How to Trick Yourself into Writing, Editing and Marketing

Bryan CohenGuest Blogger: Bryan Cohen (@bryancohenbooks)
Self-motivation is crucial for authors, regardless of which publishing path you choose. Writing a book is difficult enough, but when you add on editing and marketing, it can feel impossible. And I’m crazy enough to have self-published 32 times. How did I do it? I learned a few ways to trick myself into doing work when my brain wants nothing but mindless entertainment.
Tricks for Writing
My inner critic hates it when I write. This voice in my head enjoys pointing out all the faults in my work and howls with laughter when I close up shop early for the day. My most prolific writing periods came after I silenced the inner critic.
I accomplished this in two distinct ways. The first method was writing so early in the morning that the critic had yet to wake up. By the time my resistant inner critic woke up, I was already in the zone and the blank page was nothing but a memory. The second method was giving my critic something bigger to complain about, like not reaching my word count goal for the day. I set a word count goal of 2,500 words per day. I also wrote the goal down and said it out loud each day. This repetition pushed me to fulfill my goal even when I was exhausted.
Tricks for Editing
I hate editing. When you’re first starting out as a writer and you can’t afford to pay someone to take your book off your hands, it’s a necessary evil. As with completing any other undesirable task, setting up a reward system is a viable option. If I completed a certain task, like editing a chapter, I would give myself a food reward, an entertainment reward or a social reward. I wasn’t able to edit that much in one sitting at first, but my tolerance grew as I got more into the routine of edit, reward, repeat.
My other editing trick is to have a separate location where my editing takes place. This can be as simple as making your office the place for writing and your kitchen the location for editing. Even a tiny change in your surroundings can give you the boost you need.
Tricks for Marketing
While I’ve always loved coming up with marketing plans for myself, I’ve found the writing, editing and publishing process takes a lot out of me. I realized I needed extra motivation to spend time marketing, so I started listening to self-help programs. Listening to the inspiring words of Stephen Covey, Marci Shimoff and more helped to motivate me to work harder.
If you’re not an audiobook person, you can try borrowing inspiring books from the library, printing out and posting motivational quotes or visualizing yourself completing all your marketing tasks.
I also have a last ditch plan when I need to do a mindless marketing task like sending out e-mails or filling out promotional forms on websites over and over again. I will rent a movie and put it on my wife’s computer. I’ll sit down with my laptop and watch a mindless Hollywood blockbuster while I send out the mindless e-mails and forms. When I’ve been putting something off and I just need two more hours, this trick works like a charm.
Being a self-published author is like running your own small publishing house. You need to wear a lot of hats and put in countless hours to make your work a success. If you feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day, try out one of these tricks to get you going again.
What are some of YOUR tricks for getting yourself to write, edit or market?

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1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2
Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. He has published over 30 books. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.
In honor of his new book, Bryan Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website.



Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Sasha Zinevych on December 17, 2013 at 6:31 AM

    Rachelle, do you think people should be capable of doing a bit of many things?

  2. Katya Pavlopoulos on December 13, 2013 at 1:57 PM

    Wow, it’s been a while. We’re mid-way through December, and this post is from end of November. Does anybody know if everything’s OK with Rachelle?

  3. For Writers | kelly sumner on December 12, 2013 at 9:30 PM

    […] Self-motivation is crucial for authors, regardless of which publishing path you choose. Writing a book is difficult enough, but when you add on editing and marketing, it can feel impossible. And I’m crazy enough to have self-published 32 times. How did I do it? I learned a few ways to trick myself into doing work when my brain wants nothing but mindless entertainment. Click here to read the rest of this helpful article. […]

  4. Dan Erickson on December 6, 2013 at 6:47 AM

    For writing, I just write variety, book, blog, poem, song, essay, etc. That works for me. For editing, I put the manuscript away for a couple of months, dreading the editing. But when I get it out I’m always pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. I do have a colleague who does my first edit. Marketing: I hate self promotion. It’s like pulling teeth. I use social networks and blog at this point, not much else.

  5. Bob Conklin on December 2, 2013 at 10:28 AM

    Thanks, Bryan. I like to get through the writing part as quickly as possible. This is always the hardest part for me in terms of motivation. Lately, I’ve taken to jotting down ideas, sequences, outlines, topic sentences as quickly as they pop up. Then I’ll fill in the rest later (over the course of a day, week, or year, depending on the manuscript). Editing is my favorite part, which explains why I’m an editor by trade. I can delete, rearrange, and plug in synonyms all day long. It’s fun! I haven’t yet made it to self-promotion, since I’ve got nothing to really promote. But … I’m very encouraged to learn about your 32 self-publications! That’s phenomenal! Also, Thomas Ryan’s post gives a good idea of the amount of time self-promotion takes. Very much like job hunting. Well, good luck everyone!

    • Bryan on December 3, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      Thanks for the kind words! Maybe you should collaborate with a person who loves writing. Between the two of you, you’ll finish a self-published book in no time :).

      • Bob Conklin on December 3, 2013 at 2:02 PM

        Bryan, that’s good advice. Then we would just need a marketing major to promote us and divide the proceeds by three … 😉

        • Bryan on December 5, 2013 at 7:22 AM

          I like it! 🙂

  6. Thomas Ryan on November 30, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    I spend a minmum of four hours per day on marketing. It has become a repetitive slog and sometimes seems like a chore but it has to be done so I do it. Editing. I’m hopeless at it. I always use outside editors.

    • Bryan on November 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      Impressive, Thomas! I use outside editors when I can, though the tricks help in a pinch.

  7. Keli Gwyn on November 30, 2013 at 10:10 AM

    Great tips, Bryan. I’m going to put the ones on how to silence the Inner Critic to work right away. That pesky voice definitely needs silencing–or something else to chew on.

    • Bryan on November 30, 2013 at 10:37 AM

      Thanks, Keli! It’s always fun tripping up that critic :).

  8. S. Ann Cole on November 30, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Great post! The second trick about editing, I do that, too and it works well for me! Lord knows how dreadful editing is when you can’t afford an editor. I write at one location and edit at another location. It works.

    • Bryan on November 30, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      Thanks, S. Ann! I’m glad that trick works for you too :).

  9. Bryan on November 29, 2013 at 7:32 AM

    Thanks, Rachelle, for having me on the blog today! Happy day after Thanksgiving everybody :).