5 Things Writers Can Learn from Wall St: A Guest Post by Kourtney Heintz

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” — C.S. Lewis

Well before I met Kourtney Heintz in person, I knew that we shared much in common. We’re both compulsive about writing, for example, both adore dogs (especially our own) and both gave up “glamorous” gigs in the Big Apple for eventual happiness via the pen. Her previous career varied slightly from mine, however, and I figured we could all learn a lot from the recently published author. (Congrats, Kourtney!)

I read a sample of her new release, The 6 Train to Wisconsin, when she’d entered the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. (She was later named a semifinalist.) Man, was I upset when I ran out of pages; it was that good. Today, I’m honored to share my blog stage/living room with her. I’ll even let her hold my beloved mic. 😉 Take it away, Kourtney!

Kourtney Heintz

Many thanks to August for generously offering me a spot on her blog. She took me under her wing and taught me everything I know about social media. There’s a reason my blog hits and comments skyrocketed after I met her. (You’re way too sweet, Kourtney! Whoops, your mic!)

1) Deadlines Matter

Delays at any point in the process ripple through the entire project. If I let myself fall behind schedule, I was in trouble, my boss was in trouble, and his boss was in trouble. My actions spiraled right up the chain of command.

Even when you’re indie publishing, one missed deadline can snowball into an avalanche and derail your entire book project.

2) Getting to Yes is A Backbending Feat

Most people opened with “No.” “Yes” means more work. If someone agreed to an interview with me, it was time out of their day. I offered to come in early, meet during lunch, stay late. I’d promise to keep it to 30 minutes and be done in 29 minutes.

Any time an agent or editor request a manuscript, they are adding to their workload. Make sure you’re sending out your very best work. Research exactly how that particular agent likes to be queried. Invest time to understand what will make things easiest on them and then do it.

3) Stamp Out Flames Near Any Bridges

I had to build relationships with hundreds of people within my firm. Each interaction had to be respectful and courteous because all future interactions hinged on the current one. No matter how frustrated you get with someone, you never know how integral they may be to you down the road. And there is always more road.

4) Prioritizing Your Day is the Best Way to Stay Productive

I was usually involved in 3-6 audits on any given day–all in different stages of completion.

Everyday, I crafted my to-do list, ranking everything.  My “Top 7” items were mission critical. The rest I’d work my way through. Often a few items had to move to the next day. But I always knocked out what absolutely had to be done.

 5) No One Understands Your Process like You Do

No one knows how much testing and interviewing and digging it took to find an issue and make a recommendation to remediate it.

Same with writing. People will think you play on the Internet all day. They can’t imagine what revising entails. You can try explaining it to them, but the most important thing is that you know what you’re doing and you show up and do it everyday.

Author Bio: Kourtney Heintz writes emotionally evocative speculative fiction that captures the deepest truths of being human. For her characters, love is a journey never a destination. She resides in Connecticut with her warrior lapdog, Emerson, her supportive parents and three quirky golden retrievers. Years of working on Wall Street provided the perfect backdrop for her imagination to run amuck at night, imagining a world where out-of-control telepathy and buried secrets collide. Her debut novel, The Six Train to Wisconsin, was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Semifinalist.

One Sentence Summary of Novel: When Kai’s telepathy spirals out of control, her husband Oliver brings her to the quiet Wisconsin hometown he abandoned a decade ago, where he must confront the secrets of his past to save their future.

Connect with Kourtney Online:

Website: http://kourtneyheintz.com
Blog: http://kourtneyheintz.wordpress.com
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/kourtneyheintzwriter
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KourHei
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomkourtney_heintz
Amazon Author Central Page: http://amazon.com/author/kourtneyheintz
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/kourhei

Paperback available from:
Amazon  Barnes and Noble
Ebook available from:
Amazon  Barnes and Noble  Smashwords  Kobo  iTunes

Any thoughts or questions for Kourtney? What has a previous career taught you about writing? 

 

Leave a comment

33 Comments

  1. I discovered Kourtney on another blog just earlier this week and commented on how good her book sounded.

    I’m now definitely moving it up my to-read list after you mentioned that it was THAT good, August.

    Reply
  2. Marc Schuster

     /  June 13, 2013

    Point #3 is so important! Of course, they’re all important, but I think maintaining strong bridges is something that’s easy to forget about… Especially since it’s so easy for writers to get so focused on the stories they’re trying to tell that the rest of the world vanishes! Thanks for the helpful advice!

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 13, 2013

      Thanks Marc. It’s easy to get frustrated and lose your temper. I always cringe when I read on an agent’s blog about a nasty reply someone fired off to them after a rejection. A second of feeling like they got to even forever torched that relationship. Glad you enjoyed my tips. 🙂

      Reply
  3. All great points! My strong work ethic is what helps me in my writing life, so I’m glad I had all those soul-sucking jobs to teach me discipline, etc!

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 13, 2013

      LOL Kat. I thank Wall Street for making me accountable and giving me a respect for other’s time. My boss used to ask me what can you get done in the 5 minutes? He taught me every minute counts and can be used to accomplish something. 🙂

      Reply
    • Way to make lemonade, Kat! It can all help us somehow. 🙂

      Reply
  4. Great post! Loved reading a bit more from Kourtney. She’s been a friend of the Limebirds for a long time, so I had to click on it when I saw her name. I’m reading 6TTW at the moment and loving it! Any friend of Kourtney is a friend of ours! * waves * 🙂 Beth

    Reply
    • Lovely to meet you, Beth! I’m with you on the “any friend of Kourtney.” 🙂 Thanks for popping by!

      Reply
      • Kourtney Heintz

         /  June 13, 2013

        Thanks Beth! I love Limebirds. 🙂 I am so happy you’re loving the book. Aw, you are too sweet. So glad you could stop by August’s blog–she took me under her wing and helped me learn social media. I was clueless pre-August. 🙂

  5. Hi Kourtney and August! I wish I could say I learned self-discipline from Navy career but I think my subsequent years of mothering two daughters has scattered any warrior zen to the winds of playing Barbies, stepping on tiny Legos (yeah, ouch!), and sorting out girl drama. But there is a lesson somewhere in the wilds of mom-dom too: be flexible. There are times when I have had to be downright Gumby-like: writing in 10-30 minute bursts, hiding out in my car while taking extra long trips to the grocery store…uh oh giving away my secrets now. Thanks for telling us YOUR secrets, Kourtney! The hard work is paying off. 😉

    Reply
    • I think flexibility is HUGE, Kecia! Sounds like you’ve also had some pretty serious perseverance and resourcefulness—all great stuff. 🙂

      Reply
  6. Kourtney Heintz

     /  June 13, 2013

    Kecia that’s a great point. Being flexible is an important skill. My boss used to tell me “The meeting is delayed 3 minutes, finish whatever you can.” He reminded me that even a few minutes can bring a task closer to completion. 😉 Aw thanks. Hope so. My mom marvels at all the spreadsheets I have to manage all my tasks and to keep track of book and swag inventory. 🙂

    Reply
  7. This book sounds fascinating. Thank you for sharing Kourtney and her book with us. I am going to have to use the quote at the beginning. It is soooo true.

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 13, 2013

      Thanks Kathryn! 🙂 Aw, I’m so lucky to have August as a blog buddy and writing pal. She had the best quotes–I’m so jealous.

      Reply
  8. I absolutely love that quote. Checking out the book you have mentioned here. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 13, 2013

      And that C.S. Lewis said it–it’s beyond cool. Thanks for checking out my book! 🙂

      Reply
  9. This is synchronicity at play work, Kourtney. I recently compared my Corporate America work ethic and commitment to my current days as an independent writer.

    I have come to a simple conclusion. I’m afraid I’d have to let me go. Both as a boss and an employee. I should dig out an old performance review and perform one. I know I would not hit the highly coveted “Exceeds Expectations” garnered on most reviews.

    I left Corporate America because I was tired of pushing someone else’s dream forward instead of my own. It’s counterintuitive that I’d let my work ethic collapse on this job.

    I don’t struggle with friendships. There are too many awesome writers with whom I connect. We share the same angst, celebrate each others victories, and [in the case of Hostess August] learn a plethora of life and writing lessons.

    Your book sounds amazing. KUDOS on semi-final status in the Amazon contest. Must add it to my TBR stack.

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 14, 2013

      Hi Gloria! LOL. Great minds converge on great ideas. 😉 It’s funny because my desk and my room are messy. I stink at house cleaning, but my computer is hyper organized. I have controls over every process and I’m really thrilled with how I’m managing my indie career. I do need to build a little more me time in, but I knew the launch and promo time would be go-go-go.

      Thank you so much! I really appreciate making to TBR list. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Huge congrats to Kourtney!! Number four is the advice that ends up being the most important for me-prioritizing my day. 🙂

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 14, 2013

      Hey Coleen! Thanks! I learned if I didn’t prioritize, the wrong stuff got done and no one was pleased. Because I’d lean toward knocking out the easy stuff and get a lot done but nothing that truly had to be done that day. 😉

      Reply
  11. All five points are spot on, but No. 3 is a biggie that so many people don’t get. Jane Smith will “go off” on John Doe or treat him poorly, only to have John return later in a position to influence the future of Jane’s career. Big mistake on Jane’s part, and yet I see so many people making the same one, over and over.

    TSTTW is a great read, and I hope you’ll soon have the time to start writing the sequel. 🙂

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 14, 2013

      Thanks JM! If one person in the firm has a bad opinion of you, they share it with others. It makes your job harder. Getting to even is a great way to undermine your future imho. Better to keep it to yourself and move forward gracefully.

      Aw thank you! Me too. 🙂

      Reply
  12. Hi Kourtney & August! Fine and inspiring guest blog!

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 14, 2013

      Thanks Julia! August always has such intriguing topics. When she suggested it to me, the neurons in my brain immediately started firing away. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Dig #4 – since I am someone who believes strongly in fair play I misunderstood prioritizing for a long time. There may be a reason to do 20 things, and they may all be worth doing, but which 5 or 10 absolutely have to get done is the real question.

    Reply
    • Kourtney Heintz

       /  June 16, 2013

      Thanks Joe. Exactly. My mom always gets annoyed that dusting is on my list but it falls to the bottom for a week or two. But getting a guest blog in on time is a critical item that will be done on Day 1. 🙂

      Reply
      • Ha! Too true. My dad used to get a little miffed about that sort of thing when I was younger, to which I internally thought “yes, but rearranging the garage isn’t ANY good for visioning the type of job I’d like.”

        Truthfully, we probably still don’t see eye to eye on that, although he’s proud of my career path.

  14. Kourtney Heintz

     /  June 18, 2013

    LOL. Aw that’s awesome that he’s proud of you. Yeah, my mom is really supportive of my writing, she just wishes it didn’t always come first. 😉

    Reply
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