Christina Katz: Five Flabby Writing Habits To Lose


Willamette Writers 
January 3rd, 2012 Meeting

Christina Katz
author of The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Task & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach
Five Flabby Habits to Lose & Five Healthy Habits to Keep
  • Pitched at the Willamette Writers Conference. Stood up in front of 50 people. The editor from writer’s digest was there. Gave her pitch. Now has three published books. Big advocate for WWCon.
  • There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
  • In the past, things were much more divided. There was something of a gap. As a self-published author, it was difficult and not fun to feel that gap. Conversely, to land the traditional publishing gigs, authors had to work overtime and keep working overtime to land those gigs.
  • Now, things have turned. Every author is a publisher to some extent. And every writer will have a range of publications from traditional publishing to self-published and in between.
  • The longer you work in a niche, the better you are going to get. The more you will know, the better you understand your readers, and the better the connections you will make. 
  • I would like to see more writers thinking about writing as a lifetime pursuit. Than you can build up traction, and successes start to pile up, even if they are small successes. People start to recognize your name.
  • The Writer’s Workout is about finding your momentum. Not anyone else’s. It’s not about imitating anyone else. It’s about finding your unique style, voice, and projects, and allowing yourself time to go for excellence.
  • Excellence takes time - it doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Five Flabby Habits to Lose
    • Is there were 7 deadly sins for writers, these would be them.
    • The talent to be your own publisher is everywhere. There’s copyeditors and proofreaders and cover designers.
    • Why wouldn’t we be publishers, when it’s wide open right now?
    • You can be self-published and traditionally published at the same time
  • #1: Negative Thinking
    • Like colored lenses that makes everything darker than it really is
    • When it interferes with your optimism, then it blocks you from taking any steps.
    • You can debate all day: but what about X? What about Y? But then you never do anything.
    • Maybe you can write a 50 page ebook and get it out there.
    • It might only make you $50/month. But if it makes $50/month every month for the rest of your life, then you can write more ebooks.
  • #2: Perfectionism
    • If you’re only going to do it if you know it will be perfect, and if it isn’t going to be perfect, then you aren’t going to do it - then you’ve killed it before you started.
    • Excellence is not perfection.
    • Excellence allows mistakes. It’s a process. It’s a first draft followed by a second draft followed by writing feedback followed by more work and more research.
    • Excellence invites mistakes and messiness as part of a process.
    • Perfection does not allow mistakes as part of the process.
    • “I’m going to write a crummy ebook until it’s not crummy anymore.”
    • Perfectionism doesn’t allow you to be present in the process because it’s too focused on the outcome. 
  • #3: Ego
    • When our self-esteem isn’t the highest; maybe because we have high self-esteem elsewhere in our life, and we don’t yet have it in writing. 
    • We want to hear “That’s an amazing sentence.”
    • We want to hear people say good things about it.
    • Those first compliments give you a contact high.
    • But as you go along, you eventually realize that it isn’t someone giving you back superlatives, but someone really getting what you wrote... Giving back the intention behind the work.
    • It’s everything to be able to connect with your audience. 
  • #4: Victimization
    • What’s so great about these times is that we’re leaving the “I’m a victim because no publisher wants me”. 
    • Now everyone makes their own success.
    • This is really how it has always been: publishers have always make their own success, and self-published authors have made their own success. 
    • All authors have always championed their own cause, their own career.
    • Am I a victim or am I the champion of my own career?
  • #5: Envy
    • It’s easy to fall into the belief that someone else has everything locked up. No one person can own an entire genre of writing.
    • Every single writer, even very successful writers, are simply hard working people who are working to build success every day. 
    • You build your own success.
    • Envy is representative of your own inability to execute.
  • #6: Distraction
    • Distraction is a big reason she wrote The Writer’s Workout.
    • You can now spend all day online.
    • Instead of going out there, you want to go inside yourself.
    • If you are going inside yourself, and writing every day, and saying the things you really want to say, then excellence will come, and you will not get distracted. In fact, you’ll be annoyed if you have to go online because you’d rather be writing.
    • So the solution is to go deeper inside yourself.
    • Research has shown that spending more time on the Internet makes your thinking shallower. If you want to get deep thoughts, big things, then you have to go deeper inside yourself
  • #7: Starving Artist
    • The focus on the lack: that writing is a path to poverty. 
    • That everything else is the path to money.
    • This will block you from investing in writing.
    • It’s like hearing your grandmother say “you’re doing what with your time?”
    • The focus must be on inner wealth.
    • That we have things of value inside of us.
    • That we write to share that value.
    • Then people pay us to get that value.
    • You can’t have external wealth unless you have internal wealth.
    • Unless you believe you have some of value to offer, then how will you make money?
    • It takes a lot of effort to keep my daughter’s creative spirit alive. Because there is a lot of pressure for kid’s to grow up. We work hard to keep her imagination games alive, to keep her creating.
    • We have to do that for ourselves: we have to honor our creative spirits and nurture them. 
  • There has never been a better time to be a writer
    • The stigma of self-publishing is finally gone. If not now, then certainly by the end of the year.
  • Discussion (This was both people from the audience speaking as well as Christina Katz)
    • Learn what you can do yourself and what you can’t. I can do an ebook cover, I can’t do a print cover.
    • Know your audience. 
    • When writing fiction, your audience is more nebulous. The best sales technique for fiction is to publish more fiction. Because when people buy one thing you’ve written, then they’ll buy more.
    • The more books an author has, the more sales.
    • When/how much do you write?
      • It’s cyclical.
      • I love the period from 4am to 8am. Everything is quiet. Even the pets aren’t moving.
      • I work full-time on my writing, and it’s more than full-time when I’m writing a book. 
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