Tag Archives: routine

Learning to Say "No"

Learning to Say ‘No’

Distraction is one of my biggest struggles; something I grapple with on a daily basis. A few days ago, I posted how we as creatives need to choose to make time for our craft. I referred to time as the “currency for creation.” But there’s another metaphor that works just as well: time is the medium from which we craft our creative work. Without time we cannot produce—everything else: charcoal, oil paint, clay, wood, words, everything, is secondary to time. Yet, in an ever-connected world finding those moments can often feel difficult and overwhelming. When we do find the time it’s often fleeting, and we’re bogged down by distraction.

Those called to creation understand this on a very personal level. Obligations already eat away at the narrow slivers of time from which we hone our craft. And the siren call of distraction is always there to lure us away. Occupying oneself into idleness is easy. At the end of the day, the week, the month, the year one looks back and find themselves unfulfilled and wonders: what happened?


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’


In the struggle of creation, eventually, the creator must learn to say ‘no.’ At first, it’s terrifying. In our culture of ‘yes’ a word like ‘no’ sounds final. (It’s not, but that doesn’t matter.) Your friends won’t get it. The family won’t understand. Entertainment and Social Media hate hearing ‘no,’ they feed off distraction. Our phones are abuzz with alerts demanding attention. The 24-hour news cycle wants you to believe everything is a crisis. Click ‘yes’ to receive alerts for this random website. It’s endless. Empathy for the creator—when it exists at all—is ephemeral. Dreams and drives get brushed aside as frivolous whims. Oh, that. That’s just a hobby. Nothing will come of that. Do that instead. Watch this. Come here. Go there. Play this. Guilt and shame are wielded with selfish abandon. But it’s for you! They say when really it’s for them.


It was so dumb I had to do it.

Facing those pressures is difficult. We’ve all crumbled and given in, and those slivers of time are lost forever. You don’t get them back. Hence, the lesson of ‘no.’ Learning to say ‘no’ allows us to set boundaries. It establishes what is important and it set priorities. It’s the first step in building a routine, making the work habitual, and living in the moment.

To be effective ‘no’ is something every creator has to master. Shut out the distractions. No, Twitter isn’t important. No, you don’t need to watch that latest reboot on Netflix. No, you don’t need to make that phone call. No, brunch isn’t necessary this weekend. Face the pressure head on, stand your ground, and make the choices for what matters to you. It’s important for our mental health. It’s important for the work. It’s important for creation. ‘No’ lets us carve out moments in time, and after all, time is the true medium.


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Crunch Time: The Realities of Indie Publishing

Crunch Time: The Realities Of Indie Publishing

This is not a pity post. I say that because I know some folks will read emotion into blog posts like this and I’m not looking to garner sympathy. My intention is to share my own experiences and inform people about the work it takes to launch an indie title. It’s no secret that indie publishing is hard work. It requires a lot of time and intense dedication, the cliche “blood, sweat, and tears” applies. I want to help in that regard, I want to let you know what the book-launching part of indie publishing entails so when you face your own launch you are better equipped.

First, a little bit of background. For those unaware, I work two full-time jobs. There’s my day job (UX designer) which I have been doing for a long time and I love. It helps support my second job… which is being this writer here, the guy who writes books, blogs blog posts, tweets tweets, etc. It’s another job that I absolutely adore. Both are incredibly fulfilling, and every day they take me down different paths creatively. I have mentioned before that I chose indie publishing because I didn’t want to give up control. I wanted to be responsible for my books from start to finish from the moment a reader hears about it on the web, to the moment they crack open the paperback. I wanted to curate the reader’s experience by making the story of The Bell Forging Cycle to be as cohesive as possible. To achieve that I felt I needed nuanced control over everything. I wanted to have control over the design of my web presence, the covers of my books, even the interiors of the paperbacks. Many of those elements are involved in a book launch, and as the series has grown, so has each consecutive launch.

It’s easy to write, but in reality it’s tough. It makes for a lot of work. September for me has become crunch time. Right now, here’s my typical day: I wake up around 7:30 a.m., pour coffee down my throat, run to work, spend eight to nine hours at my day job, run home, eat a quick dinner with Kari-Lise, and then it’s into my office where I work until at least 12:00 a.m. (recently it’s been closer to 1 or 2:00 a.m.). Then when the day ends, I crash out. The following morning, I am back at it. While I enjoy the work, it has made most of September a weird routine of cycles. I also haven’t done much writing (or reading for that matter). Life right now is the launch.

To put it in perspective, here’s my list of things that I need to get done before Red Litten World’s launch. Some of these take more time than others, some less, but I feel each of them are an important part in making the launch of Book III as successful as it can be.

  • Finalize edits & copy edits (Yay!)
  • Finalize paperback interior (I think I’m real close)
  • Finalize paperback cover (Again, real close)
  • Finalize ebook interior (Close, if not done)
  • Finalize ebook cover (Aww yiss)
  • Deal with Nook layout (Yeah, it gets its own line item)
  • Finalize bookmarks
  • Finalize stickers
  • Product photos
  • Finalize buttons (Yay, done!)
  • Prep redlittenworld.com for launch
  • Prep bellforgingcycle.com for launch
  • Prep kmalexander.com for launch
  • Prep updates for store.kmalexander.com
  • Prep [REDACTED] (Got to keep some things secret)
  • Finalize [REDACTED]
  • Work on [REDACTED]
  • Prep launch blog posts (I usually write posts in advance)
  • Prep advertising (For the sake of brevity I am listing this as one line item, on my real list it’s four or five due to the various ad networks and their various requirements)
  • Finalize new contests
  • Set up Goodreads page (Done! Add RLW to your To-Read list)

It’s a formidable list, an it’s just the start, my to-do list continues to grow and deadlines approach. There’s a misconception out there (one I have spoken about before) that indie publishing is easy and cheap. But it’s not. To do it right takes time, money, and will. All those things have a cost. Not everyone wants to spend the effort, and that’s okay. Thankfully there are other alternatives for people who aren’t as insane as folks like me. (Traditional publishing, while stressful in its own way, removes a lot of this labor.)

As I said at the start, I’m not looking for sympathy. I love this. I love the thrill. I love being able to insert little secrets and details, not just in the books themselves, but throughout the experience as a whole. For me, it’s a rush. I’m lucky I have an understanding partner and I’m blessed (#Blessed) that I am able to carve out time to do all of this. (Usually this comes at the expense of time-sinks like games, movies, and television. Try cutting back yourself, you’ll be amazing at how much time you have.) I share this because I like transparency, I enjoy telling of my journey to publication. It’s why I started this blog in the first place. I hope my experiences can help others learn and grow in their own lives. I also hope others are able to understand what it takes to “do it right” as it were. I think some of the usual shade thrown at indie publishing comes because there is a group who dive into the deep end and don’t fully understand the work involved with launching a quality product. Our collective reputation grows the better we all strive to become.

The best part about all of this: it’s all totally worth it. Whenever I hear from a reader, talk with a fan, meet someone at a convention, or see a new review, all the effort fades away. I tell stories to entertain, to enrich, to challenge, and to thrill. If I can do any of those for even one person, I’m a pretty happy writer.

Now, back to it, Lovat awaits and the launch is near.

Margaret Atwood

Nothing Foolproof

“If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There’s nothing foolproof.”

Margaret Atwood

I cannot tell you how many people I know who talk and talk and talk about writing, and then spend their days picking away at excuses why they cannot write. They don’t have the right tools. They don’t have enough time. The weather isn’t right. They ran out of coffee. The excuses are endless. The trick, as Atwood says so eloquently, is recognizing that it’ll never be the right time. You just do and you keep doing until you’re done.