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Strategies for Authors and Other Entrepreneurs

Apr 10, 2020

Hello Indie Authors! I'm Valerie Ihsan, and

Episode 32 of the podcast and it's April 8, 2020 as I record this.

Main Topic: Myths About Productivity

But first the personal update segment: 

  • My planned launch for FOCUS and FINISH this month has been largely post-poned.  Meaning, it's live and available but I'm not doing an advertised hard launch. I just think right now people's heads are elsewhere, with the virus and the presidential primary elections.  In case you haven't heard about it, It's a 1:1 six-month coaching and accountability program that includes a customized author action plan in workbook format. If you are interested in joining the program before the hard launch, you would be a Founding Member, and would get a substantial discount and a really ROCKIN' bonus. Please let me know by email at and I'll send you an invitation and discount code.  Ihsan is IHSAN.
  • INSTEAD of the hard launch, I've opened up my schedule to individual coaching sessions to support authors through this weird and unsettling time. A lot of people are unfocused right now and may appreciate the chance to talk and get a few priorities identified, so they can get back to work-at-home. Especially helpful to those who haven't worked at home up until now. This service isn't offered on my website, but you can go to my scheduler tool to book a one-hour session. It's $150 and will go toward the cost of Focus and Finish, if you decide to go that route.
  • I'M READING: In fiction,  I'm in between novels. Reading a colleague's manuscript right now, but next up is: MY BOOK, The Scent of Apple Tea (because I want to write a second epilogue involving Kyle after he goes home after the story ends--exclusively for my mailing list), and then, EITHER "In the River Sweet" by Patricia Henley, or Little Women again. Just finished Untamed by Glennon Doyle and Totally worth the read. I heart her.  Non-fiction: Just finishing up Make Noise: A creator's guide to podcasting and great audio storytelling. Next up is either Brave, Not Perfect y Reshma Saujani or Better Than Before: mastering the habits of our everyday lives by Gretchen Rubin. Plus, lots of memoirs are on my mind (I'll explain why in a minute) and I've got a stack of them to choose from. I'm leaning towards H is for Hawk, but Well Enough Alone: A cultural history of my hypochondria, Traveling with Pomegranates: a mother daughter story, and Wild Within: how rescuing owls inspired a family are also calling me. So many books to read! A bit more time to read them, but not really. We're finally getting some lovely sun in our Willamette Valley and is inspiring the desire to get outside and work in the yard. Speaking of which...
  • Just starting to feel productive again. After being laid off at my day job as bookseller at Tsunami Books in Eugene, Oregon, it took me a week to get settled into what I want to work on and a more standard flow of days. And my standard, I don't mean what my schedule used to look like. I'm happy to announce that my week so far has been a juicy delicious balance of balance. At the end of the day, I can boast having worked on a writing project, an editing-for-hire project, a nature walk with my husband, a house chore, some alone time journaling and/or hot tubbing, and T.V. time. Even an errand fits in there.  I'm staying up a bit later but also sleeping in a bit later and not napping, but am resting throughout the day so that at the end of the work day, I am not jonesing for bed at 7 p.m. and grouchy until I actually go to sleep several hours later. 
  • Writing update: a couple times a week, I sit in on a Zoom Write-In. Sometimes called Parallel Play with Words, it involves a 45 minute writing session where everyone is muted, and then a 15 minute water-cooler break for chatting, bathroom, and gathering tea and snacks. And then we do it again another time or two. I've been working on my memoir again. (Thus, the interest in reading more memoirs right now.) I've identified some key scenes and restructured the scenes I've already written. And pulled out some scenes that I don't think will fit anymore. BUT, I've printed it out hardcopy now and will go through it (macro style) with a marker and cut more. Then, I'll implement the chances into my Scrivener file and start fleshing out scenes and working in the transitions.


  • PATREON:  This podcast is sponsored by my patrons at I'd like to personally thank all my patrons. Anika, Anthony, Heidi at Chasing Ebenezer, Donna, Karine, Kimberly, Sondra, Tamara, and Valerie. I really appreciate your support, especially right now. I'd like to hear from you, too. Feel free to comment on any of my posts in Patreon. Or, download the free Patreon app to make it even easier to send me a message. Shoot me a question or comment and I'll read it out on the podcast. Know that your support pays for the hosting of this podcast, and that is fabulous!
  • I'd like to remind everybody else that for as low as a $1/mo, you can get a shout out on the podcast, a monthly connections video where I'm just myself and share something more personal than I put out on the podcast, and at other tiers, the benefits increase--free books, free editing, and free coaching. Become a patron of the arts, and of me! Find me at 
  • AND because of my still unresolved Audacity/Mac challenges--which I've let get the better of me--I have a new PUSH GOAL of raising my Patreon support up another $29/mo. This will pay for the podcasting service, Alitu, that will help me to create the kind of professional podcast product that I want to continue providing for you.  Garage Band is not cutting it. So, tell your friends about the podcast and check out my Patreon page and consider becoming a Patron of the Arts (and this podcast) TODAY, or consider upping your pledge if you are already a supporter. Again, Thanks so much. I really really appreciate your support.


Resources: Ingram Spark is offering free file uploads and free file changes right now. Just enter the code INGRAMSPARK2020. Also, J Thorn is an author and podcaster that I've been following for years. (The Career Author Podcast, The Writer's Well Podcast, The Author Life Podcast, and now The Writers Ink podcast) He has a online mastermind group with lots of cool goodies for only $14.99/month. I just joined and I'm really loving The Lab and The Forum and the mini-courses available to members. You can check it out at 

And now, the show:

If I could only get organized! (I think I've said this to myself eighty million times.) Maybe I need a new schedule.... (This might be true, but not four days in to a new one.)(Also something I've said to myself a billion times.) What's wrong with me? (Maybe you think you're lazy, or not strong enough, or the work is too hard, or you have too many obstacles. But, the surprise answer is it's none of them. Or, at least none of them will stop you from being productive.)


Being organized really has nothing to do with getting and staying focused on a project.

If you are feeling distracted by a mountain of papers in your office, or laundry piling up, or the taxes that still need to get done, you might not need to get organized, but you do need to get focused.

Having a clear plan that you can look at when you do get distracted (because, let's face it, we live in a distracting world. Our kids are home from school for the rest of the year, we're laid off and trying to find the discipline to actually write full-time now--a dream for many listening to this podcast, or we're simply distracted by the media, the Covid-19 news, our travel plans all disintegrating, and the grief and anxiety surrounding it all. That's distracting. That's exhausting.

We're trying to cope the best way we can and everything still feels like it's swirling around us.

That's why getting organized might not be top priority right now, but getting focused will help. It will make a difference in your day-to-day life because you won't be spinning your wheels. All your hard work won't get lost in the shuffle.


Here's what I mean: we have a pretty big yard at my house. A lot of it isn't super usable--steep--but there is a lot of it. That means there is always something to do in it. Some years I'd have grandiose plans and I do a teeny bit of all the projects. I expand an enormous amount of energy and get none of the projects completed. Fail. 

Some years I narrow my focus to, say, weeding. My husband and I each pick a bed and start weeding. Several hours later, neither of us are done, we're in pain, we're frustrated, and, most dangerous, think, "Why'd we even bother?"

So two years ago, I figured it out. I picked One Thing. The back patio. We bought new patio furniture, we picked one main color and picked out a bunch of flowers (only for the patio) and the containers for each of them, and power-washed the concrete. We finished it. It looked freaking fantastic. And every time we walked past it or spent time out there, we felt great.

We focused on one thing until it was finished, and even though there were blackberry vines and shiny geranium and ivy invading our hill and the grass never got mowed and the front lawn beds were overgrown. BUT, we'd finished something and it stayed finished. 

The next season, we picked a new project and worked on it, after brushing up the patio.

We've learned that we can't go to the hill in the backyard and weed. It doesn't look like we've touched it even after spending HOURS on it. So, instead, we pick a small nook by the hot tub and weed that. And finish it. And then we pick another bed, and finish that.

And so it is with our author work. If we think, If only I could get organized!, so that we can start a mailing list, learn Amazon ads, finish drafting that manuscript, and homeschool our the next six months...hmmm....most likely, none of those will get done. 

Unless, you pick one, focus on it, and finish it.


What are YOU focusing on this week?

Let me know in the comments

Or email me at IHSAN and let me know what you're struggling with.

Let's help each other out during this time of global crisis.


Peace to you. Stay well, stay home, stay safe.

And now I'm going to go mow my lawn.