Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Getting Down To the Nitty Gritty

On Monday, we touched on the topic of your ultimate writing goal. Today we'll expand on that.
Get out the paper! It's time to spend a little time in honest reflection about this topic.

I want you to think back and write down how much time you devote to writing every week. How much of that time is spent writing? Researching? Trolling the internet about writing? Studying books on writing? Taking courses to improve your writing? Reading trade magazines? Tidying up your writing area (in my case as an excuse NOT to write!)? There are no right or wrong answers. This is just an assessment of how much time you spend on the various aspects of writing.

It can be very easy to overestimate how much time is spent writing, as opposed to how much time is spent doing writing related activities.

If writing is your hobby, how much time do you feel should be devoted to it? Writing a poem, short story, or a novel, takes time. We take up hobbies because they give us pleasure and because of the feeling of accomplishment when we finish a project. Do you finish your projects? Do you have a spring in your step about getting back into your project? Or have you reached that sticky mid-point where you dread it and the project sits there, half-finished, because your initial enthusiasm petered out?

If you have any desire to become published, how much time are you spending to reach that goal? Maybe it's less stressful to think in vague terms like when I have more time, I'll write..., or if I didn't have to work full time..., or when the kids are grown...
We all feed ourselves lines from time to time, but the reality is there is no perfect time. It slips away no matter what stage of life you're at. You have to make a conscious effort (aka: a plan!) if you want to reach your goals.

If you want to get published ASAP, you're probably doing everything you can. But how can you be sure? Ask yourself how many hours each week do you spend writing, revising, networking, and promoting? Oh, wait, I can hear you now. Networking? Promoting? That comes after I'm published, right?
Writing a great book or short story is only part of the process. Another big key is to join a writers' association appropriate for your market. Invest in a few writing books on craft. And, I'm going to say the scary word: website. Also, do you have anyone reading your work that can give you honest, but kind, feedback? If the answer is no, at least read your work out loud before submitting it.

If you're published and working under a deadline, my hats off to you! How are you feeling about the time you're allowed to write your next book? How much time does the business end cut into your writing? Do you have enough time when you're finished with your draft to polish it? If there is one thing you could change about your schedule, one thing that stresses you out more than anything else, can you think of a way to take the edge off through better planning, delegating, or negotiating?

No matter what your ultimate goal in writing is, the key is to give it an important role in your life. Writing an hour one week then nothing for the next two weeks is like exercising once every three weeks. Sure, it counts, but it doesn't exactly help you lose that last 5 pounds.
Come back on Friday for an in-depth discussion on finding time to devote to writing.


Write Already! It's Wednesday!

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