Discipline, a deft use of social media and zero tolerance for procrastination paves best-selling business author Heather Smith’s path to success.
Take me back to the beginning; when did you first start writing?
The first article I had published was actually for Flying Solo, and I think it took me two weeks to write and Sam Leader rejected it! She gave me fantastic feedback, and I reworked and resubmitted, and fortunately, it was accepted. I can now knock out an article in a relatively short space of time. I’ve written eight books, have had a book in Australian top 100 best selling business books for several years. I’ve also written countless articles and blog posts.
How long does it take you to write each book, from start to finish?
Before I start writing, I need to pitch the book to the publisher, and that can take 2 to 3 months. Once I have a contract, from the start, to finish, the writing process roughly equates to 20 000 words per month. After my input is finalised, it takes at least 6 weeks before I see a hard copy and in a further 6 weeks, it starts trickling into bookstores.
How different does it feel to publish your eighth book compared to your first?
At first, I didn’t even know that it was possible that I could write a book. It started with an email – that went to my SPAM folder – from Wiley Business asking me to write what ended up being Learn MYOB in 7 Days. Retrospectively I was quite fortunate to be approached by a reputable publisher, as I was provided with a support team of experts. All I needed to worry about was content and meeting deadlines.
Now with eight books published, I know I can write a book. I know the process. I know the structure. I know much how much time commitment it is. I have confidence in the team I work with, so I can let them worry about their areas, while I focus on delivering quality content.
Describe your daily writing routine:
I know the structure of what I have to write from the Table of Contents, so the night before I go to bed I review what I will write the following day, and let my brain mull over it during the sleep process. I think sleep is a very powerful part of being creative and producing your best work. I wake the next morning and take Charlie my King Charles Spaniel for a long slow early morning walk.
Once I return home, I “mindfully meditate” which in our house translates to doing household chores, catch up with the ABC news, then prepare my home office for the day. I burn an oil that supposedly will help me ‘focus’, I choose a ‘focus’ themed playlist on Spotify, and I and start writing what I had planned the night before. Once my brain has emptied everything about the topic, I quickly move to the next topic and start writing. During this process, I tweet what I am writing about. I typically juggle about three topics during the day.
I may work long days when I’m writing, but as soon as I feel creatively drained, I move away for more “mindful meditation”, or I sleep. I freely and randomly sleep at any time during the day while writing. I lean into my energy flow, and I write when I feel inspired. So I may get up at 2 am in the morning and write through to dawn and have a nanna nap during the day.
I should also mention that I never procrastinate during the writing process, I have invested in an ergonomically designed Aeron Chair Herman Miller chair, and I am fuelled by cups of tea 😉
What does success mean to you now?
I’m one of Australia’s best-selling business book authors, but sadly book sales do not automatically lead to a bulging bank account. Every so often I get an email telling me that Learn Small Business Start Up in 7 Days is one of the best books they’ve read and it should be mandatory reading for all new small businesses.
While the dopamine hit is nice – I know if I can positively impact the performance of a small business, the knock on effect helps the community as a whole. For me, success is reflected in the people and businesses I can help.