Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Time Off- Trusty Sidekick or Archnemesis?

Image courtesy of thawats at FreeDigitalPhotos.net (edited in Microsoft Paint by me)

4:30 AM. Rise and shine, because the toddler is awake, you've been dreaming about planting your garden, and the coffee your husband is brewing before he goes to work smells delicious. Fast forward 5 hours- you're making yourself yet another cup of wake-up juice, just dropped off the kiddos at school and drove home through puffy, gentle snow (on the 5th day of spring!!) to the sweet sound of the early bird's purring snores from the car seat.

Sounds like a great day to...I don't know...take a nap! Right?

I'm sure no one would blame me if I did. But, here I am, writing a blog post instead. I also have the editing of  my first novel to accomplish (1/3 of the way there!) and a lot of preparing for upcoming conferences, books to review, books to read, my career to plan... A day off? NEVER!

But with all this hanging over my head, I can't help but wonder, is time off something we must embrace- that Trusty Sidekick so to speak, who shows up just when we need him, makes us feel super when we doubt, and perfectly compliments our hero costume? Or, is the need to take time our Arch Nemesis, always spying and waiting to stamp out our productivity with one dastardly plan after the next?

When we announced to the world we were professionals, not just "aspiring writers" (don't get me started!), we started something. Something that made us feel bad when we're not writing. We have to earn that title, after all. And truly, there are times when I'd rather be playing video games, watching movies with the family, knitting, reading, doing laundry (not!) but I have to shut myself into my office/laundry room, and get to work.

This is good. It helps me realize how much this career means to me. I helps me understand where my priorities lie, and it helps the other people in my life see these sacrifices too. When I'm taking it seriously, it encourages others to do the same, thus increasing my chances of success. In the end, being a Writer is still an occupation and in order to do it well, you can't just write when you have nothing else better to do.

That being said...

Writers, like everyone else in this world, need a break too. Undue pressure is a sure fire way to quench any creative flames that burn inside us. We have lives to run, children to love, parties to attend, houses to clean, and eventually, we have to pay bills (it keeps the laptop running.)

Not only do we need to manage our lives, but down time is a necessity to let our ideas breathe, work out plot and character issues, come up with new ideas, and keep our work fun and fresh. I consulted two of  my favorite authors including Leigh Bardugo author of Shadow and Bone, book one of the Grisha Trilogy and A.G. Henley , author of The Scourge, which is also the first in a trilogy (second book to release 2013.) Leigh, who is in high gear promoting her second book, Seige and Storm- June 4, 2013, agreed saying, "Personally, time off is a necessity for me..." and A.G., who is also runs her own business and a family, had this to say, "Taking time away from writing is not only good, it's essential."

Work times ebb and flow as do the words. My daily goal is 1000 words at a minimum. Some days, I'm 140 words in thinking I'll never make that goal, then other's I'm 2000 in and only stop because the baby wakes up. We have to take advantage of the urges when they strike and sometimes, be it personal dedication or deadlines, we work when we're not "feeling it."

Occasionally, there comes a day, scheduled or not, when you just have to let it go, turn the computer off, and live your life. If you love it, you'll be back. In the wise words of my friend and fellow author, Allison Marie Silver, we sometimes have to give ourselves permission to take a break.

Ahhhh.....back to work.
Image courtesy of anat_tikker at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Thank you!

I'd like to thank my friends, Leigh Bardugo, A. G. Henley, and Allison Silver, for their support.
Find Leigh Bardugo at her Website, Good Reads and Facebook. As a special treat, read the first two chapters online here!
Find A. G. Henley on Amazon, her website/blog and Facebook
Find Allison Marie Silver on Facebook and her blog, Snarky Sentiments of a Paranormal Writer

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Thick Skin: Not Just for Pudding Anymore

One of my favorite motivational and real-world check artists, Kristin Lamb, just posted a great article titled "Enemies of the Art Part 10- Having a Thin Skin" as a reminder that we all must learn to accept feedback and criticism, and not just from the people that say what we want to hear.
Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This pearl of wisdom for is everyone, not just Writers. As a matter of fact, the moments when someone has offered us crudely dealt harsh words is invaluable, even when we prefer to disregard them.

We all love to be told how great we are, how our work is impressive, how wonderful we are at our trade, but when we are told everything is perfect, how do we learn where we need to improve? Where do we get the motivation to do better? When you're at the top of the mountain, how do you climb higher? The thing is, we aren't perfect, we do need to do better, and there's always room to aspire for a higher level. And that's what those awkward, maddening, hurtful moments are good for, if nothing else. To give us ammunition, motivation, and something to ponder when we're done pontificating about how wonderful we are.

True enough, we tell ourselves that these "Bubble Bursters" are filled with jealousy, misinformation, or lack of understanding, and sometimes they are. But sometimes they're on to something and I'd wager it's worth your effort to consider it every time. Even if it exploded in your face like some kind of gift wrapped bomb from Wile E. Coyote, there's something you can learn from it.
Source: www.cartoonnetwork.com

Personally, I can pin point several points in my life where those words ("You're being small minded," "This is just unreadable," "There's no hook. No action."), equivalent to gut punches, have made me thankful. Thankful that they got the wheels turning, got me thinking from a new angle. And after cursing under my breath, crying, and getting through the embarrassment, I have found, more than the nice ones, those words that stung caused more evolution, more development in my skills and mindset than I ever could have thought (however bitterly I had to admit it.)

Before you quit the reading group, the critique circle, the friendship, think about what you're told. Decide if it's pride, discomfort, denial, or our unavoidable subjectivity with which we see the world that makes us want to run to the nearest chocolate cake and dig with our hands.

It takes practice, but when you open your mind and step away from your ego, personal growth is sure to happen.
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Please read "We Are Not Alone: The Writer's Guide to Social Media" by Kristin Lamb and "Are You There Blog? It's Me Writer", a fantastic combination to be inspired and to get your Author Marketing Platform off the ground ASAP!