Meet FRED . . .

Me and my FRED! (Photo: Author)

FRED is the folder for reaching the end of your draft. And he is magical.

This deceptively simple little tool keeps me on track, reminds me that I’m a real writer (when I need that reminder), and makes sure I actually finish my projects. He’s my accountability buddy— and he doesn’t expect a thing from me in return!

Meet him here:

Meet FRED Video.

You can download a free printable FRED here.

And if you want even more? Next Friday (February 26, 2021) at 2 p.m. EST, I’m hosting a live workshop all about setting tiny writing goals, using FRED…


It’s how we know what our readers need.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I’ve been preparing to host a webinar on Saturday with my friend Jackson. We’re going to present a 7-step plan to writing and publishing short nonfiction as a way to create an income stream.

(Click here if you’d like to sign up. It’s free.)

As I was doing that work, I started thinking about the different parts of my indie publishing journey. If I could impart one piece of wisdom on you — on any writer who wants to earn a living — it’s this.

Writing is a service industry. Sure. It’s art. But it’s also a major form of…


And why it’s important to understand them (especially if you want a creative career.)

Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

I’ve always been excited by income streams.

It started with a lemonade stand I set up with my sister, Jill, on the bluff across the street from our house when we were eight and ten. We sold plastic cups of Kool-Aide to the multitudes of joggers and beach-goers who used that bluff every day.

And we made $100. In 1981.


I made one — and it changed my life.

Photo by Mr TT on Unsplash

This fifteen-minute exercise changed the way I write. Forever.

Last month, I watched a Youtube video about something called a glue book.

A glue book is just what it sounds like — a book you glue stuff into. Kind of like a book full of collages, only less precious. Less artsy? It’s something like adult coloring, only using pictures cut from magazines and a glue stick.

I was enthralled. I had a vintage notebook I’d bought at a thrift store for 49 cents and a pile of magazines — I even had a glue stick — so, I figured, why not? I gave it a shot.

That was…


Meet my Writer Binder. This is how I plan my novels.

My Writer Binder. (Photo: Author.)

For whatever reason, I’m on a productivity kick so far in 2021. Not being more productive. Trust me when I tell you that I’m already very productive. If anything, I need to learn to let go a little and be okay with being a little bit less productive.

No. I’ve gotten it in my mind that I want to find productivity peace. I want to find systems that work for me. Systems that not only help me to be more efficient and productive, but that also bring me joy.

It’s an elusive thing, this productivity peace, but I’m confident that I’ll get there.

I’ve found myself going through the systems I already have in…


It isn’t about the hustle. It’s about the flow.

Photo by Anthony Young on Unsplash

February’s theme, for Ninja Writers, is productivity. Read down to the bottom for our monthly book, habit, and goal.

I have a love-hate relationship with the word ‘productivity.’

It means, of course, ‘the state or quality of producing something.’ Pretty straight forward. But it’s also a seriously loaded word.

Especially right now. Especially during the pandemic. The main excuse for not being productive — we’re too busy with a day job we hate or obligations that yank us away from what we want to produce — has been stripped away for many people.

We’re stuck at home. Maybe we have…


The ultimate in mash-ups and hacks and (supposedly) life-changing systems.

Photo by Matt Ragland on Unsplash

I feel like the word ‘productivity’ has taken on a whole new tone in the last year. It’s always been sort of suspect. The kind of thing that influencers with perfect Instagram feeds and pretty planners hashtag about.

But since last spring? Yikes.

We’re either being told that if we don’t finish our biggest projects while we’ve got the enforced time, then we’re losers, or that if we do finish our biggest projects while we’ve got the enforced time, we’re ridiculous.

I’ve always been a little bit of a productivity nerd. I remember watching (and then reading) Yours, Mine, and…


Mashing up two systems to try to appease my monkey mind.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

The Ninja Writers theme for January is the same as our community-wide word of the year: ADAPT.

We’ve decided to choose a book of the month, to go along with the theme, and this month’s book is Getting Things Done by David Allen. It seemed like a good bet. Lots of people have heard of it, even if they haven’t read it. And it’s one of those things that a lot of people want to start, even if they’re not currently devotees.

It’s also a system that I knew, almost immediately, that I would need to adapt to suit me…


When you’re working at home, the line between work and not-work gets blurry.

Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash

I have trouble delineating between work and not-work. Seriously, I work twelve hour days, most days of the week — but really? I never stop working. It’s a function of loving what I do and my personality.

That difficulty has gotten far worse — to the point of absurdity — during COVID, when there isn’t a physical delineation between work/not-work anymore, either.

Used to be, I’d go to my office most days. I have a beautiful office downtown, in a bank building, with a river view. A bald eagle named Walter flies by every afternoon. I love my office.

But…


Use it to find inspiration, ideas, and keywords.

The answer to life, the universe, and everything . . . Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

“I’m going to start blogging, as soon as I figure out what to say.”

I spend hours every week talking to writers who want to blog and that’s, by far, the sentence I hear the most often about why they aren’t just doing it. They want to, badly, but they don’t know what to write.

My answer is so simple that it always feels kind of stupid to say it out loud: Write what your readers want to read.

Figuring that out, of course, is easier said than done. Or it could be. There’s actually a tool (a free tool)…

Shaunta Grimes

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)

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