Is Your Writing Plan Ready for a Crisis? — Guest: Lisa Bell
Life happens to us all. Sometimes the surprises of life are good, and sometimes they’re not so good. But that essential truth means that at some point in our writing career, we’ll struggle with figuring out how to write while life’s chaos happens around us.
I’m currently finishing up my exhausting vacation (because apparently I can’t do things halfway *sigh*), and to keep my blog going, I needed a plan for guest posters to fill in for me. We’ve been lucky to enjoy some fantastic posts about writing engaging character descriptions and how to include multiple points of view in our stories. So I know how much having a plan can keep us going when life gets crazy.
How can we plan for the unexpected? How can we plan for moving or medical issues or whatever? Guest poster Lisa Bell is here to share her personal experience with how we can survive (and maybe even thrive) through the chaos of life with a 6-step plan to give us peace of mind.
Please welcome Lisa Bell! *smile*
Write When Life Happens
By Lisa Bell
Life happens. There’s no other sentence that can explain it better; however, the question remains, what can you do to ensure it doesn’t affect your writing?
In December 2018, I wrote a well-received article that explained the mind science behind writer’s block. I was thrilled with the feedback and excited to launch the Right Mind for Success Academy™. But, then, life happened and not only did I not launch, I also lost credibility.
The Makings of a Good Country Song
My son and I were injured in a car accident, and I developed a chronic rotator cuff injury, sprained spine, injured hip, and a few other issues that made sleep, sitting, or standing almost unbearable. My son, who already has scoliosis, suffered various injuries that interfered with his ability to do most tasks.
Additionally, my relationship was falling apart, and in the end, after I ended it, he closed our joint account, leaving me less than twenty dollars and I had to use every ounce of strength to keep us afloat until I could involve the appropriate agencies.
And, throughout this, I forced myself to write, promote, and do damage control. Then it hit me: I wasn’t practicing what I teach and I knew I had to share this valuable lesson to prepare other writers.
My lawyer wants me to clearly state that I am not an investor, legal advocate, or financial adviser and the information I provide is based on my own research, data, and experience. Okay, now he is happy so we shall move on.
Writers Need to Plan Ahead
Writers over-apologize for their shortcomings because we struggle with managing our writing career like any other entrepreneur would. Until we develop the same success mindset as any other successful business owner, we will continue to disregard our needs during a crisis.
How can having a plan help us and our writing through a crisis? @lisabellwrites shares her insights Click To TweetI knew logically that my crisis was temporarily, but without a plan, I couldn’t see life after the crisis and it became my focus.
Corporations will develop a crisis management plan to manage how they react, and recover from, crisis. It doesn’t have to be anything as dramatic as an accident, or as personal as the end of a relationship. With regard to your writing business, a crisis can be anything from someone stealing your content to your website crashing.
Do You Attract a Crisis by Having a Plan?
I am an advocate for the power of thought, and I have been challenged for suggesting that you prepare for crisis. The question of whether or not you attract a crisis because you prepare for one is a philosophical battle. That said, you change your vehicle’s oil for maintenance, and that is the reason you have a plan in case of crisis.
The Paradox of Crisis
A crisis is only a crisis when there’s no plan in place. If there’s a plan, whatever event that is happening in your life will not have the opportunity to evolve into a crisis.
Many writers struggle with this because they undervalue what they do and since they have been conditioned to believe writing is nothing more than an auxiliary career at best, they believe they can write no matter what. So, I created the following reality check.
What Might We Need to Plan For?
- Do you plan on starting a family?
- If yes, don’t you deserve the same maternity and paternity leave as any other?
- Do you have elderly parents?
- If yes, what plans are in place so you can take time from your writing so you can help care for them and ensure they are getting the best quality care?
- Are you planning to move?
- If yes, do you honestly believe you will maintain the same writing schedule as you do now? If you do, please talk to other writers who have moved.
- Is your relationship in a transition of some sort?
- If yes, is it fair that you try to write during moments of emotional stress when what you need is additional self-care and time to adapt to change?
- Do you have an illness or disability that resurfaces now and then?
- If yes, should you force yourself to write when you should rest and recover?
- Have you experienced a death of a loved one?
- If yes, do you honestly feel that you should force yourself to write?
I am not suggesting that you don’t write during these turning points in life; however, most other businesses have safeguards in place to ensure that if you do require the time off to address the above matters, you can do so without becoming financially desperate.
Plan to Plan a Simple Plan
I’m notorious for writing complex procedures and manuals that leave no room for error, and that is why I’ve been hired by some of the corporate and government clients I’ve had the pleasure to work with. But, in all honesty, I could have written a ten page manual that gave the same information.
For whatever reason, we live in a society that complexity is intelligent and valuable. This is not what’s expected of you.
Your goal is to be objective, concise, and think of it as your Wiki to refer to in case it’s ever needed.
A Plan for Peace of Mind: 6 Areas to Focus On
The following information concentrates on what my beta clients considered to be the most beneficial and gave them the best results and peace of mind. By no means is it a complete list, but it will get you started.
Focus Area #1: Government Initiatives and Benefits
In Canada, entrepreneurs can pay into benefits, such as unemployment insurance, that they can claim when work is no longer available or, they are unable to work due to disability, maternity or paternity, and experience an unforeseen crisis.
How can our writing survive a crisis? @lisabellwrites shares 6 things to give us peace of mind Click To TweetSince these benefits differ from one country to another, I suggest you visit a local small business center and ask for guidance. In fact, while you’re there, become acquainted with their services and staff.
These centers have been developed to help businesses grow and have access to resources, such as market research, promotion, and networking that may benefit you.
I also suggest that you join your local Chamber of Commerce because you not only have the benefit of their networking organization, you will receive access to discounted services, such as car rentals, fuel, printing, courier, and more.
Focus Area #2: Health Insurance
Health insurance can be expensive, and many people avoid this aspect of their life like the plague. Instead of paying health insurance as an individual, consider group insurance.
Again, these services and their criteria change depending on the country, however, most business organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, have their own group plan or have a relationship with a service provider who will offer a discounted price.
In Canada, the Chamber of Commerce offers a group plan that is user friendly. Reimbursement is within two days and they have direct billing. They don’t refuse small business and their benefit package is one of the best I’ve researched.
Regardless of where you live, contact your small business representatives and ask what organizations offer the best insurance coverage for their members.
Most small and large business associations offer more than health insurance. They also include Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which offers various supports, such as therapy, which may be useful.
You want a plan that has:
- stable premiums
- access to your account online
- direct billing
- a minimal reimbursement timeframe
- emergency care
- critical care
- extended care
- Life/Accidental Disability
Many business associations, such as the Chambers, will offer a Group Retirement Plan and Business Overhead Expense (BOE).
The information I’ve provided is to inform you and not to advise you of what to choose and from whom. It’s in your best interest to consult with a professional adviser and get multiple opinions.
Should You Join a Writing Association and Their Benefit Package?
Many writing associations have their own benefit package, and some of them are great and others are difficult to navigate. First, unlike most small business associations, many writing organizations make you wait several months prior to using their benefits. Some even expect you to be a published writer prior to joining.
I understand the purpose for such mandates, but it can be intimidating for many writers and I truly believe that a writer, at any stage in their career, deserves the same quality of service as any other writer.
Focus Area #3: Your Money
First, learn from me and don’t put all of your money in a shared account. Contrary to what you may believe, many banks will close a shared account without your consent if the other party empties it and requests that it is closed. Have one shared account for shared expenses, but ensure that you have a separate account for your own income.
If you rely on your partner for financial support, then discuss a fair amount that you can put in a separate account. If your partner is unwilling to discuss this without being offended, then seek professional guidance.
Some partners will feel insulted and feel you don’t trust them to take care of the money. It has nothing to do with trust and everything to do with having your own source of income to establish credit and security.
When my parents divorced, so did my mother’s ability to rely on my father’s good reputation and credit history. My mother didn’t have bad credit, in fact, she had no credit.
She owed not a single penny to anyone. She managed our daily finances, but my father managed all the investments and it was his face and name associated to our family’s financial reputation. This happens more than it should, and there are simple things you can do to establish yourself without offending your partner.
Focus Area #4: Tax Free Savings
In Canada, we have a tax free savings option that allows us to save a certain amount of money each year without being penalized. Regardless of whether you have this service in your country, save a percentage of what income you have in a savings account that you are able to access at any time without being penalized.
Focus Area #5: Investments
I am including my thoughts about investments because it normally comes up after I share what I have thus far. My father was an amazing investor and he could sense when someone was being honest or trying to get him to invest in something not to his benefit.
It takes a lot of practice to learn this skill and until you have the confidence and experience to prove your instincts factual, please seek professional advice.
I do believe investing in your future is important, but I now see methods that are more accessible and less risky. For example, instead of investing in other people’s products (which is what an investment is) consider investing in your own products.
I make it my business, literally, to teach writers like you to treat your writing like a business.
In the example below, I will share how you can create a business from your writing that will generate long-term recurring income which is, in the simplest form, an investment. Please keep in mind that dates in this example are simply examples — you can enter whatever dates you want. I have also left out a lot of detail to remain in the context of this particular topic.
Example: Establishing a Recurring Investment on Your Writing
- Months 1-6 you write your draft.
- Months 4-6 you start collecting ideas about your next book.
- Month 7 your first book goes to edit and you start sketching out your new one based on your research.
- Month 8 your book is now edited and it’s ready to be uploaded. (Obviously I am leaving out a lot of details to keep it simple.)
- Months 9-15 you continue to write your second book while managing sales for the first book.
- Months 13-15 you begin planning your third book.
- Months 16 you send your second book out for edit while you review the sales of your first book.
- Month 17 your second book is uploaded.
- Month 18 you start your third book based on the research and you already did. You are also monitoring the sales of your first and second book.
- The cycle continues. As you continue to write, you will benefit from the sales of the other books.
I know a few people will argue the possibility of this process but it’s based on factual data that I have tested on clients who are making a great income from their business.
Why Should We Invest in Ourselves?
The difference between them and a writer who struggles? They recognize that they are a business and their books are products, and products must be planned, developed, and delivered on a schedule that meets the demands of the client.
To make this work, however, requires dedication and a serious commitment to develop a success mindset. That’s where I come in.
One of the reasons I created the Right Mind for Success Academy™ is to coach fiction writers to prepare for and to sustain success. Yes, other resources teach you how to write, even how to market, but they don’t offer the same long-term support and constant training the academy does. Short-term fixes and expecting long-term results will never equal success.
So, why not invest in your future by doing what you love to do? You will always earn from the books you have uploaded provided there’s someone to ensure they are managed and updated if necessary. And, no matter what the industry dictates, or an agent has told you, or what your grade three teacher said about your grammar, you can earn a very good income from your writing.
Focus Area #6: Invest in Your Security
Besides ensuring that you have a separate bank account, you should also have some sort of power of attorney and will. Make it very clear who is responsible to assist and who has access to your business and assets should you become ill and require short or long-term care and leave from your business.
My son is now my business partner, and the books I write, and the ones he writes, will earn income for as long as they are suitable for market. There’s something peaceful in knowing that you can leave a legacy and recurring income to those you love.
The Benefits to Having a Business Mindset
In a previous article about writer’s block, I shared how your logical and creative mind must work together to avoid conflict such as writer’s block and self-sabotage.
How can a business mindset help us (and our writing) survive a crisis? Check out advice from @lisabellwrites Click To TweetTo do this, I suggested you make lists that pertain only to your writing so your conscious, more logical mind, will keep busy with the details so that your subconscious mind can focus on creativity. For these same reasons, having a business mindset helps writers take their work more seriously.
When you set up a business you automatically feel committed, disciplined, organized, and there’s a sense of pride to see your business registration. It gives you strength when you explain what you do to someone who would otherwise debate whether writing is a serious career.
Most of my beta clients said they felt committed to their goals because they knew, as a business, they were expected to provide certain reports and account for financial activities. It put the reality of their dream to earn as a writer in perspective.
Summary for Success
- A crisis management plan does not invite crisis, it acts as a Wiki for what to do in case of a crisis.
- A situation rarely has the opportunity to become a crisis when a writer knows what measures to take to control the situation.
- A writer should invest in their health care and whatever benefits are available so their livelihood and quality of life is ensured during life altering events.
- Writers should get advice about banking and investments to protect their assets.
- Writers who invest in their own writing career will develop a wealth portfolio that will sustain them throughout retirement.
- Writers should develop a business mindset to remain committed to their writing career objectives. Further, writers will benefit from the tax benefits and recognition of owning a business.
Hi, I’m Lisa and as a career counselor, hypnotherapist, and writer, I offer a unique perspective to the science of success for writers. I absolutely love working with writers, but I had to give up my one-on-one coaching practice to allow myself the time to write my own fiction and nonfiction works.
That’s when I decided to create the Write Mind for Success Academy! Now you can receive the same caliber of training my clients received. It’s all on-demand and at your own convenience. Consider it your Netflix for a fiction writer’s success.
The Write Mind for Success Academy™ combines self-hypnosis, creativity, career development, self-assessments, and hours of course material to inspire you at any level in your career.
Others may TELL you HOW to write, but the Academy will SHOW you HOW to be a SUCCESS.
Take advantage of our quick start program for only $1 USD for an entire week. The program includes:
- Why Writers Fail (Instant Enrollment on Day 1)
- Get the Right Guidance (Day 3)
- Mind Your Own Business (Day 5)
- The Wealthy Writer (Day 6)
As a bonus, the Wealthy Writer module will include a self-hypnosis mp3 that helps writers to reprogram their mind to accept wealth as more than just a dream.
All of these programs have been designed for fiction writers. If you don’t feel the Academy is the right fit for you, than cancel your trial anytime during the seven days.
Once the trial ends, you’ll automatically be enrolled for only $15 USD a month. This includes every program, hypnosis session, and the opportunity to ask Lisa questions directly from your course page.
Try Out the Academy Today!
Thank you, Lisa! This is all great advice, and I’m so grateful that you’ve turned your setbacks into positive help for others.
As I was reading, I thought of one other insight to add to Lisa’s Focus Area #3 about our money management. She made a great point about our need to establish our credit, but depending on our background, we might have the attitude that couples should share everything, including bank accounts, so we might dismiss her advice for a separate account.
However, the tax laws of most countries require us to keep separate accounts for businesses, so income and expenses aren’t mixed in with household money matters. So even if we have joint accounts for everything else (or even if we add our partner’s name to have some/limited access), it makes sense to use that business mindset Lisa mentioned to establish a separate account for our writing business.
This post resonated with me as well because I’ve had my share of health issues interfere with my plans for writing. Because I didn’t have a crisis plan, I pushed myself to do things that I didn’t have energy to do. That miscalculation is still causing repercussions months and years later, so I’d definitely do things differently when figuring out my plans now.
While life happens to us all, with a plan, we can focus on what we need to do to move forward rather than focusing on how the crisis might destroy us. As Lisa said, even a simple plan can give us peace of mind. *smile*
Have you had to deal with a crisis since becoming a writer? How did the crisis affect your writing? Knowing what you know now, would you have handled how you approached the crisis and/or your writing during the crisis differently (and if so, how)? Do you have a plan to help you through a crisis? Do you have any questions for Lisa?Pin It
I stopped reading after “Additionally, my relationship was falling apart, and in the end, after I ended it, he closed our joint account, leaving me less than twenty dollars and I had to use every ounce of strength to keep us afloat…”
There is a lot of resentment in this blog post unrelated to Jami’s blog tbh, unrelated to writing in general in my opinion. As a person in a relationship, as a parent, you should, in general, be prepared and take responsibility for life. Don’t blame others you didn’t see the concrete block coming when it was there all along.
Regardless of whether we can relate to Lisa’s specific circumstances, we are likely to encounter struggles in our life–whether our “fault” or not. In fact, many of Lisa’s later examples focus on our choices, such as moving or starting a family. This post isn’t about assigning blame or fault.
By stopping reading so early, you missed the point of the post, which was how we could give ourselves peace of mind with our writing career when “life” happens. That is taking responsibility. 😉
Lisa, your 18-month cycle is interesting – I like the idea of having books at different stages, all moving along at once (though I’m always tempted to neglect whatever’s at a ‘boring’ stage for the shiny new idea).
But while there are undoubtedly writers who can produce two quality novels in 18 months, I am sadly not one of them. Nor, as a self-published author, is a month or two enough for me to complete layers of edits, organize publication (ISBN, cover design etc) and do the necessary formatting.
So maybe it won’t work for me in quite that way. But my current plan (trust God and keep writing) seems to be working out fine so far. My sympathies are with you for trusting someone who let you down.
Thank you, Deborah. As I mentioned in the post, the dates aren’t meant to be set in stone. This was merely an example. You can alter the dates to suit your schedule, skillsets, and situation. It’s also quite adaptable for an author who works with a publisher. It’s more about momentum and, more importantly, accepting that you offer a valuable service and you deserve the same financial opportunities, supports, and benefits as any other entrepreneur. Your kind words are appreciated.