How to Simplify the Writing Life

Remember when all you needed was a feather quill and a roll of parchment and you could be a world-renowned writer?

Now the writing life is a negotiation between your job, your six hungry kids, all of your day to day distractions (I’m talking about you, facebook) and worst of all, writing is no longer the “just sit at your desk and write” practice it used to be.

Our computers are equipped with a millions of distractions; our desks cluttered with the business of our lives; our minds focused on so many other things, like whether or not we fed the cat.

If you’re lucky enough to persevere and find a way beyond all this to an actual written work, you know you’ve got to slug through the world of marketing and promotion.

It’s overwhelming.

It’s time consuming.

It sucks.

So I’ve put together 3 tips (yeah, just 3, because if you had 100 this would all just go into the pile of “oh my gosh it’s too much I can’t handle it” and you won’t get anything out of simplifying the writerly life.

Tip #1: Distraction-free writing

Do you know how often you’re distracted? I mean really, truly. How many minutes a day (or hours) do you spend on instagram, facebook, snapchat, and the like? How many articles do you read about writing once the anxiety of facing the blank page kicks in? How many times do you get up to go to the bathroom/wash the dishes/make food/pet the cat when you should be in the middle of a writing session?

Writing is HARD. Thus, it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes you’ll get into a flow and the time will fly by. But sometimes you’ll hit a tough spot and unconsciously reach for your phone, to check a fact/the weather/your likes.

Distraction free writing means that NOTHING is taking your energy and focus away from your writing time.

Even if that’s just 15 minutes. Even if that’s 4 hours.

No open tabs. No phone. Fill your water bottle and have a snack handy and sit down and don’t get back up.

Here’s a rundown of how to make truly distraction-free writing happen:

To make distraction free writing UBER easy, utilize a distraction free app.

Not 6 of them. Just 1.

Enter: Focus Writer


  • TXT, basic RTF, and basic ODT file support

  • Timers and alarms

  • Daily goals

  • Fully customizable themes

  • Typewriter sound effects (optional)

  • Auto-save (optional)

  • Live statistics (optional)

  • Spell-checking (optional)

  • Multi-document support

  • Sessions

  • Portable mode (optional)

  • Translated into over 20 languages

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...and put it somewhere away from you, like in a kitchen drawer or another room. Don’t just put it on silent. The fact that it’s still alive and lurking somewhere darkly without you can still pull irresistibly on your consciousness.

Make sure everyone in the house knows not to disturb you.

You may still pet the cat.

Tip #2: Set goals

Setting goals will help you achieve them. Kind of a no-brainer; you can’t hit what you don’t aim at. So whether that’s a word count you’d like to make, or a set period of time in front of your word processor, define a clear, achievable goal before you start, and don’t stop until you make it.

Tip #3: Distill marketing and promos to one category

The most daunting task of all as a writer comes after writing the book.

If you’re self-publishing, marketing and promotion falls on your shoulders.

With the self-publishing industry gaining a lot of popularity over traditional printing, bloggers and websites dedicated to helping you market your book have been vying for attention for Google’s top results page.

It’s hard to market yourself. Especially if you don’t already have a background in marketing. So aren’t you supposed to slog through hundreds of articles reading the results of a hundred real people who did a ton of things to break through to the best seller lists?

Realistically? No. It’s a clear path to overwhelm, yet again.

So what do you do?

PICK ONE thing and stick to it until it either works, or you’re absolutely sure it’s a sh*t strategy.

Fragmenting your focus while you try and boost Amazon sales through keywords, instagramming hashtags, signing up for promos, and paying for facebook ads is a lot.

It means your focus doesn’t go to any one thing so you can do that one thing really well and then move onto another thing.

So to start, find the one person who gives you a strategy you agree with and do ONE thing from that strategy until you’ve locked it in tight. Then move onto another strategy.

When I first started marketing Ella Bandita and the Wanderer, I used Nick Stephenson’s strategy for building an email list. Once I got it dialed in, I found about 700 people had subscribed to my email list.

Then I knew it was time to move onto another area of focus: paid promotions.

A lot of the promotions I made bombed. So I scaled back to free promotions, hoping to understand the best ways to use these before either a) considering promos a failure for me, or b) conquering them and moving onto another strategy.

Work strategy by strategy until you start to see results!

I hope this was helpful and you’re ready to take a step towards simplifying your writer life!