productivity

10 Life-Changing Books for Writers (Hint: They’re Not About Craft)

10 Life-Changing Books for Writers (Hint: They're Not About Craft). Makealivingwriting.com.

What happens when freelance writers want to build their careers? Well, since we’re ‘word’ people, we tend to ask our friends, “What good books for writers should I read?”

Lengthy chats erupt on Facebook in response, about the most inspiring and useful books on writing craft. Books such as Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Stephen King’s On Writing are enthusiastically discussed and endorsed.

I’ve read and loved these books, too. But I don’t think they’re the ideal books for writers, especially if your focus is making a reliable living at your craft.

My experience is writers read these books, think, “Aaah, wonderful! Terrific insights.” Then, they go straight back to starving.

Also, most writers I know don’t need to improve their craft. They write just fine.

The books for writers that will make a bigger impact are the ones about how to make a business from writing. How to freelance successfully. How to finally find the confidence to put your writing out there.

Those are the books for writers that can really change your life. The books that show you how to feed your family, on a regular basis, with your craft.

If that’s the sort of help you need, here’s a list of practical books on the business of being a writer that I frequently recommend.

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Get Stuff Done – A Busy Freelance Writing Ultramarathoner’s Productivity Rules

Get stuff done. A busy freelance writing ultramarathoner's productivity rules. Makealivingwriting.com

Want to know what a crazy writer schedule looks like? I’ve got three little kids. I have a day job as a health and wellness writer. I’ve got a solid line-up of freelance clients in the same niche and a bunch of looming blog post deadlines. Sometimes, it’s tough to get stuff done.

It’s always busy. There are a million things demanding my attention. And that doesn’t even include TV, movies, hours on social media, video games, hanging out with the guys, or sleeping in. Do people really do that anymore?

The hot 40-something woman I’ve been married to for 18 years is in grad school (future teacher). She volunteers where our kids go to school. She works part-time at a gym. And the kids have dance, Cub Scouts, homework, and probably some other activities going on that she-who-will-not-be-named will be texting me about shortly.

Then there’s my passion (some call it a sickness) for running. And I’m not talking about a 30-minute jog around the block. I ran a 100-mile race at the end of September. When the heck is there time to train for that?

Crazy. Every. Damn. Day.

How do I get it all done, and keep my freelance writing career moving forward? I don’t use any complicated planning tools to get stuff done (maybe I should), but I do follow a few basic rules to stay productive.

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Freelance Writing Improvement Lab: 7 Productivity Hacks to Write Faster

Freelance Writing Improvement Lab: Productivity Hacks. Makealivingwriting.com

Do you get jealous when other freelance writers talk about how they knock out a simple blog post in under an hour — because it takes you half a day? If so, it’s time to attack this problem and get it solved. To earn a good hourly rate from freelance writing (and end up with a decent income), you’ve got to be able to write assignments in a time-efficient way.

This is especially true if you’re looking to get into content marketing, where you might develop a dozen blog posts or other pieces of content a month for each of multiple different clients. I speak as someone who at one point was writing 72 posts a month, between client blogs and my own blog.

Your success in blogging for clients is highly dependent on your speed. If you’re slow, you won’t be able to juggle multiple content marketing clients and book enough revenue — and you may even be in trouble in terms of meeting your deadlines.

Fortunately, learning to get the writing done faster has been a longtime hobby of mine. My drive to speed up was forged during 12 years as a staff writer, the last five of which required filing a story for our online edition, five days a week by 10 am (in addition to the 3-4 articles a week we had to write).

How did I learn to cut my writing time down? Here are my seven top tips:

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How to Overcome Abuse and Become a Full-Time Writer

How to Overcome Abuse and Become a Full-Time Writer. Makealivingwriting.com

Do you ever let your personal “issues” hold you back when it comes to your writing career?

I have – after going through some very toxic relationships – and it nearly ruined both my career and my life. But I managed to come out on top – and I was able to become the well-paid writer I was meant to be. So, how’d I manage to overcome a legacy of toxic abuse and build a thriving writing career?

Would you be shocked if I told you that my “issues”  literally became my content niche? They did – these days, I’m also a certified life coach who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery.

So why am I writing about abuse? Why do I keep talking about it? Because I am a survivor myself – and because, quite honestly, the universe planted this particular niche in my front yard for a reason. These days, I make a pretty healthy living from my work – and yes, I’m writing every single day now. Here’s how it happened…

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Can’t Get Organized? Try These 5 Writing Productivity Breakthroughs

Try These Writing Productivity Breakthroughs. Makealivingwriting.com

Have you been trying in vain to get more writing or freelance marketing done?

If you want to earn more as a freelancer, improving your writing productivity can be huge. I’ve recently coached two different writers who told me they doubled their income, just by getting more efficient with their work day.

Productivity gains can be truly transformative for your career.

But what if you’ve tried the apps, used the checklists, gotten up earlier…and still nothing? You spend much of the day in a fog, trying to get focused and take action.

I have a confession to make: Often, that used to be me.

Over the years, I’ve come up with some contrarian approaches to productivity out of necessity, as a staff writer who *had* to file 3-4 stories a week or lose my job.

If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, and it takes all day to get one tiny thing accomplished, I have five ideas for you to try out:

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4 Ways to Make Time for Your Writing (Even if You Really, REALLY Don’t Have Any)

Make Time for Writing (even if you don't have any) - Makealivingwriting.com

You want to write … you really, really do.

You keep waiting for a good time to open up in your schedule, but it seems that every day you hit the sack wondering, “Where did the time go?”

I get that. Between our jobs, families, housekeeping chores, and other obligations, it seems like we have zero minutes left over to work on our passions.

And building our writing business takes a backseat to the rest of the tasks on our to-do lists.

I’ve coached many, many writers around this theme, and also wrote a book for women who want to do it all—including starting a side business—but don’t seem to have the time: How to Do It All: The Revolutionary Plan to Create a Full, Meaningful Life — While Only Occasionally Wanting to Poke Your Eyes Out With a Sharpie. (Though the book is aimed at women, the strategies apply to men, too!)

Ready to make the time to write more—and get your writing business off the ground? Here are the top tips from my research:

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