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Authors and Poets: How’s Your Creative Process?

The next Go Creative! in Business workshop takes place tomorrow, on Friday 7th May, at 5pm UK time. (9am PDT, Vancouver, 12 noon EDT New York, 6pm SAST Johannesburg, 9.30 pm IT, New Dehli.) Check this world clock to find your time. (Replay available).

If you've signed up to a Patreon Planning Membership, you're good to go. If not, you'll need to register.

Develop A Winning Creative Process

Most people who start to write a book never get to type “The End”. Most self-published books never reach a significant audience. Most creative businesses collapse without having reached profit. There are countless reasons for these failures to finish, but beneath each one there’s a single cause.

A break in the creative process.

We experience breaks in the process as some form of difficulty, resistance, or block, but often we are not very clear about what’s really going on. Writing and publishing are complex activities and there are lots of places where the process can falter or fail.

That’s the topic of this month’s workshop for creative business planning members: how to develop a winning process. Writing process. Publishing process. Business process.

And how to integrate these three so they work together for you.

The Seven Stages of the Creative process

There is a universal creative process that underlies our desire to make anything. It has seven stages, divided into three phases.

The Vision Phase

  • Stage One: Intention —> during which you choose your creative intention and commit to completing it.
  • Stage Two: Incubation —> during which you meditate and f-r-e-e-write, holding ideas lightly and quietly in the back of your mind
  • Stage Three: Investigation —> during which you explore and research and make notes

The Making Phase

  • Stage Four: Formation —> during which you draft and design your first attempt
  • Stage Five: Elaboration —> during which you deepen and expand on the first draft, brining back in your original vision and expanding any ideas or lines of enquiry that are fruitful. As you develop your vision, it becomes firmer in your mind.

The Revision Phase

  • Stage Six: Clarification —> during which you refine and correct. Up to now you have been adding to your concept, now you chip away until the details shine.
  • Stage Seven: Completion —> during which you finish the project, or this stage of the project. There is tidying up to be done, final tweaks and a celebration of having accomplished your intention.

Develop A Winning Creative Process Workshop

In this workshop, you’ll examine your own creative process as it applies to your writing, your publishing, and your business.

You’ll identify problems and challenges and see where you are in relation to each. You'll examine the nature of any particular resistance or block and determine next steps.

Here are some examples of blocks that can arise along the way:

Writing Blocks

Problem: You’re not finishing your book fast enough.

Symptoms: You're not adding to your word count. You're editing while composing and not getting very far. You don’t have a time-based plan for your writing. You do have a plan, but you're not sticking to it. You've too many books open and unfinished. Your writing is just not good enough.

Production Blocks

Problem: You're not publishing enough books.

Symptoms: You don’t have a time-based plan for your publishing tasks, or if you do, you’re not sticking to it. You can’t find the right editor. You’ve had editorial notes, but you’re stuck on rewrites. You haven’t sorted formatting or cover design. You haven’t optimized your distribution.

Marketing Blocks

Problem: You're not selling enough books.

Symptoms: You don't know the right readers for your books. You don't know where to find the right readers. You don’t have a website. You haven’t set up any funnels. You write across genres but haven't segmented your email lists. You don’t have a promotion plan or if you do, you’re not sticking to it.

Business Blocks

Problem: You’re not making enough profit.

Symptoms: You haven't made a profit plan, or you have but you’re not sticking to it. You don’t understand creative assets or you do, but you’re not accumulating any. You’d rather not think about money. You don't know how to align your creative and commercial goals.

By applying the creative process, you can unravel the resistance or confusion that is stopping you from completing your intention.

Next Stepping

The Go Creative! Business Planning method proceeds by a process called “next-stepping”. You don't look too far ahead, you focus only on the next step and you keep breaking your next step down. What you can do in a quarter. What you can do in a month. What you can do this week.

Once you have a week-sized step, you map the intention to complete it in the Facebook Group.

An Example

Let's take one of the marketing examples above. “You don't have a promotion plan.” The next step is to make a promotion plan, clearly, but if you also have a full time job, family commitments and are writing the next book, you may not have enough time this week to do up an entire plan.

Getting the plan together might take amonth, or longer.

Break the larger intention–create a promotion plan–down into weekly sized tasks. Only you know what you can accomplish in a week. It varies for each of us, depending on how much time we can allocate.

Start thinking about your task in weekly chunks. What can you do this week? Here are some general tasks related to creating a promotion plan, broken down into smaller tasks.

Define Success (Using A Number)

  • Increase revenue by 20% within 6 months
  • Sell 1000 books
  • Add 2000 subscribers to my list

Research Comps

  • Survey bestsellers in my genre
  • List books compare with mine, what books compete
  • Note how they are reaching and communicating with readers

Map Your Next Step

You might find this list overwhelming. “Oh no, there's so much to do, this is going to take too long.” So you don't do any of it. You write down a vague intention like “Make A Promotion Plan” and another week goes by, without any progress.

Next-stepping breaks through vagueness and inertia by gaining clarity about the process and your next steps. If this is how long things are going to take, so be it. Get real. And get moving. Your next step takes you closer.

Integrating Your Process

The example above is just that, an example. This workshop isn't only about marketing, it's also about writing, profit plans, book production, growing a team — wherever your current challenges are presenting.

We'll look at your entire author business, your writing, publishing and business, through the lens of maker, manager and marketeer.

Then, having identified where you're at with each, we'll apply the creative process. Voila, you'll know what to do next, and how to do it so it integrates with everything else you have to do.

You'll leave with complete clarity about your priorities and an integrated plan for your next steps, across the board.

The “Develop a Winning Process” workshop takes place at 5pm UK time on Friday 7th May. (That's 9am PDT, Vancouver, 12 noon EDT New York, 6pm SAST Johannesburg, 9.30 pm IT, New Dehli.) Check this world clock to find your time.)
Don't worry if you can't make it live; there will be a replay. During the workshop you will:
  • Survey your current writing, publishing, and business process.
  • Identify any problems, challenges, or breaks in your process.
  • Work out your next steps
  • Apply the creative process to ease the way.
  • Discuss creative flow and how you can incorporate it into your process

Find out more about Patreon planning membership here

Sign up for the workshop here

Creative Business Planning For Authors: Testimonials

Joanna Penn, bestselling author, award-winning entrepreneur, and host of The Creative Penn podcast

Orna’s events have been life-changing for me. With wisdom, kindness (and the occasional kick in the pants!) she is able to cut through the noise and focus on what’s really important for creatives. Her f-r-e-e-writing exercises have helped me with my books and my business. I highly recommend her.

Mark McGuinness, award-winning poet, creative coach, and host of The 21st Century Creative podcast

Amid all the hype about the latest tools and technologies, we don’t hear so much about wisdom, compassion, and hard-won experience. Orna Ross has all of these in spades, and is generous in passing on her knowledge. I value my conversations with Orna and always come away with a valuable new perspective on things. I’m sure you will too.

Suzanne Power

Orna Ross is a genius. She combines incisive knowledge of publishing, huge appreciation for words, great humanity for the writers producing them, and invaluable materials – all to get to the heart of your writing life, and provide the scaffolding of your writing business. She has worked with me as both mentor and as a facilitator and I think the world of what she does and how she does it. No ego, true presence and a brilliant talent.

Her ethics and her examples are ones to trust and to follow. I will continue to do so and consider myself lucky to have the chance to.

Dave Cohen

I spent nearly four decades working in comedy thinking my precious art should not be sullied by anything as vulgar as marketing. In the last couple of years Orna has taught me that if you can think creatively about it, keeping control of and marketing your work is as important to a writer's career as the work itself.

Karen Dodd, Suspense Author

As the author of two books and one on the way, I feel fortunate to have found Orna and her coaching at just the right time in my author career. She has a way of winnowing in on exactly what the intimate, small group needs as we went through our various challenges together. Orna presents information clearly and through her willingness to answer all questions, she fosters a trusting and compassionate relationship between mentor and participants.

Our group is made up of authors at all stages of the process—some were even traditionally published. After each session, we leave with our handouts and a written plan that we can implement immediately. I can’t recommend Orna’s Go Creative sessions highly enough.


Orna has exhaustive experience being an authorpreneur both from her own personal journey navigating the publishing space as an author and working with/mentoring other authors who are walking the same path. I find these workshops to be a distilled essence of this highly specialized knowledge that she has gathered through time.

As a result, this is highly effective and beneficial for an author in terms of the multiple hats that we wear as an authorpreneur. Orna defines them as – maker, manager and marketer. The pay yourself first approach that I got to learn from the workshop is how I'm going to be structuring my business as I believe it's going to set me up for success. Also appreciate the flexibility of attending only the workshops on topics that I most want to learn about and the Q&A time at the end of the session.

Beth Ball, Epic Fantasy Author

I learn so much in each of the sessions, and I really appreciate all of the work you do to help us with both strategies and mindset on the indie author journey.

Beth Ball is an epic fantasy author spinning stories of druidic magic and the power of nature that span the realms of Azuria and Eldura.

Belinda Strotheide, Writer and Business Trainer

I just wanted to take a few minutes to say how much I appreciate your creative planning training. My college degree is in business, I’ve spent years listening to entrepreneurial training, I’ve helped businesses, nonprofits and communities think through the process and formulate their plans and goals. You have helped me see the process in a new way. A way that lets me view it creatively, with the business aspects as a framework rather than the focus of the activities. Thank you! Also, thank you for your sensitivity and respect toward the individuals in the meetings. I also like how you push us to go for the deeper truth of who we are creatively and address the real reasons we may get stuck. A really BIG THANK YOU. What you’re doing is so very helpful.

Author: Orna Ross

Orna Ross is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and inspirational poetry, and a creativity facilitator. As founder-director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, she has been named one of The Bookseller’s Top 100 people in publishing. 


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I am on your record as having been scammed by Authorhouse. I need to talk to you about publish[ng a book of amusing poems and essays, a few not so amusing.. Sincerely Gordon Mellor. please note my first comment disappeared off my screen before Could send it !

  2. I am on your record as having been scammed by Authorhouse. I need to talk to you about publish[ng a book of amusing poems and essays, a few not so amusing.. Sincerely Gordon Mellor

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