Archive | March 2014

Visual Aids and Dumb Writers’ Tricks

by Kate Danley


As part of the 47North Author Blog Swap I’m proud to have the charming, talented and vivacious Kate Danley drop by and have a chat about her process.


Although a writers’ playground is littered with dictionaries and words, sometimes sensory tools can help to keep projects focused.

I quit my job to write full-time in January 2013.  It is funny how, when I had a day full of demands, it was easy to know when to schedule my writing.  The only time I had free was 10PM-11PM?  That must be writing hour!  But when the whole day stretched before me, it was tough to figure out when to write, when to promote, when to run to the grocery store, and get to the gym.  It is easy for the days to pass in a blur of Facebook updates and Netflix binges.  Organizing my creativity became vital to my long-term success, especially when I was juggling several projects at once.










(This is my office.  Please ignore the ugly wires.  I might be organized, but I’m not THAT organized.  And, yes, treadmill desks are amazing and I recommend them to everyone.)

I moved my creativity out of my head and hard-drive and onto my walls, putting my projects in places that I could not ignore them.  It was actually something a fellow author shared with me many moons ago and it has turned into one of the most valuable motivational tools I have.

Every morning, I wake up and decide what my goals are.  I put them on a white board (which also includes the trips to the dry cleaner and birthday presents that need to be shipped) and cross them off as I meet them.

I once heard a financial guru state that we should place less emphasis on tracking sales (which we have no control over) and more emphasis on tracking our hustle (how much time do we devote to writing, to promotion, to research, etc.).  My monthly wall calendar is where I keep track of my long-term progression.










I note which projects I have decided to work on that day, and if I meet my goals, I get to color them in (I color code for each project).  If I don’t meet my goals, I don’t, even if I’ve worked on the project.  I only get rewarded if I see through the promise I made to myself that morning.  It makes me set realistic goals which I can meet.  The big circles are the deadlines I have set and met.  Many of my daily goals are identified by deciding upon a deadline and working backwards to see what I need to do in order to meet a due date.  I can tell at a glance which days I am slacking and which days I’m staying on task, and can start to look for patterns.

The next big motivational tool is a “book vision board”. Remember back in the day when The Secret was big and everyone was creating dream boards?  I started doing that with each of my books.  I cut out pictures that reminded me of my characters, artwork which felt inspirational, pictures of locations, etc.  A picture is worth a thousand words, and with ten pictures, I only have to come up with 40k more to fill in!  I have several of these boards hanging over my desk.

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The final thing I do is a bit of a Pavlovian dog trick.  I pick out a specific mug for each project.

There’s something about smelling and tasting the coffee, and feeling and seeing that specific mug in my hand which gives my brain the “Oh! We’re working on THIS project now” cue.  It is better than a bell for making my Muse begin to salivate.

I hope this is vIMG_20130423_151203aluable!  I managed to complete nine major projects in 2013 and, due to contractual obligations, many of them I had to work on at the same time.  When there are that many stories swirling around, elbowing their way to the front for my attention, creativity management becomes important.  This has turned out to be the way I have been able to juggle them all.  Please feel free to take what works and throw away the rest!


USA Today bestselling author Kate Danley began her writing career with The Woodcutter (published by 47North). It was honored with the Garcia Award for the Best Fiction Book of the Year, the 1st Place Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Literary Awards, and was the 1st place winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Her other titles include Queen Mab, the Maggie MacKay: Magical Tracker series (optioned for film and television), From the Indie Side, and the O’Hare House Mysteries.

Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and DC Metro area. Her screenplay Fairy Blood won 1st Place in the Breckenridge Festival of Film Screenwriting Competition in the Action/Adventure Category. Her projects The Playhouse, Dog Days, Sock Zombie, SuperPout, and Sports Scents can be seen in festivals and on the internet. She has over 300+ film, television, and theatre credits to her name, and specializes in sketch, improv,
stand-up, and Shakespeare. She trained in on-camera puppetry with Mr. Snuffleupagus and played the head of a 20-foot dinosaur on an NBC pilot.

She lost on Hollywood Squares.



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Twitter:  @katedanley