to talk writing, productivity, and author stuff! Sign up below!

 

How I Wrote 36,000 Words in Six (and a half) Days

When I started hearing about writing fast or fast drafting a novel, as some call it, it never occurred to me that I could be one of those people. I mean sure other authors could write like that and they were crazy productive but me? No way. Being that I’m somewhere between a plotter and a pantser (what I call a plantser) when it comes to plotting that meant that getting the words on the page wasn’t exactly fast.

At the start of every day, I would read through and tediously go back over everything I’d written the day before. Worrying over every word choice, picking each sentence apart before I would even think about moving on to new writing for the day.

What I didn’t know was that this was killing my productivity. Because the editing brain and the writing brain exist on different sides, I had a terrible time switching between the two. The more conferences I went to and the more author friends I spoke to, the more I realized if I wanted to get the books done faster I needed to write faster and stop worrying about editing what had been written the day before. All that editing would need to be done at the end anyway so why bother with it while you’re writing new words?

I know some of you swear by editing as you go and I’m glad it works for you. For me, it was an excuse not to move forward.

So I stopped. (Okay sometimes I cheated but only a little) And it worked. I wrote new words every day.

Next, plotting.  My plotting process was slow. I knew the beginning and the end (vaguely) but what came in between was somewhat unclear and tedious to get through. I needed to know what was going to happen in the sagging middles. And they needed to not sag so much. More excitement, more twists, more turns. More.

While I was on the lookout for the more, Jessica Brody  spoke about the        Save the Cat plotting method at my local RWA meeting. Intrigued,  I took her two-day, in-person workshop. It was fantastic.  Eight people sitting around a table, throwing out ideas for their books, brain-storming. If you ever have the chance, go. I plotted all of Shimmer in two days and we had a great time.

But even without the workshop, Save the Cat worked for me. Short beats that gave me a direction for each scene. And story structure to make sure I was on the right track.

Just learning that system helped my productivity. Planning what I was going to write for the next beats either the night before or that morning meant I could sit down and write without trying to figure out what came next.

But I still needed to get faster. Even though I knew what came next some days I would spend all my writing hours staring at a flashing cursor. Ugh.

Then I met Chris Fox. He writes successfully in many genres, Men’s Adventure (The Ganog Wars Series), Science Fiction (The Void Wraith Trilogy)), Paranormal (Vampires Don’t Sparkle), but he is also a nonfiction writer.

We met in an online author networking group right around the time he started promoting his nonfiction books that were helping authors become more productive. I read his book 5,000 Words Per Hour and Lifelong Writing Habit. Both amazing books that turned my productivity around.

I learned how to organize my time and force my writing brain to cooperate even when I wasn’t in the mood. I practiced until I got into a rhythm of writing every day. I set timers, got faster, stayed accountable, wrote more and accomplished my goals. Woo hoo! It was working.

Then I went on a writing retreat with a friend. Peace and quiet for six and a half days of writing.  We focused, put headphones in, set timers, and got to work. When we got stuck we hung upside down to get the blood flowing to our brains, jumped up and down or did yoga when we were tired. We went for walks and brainstormed. We took breaks and gave ourselves rewards for finishing a goal.

And I finished a book. I wrote 36,000 words in six and a half days. I finished a book I’d been trying to write for a year. And it was so much fun.

Now I know that isn’t possible for all of you to go away for a week but you can do most of this stuff at home and figure out what works for you. Try different things, get together on Skype with other authors, be accountable for your word count, set up online writing sprints with your author friends, plan a weekend or even a one day retreat to get your words down.

And if all else fails, listen to Nora Roberts,

“You can’t fix a blank page.”

Make the time, butt in the chair, fingers on the keys, write.

xoxo,

P.S. There are some affiliate links in this post that earn a small commission to offset the costs associated with producing the blog! =)

Resources in this post:

 

Canva for Authors

In this video I’m giving a quick overview of Canva and how to use it for your author business to create graphics for social media, promotions and advertising.

I know it can be overwhelming to learn new software when you have books to write but marketing has to be done. Faster and with as little pain as possible is what Canva does for you! And almost all of the functions on Canva are free! Can’t get better than that. =)

https://www.canva.com

Want to learn more about how to create and use visual content to market your books? check out my online class Visual Content Marketing for Authors

http://bit.ly/2vcmpost

Canva for Authors

Author Branding

Another short video but this one is about branding for our author business.  My visual content class dives deep into this subject but this should be informative and helpful. Email me at info@elenadillon.com with questions. Enjoy!

Visual Content for Authors Class

 

 

Visual Content Marketing for Authors has gone live on my teachable site! I created this course because based on my own struggles creating graphics and visuals to promote my books. I’m not a visual person, I don’t have an artistic bone in my body. But I taught myself and it’s made marketing my books so much easier. Here is a short video that explains what visual content is and why we need to be able to create it for ourselves! Here’s the link to my class if you’re interested!

http://bit.ly/2visualcontent

What A Terrified Writer Should Blog About

So when I decided I wanted to be a published fiction author the one thing I heard over and over again was “You need a blog.” And my first thought after that was always. “Ugh.”

What would I say? How would I build this thing so it looked right? Why would anyone care? All important questions.

If you’re a nonfiction author of course it makes sense to have a place to write all about what you’re writing about. For a fiction author? Hmm. What do you say?

“Here’s my books. Buy them.” Not good. Not what anybody cares about right?

And how many times can you say it before it becomes annoying? About once. Like ever.

But you do need a place to list your books so reader’s can find them and for new releases but blogging? What in the world do you put on there?

Here is a list of things you can put on your blog to keep it interesting, use in your newsletter (yes, you need one) and still make it fun for you.

  • Excerpts of your stories
  • Whole short stories to bring reader’s in.
  • A daily (weekly, monthly, whatever) serial that keeps people coming back
  • Audio recorded author notes talking about how you came up with your story.
  • Interviews with your characters (One at at time. Tell them to get in line. Mine all want to be heard at once)
  • Video yourself in a bookstore, at a book signing, on vacation, on a hike, etc. talking about inspiration or why being an author is amazing or why being there is helping your author life.
  • Your hobbies, your quirks, What you like and don’t like. (I post about being a nerd, my Pinterest addiction and my tv addictions)
  • Pets. People love them and their personalities. I post about my English bulldog and people love him. These make great posts on Social Media as well.

So before you even launch or get your blog up spend some time putting together an editorial calendar (just use a regular calendar, digital or paper) and writing some posts so you’re ready to go when you launch.

Think about themes, colors and what your books are about. How they make you feel and what your branding is going to be. What your covers are going to look like. Spend some time checking out Amazon and what the book covers in your category look like.

Go to their author websites and see what looks good. This will help you decide what you want your site to look like. What you want on there and more importantly what you don’t. I launched my site nine months before I published and all I did was blog on there. It worked very well for me. More about this in a later post.

I use design-seeds.com to choose my color palette. I have to be careful or I look up and two hours have gone by before I’ve even decided. It’s so beautiful!

Don’t worry right away about the technical stuff. First decide what you want. What you need and what you don’t. Start small. Don’t get overwhelmed. The only person you’re in the race with is you.

If you’d like to get more tips about blogging, social media and being a healthy, productive author, sign up for my email list to get a monthly newsletter right to your email box!

Happy Blogging!

l

 

 

6 Reason’s I’m a WordSwag Addict

Let’s just start with the fact that I love apps in general. I love anything that makes my author life faster and easier. Creating graphics, posting on social media, editing photos, cool ways to create short video any of these apps are love, love, love.

WordSwag, in particular, makes it so easy to create graphics in a hurry that it jumped to the top of my list of favorite apps. Sometimes I use it to wish a friend happy birthday on FB but mostly I create fun quotes for my social media when I’m watching TV, standing in line somewhere or waiting for something.

When I first downloaded it, there was no cost except to unlock all the fonts, now there is a fee but it’s minimal. And completely worth it. I’ve gotten more use out of this one app than any other creation tool on my phone.

First reason to love it? It’s connected to Pixabay so there are thousands or royalty-free images to use included! This function alone give it the wow-factor and makes it worth the price of admission.

Second: It’s simple and easy to use.  There is a very low learning curve but the images come out looking amazing.

Third: Images download easily to your camera on your phone for easy use with any other app like collage, gif, animation apps. I use it this way all the time. It would be a great addition to WordSwag if they gave the app these functions as well but one app can’t have everything!

Fourth: Plenty of choices of fonts.  I have my favorites for sure but there isn’t a shortage here.

Fifth: Has a filtering functionality that works well as well as brightness and blur options that make editing quick and easy. No need to use an editing app unless you need something more fancy.

Sixth: Has quotes built into the app so if you have no idea what you want to post you aren’t stuck looking them up on a web page. It’s all there for you! Huge time saver.

Overall this is a fabulous app that makes it easy for you to create a quick graphic to use for your author business. Haven’t posted anything on Instagram or Facebook for a while? Waiting in line for a coffee? Get to work and promote your author business!

Here is the super cool video from WordSwag giving you a preview of what it can do:

P.S. I will be launching my Visual Content Marketing for Authors class in May and I have a whole video dedicated to WordSwag and how to use it for your author business. Plus a whole lot of other apps and tools. If you’re interested sign up below for my email list and you will be notified as soon as it’s ready to go live!

 

 

 

 

The Fear of Social Media

The Fear of Social Media

Social Media. You either love it or hate it right? Or like me, you have a love/hate relationship with it. Like a lot of writers, I’m a bit of an introvert. While you’d think hiding behind my computer would make sharing on social media easier for me, it doesn’t.

I’m not used to sharing my life with total strangers. In real life, I’m really good at talking to people I’ve never met before. My kids would tell you that I never leave a public place without getting, at least, one person’s life story. I’m going to tell you a secret. I’m pretty sneaky. Instead of chatting about me, I ask them about themselves. Everybody loves that. We have a conversation. They’ve told me all kinds of details about their lives, and they never realize I’ve shared almost nothing about mine.

Okay, so I guess I’m more of an ambivert. I like to talk to people. I just don’t like to tell them about me. So sharing on Social Media can be approached a bit like this as well. Once I figured this out I got on many of the different platforms and got to work,  Facebook Personal and Pages, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest (My fave), Instagram and Blab.

Here are some of my best tips to get over the fear of social media and make it work for your writing career:

  1. Take it slow. Do some research. Talk to your author friends about the platforms they like best and why. Decide which one might be the easiest and most intriguing for you.
  2. Lurk. I admit it, I’m a lurker. That sounds bad, I know, but I don’t like to jump in and try something before I know the rules. When I was a kid, I would stand on the sidelines and watch a new game being played before I’d join in. Same rules apply here. I don’t do anything on a new platform until I see how it’s done. Reading rules and articles can help, but nothing works better than actually seeing it.
  3. Follow. Once you’ve joined, follow other authors. Check out what they’re up to on a platform. How are they using it for their business? If that author is in your genre, follow the people that follow them. Look at what they’re doing, what interests them.
  4. Take time. Figure out how to make the platform work. All the little ins and outs. How to post a picture, a video, a quote. Is there a function to help you schedule a post? If you can’t figure something out, check out the help. Search for it. Look on YouTube (there are videos there on how to do everything).
  5. Fight the Overwhelm. The only person you are in a race with is yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re on one or one hundred social media platforms (It seems like there are that many now). You don’t have to race to keep up. Work at your pace. Push yourself a little but when that little voice pops into your head whispering, “You’ll never catch up”, slap it down and move on to the next thing on your list. Slow and steady gets the job done. Just like writing a book. =)

I started this blog to share what I know about social media, indie publishing, and the writing world with other authors. I get asked a lot of questions, and I love to help, teach and inform. I’m an information junkie so there’s a lot of stuff floating around in my head that might help someone else. Have a question about any of that stuff? I may have an answer. If I don’t, I’ll find someone who does.  Ask it in the comments!

Also, feel free to sign up for my email list below. I have a project in the works that will be free to all my email subscribers.

Write On!

Elena