Zen Habits–How To Make Yourself Work

how to write more and be prolific

One of my all-time favorite blogs is Zen Habits by Leo Babauta. It’s amazing because it’s different–just look at the main page, and you’re instantly struck by how it looks nothing like anything else on the internet. No ads, no images, no lists of posts, very few links, and no social media icons. It’s just one post on a blank page, with a few links that lead you to years and years of archived posts. It’s quiet in a noisy world. As much as I always tell my authors about the importance of design, this is the perfect example that website design doesn’t have to be cookie cutter–it just has to be impactful.

Lucky for us, the writing on Zen Habits is just as impactful. Leo’s such a master of condensing so much knowledge and inspiration into just a few short sentences. Makes my long-winded self jealous! And I also think his approach to writing as a profession, particularly writing on the internet, is incredible. He went the traditional route for a while, running a blog with ads and writing a book with a traditional publisher, then decided the whole thing just wasn’t jibing with his minimalist values. So he uncopyrighted his blog posts (more on this here), pulled all his ads, and refocused on helping his readers in a more direct way. He moved his business model to one of building value with his readers, so that now they directly support his business by signing up for his great e-courses and buying his ebooks, instead of having third parties, like advertisers, support the business. It’s both a radical idea and a simple idea–not too different from a business model like that of NPR, where the emphasis is on serving the public, and then inspiring the public to support you back.

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3 Strategies to Help Creatives and Writers Be More Productive

writer productivity tips literary agent

I read an interesting essay this weekend about how the world is split into Makers and Managers, and why these two types of people work completely differently. The idea is that there are those of us whose job it is to make something—programmers, writers, creatives, artists, chefs, designers—and those of us whose job it is to keep the whole shebang running smoothly. (Here’s the whole essay; it’s written by Paul Graham, co-founder of the seed capital firm Y Combinator, found via The Nester.)

But I actually think more jobs fall right in between Maker and Manager these days. The job of an agent definitely requires a bit of Maker and Manager. We’re managing our author’s careers; we’re meeting with editors; we’re coordinating and mediating and generally making sure projects run smoothly. But we’re also creatives, particularly in the initial stages of a project, when ideas are still being molded and the proposal or manuscript is being revised and often rewritten.

I also thinks that most authors are all also part Makers and part Managers. Yes, a big part of their work—the writing—falls strictly in the realm of creative work. But the other stuff that’s just as important—the platform and brand building—requires managing designers and often employees, meeting with potential partners, crafting business plans, marketing, networking, etc. After all, an author who is building a platform is essentially a small business owner, and therefore wears many, many hats. And what does that lead to?

Hat hair. Oh, and burnout.

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