Because hitting publish is just the first step

A row of cupcakes with blue icing.
A row of cupcakes with blue icing.
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The first time I decided to self-publish a book, the term “indie publishing” hadn’t yet become a part of the publishing lexicon. It was 2004, the vast majority of people were still wary of spending money online, and the Kindle hadn’t yet been invented.

I had something to say, an audience of 7,000+ newsletter subscribers who wanted to hear it, and an app that could convert Word files to PDF.

I wrote up the book in a month, priced it at $12.99, put a PayPal link on my website, and asked my readers to buy it. They did. …

It’s not worth doing if it’s not replicable

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Every November, as part of the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writers have a Black Friday tradition. Anyone who wants to take part aims to write 10,000 words in a day.

I took part for the first time last year, and while I didn’t hit 10k, I wrote over 8,000 words that day, which was more than I’d ever written before in a single day without burning out afterward. In fact, the very next day I was up early in the morning, excited to get to my desk and writing again.

Word count is certainly not the only measure of…

There’s a lot of bad writing advice floating around. Have you bought into any of it?

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There’s a lot of writing advice floating around these days. So much, in fact, that writing for writers has become a whole industry.

How much of this writing advice is solid? And how much of it should you ignore?

I looked at some common writing advice doled out to writers and found the following to be suspect.

1. You must write every day

Must you? Why? What happens if you only write every other day? Do the writing police come and take you to a re-education camp where they burn all your published work? (I’ve been working on a dystopian novel, can you tell?)

Look, I’m…

This is especially crucial during a pandemic

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When you work from home, there will be a million different things vying for your attention — the television, Facebook, your kids, your pets, the dirty laundry, the dishes in the sink that haven’t been washed since yesterday, Facebook, the nice weather, Zoom sessions with co-workers you haven’t seen in a while.

Oh, and did I mention Facebook?

So how do you get all your work done productively, efficiently, and without distractions while also ensuring that you don’t become an overworked loner? Here are 61 of the best ways I know.

1. Have a separate working space. Even if it’s…

I went from writing my first novel in 7 years to my next in 7 months

Self-portrait by Natasha Khullar Relph

My first novel took seven years to write. This is something I wore as a badge of honor as I was doing it, but that embarrasses me no end now.

My second took seven months.

I’m halfway through my third one now and I can tell you that I whipped up a 20,000-word outline for it in a week, while I was away from home last Christmas, visiting family I hadn’t seen in almost a year.

That I should write this fast is not surprising to me. It’s the speed at which I write nonfiction. I’ve been a journalist. I’ve…

I wasn’t picky

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I wasn’t picky.

That’s what it came down to in the end, the 1,000+ articles I wrote over 15 years as a full-time journalist and the hundreds of newsletters and blog posts I wrote on the side for fun.

I wanted to write. That’s all I’d ever wanted to do and if someone, anyone, would pay me to do it, I would.

That’s how I ended up writing and publishing 100 articles in my first year as a writer. That’s how I ended up taking that experience and translating it to a career that spanned four continents, half a dozen…

Natasha Khullar Relph

Award-winning journalist and author — Written for The New York Times and TIME. Helping writers make money doing work they love: www.natasharelph.com

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