Thursday, October 15, 2009

Writing is Job...Whenever

Like a lot of you (I'm guessing), I know a lot of writers. One of the things we talk about (okay, whine about) is finding time to write. There's always something interrupting, be it kids, work, spouses, or just life in general. Writing is important to us all, but somehow, it always winds up last on the To-Do List.

It was a lot easier to let writing slide when I was unpublished. No one was breathing down my neck for a manuscript or revisions or cover copy. I could get it done when I got it done. Now that I have a contract, that's changed. I can't let it slide, because there are schedules to keep, and those schedules start a LONG way before the book ever hits the stands.

So how do you stay motivated without that editor's deadline?

Make writing a priority.

Easier said than done, I know. So start small. Pick a time where writing is tops on the list. Wednesday nights from six to eight. Saturday morning. Thirty minutes at lunch after you eat a quick sandwich. Set aside some time, no matter how small, and write during that time. If you need to leave the house to do it, grab the keys and go.

Because if you don't build those skills now, you're in trouble when you do sell that book. Because no matter how understanding editors are, they have deadlines to meet, same as you. They have bosses breathing down their necks to get their books in on time. So it's not just taking time for yourself, it's training for the professional career you hope to have. It's skills you'll need just like you'll need to know how to twist a plot and build suspense.

I know, it's not easy. Friends and family might even call it your "little hobby" and not understand how important this dream is to you. Show them that it is by making it important in your life. Claim that writing time and stick with it. Before long, you'll be in a routine and getting a lot done. And it'll be easier to claim other bits of time as well.

Chances are, even after you sell your first book, you'll still work. (most writers don't make a living off just their books for a long time, if ever). Finding out now if you can do that and write is important. You don't ever want to be in a position of having to decide between work, writing, and family. You don't want your dream to fail because there's just too much on your plate and you can't do it all.

Find out how much you can do, and when you can do it, so when the dream does come true, you'll be ready for it.

And isn't knowing you can handle the pressures of a debut writing career a great motivator?


  1. I thought writing the first project was time-consuming. Pshaw! Now, with several different projects in various stages, and a blog to keep up on, etc, etc, I sometimes wish I had that freedom back, only focusing on ONE thing.

    But then I remember that I actually love doing all of this most of the time. Keeping organized is definitely a challenge, though.

    Great post!

  2. Excellent advice. One thing that hampers one's ability to set time aside is that writing - in the beginning - isn't paid work. It's tough to convice the partner or whoever that you need someone else to watch the kids for a while so you can write. Where's the (financial) reward? After all, work = money earned, hobby = a good time. But, a professional, insistent and consistent demeanor works wonders. And when the agent and the sales do come, it's great to say "I told you so."

  3. I'm lucky in that my husband understands that this is my dream. He only complains when I start putzing around too much rather than writing or working. And if I'm writing, then I am working, even if I'm not earning money from it yet. Though I do have a paying job, with a bookstore no less.

    I'm still working on fighting the procrastination bug, but I've gotten much better at writing regularly than I was two years ago. Maybe by next year, I'll be up to every day, and not simply every week. Better yet, I'll also have a piece or more in submission stage. (Inner Editor cracks whip over writer self. "Back to work, you. There's writing to be done if you want to get that scurvy piece finished. Arrrr!")

  4. It's a challenge to find the balance, but worth it for sure.