Five signs you’re not ready for a brand design

We are thrilled to welcome Allison Martin as our newest contributor! 

Branding design is a complicated topic that most like to pass off as something simple and inspirational → Just be yourself and your authentic brand will shine through!

While I personally believe that, I have spent ten years educating myself in design and marketing both formally and through the school of experiential learning, so I truly understand what it means.

The even tougher part of it all is that for authors you are not just branding a company, you are branding your soul, your life experience, your view of the world.

That would be a daunting task for a narcissistic sociopath, never mind an author riddled with impostor syndrome and self doubt.

There is a big piece of the branding puzzle missing in publishing and it’s the piece that has become my mission — what to do Before the Brand.

As a freelance Art Director I coach authors through understanding their branding needs, defining their career goals, and translating that into meaningful design to grow their confidence as well as their readership.

If you’ve been playing around with the idea of developing an author brand here are five signs that you’re not quite ready.

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When someone asks you why you write or what you write about and you can’t confidently state it in three sentences or less—like you would pitch your book to an agent—you are not ready for a branding design. There are two sides to this fence, those who say ‘I just love to read and want to share my love of stories with others’, and those who ramble off ten thousand disjointed things over a 20 minute time frame.

The problem with the first is it is vague and says zero about who you are and what you are promising your readers. What that tells me as a coach is that you lack self confidence and therefore direction.

The second tells me that you lack focus and probably self confidence too—although arrogance is a thing with some new authors, the majority struggle with feeling inadequate so they try to cram in all the things to compensate.

If you can speak clearly and concisely about what you hope to achieve with your work you might be ready to hire a designer.


There are two reasons why logo design is more expensive:

  1. Copyright — When you hire a designer to make a cover you are licensing that design from the designer, they own it and you cannot alter it or duplicate it without permission from the designer. When you hire for a logo design, you own it. The designer creates it and then relinquishes rights to you to use however and wherever you choose.
  2. The purpose — To a designer, a cover is an advertisement for a single product. A logo is a visual representation of a company’s mission statement. A design that will be used to sell products and generate profit indefinitely. So because your logo will generate you more revenue in theory it costs more to create.

Logos also require a lot more pre-design work and back and forth with a client so time is a big factor in cost.


A logo is only a single piece of an author brand and not even the most important one, I would argue. You would be just fine to build a visual identity by simply choosing a font for your name and sticking with it across your entire platform.

Your brand design is about understanding your mission, working toward a consistent goal, and making sure everything you do is ‘on brand’. Your brand includes your interests, the images you take/choose, the colors you use, the clothes you wear, how you talk, what you talk about…

And if after reading all that you’re sweating and saying ‘great, now I have to change everything about myself to have a brand’ then you are definitely not ready for a branding design.

It’s not about forcing yourself into something you’re not, it’s about paying attention to what you already are and amplifying it.


We are hit with thousands of messages every day wanting our money and a majority of those messages are shameless and gross. But the only marketing that should make you feel gross is if you have to lie or manipulate your way to a sale.

If you understand there are many different ways to share your stories and get the word out that don’t include tricking people into buying your stuff then you might be ready to get a brand design to help with that.


A lot of us authors get into writing because we can hide behind our books and remain relatively faceless to our readers. But the industry is changing rapidly, we are more and more connected in a visual way, and readers are wanting to see more of our personal space.

I want to clarify that the advice of ‘write more books’ is 100% valid. The best way to get relevant and stay relevant is to keep writing, keep improving, and keep the books coming.

But it’s no longer enough to just write more books.

Our careers are becoming more intertwined with our lives and processes, but with a little bit of forethought and strategy and a whole lot of honest introspection, an authentic author brand should be an exciting journey, not a daunting task.

— — —


Allison Martin is the author of nine independently published YA & NA novels, and a Graphic Designer, with over ten years experience in television and newspaper advertising, and freelance publishing design.  

Makeready Designs began five years ago as an accidental hobby and grew to a full service publishing design business that works with NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors, as well as Penguin Random House. She has currently shifted her focus to her real passion—helping authors set realistic career goals and implement effective branding strategies to grow their confidence as well as their business.

Allison lives and breathes the North Canadian wilderness, adventuring with her husband and daughter and plotting her next novel on some mountain top—but not until she’s had at least two cups of coffee.

She is represented by Sharon Pelletier of Dystel, Goderich, and Bourret Literary Management.


Bite-Sized Goals and Mousey Nibbles: Managing Lengthy Projects

Working your way through large, lengthy projects, like . . . oh, writing a novel, for instance, can be overwhelming, can’t it? First you have to write down the words, then you have to fix the words, then you have to fix them a second time, and possibly a third or fourth or fifth time. Then you have to figure out how to get those words out into the world, whether via traditional methods or indie. And while you’re trying to accomplish all of this, you have everyday life stuff to deal with too: jobs, family, chores—as well as non-everyday stuff, such as illnesses, vacations, bad mental health days, holidays . . . I could go on and on.

Of course, it helps to get organized by setting goals and deadlines—to mark on your calendar in bold when you want your first draft to be finished by, when you need to be done with the first round of edits, and so on. But when setting these longer deadlines, it’s easy to underestimate how long you’re really going to need.

I’ve made this mistake many times. I’ve tried to prevent it by calculating out how many words I need to write each day leading up to my deadline in order to reach it—making room for days when I know I’ll have less time to write. As long as I write the prescribed number of words each day, I’ll be perfectly fine, right? But then, life throws obstacles in my path, and soon I’m failing to meet my word counts and falling behind. The farther behind I fall, the more frustrated I get. I move my deadline out. I recalculate my word counts. Then I fall behind again. I get discouraged and overwhelmed over, and over, and I start to think I’ll never finish this darn thing.

Does this sound familiar?

Maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you do well with large goals and a daily word count system. Maybe that’s all you need in order to get things done. If so, that’s fantastic! It’s common advice, so it must work for a lot of writers, right? But if it’s not working for you, just as it hasn’t been working for me, I’d like to suggest a few things that have been working for me lately, in the hopes that you, too, will find them helpful.

Make 2-3 Bite-Sized Goals At A Time

I still plan out the large goals (finish draft, revise draft, edit draft.) But I’ve lessened their importance in favor of smaller, bite-sized goals (that, I must stress, aren’t word counts,) and I only plan out a few of these goals at a time. For instance, my goal this weekend was to re-examine my outline, because I’ve discovered I need to throw out some scenes and replace them with brand new ones. I wasn’t writing the scenes this weekend—just taking a look and deciding what I need those scenes to do. My next bite-sized goal will be to outline those scenes. The bite-sized goal after that will be to finally draft those scenes. And . . . that’s it. That’s as far ahead as I’ve planned. Obviously, I have an idea of what I’ll need to do after that, because I know that my ultimate goal is to finish revising this entire draft. But for now, I’m not going to worry about anything further than getting through these next few scenes.

Keeping my goals small and few in number helps me feel like I’m actually making progress. If I look at it in respect to the larger goal of finishing my revisions, it won’t feel like I’ve done much at all. I’ll feel like I’m moving at a snail’s pace, and I’ll get frustrated. So I don’t do that.

Only Work Under Your Best Working Conditions

Pay close attention to when and where you do your best work. Do you get more done in the morning? Then work in the morning and don’t try to squeeze more work out of yourself past that time (unless you absolutely must.) Do you have specific days when you’re less likely to be able to focus? Keep your expectations low on those days. I have a standing appointment every Tuesday morning that tends to throw off my concentration for the rest of the day. I’ve come to accept that if I do get any writing done on Tuesdays, it’s a bonus. I’m better off using Tuesdays to catch up on chores or other things that don’t require me to think too much. I’m having a harder time convincing myself that writing post-children’s bedtimes is also a lost cause. But it’s a fact that I’m usually too tired and brain-drained to do much of anything by then. My best times for focusing are late morning and early afternoon when the kids are at school, so that’s when I make myself sit down and work. I also pay attention to my energy level. If I try to work with my laptop on the couch, am I more likely to nap instead? If so, I’ll make myself a cup of coffee or tea, and work sitting up at my desk. Is my back bothering me to the point where sitting at my desk will make the pain worse and/or distract me? Then maybe the couch would be better after all.

Just Take a Mousey Nibble

Okay, this one probably needs some background. My oldest son is a very picky eater. Always has been. He has texture issues and we suspect he may also be a super taster, because he will often complain about things tasting “too strong.” There was a period when he was younger where he was so anxious about trying new foods, that he would burst into tears at the mere suggestion. That is until one day, he told us that maybe . . . maybe he could just try a mouse-sized bite. A little mousey nibble. A nearly microscopic taste that, like sticking a toe in the water, would help to alleviate some of his fear of the unknown. This still works with him. “Just take a mousey nibble, and if you don’t like it, that’s okay,” we tell him. And so he does. And then sometimes, all on his own, he will decide to take a larger taste afterward.

If, even with your bite-sized goals, you’re still feeling anxious about sitting down to work, or you’re not sure how to get started, or you’re just plain unmotivated, tell yourself that you only have to take a mousey nibble. Open your document and commit to five minutes. You don’t even have to type anything. You can use those five minutes to look over your last paragraph, or glance through your outline, or heck, just stare at the blank screen. Chances are though, once your timer goes off, you’ll be able to settle yourself into your task. And if you still can’t, that’s ok. Take a break and try another mousey nibble later. Maybe it’ll taste different next time.

I hope these ideas are helpful to you. Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve that help you get through large projects? Please share them with us in the comments.



When she’s not writing, revising, or banging her head on the keyboard, Megan Paasch can be found playing her ukulele, knitting, or herding two amazing, but rowdy little boys and three mischievous cats. A native to the Pacific Northwest, Megan earned her B.A. in History from the University of Washington. Her favorite history subjects were, and still are, Women in History, the Tudors, and the Celts. You can read more about her here.

Life After Querying: Publication Insights from Authors

For writers who are interested in pursuing traditional publication, there are all kinds of tools and resources for drafting writers and revising writers and querying writers. There is hardly anything that then allows a writer on submission with publishing houses know what to expect. And if a writer publishes with one house — even a few times — and then doesn’t resign? It’s like trying to walk a maze in the dark with a blindfold on.

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With this in mind, I put together a survey to see what the “typical” experience tended to be, how writers negotiated time expectations when writing and marketing, and asked for some advice. Over 50 authors jumped in to share their experiences. I’m going to get out of the way and let you peruse the results.

How many times have you been published?

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 2.33.01 PMWhen was your first book released?

1990s – 4
2006 – 2
2009 – 2
2011 – 5
2012 – 4
2013 – 6
2014 – 6
2015 – 8
2016 – 6
2017 – 4
2018 – 1

Did you publish the same book that you were querying when you signed with your agent?

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How many publishing house read your book before you signed? Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 2.57.44 PM

How many books were included in your first contract?

42 authors signed a single book deal.
6 authors signed a two book deal.
5 authors signed a three book deal.
One author signed four books, and one author signed six (this one was direct author to publisher)

Has the entirety of your publishing career been with the same publishing house? Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 3.03.02 PM

If you have changed publishing houses, which book was it with? screen-shot-2018-01-19-at-3-03-33-pm.png

Considering the amount of time you have available to write, what % is spent crafting and what % is for marketing?

(for reference, the 1st number is crafting/the 2nd is marketing)

7 – 90/10
1 – 85-15
10 – 80/20
3 – 75/25
6 – 70/30
1 – 65/35
5 – 60/40
14 – 50/50
4 – 40/60
3 – 30/70

What advice do you have for authors who just signed their first contract?

  • Don’t be shy about communicating with your editor and publicist when you have questions or ideas.
  • It’s never too soon to start working on your next book
  • Always be writing.
  • Enjoy the honeymoon
  • Don’t stop learning. Book 1 is part of the journey, but keep writing, keep honing your craft so future books can be even better.
  • Market a lot at first, keep writing too
  • Read and understand what you’ve really agreed to.
  • Don’t compare to other authors!!
  • Get an agent.
  • You’re not done waiting.
  • Enjoy the giddy, crispy delight of having done this amazing thing. Then take a deep breath, because there’s way more work than glory ahead. ??
  • Keep writing. Book one is just one piece of your career.
  • Make sure to read the contract before you signing you don’t understand it ask for help
  • Build a mailing list!
  • Keep your day job
  • Be clear on the expectations
  • Be careful and read the final print of the contract. Make sure you have an agent who has your back.
  • Start writing the next book! One book does not a career make.
  • Try not to fret social media
  • Connect with other authors who are in a similar situation. It really helps when questions come up.
  • Don’t be a jerk
  • Build relationships based on commonalities and a desire to support others–not on hoping people buy your book. Have your agent be ultra-involved in marketing plans with an aim toward getting you as much support as possible. Remember this is a long game, a marathon not a sprint, and focus on your next book, and your next, and…
  • You make your living writing, not waiting. At first, I was nearly frozen with fear as I waited for edits or notes from my editor (agent) but I’ve quickly learned that that time is golden. It is time to try new ideas, work on my craft, build the next book. Oh, and become friends with your cover artist! Getting to know her/him will be a HUGE help if you need additional art for swag etc. They will also LOVE to help spread the word for you on their social media channel because it is their work too.
  • Be patient and keep writing
  • Focus on the good parts and celebrate them
  • All your marketing efforts are a drop in the bucket. If I were going back, I’d focus on a few select things I like or really want to try and would just spend the rest of my time on the next book.
  • Don’t rush to sign a contract. Don’t rush to fire your agent.
  • Get marketing savvy. You still have to do a lot yourself.
  • Remember you have little control about what happens next. Focus on editing your book to the best it can be and let go of the rest.
  • Before you sign, don’t rush. Don’t settle. Read it twice. If you sign, be cautious. Be clear. They’re not doing you a favor. This is your career.
  • Begin your next manuscript as soon as possible. Do not stop writing.
  • Write your next book and consider going indie. 😉
  • Breathe. Ask questions. Advocate for your book and your career. Meet your deadlines.
  • Nothing is as big a deal as it seems. Things will happen that you’ll be sure are going to ruin the book, the events, your career. It won’t. Don’t sweat it. Just keep working.
  • Everything is going to be fine.
  • Lay strong marketing groundwork now. Build relationships with people.
  • The first contract is just the beginning, not the final milestone. Enjoy all the little successes, because there will be lots of things that don’t pan out the way you expect them to. Cultivate gratitude and try to keep your eyes on your own paper–envy is hard to avoid, but poisonous to creativity.
  • Enjoy it!
  • Treat the time between signing and actual release day as a learning experience.
    It depends on whether they signed via an agent or not. If it’s an experienced agent, let them handle it. Ask for twice the number of finished copies they offer. Ask for print ARCs. Remember that while your sights are on a single book your editor is juggling multiple titles. All are important to him or her; keep that in mind when emailing, etc.
  • Keep writing, keep making connections like you’re still trying to get published
  • Start networking!
  • Just keep swimming
  • Keep your head down and work on your craft. There is so much out of your control.
  • Try not to compare yourself to other writers. Everyone’s journey is different, but all are valid.
  • Expand your platform as much as you can now. Be gracious. Watch out for people who just want to take your money. Ask around before signing up for marketing/promo services.
  • Be prepared to do a LOT of marketing on your own, no matter how you are published.
  • Ask questions!
  • Be informed. Stand up for yourself. If you’re panicking, you’re in the majority.
  • Be willing to make your own magic happen– your publisher likely won’t do it for you.
  • Make sure you have a lawyer look over the contract. Watch out for contracts that want to claim all future works or who will force you to purchase your rights back.
  • Editorial feedback is not always direct, so trust your gut. “We need a bigger plot point here” may mean “you need to make us care more here.”
  • Have an attorney review it. Don’t get sucked into the hype of the moment.

What advice do you have for authors who have to go on submission after having worked with a publishing house?

  • Be patient and prepared for change
  • None. I’m about to do the same thing.
  • Understand this happens to everyone. Publishing houses make mistakes and editors get fired or hired away, all of which are to of your control. Switching publishing houses is not necessarily a bad thing.
  • Sometimes the journey is hard and ugly. But it’ll get good again eventually.
  • Be patient and start working on something else
  • Keep writing.Keep submitting.
  • You’ve got this.
  • Keep moving forward
  • Evaluate how your agent or publisher has performed for your book and don’t be afraid to jump ship.
  • If you have to start over trying to find a new agent or new publisher, I would say gird your loins! And never give up, and stay busy on a new project.
  • Keep your chin.
  • It’s not the end of the world. Many authors end up publishing different works with different publishers. You’ve got a leg up in the process since you have books out there in the world and a web presence already.
  • If you want to publish traditionally, don’t give up.
  • Don’t think about it. Write the next book instead.
  • Hang in there. You did it once, and it will happen again. Maybe even at a better house than your first turned out to be.
  • It takes time. Oh my goodness, so MUCH TIME! Before finding a publisher that was a fit for me, we went out on submission to at lease 20 different editors/houses. I piled up comments, collected them, then finally started writing something new.
  • Before we had even collected all of our responses I had a new book ready and THAT is the book that finally found a home. Did I mention it takes a long time?
  • Solidarity, friends.
  • Don’t take any contract if it means changing your manuscript in a way you don’t want to.
  • Good luck and keep writing.
  • Being on sub is the worst anticipation. Fill your time with non-related writing activities as much as possible.
  • All the eggs in one basket is not the norm. It’s okay to be at more than one house, and self-published at the same time.
  • Most of us do have to chAnge publishers from time to time. Don’t be discouraged
  • Consider going the indie route. 😉 My indie book makes more than my book with a publisher…and I get paid every month and can see all the numbers.
  • Take courage. Believe in yourself and your writing. Absolutely write the next book, and focus on the things you can control!
  • Keep your tribe close. There are no guarantees in this business. You’ll need them more than ever.
  • Submission sucks. Be kind to yourself. Remember that your worth is not tied up in your writing–and even your worth as an author isn’t solely dependent upon whether or not a publisher buys your books.
  • It’s brutal out there. Believe in yourself and enjoy the act of writing.
  • Keep trying. There’s a home out there for it somewhere.
  • Best advice: never get angry in publishing (agent, editor, copyeditor, PR folks). It’s not personal–though it certainly will feel like it is.
  • Patience, grasshopper, it only takes one YES
  • As much as possible, try and write the next book and forget about the one on sub. It can take a LONG time, but that is no reflection on the quality of your work.
  • My bias is toward finding an agent you trust and who believes in your work 100%. That might include telling you a particular book of yours doesn’t have a market right now. This is certainly harsh to hear but I really do believe agents know and understand the market better than most writers do.
  • It’s OK to feel bad. Submission isn’t fun. Stock up on junk food and binge watch your favorite shows when you need to.
  • Develop a nice, thick, shell. I’ll be “out there” again after book #2, and at least I know now not to take rejection personally!
  • Get writing on something new
  • Turn the MS over to your agent and forget about it. Do something else, write something else. That book, for the time being, is not in your hands.
  • Find other things that bring you joy, and focus on them.
  • Each house has its own business plan. Whether or not your project is a fit may have nothing to do with the quality of your manuscript. Reality is, if they don’t know how to sell it, they aren’t the publisher for you.
  • Persistence outweighs skill 10 times out of 10

How do these experiences align with what you’ve experienced or heard? Have any advice you’d like to add? 


Tasha Headshot Color

Tasha Seegmiller believes in the magic of love and hope, which she weaves into every story she creates. A co-founder of Thinking Through Our Fingers, she is the managing editor of the writing-focused website as well as a contributor to Writers in the Storm. She is passionate about helping women nourish their creativity and is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, where she serves as a board member. The former high school English teacher now assists in managing the award-winning project-based learning program (EDGE) at Southern Utah University. Tasha married a guy she’s known since she was seven and is the mom of three teens. She is represented by Annelise Robey of Jane Rotrosen Agency.

The Debut Author Pledge

It’s my debut year.

Deep breaths.

A couple months ago there were several twitter threads from veteran writers and writers finishing their debut year. They gave a lot of advice. They also gave a lot of real talk. Some of it was hard to hear. Some of it was inspiring. All of it, led me to my word for 2018.


I started writing almost six years ago and now I have a book coming out. Even three or four years ago, if you would have told me I’d be here, I would have called you a liar. And so with that thought in mind, I want to go into this very special year for me with the following pledge.

The Debut Author Pledge.png

The Debut Author Pledge

  1. I pledge, above all else, to do what is necessary to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy this year.This means I will:
    • Look up from my phone and connect with nature, people, and myself.
    • Take social media breaks when needed.
    • Keep lots of healthy food on hand.
    • Take plenty of walks.
    • Stay away from sites, threads, and conversation that I know will feed my anxiety.
  1. I pledge to remember what I can and can not control and try not to beat myself up over things that fall into the second category.
  1. I pledge to speak up for myself if I am unhappy, confused, or concerned about anything. But then to be peaceful with whatever happens after I do so. (Remember Pledge #2.)
  1. I pledge not to worry about lists. If I’m on a list, great! If I’m not, oh well. (Again, remember Pledge #2.)
  1. I want to say that I pledge not to read my reviews, but I know that might be a hard one to keep. So instead, I pledge not to let my reviews go to my head. For every bad review I read that hurts, I will read a one-star review for a favorite book to remind myself that this is all subjective. For every good review I read that swells my head, I will read a five star review for a book I hate, to remind myself that this is all subjective.
  1. I pledge to make time for the things that make me happy. Hot cocoa, game night, long walks, snuggles, good books, knitting, swimming, cooking. Whatever it is.
  1. I pledge to celebrate every good milestone along the way. Even the tiniest ones. Because there is so much waiting and rejection in this business. I want to celebrate every bit of goodness.
  1. I pledge to not compare myself, my book, my sales, my publicity, etc. to other authors.
  1. I pledge that whenever I fail at pledge #8, I will remember the moments I thought this book would never see the light of day, and remember how lucky I am.
  1. I pledge to remember who I’m writing for and do my best to connect with them.
  1. I pledge to remember that even if my book only touches on person’s heart, it’s still worth it.
  1. I pledge to take one day at a time and not worry about things in the future that I have no control over today.
  1. I pledge to keep writing and creating.

So how about you? Want to take the pledge? What else would you add?


Amanda Rawson Hill grew up in southwest Wyoming with a library right out her back gate, which accounts a lot for how she turned out. Her debut novel, THE THREE RULES OF EVERYDAY MAGIC, will be published by Boyds Mills Press September 2018.

Know Your Value

Recently I was talking to my daughter when she brought up how she was asked to do an art piece and how there was a kerfuffle when my daughter brought up payment. It was expected to be done for free because “well, it’s just art.” That because it was an artistic endeavor it didn’t mean anything. I was proud of her for holding to her stance of not just giving out work unless she feels genuinely moved to do so. And that got me to think about value. There’s value in what you create, even if you aren’t a mega success, you created something. It goes beyond just dollar signs. Plenty is put into your creation which cannot be accounted for.

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” -Jim Rohn

You spend time plotting. You spend time outlining, researching, and actually writing. Then there’s more time invested in cover selection, creating or updating your website, etc… Your time goes beyond just writing and it shows in the finished product. Don’t let anyone diminish that by convincing you to undersell your work.


“This is the key to time management – to see the value of every moment.” -Menachem Mendel Schneerson

Time daydreaming is time well spent. Drifting off into space where your imagination takes over to have you creating new worlds where foxes are moon men who desperately want to get to Earth to gather enough honey to fuel their Cosmo Cannon is well worth it. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” -Henry David Thoreau

When I published my book I had so many people come up to me or message me over social media to be there to support me. But as with the situation my daughter encountered, more than a few wanted free copies. Uh…no. I don’t come to work for free, and writing IS WORK! You’re purchasing a piece of the author (let’s not forget the cover artist, editor, etc) when you get a book. Aren’t they worth something? Giveaways are fine or giving a copy to a reputable blog or someone with solid connections, but just putting time and money down to just pass it out like gum? I think not.

“Every job from the heart is, ultimately, of equal value. The nurse injects the syringe; the writer slides the pen; the farmer plows the dirt; the comedian draws the laughter. Monetary income is the perfect deceiver of a man’s true worth.”
-Criss Jami

Don’t let sales or lack of them change who you are. To change the core of who you are for fame does no good for anyone. Stay true to who you are. Cherish and value your true self at all costs.

Trust in yourself, love what you do, and make you know your value even if others don’t. Until next time have a writeous day!


Matt Williams is an avid reader, a collector of many pens, an ever improving father of two, and an all-around fanboy. When he’s not wrestling with cats or a long commute you can find him hunkered down writing something imaginative. He’s working on publishing his first book Beyond Here, a middle grade story involving a coma and a singing flower with a bent stem sometime in 2016, along with a few projects with his other daughter.

Turning a Non-writing Day into the Best Writing Day

I’ve always been a “sit-and-do-it” kinda gal. I don’t believe in a mystical muse. I don’t fuss over the state of my first draft because the first draft is where I feel out the story. Revisions are where the real magic happens.

But lately, I’ve been struggling with settling into writing. Between writing and marketing responsibilities and miscellaneous life things, I seem to be in forever catch-up mode. My house and brain are cluttered beyond recognition. Those brain squirrels we all like to joke about have turned into rabid chipmunks.

I’d started on a new project in October and was determined to use the NaNo momentum to finish the proposal and submit it to my agent. The story seed has been tumbling in my brain since last spring and I’ve mind-mapped the various threads and characters until I felt I had a solid hold on where this was going.

First week was amazing. I was rocking the words. The characters and story lines were coming together. I was in writer heaven.

Then those crazy chipmunks got out of their cage. The first day, I fought through it and managed to make a bit of progress despite the chatter. Day two, I ended up deleting more words than I wrote. Something was missing and the harder I pushed, the further away I got.

Day three, I gave up. Yup, gave up! I closed the word document and went off to play with the chipmunks and squirrels. And – you knew this was coming from the title of the post – it turned out to be the day I found the missing links in the story.

But here’s the thing … it could just have easily been a day spent moving clutter and accomplishing nothing. Why did it turn out to be the turning point in my writing slump?

Turning a Non-writing Day into the Best Writing Day.png

1) I wasn’t looking for answers.

A lot of times when we’re stuck on a plot point or have a character who isn’t coming together, we knot and re-knot the loose threads in a desperate attempt to keep the story together. If you’ve ever done a yarn project (knitting, crocheting, whatever), you know that there’s a point in the untangling of yarn when you find yourself with a mess that can’t be untangled.

I didn’t think about my story or the characters or how many words I still needed. That doesn’t mean the story wasn’t still bouncing around in my brain. It just means that I wasn’t actively trying to solve the problems.

2) I hung out on Facebook.

Seriously. I know, we all spend too much time there as it is, so what was I thinking?! I have a confession … I don’t spend much time on Facebook lately. Or any social media. I used to. Then earlier this year, I realized something: social media was becoming a chore; I was struggling to stay focused and positive and the more time I spent on social media, the harder it became.

Instead of my usual quick on and off, that day I lingered. I clicked links and watched videos.

3) I stopped worrying about what I wasn’t getting done.

Yes, I needed to put words on the page. Yes, I needed to finish writing the synopsis. Yes, I needed to come up with a pitch paragraph for yet another project. I didn’t do any of those things.

I crocheted a couple of little owls that will be giveaways for my May release. I watched the last episode of This is Us on my DVR.

As I was futzing about, a video I’d watched on Facebook earlier in the day was in my head. It wasn’t a topic I’d entertained as a thread for a story but suddenly it was the thread I’d been missing. For the rest of that day, the tangle of yarn I’d been avoiding slowly unraveled without me tugging or fussing over it.

The following day, the synopsis that didn’t want to be written practically wrote itself.

It doesn’t always happen like that. Some non-writing days become just non-writing days. Those are usually the ones when I’ve been stressing over a problem I can’t solve yet can’t release the stranglehold on the need to solve it.

Next time you’re stuck or stressed, walk away. You never, know … if you let the brain squirrels loose, you may discover that they’ll bring back all sorts of story nuts.


orlyAfter years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly Konig decided it was time for a new challenge and made the switch to fiction. Now she spends her days chatting up imaginary friends, drinking entirely too much coffee, and negotiating writing space around two over-fed cats. She’s a co-founder and past president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, a member of the Tall Poppy Writers, and a quarterly contributor to the Writers in the Storm and Thinking Through Our Fingers blogs. Her debut women’s fiction, THE DISTANCE HOME, released from Forge May 2017. CAROUSEL BEACH, releases May 8.
You can find her online at or on GoodreadsTwitterFacebook, and Pinterest


The Human Revision

Revision is a necessary evil when it comes to writing. You plow through the rough draft only to edit and revise until what you started with is barely recognizable, but considerably better. We have to do this for the betterment of the story, the craft. Yet do we do the same with ourselves?

Renewal is great for the soul and the body making for a better you. A better you makes for a better writer. Don’t wait for the new year. A new beginning can start at any time. Here are a few ways to renew yourself for the betterment of you.



Find time in your day, even if it’s a small moment, that’s just for you. Sit in the car before work and jam out to a song you love, lay claim to the shower for ten minutes when you get home, grab a cup of coffee from a local coffee shop. Something. Anything that is just for you! Reconnect with you.

Break Away From Normal

It’s easy to fall into habits to the point where if one thing falls out of place your whole day is ruined. But let’s turn that around. Let a little change be for the good. If you read romance take a stroll down fantasy lane. Try a show you never would have tried before. Shop at a different store. Doing one new thing can help rewire your mind and help you look at your writing in a new way.


Relax and empty your mind. Find a quote or have an ideal to focus on throughout the day. Create your safe space in your head and carry it with you through the trials of the day.

Choose Your Happiness

Choose to be happy and make it so. Easy to say but happiness is totally a decision. And one that is certainly better than the alternative.

So as Christmas is around the corner (at the time of this writing) remember the best gift you can give to others and yourself is a better you. Renew yourself daily. Revise who you are until your story is perfected. Until next time have a writeous day!