I wrote a blog on this piece of advice not too long ago, but it’s so important to me as a writer I wanted to make a video about it too:
Did you know our minds can process 400 words a minute? Despite our ability to digest large volumes of information in a short amount of time we inhibit ourselves by stressing to retain and memorize each word, which is stored in short-term memory and forgotten, instead of focusing on the overall message.
In 10 days to read faster, we are told the most important skill any of us are ever taught is the ability to read, yet we stop learning reading techniques at too young of an age to really perfect the skill, and it ends up serving more as a stress factor than an ability to enhance our lives.
Maybe that’s why according to PEW Research, over a quarter of Americans say they haven’t read a book in the past year. That’s kinda sad, and I’m not just saying that as an author.
Studies have found that people who read novels develop a larger capacity for empathy than those who don’t. That’s obviously not to say people who don’t read cannot feel empathetic, but the correlation still exists.
One of the main reasons people read slowly is that they try to read every word. Their eyes will stop up to 8 times reading a single sentence, hindering their momentum and creating stress, because not only are they trudging along the page, they aren’t retaining any information.
Another problem individuals face is they will mouth the words while reading, slowing their mind down to follow the speed of their lips, which as mentioned above is much slower than our maximum ability to delivering and retain information.
10 Days to Faster Reading offers brief exercises, they may seem strenuous at first but will ultimately help you read faster and retain more (which is the ultimate goal). These exercises are teaching yourself to literally read between the lines; that way your peripherals will pick up on the text of the following sentence before you even get to it, thus it will already enter your mind before you move your attention to it.
Focusing on keywords in the sentence and allowing your mind to fill in the rest by context. Our mind is actually very good at this. Though it may feel uncomfortable at first, if you focus on the keywords you will be able to recite the entire sentence word for word (or just about).
Finally, do not look back. Re-reading not only halts any momentum you’ve built, but it will also create a subconscious stress to memorize the words, which will actually make retaining the information more difficult.
The main key to reading faster seems to be just trusting your mind.
Personally, I’m excited to keep practicing this skill and after just a single day I’m already noticing a difference.
No need to even buy the book, just remember that reading is like any other skill; practice makes perfect and the more you practice the exercises above the stronger reader you will become.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Why Indie Authors Should Read Business Books
I am finally pursuing my lifelong passion of becoming an author, and writing is a business, so I needed to invest in myself. I figured “the bible” of the business world would have some interesting things to say. After all, a business of one is still a business and who wouldn’t enjoy the leap from mediocrity to longevity? The book made it clear that building a great business isn’t just about a great leader who exits the company, only to have it fall apart. What makes a great business, and leader of the business, is someone who is able to build something that will last long after their lifetime.
That should resonate with authors. I don’t know any authors that want their books to disappear without their presence? We have the benefit of creating products that at the very least will never go out of style. Innovations may change the way we read but they will never eliminate books altogether. What we write will last and it’s our responsibility to build something from it so people actually give a damn about our work long after we are gone.
The lessons in this book teach a person how to develop a strategy, how to build a team, the importance of being disciplined, and the importance of managing expectations.
The Hedgehog Concept is something creatives should be able to maneuver to their advantage. It’s all about finding what you can be best at, passionate about, and quantifying how to measure your success. For an author maybe that’s finding a niche and having the discipline to stick with it rather than chasing the latest genre fad.
For building a team, again think about how many people it takes to make a book. You don’t just write a draft and publish it on KDP. If you do, and are successful than I am jealous but most of us can’t write perfection the first go around. You need beta readers to give you general feedback on what’s working and what’s not; you need an editor (or two) to make sure it’s readable; you need a top-notch book cover (some authors can make their own, some need to add a graphic designer to their team) and finally you need to build your audience, because they’re the most important part of the team.
Though there are a lot of lessons in this book the final thing I’m gonna touch on is the Stockdale Paradox. It’s all about managing expectations. You can truly believe you are going to find success, while also managing that expectation. Stockdale was a POW in Vietnam who knew he would return home but kept his sanity because he knew it would be a while, while other soldiers in the camp were overly optimistic, thought they would get home by Christmas, only to be heartbroken when their expectations failed.
Pursuing a creative endeavor is still a business, and today it’s never been easier for someone to enter that business It’s my educated guess that it’s in order for creatives to educate themselves on traditional business practices if they hope to sustain long-term growth and success in their field.
Let me start this piece by apologizing if it is sloppy, disorganized or rambly. I am in my school’s library because I needed a quiet place, but it has been anything but. Who knew people came to the library to carry on the loudest conversations possible, and set off the alarms of emergency exits, which are clearly marked “Keep Closed Alarm Will Sound.”
Anyway. . .
One piece of advice he gives, which I always remembered but have never fully implemented is the importance of an ideal reader. For him, his ideal reader has and always will be his wife Tabitha. What this means is he asks himself, while writing, how Tabitha would feel about it. She is always the first person to read his work and, from what I’ve gathered, outside of his editors, her opinion matters the most.
Why is this beneficial? As the old saying goes, if you try to please everyone, you’ll please no one. Think about how exhausting and unproductive it is to write a book that everyone would love. Is something so impossible really worth the effort? It’s important to know your audience. That being said, sometimes, for me anyway, thinking of an intended audience can be overwhelming. When I see an audience as a bunch of faceless readers (well if I’m lucky there will be a bunch of them) my mind naturally assumes they all have different tastes and automatically begins trying to please them all. What I ended up with is a diluted piece of garbage.
Lately, I have been trying to actually follow the advice I’ve been told. Radical I know. I have been focusing on one ideal reader to please because, despite our best efforts to be different, people all around the world share similar experiences. Not everyone, but if you can resonate with just one reader, chances are you are resonating with every reader who has the same nostalgia, same high school experiences, same theories on the afterlife or trust issues etc. You end up reaching a large audience by focusing on just one person. That is a lot more manageable than starting with a large audience and funneling down to a specific channel.
I wanted to share these thoughts because this is something I am personally working on, and that means (based on the above paragraph) chances are there are a lot of other writers out there dealing with the same thing.
Anyway, thank you for reading.
Well, exams are finally over, which means I can finally get back to focusing on my writing. Thankfully it didn’t take long to get back in the swing of things. I think part of that has to do with reducing my goals during exams rather than eliminating them. By just doing a little bit every day I was able to keep the world and its characters vivid in my imagination. It made the transition back to focusing on higher word count goals much easier.
I am hoping to finish this rough draft of my new manuscript soon. I am excited because it ties in my first novella Just Under the Sky and expands on the mythology of the world. I know it’ll be a bit of a mess when I finish it but it’ll be a fun mess. A mess worth cleaning up because the end goal is having the first text that ties a lot of my future ideas together. This excites me because it’ll mean even when I write standalone books they’ll still have some connection to my other work even if they aren’t a part of the same series.
Currently, the draft is at 70k words. I’m nervous because I don’t want the ending to be rushed, and I know it’ll be a series but I also don’t want too many side plots to be unresolved in the first book. Like there are so many things going on with my three main characters I want their smaller goals to be completed by the time I finish and just have the main quest really be the one feeding into future books in the series.
As mentioned before once I finish this draft I can get back to focusing on manuscripts I wrote earlier this year. I had one major idea change in one of my rough drafts. The good news is I love the story, the bad news is it’ll rely on MASSIVE rewrites.
Anyway, I don’t want to bore you all with the details. That can be another blog post’s problem later. Today I just want to give recognition to a couple of booktube/reviewer friends I’ve made.
First, congratulations to my friend Gabby for breaking 5000 subscribers on Youtube.
The first video I saw of hers was her August Wrap Up I believe
The video included a review of IT, and though the movies have always been too scary for me (the original giving me nightmares for weeks) I always enjoyed hearing reviews of the book itself. Gabby’s channel is just an awesome place to visit on Youtube. She and I have bonded over books, movies, music, all of which make appearances in her videos. That’s what I like about her, it’s not just book reviews it’s everything.
The second channel I wanted to give a shout out to is LiteraryLizzzy (yes 3 z’s). Lizzy and I became friends on her channel. She actually reviewed a couple of my books too (yes flattery helps build friendships lol). She is a really hard working Booktuber, keeping up with a lot of book challenges, readathons, and runs a book club. She gives great recommendations and offers highly entertaining content.
Okay, so truth be told I am pretty mediocre at keeping my new year’s resolutions. Maybe not mediocre. . . more like amazing with the small stuff and unreliable with the rest. I did manage to dedicate more time this year than 2016 to writing, unfortunately, editing had to take a back seat. Though I managed to write 4 (well finishing the 4th) first drafts for different manuscripts this year, the only thing I was able to polish to any degree was a 40k novella released in August.
If 2017 was the year of writing, 2018 will be the year of re-writing. I’m saying it here so I don’t have the opportunity to forget, or at least not the same opportunity to forget since this blog did not exist a year ago.
Once I finish the current WIP I am working on, my primary focus will be to re-writing three of the four drafts I popped out this year. My mammoth, a futuristic satire in a world where automation has replaced everything but celebrity, and the currency is influence (or reach), will take me the longest. I plan on taking the sort of time NFL teams are supposed to take in developing rookie quarterbacks because of all the stories I’ve produced recently, it’s the one I am most proud of. It may take a long time to shine, but I know there’s something great in it.
As for the other books, one is in need of MAJOR re-writes as I changed the occupation of the main character, and the conclusion (which of course means everything leading to the conclusion needs to change). This one being the Absolute, which is about a painter’s strange relationship with God. The main plot follows his time painting a mural for the new chapel in his hometown.
The third book I plan to get to has a working title of The Pathetic Tycoon and it’s a rather violent tale between an old-time criminal and a young rival with a legitimate business he inherited from his parents.
It should be a fun year. . . well a stressful as re-writing tends to be. What I don’t like about re-writing is you don’t get the same satisfaction of goals like you do on a rough draft. I mean knocking out a word count goal offers instant gratification. Re-writing is much more macro, and you don’t really see the results until you reach the end. At least for me, rough drafts are more about “wow look what I’ve done,” while re-writes are more about “wow look how much I have left.”
I know it’s a lot of hard work, but as Stephen King put it “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.”
Like most authors, I try to remain disciplined with daily word count goals when it comes to completing a rough draft. The goal always being to throw as much story as I can on to the canvas and to worry about making it pretty later on. I learned this strategy from Stephen King’s On Writing memoir, and an anecdote by an old teacher who had Harry Turtledove as an advisor. Apparently Turtledove has a gnome figure above his computer with two signs on it: Edit and Write. This serves as a reminder to him to not look back until he finishes the rough draft so he has enough momentum to finish.
For the longest time I struggled to consistently break out of the 1000-1200 word a day routine. There were times I successfully challenged myself to do so, but it yielded similar results to crash dieting. A brilliant short-term return with no long-term results.
No matter what tricks I tried, real life would always kick my average back down to my plateau. Now I would like to say there is absolutely nothing wrong with only writing 1000-1200 words a day. The reason it was a problem for me was entirely personal happiness.
I knew I wanted to produce more output, and I knew I could not continue the same routine I was doing and expect different results (thanks Einstein). That’s when I read a quote by Elbert Hubbard saying “Positive anything is better than negative nothing.”
It’s true. Just because you can’t reach your goal at a particular moment that day, doesn’t mean you can’t make progress towards it. I used to make the mistake of only giving myself a block of time to write. I would sit at my kitchen table during my designated block of time, knock out my daily minimum (listed above) feel fatigued and call it day.
I figured if a single designated block of time wouldn’t yield the results I was looking for, maybe unstructured, multiple sittings would.
The results were more than I was hoping for.
Originally I wanted to get to the point where I consistently wrote 2000 words a day. At that pace, I could have a decent length draft (60k+) done in a month.
What ended up happening was three or four sittings a day, resulting in 2500-4000 words.
Why this turn around? A number of reasons. One being fatigue. I never reached the point of being tired while writing. I would knock out as much as I could in the morning before going to class, knock out a little more after class, and then do one or two sittings in the evening.
The second reason being I never felt like I was working. Before when I wrote in one long block of time I felt like I had to see results or else I failed. By spreading it out throughout the day I accepted there would be times the words fly onto the page and times I struggled, but no matter what I was moving towards my goal. It also created an almost insatiable desire to keep writing. Before I looked forward to finishing my designated writing time, but now if I only give myself a small taste of writing, I find myself thinking about where I need to take the story next and can’t wait to get back to my computer to keep writing.
Finally, I realized I used to underestimate how long ten minutes was. I say ten minutes, because a number of times I would get my writing done in the ten-fifteen minute slot before class started.
The average person writes 40 words per minute (since I’ve spent so much of my life at a keyboard I have the luxury of typing faster). This means in a ten minute period they could write 400 words (+ or – the time it takes to think about the plot). For me, I was able to crank out around 500-600 words in these ten-minute slots, making a decent dent in my daily goal. When I finally arrived home after class, to the time previously designated to writing, I’d already be at 1000 words, making the goal much more achievable.
This may not work for everyone, but do not sell yourself short. You can do a lot more in those short moments of freedom throughout the day. Before I started this routine, I used to think “I only have ten minutes, I’ll write later.” Don’t fall into the trap. Even if you can only write 200 words (shoot even if you can only write 50) in that time, it’s still more than you would have without it.