49: 5 Steps to Fight Author Fade

What is “Author Fade?” How do you recognize it? And how do you avoid it or recover from it? Learn 5 steps to fight author fade.

Read the accompanying post at WritingPursuits.com: https://www.writingpursuits.com/5-steps-to-fight-author-fade/

The question of the week is: Do you have tips and tricks for overcoming author fade?

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Transcript
Kathrese McKee:

Today we're going to tackle a delicate

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subject which I have dubbed author fade, what is author

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fade? How do you recognize it? And how do you avoid it? Or

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recover from it? These questions and more in Episode 49 of

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writing pursuits. Welcome to the writing pursuits podcast where

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authors like you discuss writing craft, author, life and book

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marketing strategies. I'm your host Kathrese. McKee. I own

Kathrese McKee:

writing pursuits and write and produce the weekly newsletter

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writing pursuits tips for authors. In addition, I am a

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speculative fiction author. Writing pursuits is for authors

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who drink too much coffee, endure judgemental looks from

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their furry writing, convenience and struggle for words. If you

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are a writer seeking encouragement, information and

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inspiration, this podcast is for you. Let's get to it. Hey,

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writing precedes authors. Welcome back to the podcast. For

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those of you who are new, I want to extend a special welcome. My

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name is Kathrese. McKee. And I'm glad you're here, you may have

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guessed that this topic concerns a personal struggle of mine. And

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I'm gonna get a little preachy, but remember that I'm kind of

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preaching to myself. Recently, I have been fighting against what

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is known as pod fade, which is defined by the Urban Dictionary

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in this way, when a podcast begins putting out episodes more

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and more sporadically, and at greater intervals, typically

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begins with only one episode missed. But if a podcast isn't

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careful, it can compound sometimes as severely as one

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podcast every other month, pod fade, often leads to podcast

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death. So this gave me the idea for discussing author fade,

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which is also something I struggle with. I think there's a

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pattern here, we can define author fade, as an indefinite

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pause in writing activity, author fade often leads to

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writing death, obviously, you don't die. But as a writer, your

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work stops. So it's writing death. How do you recognize

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author fade, I'm not talking about everyone you've ever met,

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who when you tell them your writing, they'll tell you they

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helped to write a book someday, you know, the typical would be

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author begins, but they never finished their first story. So

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I'm not talking to those of you who've completed a book

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published or not, you're still in an elite group. But I want

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you to know that many serious mature writers experience author

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fade, this sorts of missing a scheduled day of writing, and

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then it becomes a week and then it becomes a month, which turns

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into a year of not writing maybe years of not writing, author

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fade can begin at any time. Even after an author has published

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several books. Remember I said this was a personal topic for

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me, the author simply fades away, they don't publish, they

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stop sitting down to write, they're filled with regret, be

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alert to the symptoms and they kind of go like this author fade

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is not usually intentional. It generally is accompanied by

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loads of guilt. Author fade often involves false promises. I

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will start again tomorrow or next year or when the kids get a

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little older. I've heard all those from my clients. common

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excuses are, I don't have the time to write. Nobody's going to

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read my work anyway. Or I'm not good at spelling and grammar or

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my family doesn't understand or support my writing. They haven't

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read even one of my books, and they think my writing is just a

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hobby. Well, I'm gonna preach a little bit, monitor yourself

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talk. Let's stop making Writing Excuses. Life is what it is. Set

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aside the excuses and the things you tell yourself. The lies you

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tell yourself. If you catch yourself whining, or making

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Writing Excuses. You need to stop and reframe the words

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you're using about yourself and to yourself, your self talk can

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be toxic. So you must control what you tell yourself. I don't

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have the time to write needs to become I can find the time to

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write. Reframe, rephrase what you're telling yourself. Nobody

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is going to read my work anyway, should become something like I

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for my work. I'm not good at spelling and grammar because I

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can work with an editor to take care of the nitty gritty

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details. Hey guys, so that's why I'm here. I'm an editor. You can

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turn over your terrible spelling and grammar to me, and we can

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work through it. And finally, my family doesn't understand or

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support my writing. And that's okay. Because that's a common

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experience among creatives. Just tell yourself that it is okay

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that they don't understand it.

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It is okay that they don't support your writing. You just

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need to do what you need to do. Massive Action is not the best

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way for most people to overcome author fe, that's another thing

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we need to accept. And every work life, some urgency must

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fall, there is a time, usually at the end of a project when you

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have to push yourself. You know, like when I was a programmer,

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somehow, the week before a new change went in to the software

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app. Man, I'm telling you, the programming team would get three

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times the usual amount of work done. It's just a fact of life,

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there's a time to push, but you cannot push all the time.

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Writing books is a marathon especially if you intend to

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write books from now on, you will burn out if you take

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massive action all the time. And if you take massive action

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24/7 365 Inevitably the other shoe is going to drop, your

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relationships will suffer, your health will suffer. You'll learn

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to hate writing, which is like the worst consequence of all,

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that's terrible. Also, stop comparing yourself. This is the

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last thing also stop comparing your results to others results.

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You don't know their life, you have no idea what is going on

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there. It is useless to compare your beginning with someone

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else's middle, and comparison kills writing motivation.

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Instead, we're going to look at five things you can do to avoid

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or overcome author fade. And those are vision, habits,

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increments, measurement, and accountability. Use those things

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to pace yourself and keep moving forward. So the first step is

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vision. Create an author mission statement. If you don't already

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have an author mission statement. Then you need to

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write one today, like create one right away. Vision combined self

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knowledge, dreams, your goals, your motivations. And a lot of

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people set out on the writing road without figuring out why

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they want to write or where they hope to end up. If you don't

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understand your why your energy is going to dry up. But if you

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take time to figure out your reasons why and write them down,

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then you can turn your dreams into goals and stay motivated.

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You need to know why you're writing. Who do you hope to

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touch with your work? Who will benefit from all of your

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efforts? What do you hope to accomplish? How do you see

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yourself? Or where do you see yourself in five years,

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visualize those things and put it into your author mission

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statement. Your heart needs to be involved. You need a an

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emotional connection to your writing goals. No matter what

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you write. I don't care if you're writing fiction or

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nonfiction, epic novels, ghost writing articles, blog posts or

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even tweets, you will be more likely to succeed if you know

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your reason why, and have a heartfelt reason for putting

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yourself through the ordeal. Because Writing is hard work. So

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write your vision down. Your written vision statements will

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help you remember your reasons why put them in a place where

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you can review them often. And feel free to modify them as you

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gain experience. visions don't stay the same, they will change

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over time. But if you have a written down, then you have a

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place to start vision is the key to long term motivation and to

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moving forward. So think about where you want to be in five

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years in the future. And then kind of work back to four years

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to three years, two years, one year to the next month. And then

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set reasonable actionable goals for what you need to do next.

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The next step or prong of attack is habits create strong habits

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to combat author fade if you want to create good writing

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habits and you need to create a system to support them. I love

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the book atomic habits by James clear clear writes about the

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Four Laws of behavior change, and they are make it obvious,

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make it attractive, make it easy, and make it satisfying,

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obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying. Let's take a single

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example. If you want to form a daily journaling habit, then set

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up a system to make that happen. To make journaling obvious, you

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might set out your pen and notebook where you drink your

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morning coffee. It's obvious it's right there. That's where

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you're going to write every day. Then schedule 15 minutes every

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day with a reminder on your phone to do it. Then keep the

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appointment with yourself. Those appointments with yourself are

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as important as every other appointment you make. Maybe more

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important to make your new habit attractive. Maybe you can get a

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beautiful new notebook and a pen to use or find an app you enjoy

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using make it attractive

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For yourself, make it enjoyable. Okay, to make journaling easy,

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limit yourself by time or space, this seems counterintuitive. But

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if you know journaling will take no more than 15 minutes, or

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you're only going to write a single page of words every day,

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then you're more likely to succeed, you can do anything for

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15 minutes, right? By limiting that amount of time or space,

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you're telling yourself, hey, this is easy, I can do this. Now

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you have a doable task. And tomorrow, you'll know you can do

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it. And the next day and the next, meet your tiny atomic

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goal. And stop, rinse and repeat. That's how a new habit

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is formed. To make it satisfying, keep score in some

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way more about that in a minute. This habit forming process works

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with other writing tasks to schedule the time show up, limit

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yourself by time or word count, and keep score. And of course,

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if you're feeling great about what you're doing continue, but

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on the days when you don't feel so great about it. By limiting

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your time or your space, you make it doable, and you know,

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you can do it and you sit down and make yourself do that little

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short thing. The tiny atomic goals met. For bigger, more

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complicated writing projects, you're going to need more than

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habit to avoid, author fade. And that's where increments come in.

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You need vision. First, you must commit to forming habits, but

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habits and goals need to be broken into incremental steps

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for bigger projects, then you concentrate on the increments

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one at a time. Another book I recommend is The One Thing by

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Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. If you are puzzled by what to do

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next, then use Keller's technique that he calls the

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focusing question. And it is what's the one thing I can do

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such that by doing it, everything else will be easier

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or unnecessary. This focuses you on something you can do in the

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moment to move you forward. You can modify this question for

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each area of your life. In your case, it might be for this

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novel, what is the one thing I can do this week, such that by

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doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary.

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Perhaps the best focus of your efforts this week is figuring

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out the system of magic for your epic fantasy novel, or writing

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the introduction for a character or finishing chapter 12 Whatever

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it is, that's your one thing. Keep your efforts incremental.

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So you don't fall victim to overwhelm and let author fade,

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get a foothold. You have your author mission statement

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written, you have formed new habits that you have broken into

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increments. But how do you make those changes permanent? To

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avoid author fade? Answers to these questions in a moment.

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Writing pursuits is run by Kathrese. McKee, who has been

Kathrese McKee:sted by fiction authors since:Kathrese McKee:

new level of excellence. cutleries is a three story

Kathrese McKee:

methods certified editor who specializes in story

Kathrese McKee:

diagnostics, coaching, and line editing to help you prepare your

Kathrese McKee:

story for the journey ahead. For more information, go to writing

Kathrese McKee:

pursuits.com. The link is in the show notes. And now, back to the

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podcast, measurement beat author fade with scorekeeping now that

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you have your vision written down, and your habits and your

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increments. You need to measure your results measurement is the

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piece I have the most trouble with. I'm being honest here. But

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all you need is a spreadsheet, or a piece of paper for simple

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scorekeeping. Measurement keeps you honest. All you're doing is

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collecting data to adjust your efforts. refining your goals and

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keeping things real. Measurement is fun. You can gamify your

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efforts by keeping score. You're playing against yourself your

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best scores while you meet your goals and works toward rewards.

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And then make sure you celebrate victories and reward yourself

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along the way. Measurement is the key to tracking your

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progress. You guessed that I'm going to recommend another book.

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The 12 week year for writers by AIG Trevor Thrall his book is an

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expansion on another great book, the 12 week year by Brian P.

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Moran and Mike liddington. But thralls book specifically for

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writers and I found it very helpful. Thrall discusses

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measurement in detail. But basically, you decide what the

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measurement is going to be and keep score. So did you write in

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your journal today? Yes or No, mark it down. If you've set the

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bar at seven times per week and you do it six times, then at the

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end of the week, you have an 85% success rate. That's your score.

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Measurement provides data for success, getting a 100% success

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rate for the week.

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is not always necessary. But if you fall below 80%, you probably

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need to make an adjustment somewhere. As you can tell, this

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feeds perfectly into creating habits scorekeeping is itself a

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habit.

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So make it as obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying

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as possible. Keep your scorecard handy schedule your scorekeeping

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and keep your appointment in education. We call this

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reflection, an important part of learning that is often

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neglected. So make a scorecard and schedule your reflection

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time just a few minutes every week to record your data and

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reflect on how to improve. The last step is accountability. And

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it isn't what you think it is. And I'm going to have trouble

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with the word accountability. So just bear with me, I think

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people and especially Americans get accountability, all wrong.

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We have the saying in America especially hold people

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accountable. And in my opinion, that's garbage. Moran and Lenin

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can address this in their book, the 12 week year, and I'm going

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to quote that accountability is something we own, it cannot be

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impressed on us by others, or impressed on others by us. And I

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know I'm going to get pushback on this. Accountability means

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taking ownership, it must be intrinsic to be effective.

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Intrinsic means the motivation comes from the inside. If what

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we think of as accountability is extrinsic, coming from the

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outside, then we are actually talking about consequences.

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Accountability is intrinsic consequences are extrinsic. You

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may think this is purely semantics. But when I was a

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public school teacher, I had to apply penalties and rewards for

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the actions my students chose to take. If they did the work. They

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earned the positive benefits. If they didn't do the work, then

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they faced negative consequences. But these

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consequences both positive and negative, works intrinsic which

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means I applied them to the students from the out side,

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consequences are only effective for a short time. true success

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comes from intrinsic accountability. Accountability

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means taking ownership, if a student is self motivated, that

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means they have taken ownership and they are accountable to

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themselves. If an author is self motivated, that means they have

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taken ownership and they are accountable to themselves, they

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are calling the shots, they are determining their success, they

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are making a commitment to themselves. Accountability means

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taking ownership, ownership cannot come from the outside, it

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has to come it must come from inside a person. Okay? I said

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all that to say this, it helps to report your results to others

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on a regular basis. And that's where accountability groups come

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in. Just knowing you're scheduled to report your results

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to others, helps you get things done because you want to feel

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good about your report, write letters, that satisfaction thing

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again. So find a group of like minded, accountable people who

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also need to report their results. And if you can't find a

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group make a group having an accountability group is a proven

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technique for staying on point with your goals. I have a

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warning about these groups. So your accountability group

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members are not, quote holding you accountable. Unquote. They

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are there to report the results. The group should not exist to

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punish you or to reward you and if they believe that providing

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consequences is their job, you need to find another group find

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your organize and accountability group group members can also ask

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questions and offer suggestions or mentioned resources. The

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reward if you call it that is for you to experience the

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satisfaction of reporting good results as measured by yourself

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against your own standards and accountability group with

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regular check in times provide several key benefits doing

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things together. Motivation, learning by observing others

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feedback, some gentle critique, and structure. So take

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accountability for your work, and join a group for all its

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potential benefits are formed one of your own In conclusion,

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if you have faded recommit, find your reasons why. Keep score,

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hold yourself accountable with the help of a group and make

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incremental steps that add up to habits that will ultimately lead

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to success as you define it. So the question of the week is Do

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you have tips and tricks for overcoming author fade? Help

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others by leaving your answers in the comments at writing for

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suits.com forward slash podcast forward slash 49. That's all I

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have for today. Until next time, keep writing.

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Thank you for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode,

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please leave a comment and follow the podcast if you're new

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around here.

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I hope you will sign up for the weekly newsletter writing

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pursuits. Tips for authors that link and all the links mentioned

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in today's episode are in the show notes at writing

Kathrese McKee:

pursuits.com. Please join us on Wednesdays for new episodes and

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keep writing my friends. Keep writing

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