At Freedom we love our users – not just because they use our product, but because they’re cool – cool people working on cool stuff. Academy Award-nominated screenwriters, best-selling authors, editors, designers, star TV actors & writers, academic researchers, explorers, and entrepreneurs – the Freedom community is packed with curious, creative, and efficient go-getters. We love to share their stories and advice, because how better to learn about productivity than from the productive?
This week’s spotlight goes to Alessandra Torre.
A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Alessandra Torre has written thirteen novels, three of which have become New York Times bestsellers.
Her first book, Blindfolded Innocence, was a breakout hit, rising to the top of the ebook charts on Amazon where it attracted the interest of major publishing houses and garnered Torre her first print deal with Harlequin HQN. Less than twelve months later, Torre signed a second print deal, this time with Redhook (Hachette) for the Deanna Madden series, an erotic suspense trilogy.
From her home on the Emerald Coast in Florida, she devotes several hours each day to various writing projects and interacting with her fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Happily married and with one son, she loves watching SEC football games, horseback riding, reading and watching movies.
How did you know that you wanted to be a writer and what were your first steps in making this your career – essentially, how did you get to where you are today?
As a teen, I never had any confidence in my writing. I would create (what I considered to be) brilliant stories for class, only to have them picked apart by my teachers. For that reason, I always squashed any thoughts of writing, spending my spare time reading novels, instead of creating them. Then, at age 28, I had a perfect storm of events. I quit my job. Self Publishing was the hot new thing. My mother started to write a novel, and I was able to watch her process. With a summer ahead of me, I decided to try my own hand at writing. Six weeks later, I finished my first novel – Blindfolded Innocence. That novel ended up becoming a #1 Kindle bestseller, and landed me an agent, and my first print deal. That was five years ago. Since then, I’ve written 14 novels, and my first movie releases September 20th!
As a writer, how do you stay productive, motivated, and focused?
That is one of the hardest tasks as a writer. Since I don’t have a boss or a 9-5 schedule, the day can really get away from you. I’ve recently started to force myself to sprint – setting a clock and not allowing myself to do ANYTHING but sit at my computer and write (distraction free) for 30-minute blocks of time, 4 blocks per day. The Freedom app has been a huge contributor to those sprints – giving me the ability to keep myself in line, and removes the temptation (and ability) to check social or stray off task, during those sprints.
What excites you most about your industry?
The freedom of it (pun not intended!). I have the freedom to create any sorts of stories. I’ve expanded my range to include online courses on how to write your first book, publish it, and market it. Each day holds such a variety of activities, and I’m never bored. Often frazzled, sometimes sleep-deprived, but never bored. It’s a constantly changing industry, and I am excited to see what is ahead of us, on both the reader and the author side of things.
When/where are you most/least productive, and how does this shape your daily working routine?
I used to be most productive early in the morning (prior to 8am) and late at night (after midnight). That is when my family is asleep and social media is quiet. But with the Freedom app, I’ve been able to mute social media, and that’s given me some blocks of productivity during the day.
At what point did you realize that tech/apps/sites were taking a toll on your productivity and time? Or, when did you know that you had to do something about it?
I think I’ve always realized how distracting technology and the internet is. But as my brand has grown, those distractions have become a full-time job. When my book production started to drop from one book every three months to one book every six months … that’s when I knew I needed to make some changes.
What resources or tools do you use daily and have found most beneficial to your productivity and/or writing/working process?
Zapier saves me a lot of time, by automating a lot of my processes. I also use Hootsuite to schedule a lot of my social media posts. And, of course, the Freedom app – which is a huge boost to my productivity levels.
What project are you currently most excited about?
I’m really excited about the Hollywood Dirt movie, which releases September 20th on the PassionFlix platform. That novel – Hollywood Dirt – was a New York Times and international bestseller, and is one of my favorite stories. It’s set in a small Georgia town, and is about a love story that blooms when Hollywood comes there to film a movie.
What are your biggest distractors?
Social media, social media, social media. Emails. YouTube videos of cute animals doing silly things. We live on the beach, so that is a constant distraction, but one I haven’t found a solution for yet. 🙂
How do you find a balance between being connected and overwhelmed?
I’m still working on that. In a perfect world, I would check social media and email in the morning, and at the end of the day, and not anytime in between. I have turned off notifications on my phone, and that helps, but it’s something I’ve got to get under control.
What do you do outside of your work routine that helps you stay productive?
Regardless of what time I go to bed, (and sometimes I’m up till 3 or 4 am), I get up at the same time each morning. It means I sometimes need to take a nap in the afternoon, but often I don’t. Also, I use a desk treadmill when I work. Because I’m walking, it sort of ‘ties’ me in place and keeps me from moving away from my computer to grab a snack, or settle into the couch.
To learn more about Alessandra, her books, or her classes – visit her site at AlessandraTorre.com