It’s all about balance. I know a lot of authors. But I know very few full time authors. Most writers, even those multi-published, have a ‘day job’. A full time position that brings in regular paychecks. Writing can be a fickle career and unless you are independently wealthy, or have a supportive spouse / partner that can bring in enough funds to pay those pesky utilities, that’s what you will have too.
So how do you bring balance to your writing/ day job / home life / social commitments? Very carefully. It takes planning. One of my good friends, author Kelly Boyce, gets up about an hour and a half early in the mornings to write before her day job. Another friend writes when she waits for her children at various sports / school activities after work. Yet another writes only after her kids are off to bed, from 9PM until 11PM. These are dedicated writers, all published. They know that they have to schedule their writing time.
Review your daily routine. Is writing part of it? If not, where could it be a regular part? Don’t forget that reading is a part of writing. Reading other people’s work helps you to learn about your own. So count that in too. And be honest with yourself. Are you too tired to write every night? What if you said you were only going to write a hundred words? Don’t think you can write in a limited time frame? Try this exercise (scroll down to where it says ONLINE) with WRITE OR DIE - you have to keep writing, or you lose!
You can write every day, make it part of your life without losing your family or your day job. The social life though – well, you might lose a little of that. But someday your friends will be able to say they know an author.
Further thoughts on goal setting and achieving. Why am I thinking about this? Why now and not a week before New Year’s Eve or three weeks after December 31st when our resolutions have been broken and tossed in the bin?
Because a week from today we begin NANOWRIMO. Don’t know what it is? Check it out – this is an awesome program for writers, National Novel Writing Month. Where everyone goes crazy trying to write a full 50,000 word book in the month of November. Here’s the link. Signing up for free gets you some wonderful, encouraging newsletters, some cool tracking tools, and fun contact with other writers, both online or in person in your area.
Now some people enter NANO without a clue as to what to write. The founder of the program, Chris Baty, even wrote a book on it – No Plot? No Problem. But having done NANO a few years now, I know the truth is – you need a plan. You need to know what you are going to write. Have a synopsis at least. And just as importantly, you need to know WHEN you are going to write. You need to get almost 1700 words a day on paper to win. And you want to win, right?
Most Nano’ers find their biggest problem wasn’t that they couldn’t find time, or that they couldn’t write. It was after a while, they couldn’t fight the urge to go back and edit, eating up their valuable writing time and as they inevitably changed the plot along with their grammar, they ruined their understanding of what to write next. Goodbye plan.
So, if you plan to write in NANOWRIMO, decide now – what you will write (lay it out a little), when you will write, and that you will not back up and edit. Make your goals. If you do nothing else by participating, you will create a habit of writing every day. That’s your goal.
I read some time ago that willpower is a limited resource, residing in the same small section of the brain that houses the ability to stay focused, our short term memory, and the part of our mind that solves abstract problems. That is a lot for one very small area in the front of our brain. But there is so much I would like to accomplish! And I need willpower to do it all. The way I see it, we can only handle so much, so we need a PLAN.
I have just come from a meeting today with my goals group, a five person meet-up of like minded women. We talk about our goals for writing, for our home, for finances and for our health. We meet every two weeks and discuss what we achieved, and what we didn’t, and today we reviewed what we had accomplished not only over the last two weeks but also for the 3/4 mark for the year. It was really quite a lot.
Here’s the key to our success. We state our goals out loud, and we write them down. We hold each other accountable.
Pull out your goals for the year. Where are you? No need to comment here but consider what you could accomplish in the next few months. Make that plan.