Thursday, August 11, 2016

When Less Really IS More

We all know some glaringly obvious places where less is more.


Makeup... (although depends on who you talk to...)


But what about our writing life?

I've been contemplating the concept lately, because it feels like I'm always feeling the pull to DO more and BE more, but as I strive to do so, it doesn't feel like I have more of anything except items on my to-do list.

We need a BIGGER platform, MORE books MORE frequently. We're told to post more, blog more, write more, network more, market more. We're given so many different social media sites to keep up with to help do all that--but it just burns us out and in the end, can be counter productive.

I've long been a avid fan of the concept of WORKING SMART.

Have you ever had a job where there is that one employee who works ALL the time? They come in early, leave late. They are constantly stressed. Everyone thinks, WOW, what a good worker are THEY. But then they leave the company due to burnout... and their replacement is hired... and comes in on time. Leaves on time. Actually takes a lunch break instead of working through it. They must be huge slackers, right? But their work is still getting done, with more accuracy than it was ever being done before.

They've embraced the concept of working smarter.

I think writers can do the same thing. It's still gonna be hard work. I'm not preaching laziness here, but more of a balanced work-life. If we take the time to step back and see what VALUE each of the things we are doing adds, if we put a little time into strategizing instead of just throwing as many darts as possible and hoping one sticks and sells books, we'll have a lot more confidence and a lot more time than we thought possible.

And as Christian authors, I want to add that this doesn't discount the leading and direction of God. God's plans trump ours EVERY day of the week. I do think God wants us to be wise stewards of the time he's given us though.

I started this post with the intent of giving you specific ways you can work smarter instead of harder.

But honestly?

The concept looks different for each of us. What is smarter for ME might not work at all for you.

The Writer's Alley chose to cut down our blogging days from 5 to 3 this month, because we felt that we would add more value if we posted less and focused more on quality verses quantity. But that might not be what YOU need to do. Maybe working smarter for your blog is planning your posts better, or cutting down to one day a week, or creating a more uniform format, or even cutting out blogging all together.

Facebook and social media is another area where we all really need to figure out how to manage better. For some people, scheduling posts to automatically post works, but that rarely if ever is a good idea for me because it doesn't fit into my "brand" if you will. I WILL say that Facebook is one place that I think we tend to over post sometimes. More posts does not mean a bigger platform, in fact it can often times weaken it.

And then there is writing time in general. I used to take every little nook and cranny time I had to write. But I became very burnt out on writing because of it. I'm finding that I can write more words--and better quality words--when I, for example, write for 4 hours at a time verse 6 stinks of one-hour-writing times. But that is me. YOU might find the opposite.

So my encouragement to you today--especially if you are time strapped and feeling overwhelmed--invest a few hours into really looking at your writing life. Pray about it. Examine what you are doing and identify what isn't working--what is taking up your time and energy and giving you little or no return (be it money, word count, platform, blog followers, etc) on your investment.

Because time and energy are just as much investments as money is. Just a different variety!

Let's chat!

What are some areas in your writing life where you need to "work smarter?" I'll be around throughout the day, and would love to help brainstorm some ideas with you!


Pepper said...

Fantastic post, Krista! Wow, what encouragement and food for thought. I feel that pressure for more! More! Bigger platform, particularly- but even the "write more and faster". God's called us to find our rest and our purpose in him, and that includes how we spend our time and where we put our focus. That's good for me to remember

Krista Phillips said...

Yup, I know we've had the bigger platform talk. I think we DO need a bigger platform-- it's important for sales and it's important for getting the publishing industry to hand out those contracts we so want.

But I think were we trip up is in all the things we think we have to do "more" of in order to have a bigger platform.

I think of some of the authors who have amazing platforms... and it isn't all because they did a lot "more" social media or more of other things. In fact, most of them spend a LOT less time on Facebook than me, LOL. But they are very smart in their posts and smart in how they manage it. I'm thinking that--after my next "deadline" is met, I might take a few days just to study what other people are doing--the ones with good platforms.

How often are they posting?
How often and where are they blogging?
What type of posts are working for them?

I don't want to be a copy cat, but I think we can learn from each others wins, too!!

kaybee said...

KRISTA, this is something I am constantly re-learning. I get caught up in social media and "platforms," and neglect the writing. I'm going back to basics for the rest of this year.
And letting God lead. Again.
Kathy Bailey

Julia M. Reffner said...

I especially love what you say here about this looking different for every single person. Great post, Krista! And I like what you said here about learning what works for others but then adapting it to your own life.

kaybee said...

Krista, it's all about balance. We do have to do social media and marketing, it's the new normal, but we should never let it take us away from our writing or the families and friendships God has entrusted to us. It is tricky.
Kathy Bailey

Krista Phillips said...

Kaybee - totally! Letting God lead is a daily thing and for me, a daily decision to let go of my own need to be up front and let him!

And agreed about balance. We definitely need to do social media and marketing!! I guess my point is, instead of just doing it and hoping for the best, we need to take the time to LEARN it and to see what is working and not keep doing something that isn't working. It's one of the biggest issues I see with social media, that people are just doing SOMETHING and don't readjust when they get little or no likes/sales/followers with it. I think that is where working smarter comes in--recognizing what is working and what isn't and adjusting when needed (and taking the time to evaluate in the first place!)

Krista Phillips said...

Julia-- YUP!! Definitely not a one-size-fits-all deal!!

kaybee said...

You're right, Krista. If it's not effective, we might as well not be doing it. I've done a lot of things that, while they didn't hurt me, didn't help either. My fudge recipe didn't get me any contracts, sigh.
LIKE the one-size-not-fit-all. My crit partner is retired and can keep a very disciplined schedule for writing, while I am still working and have to Fit It Around The Corners. I can agree in a general sense on a need for more discipline, but I can't do it the way she does.
No one-size-fits-all works for any writer, really.

Robin E. Mason said...

hullo, Krista. i'm a big fan of master docs. for my blog, i have a master banner for each different feature or type of blog. for instance, reviews, i can simply change the author pic and cover image of the book i'm reviewing. (vs creating a new banner every time) same with interview format and guest posts. just makes it easier to maintain consistent posts without having to "reinvent the wheel" every time.
now has that freed up tons of time in my day? probably not but it does streamline getting posts ready every time.

Krista Phillips said...

Robin --- I'm a math geek.

If it saved you just five minutes a day... that is over 30 hours over the course of a year.

Little bits of time savings can add up!!!!

Krista Phillips said...

Kaybee, you remind me of a REALLY good point.

In my previous life in the corporate world, there was such a thing as "hard dollar" and "soft dollar"

If you found "hard dollar" savings, then you saved actual, countable dollars. It is something tangable... like finding a new office supply vendor that saves you $100 a year in printer toner. Those are fun but easy to count savings.

Going to a book signing and selling 200 books would be "hard dollar" results.

But soft dollar--that's harder. It's saving TIME, it's investing in employees by throwing a company picnic so we have less employee turnover and hopefully that trickles down and creates more productivity which adds to value. That doesn't make them bad and doesn't mean you shouldn't do them, just makes them more tricky to count.

In the writing world, it could be posting a fudge recipe that makes you relatable as a real person and helps create a persona online. It could be participating in a group blog. There are SO MANY things that are really hard to put a value on. If we ONLY look for "hard" results, we'll miss out on so many good ways of building our brand. But that said, if we are throwing "company picnics" and still seeing high employee turnover... then what we are doing isn't working.

Anonymous said...
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Unknown said...

Hi Krista. I enjoyed reading your Post and the comments offered by others. Much to 'mull' over. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Vee Writer said...

I have rarely had this issue in the past...but, God in His loving mercy brought a moment at the same time as your post. I just now read what you wrote, the day after you posted. I called hubby as he was driving on a long trip. I spilled my guts of frustration in seemingly to me not getting anywhere. He, bless his heart, listened then spent fifteen minutes encouraging me. Telling me to get back to writing, and all the other wonderful words only an encouraging hubby can say. They key, trimming and focusing. Just like you said.

Thanks for confirming my hubby's words. God apparently felt I needed to hear it twice. :)