“You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job.” – Nora Roberts
— DIY Author (@DIYauthor) July 15, 2014
I recently received a gift subscription to Writer’s Digest, a magazine for writers who are interested in publishing. There are some useful articles about techniques or aspects of publishing, opportunities to submit for competitions, some of which I may well enter later this year. There are also pieces not-so-subtly advertising for an editor, publisher, or small press, which make me wonder how such an editor or small press gets groomed for such a spotlight.
But today what I thought the most engaging for sport was the workshop listed under the Writer’s Digest University umbrella, entitled, Fitting Writing Into Your Life. Here’s the blurb (italics mine):
“Finding the time, energy, and motivation to find a time to write–day after day–stumps even the most seasoned writer on occasion. Life as a writer can be difficult to sustain, especially if you don’t have direction, organization, and the support you need. This workshop will help you set realistic goals as you learn to better manage your time, develop a writing platform and practice better writing strategies.”
I was immediately struck by the attraction of such a pitch. Not unlike the siren song of a retreat to the rural, the sodden excuse of ‘not having enough time’ seemed an acceptable balm to my not-yet-discovered career.
But then I’d also seen the quote at the top of this post the same morning, a good reminder.
So in fact I had two immediate thoughts: One, Why is this time management stuff always such an uphill battle? And Two, I’ve been working on these skills for several years; why shouldn’t I have my own course for this stuff?
Now, don’t worry. I’m not starting a $200 Time Management for Writers course today.
But I did want to take a look at what the workshop offered and see if I wasn’t already helping myself, with what I’d learned in the past few years blogging and networking and writing.
What is a writer’s direction? Simply stated, the goal at which she aims, and the path over which she must climb to achieve it. My goal is to continue to publish better and better books, so that I attract a base of fans who enjoy my stories and rave about the quality of my writing to others. The path to this goal involves timely drafts, revisions, and publications (self-publishing is fine for now), as well as crucial periodic feedback.
There, I have a Direction. Let’s call it North by North-West.
What organization does a writer need? At the most basic level, he needs supplies, contacts, ideas, and a market. He can get very fancy with the first three, and still manage to fall back on the great leveling market: Amazon.com, at least in the present moment. Amazon provides a service that takes the supplies and ideas (bits and bytes and his heart poured onto the screen), formats them into a product, and puts them on a shelf. It may be a high, dusty, unused shelf, but at least the product is available.
Then in comes the author with the contacts he’s managed to gather, and the story is released. Whether it produces a sonic boom or a titillating whisper may vary according to writer, or according to how far along the writer is in his Direction.
There, I have an Organization: Amazon, Inc. For now.
Ah, of course the writer needs support! There are so many dazzling varieties of support that the list could blind you faster than staring at a blank page. But what is really needed for you to succeed in your goal as a writer?
Financial support, or a day job. Technical support, for where we are not experts in formatting or grammar or marketing. Inspirational support, or why-am-I-doing-this-anyway? affirmations. And communitarian support, or the I-am-not-alone grounding of fellow writers who can tell you if you’re crazy or just reaching a new level of procrastination.
I have found all these kinds of support except the latter, but I am busily preparing for a summer of communitarian events: the Northwest Book Festival, the Willamette Writers Conference, the Oregon Writers Colony readings, and hopefully more, all to meet more writers in my Fiction-Writing community.
So it appears Fitting Writing into your Life is none so hard. Or at least I’ve managed to hit the core elements in my year and a half of officially being a writer.
Anyone want any help? (Leave a comment. I’ll see what I can do)
Note: For Portland peeps, you can see me this Saturday, July 26, 11-5, at the Northwest Book Festival, where over 100 participants will be on hand to chat about their books, in all genres for all audiences.