Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Writer's Holiday Hiatus

The Fire in Fiction: Passion, Purpose and Techniques to Make Your Novel Great

Writers are busy with deadlines, family and holidays. The combination can get hectic, but generally most are trying to infuse themselves with rebirth that comes with a new year and peace within--speaking from a writer's POV.

That peace within can be called, healing or going back to the "well". The creative well can be deep and offering new techniques or ideas for just where to put that special energy.

I like to step back for the holidays, once the bustle of family/friend gift-giving is settled. This year I did my usual baking (check out Barbara Samuel/Babara O'Neal and other writers who bake and those who sew).

The creative spirit transitions into many areas, which for writers gives time to process their next projects.

With all the tremendous changes in publishing, there's lots to think about while making cookies or sewing or traveling or playing games or decorating the tree.

In easing 2009 out and looking forward to 2010, writers are really considering their projects and how to spend holiday time.

I'm settling back a bit, calling friends, talking with family, but the writer part of me is very busy.

I want to finish a major writing project that is dear to me by Dec 31. That's number 1 on my list. Here's the rest of it:

2. Read Donald Maass's Fire in Fiction. I'd heard so much about this book since its publication in May 2009, and it's waited. So on those quiet evenings, I'm reading what seems so far to be a tremendous book. I've always loved Dwight Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer, which is a must, I believe.

3. Fiction reading.

4. See a couple of movies, i.e. Avatar, Inglorious Basterds, Sherlock Holmes, etc.

5. Start cleaning my bookselves. Earlier in the year, I donated learning tapes and writing books to local groups, but I've a way to go. I'm trying to downsize and that is not easy as each book brings memories of the time I was researching, etc. Writers love books. I am using a data base now for the "keepers", called AllMyBooks, a software program which so far has been pretty good.

6. I went through my contracts and made a list of what I need to do when business starts up in January. I usually make my daily business to-do lists in the previous evening, that way I can start out working in the a.m. I usually work first, then do necessary business/mail/email whatever.

7. I spend a lot of thinking time, which involves candles and quiet. This is stepping back mode. I've already made some resolves for the New Year. Let's see if I can keep them :) One is getting back to painting canvases. They've been waiting. One year I decided to start painting and found that my paint tubes were too old. I bought new. You can see some of my work at my website I'm planning seascapes. (Have you ever noticed how many trilogies, etc. are set oceanside? That nuance is a character in itself.)

8. Redoing my website. It needs a whole new look and direction. Since I do my own Internet work and am active in my 3 blogs, others blogs, Twitter and Facebook, my website has waited. I'm also behind on GoodReads, which I joined and never really got into.

9. Then, what is really necessary? I think writing and creative time needs to come first and Social Media time second. I'm balancing the time necessary for Facebook, etc. Facebook has literally swamped me. I enjoy Twitter's short droplets.

10. I'm considering just what writers' conferences, meetings are important to me and why. With our business changed, flipped over really, our modes so different, conferences are really going to have to lay it down to get attendance. Information is easily available online, and writers' checkbooks have flattened. While reclusive by nature, writers need "Face Time" to energize and group planners are going to have to deliver to draw attendees. Sometimes I go to see friends and sometimes because a program seems great. One aid to groups is to get their scheduling promo out there at the top of the year, because now writers are choosing very carefully where to spend their conference/meeting dollar.

It might not always be at a conference or group meeting. Sometimes a writers coffee group can really energize individuals. And some of that energy is keep hopping by a single writer taking their laptop to a coffee shop. Sometimes a writer with a busy family will take a motel break all by themselves. This is actually a good idea, to remove all distractions.

So this Holiday Hiatus is very important to the creative writers spirit: refreshing, going back to the well, planning next year, schedules and projects. I'm finding that most are planning a little step-back time for themselves, retaining energy to feed their creative spirits.

We're all in deep discussion now about what we're doing at the end of the year, so if you want to add your ideas for a writer's creative holiday hiatus, come on down!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Year Coming

  I'm doing Ye Old File Drawer organizing at the end of this year. After writing for several publishers with representation from several agents, several amendments to contracts, etc. needed better organization/consideration.

With new horizons popping up every day, I'm considering e-publishing several very early books and that calls for lots of contract reading. You'd be surprised what a mop-up operation this can be, certainly not small enough when sorting, to fit across a desk. There is also communication with agents and rights. Rights are very big now, and should have been much earlier.

 Right or wrong career decisions are at a writer's every turn. A good filing system is only so good, if it does not have all the correspondence/contracts in it, and I had to request one contract from a former agent.

Agents are usually great to deal with, even after leaving them. I need to prepare some correspondence to former agents, but that will have to wait until the new year.

  Right now, I'm putting the old year to bed, doing some tax set-up stuff (spreadsheets are great), but I'm also thinking of my New Year's schedule and possible travel. Writer scheduling is probably one of the most important facets of a career.

Publishing usually happens this way: A book is coming out, high energy needed for its "pub" date. Then: A book is due, plus all the articles, etc. and other obligations. Those two dates frequently occur together: Pub Date and Contract Manuscript Due Date. Holidays are really difficult when both dates fall within that time.

I'll be gifting advice about spreadsheets in January or so.
  One of the must-do items on my list for 2010 is getting a new PR photo. Or take my own. iStockPhoto has great advice on this.

One of the best tips I can give is to collect a freebie calendar booklet for tax mileage and keep it in the car. Do you realize that those freebies we used to see in every drugstore are scarce now? So get that 2010 calendar going, check out the conferences that will be of the most use to you.

Yep. Time to clean up the old year and lay out plans for the new one.

Since stress-free is my theme today for all three blogs, My Jam Jar and The Second Cup and this one, my today's writer's advice?

Work on your filing and business and scheduling in advance.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Writing vs Day Job and Family

  First of all, I object strenuously said the lawyer--no, really just me when it comes to the term "Day Job".

Day Job says writers work at night, which in most cases is true. But working for 6-8 hours whenever during the day and 7 days a week, is really a full time job, even with regular paycheck employment.

Writing is not regular paycheck employment. But instead of Day Job, I like the term, Regular Pay job.

Recently I was conversing with a friend, who had a friend (and a lot of writerly stuff goes like that) who wanted to write. But said the first friend, the writer-friend had a family and a job and didn't have time to write.

This lament is way too familiar: I have a day job and a family and I don't have time.

To the second party, my response is the best quote, gotten from a busy Regular-Paycheck person who said, "I write around the corners of my life." This says, he made time to hold a necessary insurance and benefits Regular Paycheck job, plus tend his family life AND write.

I'm impatient with this no-time to write excuse, based on my own experience. At one time, I did have a Regular Paycheck job, a family and two publishers. Two Publishers, so that said I was under contract to deliver manuscripts etc. at specific due dates. I did, so I know from experience that if a writer wants to write, he will make time, not find it.

Here we are in the busy season and still writing and dealing with necessary writerly business. Very difficult during the holidays. Or the summer. Or the spring, or fall. I'm writing full-time now and time and scheduling is still a challenge as business needs deepen as the career rises or changes. Now Facebook and Twitter and other promotional aspects take writing time, plus blogging, etc.

As for writing with a Regular Paycheck job and a family, watch for the next installment of Writers Survival Guide and I'll lay out my schedule. You may have some tips to share, too.