Jennifer Lyon

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021
Frustrations & Productivity

So this week started off great, and then…The. Frustrations. Happened. In my case, it’s stuff like a price change challenge from Amazon. The other four vendors changed the price right on schedule while Amazon said they have to “research my request”. Then two of the first three bloggers on my blog tour have not posted on schedule. Add in that I had to chase down some other issues related to writing and deal with a lot of errands and appointments that happened to all fall in this week. Nothing in that list was terrible or disastrous, just details popping up like whack-a-mole.

Frustrations happen. And we have to figure out how to remain productive through them. To be clear, I’m not talking about disasters, tragedies or illnesses. Those all deserve time off with no guilt. I’m referring to all the normal issues that come with the job and life. Amazon for instance; I knew they were going to do this. It wasn’t a surprise. But it still takes time to handle, and it frustrates me that readers are paying more at other vendors, but I can’t change those prices or Amazon won’t price match. Rock meet Hard Place :-) However, this is the game I signed up for when I chose to publish with Amazon. It’s their platform and their rules.  I have to accept it as part of the job description, do what I need to, then get back to my priority.


To that end, I thought I’d share a few tips I have for trying to remain productive during the frustrations. These are basic, but does a reminder hurt?

Set a writing time It’s okay to keep your days fluid if that works for you. But set aside a time in there to commit to your yourself, your book and your dreams. Even if it’s a half hour, those half hours add up enough to one day become a book.

Have a daily goal: For some people it’s word count, page count, or if you’re like me, it’s set amount of time. Word and page counts don’t work in my process, but if I commit a chunk of time and don’t get distracted by other tasks, that works for me. Remember: To make dreams a reality reality, you have to break then down into tasks, prioritize them and follow through.

Develop a routing to shift into writing: I usually start with getting a cup of coffee, take out my story bible notebook, a yellow pad and a freshly sharpened pencil. Then I open the file and work UNLESS I go down the email and social media rabbit hole.

Turn off, or mute, your phone and social media. I turn down my sound. Anything important will pop on my phone screen and I’ll usually see it. I’ve read studies on how much time we lose to buzzing around online, and it’s an eye opener. We all get the same 24 hours a day, it’s up to us what we do with them. I don’t think the latest Twitter feud is a good use of my time, do you?

End your day’s writing on a cliffhanger. In other words, leave off where you’re super interested and engaged so you can’t wait to get back to it the next day. This has backfired on me, I’ve left my characters in the proverbial corner, and the next day realized I have no way out. But, hey, if writing was easy, we’d all be billionaire bestsellers. In general, though, the concept works.

Don’t should yourself to death The shoulds: I should write a newsletter, hit all the social media, write two blogs, write a reader magnet story (a freebie to use as a magnet to get more people on your newsletter), write four chapters and end world hunger. Ease up on the shoulds and constant pressure on yourself. I can should myself into scrambling around like a mad woman that achieves nothing significant. That’s not being productive, it’s being busy and there’s a big difference. Instead, prioritize. Isn’t writing the next book the most important goal? (I need to put that sign up in my office!)

Take Nora’s Advice of “You Can Fix Anything But A Blank Page:” So write. (I’m looking in a mirror on this one too!). Keep writing until you fall in love and can’t stop writing. Go for it!

I hope these help. Do you have tips you’d like to add?

9 comments to “Frustrations & Productivity”

  1. Claire
    February 23rd, 2021 at 11:42 pm · Link

    Could you share details about your Storyville notebook? I would appreciate it.
    Claire Naden

  2. B.E. Sanderson
    February 24th, 2021 at 6:41 am · Link

    Awesome post. Sorry about your frustrations, but good on you for working through them. :hugs:

    I’m in the ‘fixing stuff’ stage, but the rules still apply. Well, except for the cliffhanger thing and the Nora thing. But you know what I mean. I do need to set a time to edit and do it, have a goal for my editing and work toward it, stick to my routine, stay the hell away from distractions, and quit shoulding myself to death.

    Thanks for the poke in the butt this morning. I needed it. I have gotten through three pages of edit notes, but I have ten more to go before this phase is done. If I can get through two pages a day, I can start the next phase Monday. That’s my goal and I’m sticking to it.

    No tips to add. Just a little add-on to Ms. Robert’s wisdom – sometimes the only way to get past a blank page is to give yourself permission to suck. Writing a first draft got so much easier once I embraced that.

  3. Silver James
    February 24th, 2021 at 10:25 am · Link

    Ahhh, the frustration rabbit hole. Yup. Been there. You’ve got some good advice here, which doesn’t surprise me. I’ll add a couple that work for me:

    1. If you get stuck in a scene leave a **FIX THIS LATER** note in the MS and move to the next scene you know is going to happen and write it. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to *FIX* the earlier scene.

    2. When you hit the end of your writing day–cliffhanger included, leave yourself a note of how how the cliffhanger ends. Example: Heroine is missing, her posse is trying to find her, big bad hero walks in the room and it’s an “Oh $h!+!” moment. My note: Scooby Gang scrambles to cover their a$$es, get H out of room so witch can conjour up spell. Now, I may not know what they do precisely, but I know what’s going to happen and I can startup where I left off.

    Anyway, time to stop staring at the page–after stuffing the frustrations in a closet–and get some new scenes written. Thanks for insights!

  4. Viki S.
    February 24th, 2021 at 4:19 pm · Link

    So sorry about all the frustration with things not rolling out as planned. Even knowing about Amazon, it’s a pain that you have to work it out. It would be nice if all just went smoothly.
    As for bloggers not posting when they had agreed to host the tour – is just RUDE! Unfortunately, I see it quiet often. Sometimes they post days late or not at all :(.

    You have a great schedule for the daily writing. Having things set out like that must make it easier not to go off in other directions.

    I just bought a UV air filter approved to kill corona-19 virus. It’s on super sale until they 28th for $149. The funny thing is the guy that created it is right here in my township. He gave me an additional discount because I’m supporting the home town :). It arrives tomorrow. I could go pick it up since it’s on 4 minutes away (next to the cats vet).

    I hope today has gone well!

    Take care.

  5. Jenn
    February 24th, 2021 at 6:21 pm · Link

    Claire, sure, in fact, I think I’ll write a post about it. But the short answer of my bible is that I have it divided into 4 sections:

    1) Mythology of my paranormal world including all the “beings” and rules of their power, with a glossary section.
    2) Character lists with a list of main characters, and all the secondary characters connected to them
    3) Plot where I keep a list of all the books in the series, and all the synopsis
    4) A series timeline for each sectioned off by each book, and beginning with book one and working chronologically.

    Hope that helps!

  6. Jenn
    February 24th, 2021 at 6:25 pm · Link

    B.E., thanks, the frustrations happen to all of us.

    Yep, the concepts are the same, and you’re setting realistic goals (mine often start way too unrealistic in writing, not editing). Distractions and shoulds are my problem too so I’m right there with you.

    100% YES on the permission to suck!

  7. Jenn
    February 24th, 2021 at 6:28 pm · Link

    Silver, you give great advice! The FIX THIS NOW or in my last book it was SEX SCENE HERE which is something I rarely do because I want them to be organic to the story, but that scene I wasn’t sure how to handle the emotions until later. It worked :-)

    And great tip of notes after cliffhanger! Thank you for adding that!

    We might all need a bigger closet for our frustrations, LOL! But the concept is a good mental one to set aside the annoyances and write. I’m using it!

  8. Jenn
    February 24th, 2021 at 6:34 pm · Link

    Viki, yeah, Amazon can be tricky sometimes.

    The bloggers I’m familiar with. They sign up with the best intentions but life gets in the way. I’ve probably just been spoiled in the past with things all lining up.

    I’m excited to hear how your new filter works. Yay for the discount too! That’s smart on his part.

    Hope Spunk’s appt went well–I think it was today?

  9. Claire Naden
    March 3rd, 2021 at 1:08 pm · Link

    Thank you for your response re your story bible.
    Wishing you continued success.

Comments are closed.