Making Time for Self-Care While Running a Business

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Making Time for Self-Care While Running a Business

By Christopher Haymon
adultingdigest.com

Many writers dream of making a career out of their work, and, for many, this means running their own business. Although reaching this goal marks a significant personal and professional milestone, it can easily come at a cost, as many business owners wind up neglecting self-care at some point in their professional journey.

This may seem like a fairly benign issue at first, but it’s a sacrifice that will come back to haunt you. Put yourself on the backburner for too long, and you’re likely to wind up seriously stressed, exhausted, and possibly even physically sick. Here are some tips from Writing Corner for how you can fit self care into your schedule and make your well-being a priority again:

Reduce Your Workload

Some business owners make the mistake of taking on more and more work until they find their absolute limit. Although this might bring in more income, it’s not worth it if it comes at the cost of physical and mental health. If you’re working so much you don’t have time to exercise, eat healthy meals, or rest and recharge, then you need to reduce your workload.

One way to do this is to outsource tasks where possible. For example, you can hire freelancers to handle a variety of tasks, especially ones that aren’t in your wheelhouse. This can include anyone from a virtual assistant to a marketing expert to an accountant. You can also use a formation service to knock out the tedious work of registering your business. Although this comes with a cost, it’s often well worth it in time you get back. Moreover, formation services are usually far less expensive than hiring a lawyer, and you still know an expert is tackling formation on your behalf.

Develop Healthy Habits

When you’re scheduling your day, make sure you fit some healthy, wellness-boosting habits into your regular routine. For instance, you might start practicing yoga in the morning, or self-massage. One of the absolute best gifts you can give yourself for mental and physical wellness is a mindfulness practice. Meditating for as little as ten minutes a day can reduce stress, help manage depression and anxiety, and even improve blood pressure and other health indicators.

Whenever you’re trying to develop a new habit, remember to prioritize consistency over perfection. Avoid giving yourself big, insurmountable goals that will only serve to discourage you. Doing a little bit each day is just what you need, especially at the beginning, to make a new action feel like a natural part of your lifestyle.

Make Time for Fun

Running a business takes a lot of mental energy, and it’s easy to feel like you have to spend all your free time learning everything you can to keep your business going strong. In reality, however, taking some time to do something fun and completely non-productive can be the best thing for you. Time away – really away – from work is absolutely necessary, as it allows you to rest and recharge your creative batteries.

Gaming, for example, is a great hobby to pick up. Not only does it give you something fun and exciting to do, but it can even reduce your overall stress levels. Plus, if you have an internet connection built for gamers, you can use online games to get some socializing in as well. Figure out what kind of activities you can do in your downtime that will be truly enjoyable and satisfying.

Although you might be hesitant to add to an already busy schedule, making room for self-care is an investment that will pay off. Not only will you feel better, but you’ll also have more energy for tackling work. You might even find that, though you spend less time working, you get more done: what could be better?

Want advice on how to turn your writing into a business? Check out the Writing Corner’s resources page.

Photo Credit: Pexels

 

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Writing By Moonlight

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Writing By Moonlight

By Mary Anne Hahn

Four years ago, on a May afternoon bright with promise, I lived every writer’s dream – I packed up nearly a decade’s worth of office belongings, hugged my co-workers good-bye, and walked out of a secure, stable, stress-filled job to make my mark as a full-time freelance writer.

I hated it.

Okay, I didn’t really, at least not in the beginning. That heady moment of leaving a restrictive nine-to-five job behind and the weeks that followed rank up there among the top five high points of my life (I’ll save the remaining four for other articles…suffice to say they are not all writing-related…). With the wind in my sails, my pride at stake, and a truckload of excellent work habits developed during my “day job” days, I established my home office, organized files, picked up the necessary tax forms, set daily schedules and developed weekly goals. I chased after leads, sent off queries, and even landed a couple of meaty writing assignments with local companies.

But as queries came back to me stamped “Rejected,” and local projects petered out, so did my enthusiasm. Days became long and very empty. My fountain of writing ideas, which I’d once thought was endless, dried up for lack of outside stimulation. I found myself longing to be very, very busy again, with work that was being delegated to me, rather than having to go find it myself. Plus, I’ll admit, I missed making money. So after several months I went back to work part time, just to see a regular check with my name on it. And after several more months, I abandoned the dream completely, and returned to work full-time.

Now I’m writing more than I ever did.

I’m not telling you this to discourage you from living the freelance dream. In fact, like an ex-lover, I think about giving it a second chance someday, a little wiser from my first go-round. But there are advantages to moonlighting as a freelance writer that I hadn’t appreciated before, benefits that I want to share with you before you, too, decide to quit your day job. Read them and reap.

  1. Time to write remains special, precious, when we don’t have all the time in the world. In her book Writing From Personal Experience, Nancy Davidoff Kelton suggests that we view writing like an illicit love affair, savoring the moments, relishing the time. When we “ought” to be collecting dust bunnies or “should” be running errands, we can spoil ourselves instead with a few stolen moments of writing time. After all, if the world ended tomorrow, would the dust bunnies really matter?
  2. A regular paycheck frees us to practice until we’re perfect. A full-time freelancer may need to look for the sure thing, because writing literally is their bread and butter. Moonlighters can bet the long shots. You are more willing to take chances, walk the tightrope, experiment with new writing styles or markets, with a financial safety net of a full- or part-time job beneath you. Rejection letters sting less when you are not counting on an advance to pay next month’s rent. But when you succeed as a moonlighter, the satisfaction is still as sweet, and the any financial payoff actually becomes an added bonus, not a life-or-death necessity.
  3. Your day job actually can add fuel to your writing fire, rather than extinguish it. My own article and story ideas spring daily from snatches of conversation overheard in the employee lounge, discussions with friends over 45-minute lunches, or disgruntled employees who drop by my cubicle to vent. Newspaper headlines or tidbits that capture the attention of my co-workers enlighten me as to what interests them, and what could interest my potential readers. Newsletters and magazines that float around the office become possible markets for my work. When I left the office environment previously to pursue full-time freelancing, I had unknowingly severed myself from this incredible wellspring of writing ideas. Be sure you are tapping yours to the fullest.

So while moonlighting may be, for many writers, a necessary fact of life, it brings its rewards as well. Working our desire to write into a schedule that includes full-time jobs, families and never-ending to-do lists of other responsibilities forces us to truly assess our priorities, organize our time, and seize our moments. But when we get up in the morning a few minutes earlier, stay awake at night a few minutes later, or sneak out to a quiet place during our lunch hours to pursue our “illicit love affair” with writing, we have the dual benefit of exploring one of our greatest passions, along with the security of jobs and loved ones to support and accept us when we return.

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Write Better Naked

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Write Better Naked

Strip Down to Your Essential Writing Soul

By Shirley Jump

You can keep your clothes on — but free yourself to write.

Take it off. Take it all off. No, not your clothes (although if you want to compose in the nude, that’s your prerogative). Strip away those hindrances to writing, from the expectations of others to the quest for your true writing voice. Once you learn to strip away all the rules and barriers, you will write more freely and your words will have more impact.

That’s not to say you can pull a Faulkner and eliminate punctuation or start reinventing the rules of grammar. The basics of good composition apply no matter what you are creating. To me, writing naked means being a writer who creates out of a sense of joy, not in an attempt to follow marketing trends or to appease the judgment of friends and family members. It’s writing in its purest form.

Let’s start with the expectations of others. If you are writing with the purpose of getting published, then you’ve probably looked at the books and articles that are out there, and decided you have to make your work fit those models. It’s like being in junior high. The “in” crowd wore the hippest clothes and those who wanted to be part of the clique did the same. But what happens is individuality gets swallowed up in the quest for sameness. Readers don’t want uniformity. They choose one author over another because she has unique storytelling abilities.

The people who have made a dent in the publishing world have made their individual writing styles an asset. Stephen King, John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Kathleen Woodiwiss. No one was doing what they did at the time they launched their careers. They encountered many closed doors but once they made it to the rank of published, they found a bevy of readers hungry for uniqueness.

Think about your own expectations, too. You might envision your writing career following a certain path. Maybe you expected to be published in a year or two or ten and it hasn’t happened. Maybe you expected to have a literary voice and all that’s coming out is comedy. Let go of those expectations, too. As soon as you put a leash on your writing, you are restricting yourself. While it’s wonderful to be able to compose lyrical passages, or comic ones, or straight journalistic prose, don’t expect yourself to write in a style other than the one in which you write. The truth is that everyone’s writing style and writing paths are different. Only by giving your creative side free rein can you discover your own path.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that no one can tell your stories quite the same way you can. That’s a gift — a single element that sets you apart from any other writer. When you write, you do so with the express purpose of communicating your own writer’s soul. There is nothing more naked than that.

EXERCISE: Take one hour this week and write entirely for you. Don’t think about where the piece might sell or what someone might think about it. Set out to write strictly for yourself. Create anything. A story. A poem. A journal entry. Don’t worry about what it is, or what you’ll do with it. Rediscover the joy of creation for creation’s sake.

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Moving Up the Rejection Ladder

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Moving Up the Rejection Ladder

By Margaret Terhune

A few weeks ago, I received a great rejection letter from a literary journal. It was almost as exciting as when I got my first paying contract. While other people raise an eyebrow when I refer to a good rejection letter, my writing friends smile knowingly for they are familiar with the hierarchy of editor responses.

The letter began in the usual way: “Thank you for offering your work to…we regret that we cannot use it at this time.” Oh well, I thought, another one for the “no” box. Then I noticed the hand-written note at the bottom. I’ve learned to appreciate any personal touch: an editor’s signature, a post-it note with a few encouraging words, a note scribbled somewhere on the page. These are all excellent indications that your work has been read and considered by at least one person.

A quick side note on rejection letters: my husband thinks it’s bizarre that I keep these letters but they’re actually a great source of satisfaction. Not only are they proof that I continue to write and send but they are also an excellent way to refer back to editor’s names and addresses. I know of people who have papered walls with these letters; I prefer to keep mine together in a box.

“I enjoyed your poem and wish you luck in placing it,” the note read. “I’m sorry we can’t use it… please consider us again. Keep writing.” Please consider us again – these are the magical words, opening the door just a few inches wider. This particular journal only reads submissions for a short period each year, so I shall have to wait before resubmitting. Normally, I would send something else out within a few weeks, while the favorable impression is still fresh in the editor’s memory.

I still get plenty of generic rejection letters, ranging from curt notes to longer letters. Some are polite and encouraging while others give the impression that the work was thoroughly unworthy of being read. I particularly dislike the ones which contain a checklist of reasons for rejection ranging from “not suited to our present needs” (I invariably get this one) to “poorly written” (I wonder if they ever use this one?).

In the midst of all this banality, a personalized letter makes me feel that I’m still headed in the right direction. The fact that an editor took the time to jot a note is a great motivation to continue sending out my work.

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The Juggling Act

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

The Juggling Act

By Shirley Jump

A friend recently asked me, as a fellow mom and full-time writer: “How do you juggle work and being a mom and make sure you’re doing a good job at both? I feel guilty when I work and guilty when I don’t. Well, all except for at night. But the work I can get in from nine to midnight just isn’t enough if I want to do this full time….”

My answer: You don’t.

I’m not trying to be flip about this, just realistic. There are going to be times, NO MATTER how hard you try, when you feel like you are only doing a good job at one or the other, times when you feel you should get the “World’s Worst” award for both. It never balances out-ever.

But here’s the kicker. It doesn’t matter what you are doing with your time during the day, whether it’s baking cakes or working a job or writing or mowing the lawn. You are ALWAYS going to feel like you can’t balance both equitably.

Nora Roberts, who is probably one of the most prolific writers in the world, started out writing when her kids were very young. She is often asked how she managed to balance both. She said that in the juggling act of life, you have to decide what things are glass balls and what things are rubber balls. The rubber balls you let drop so you can catch the glass ones. The glass balls are obviously the most important things in your life: children, husband/wife, writing. The rubber balls are the Tupperware parties and the pristine house and anything that smacks of Martha Stewart.

In short, you have to let some things go in order to attend to your priorities. I’m not telling you anything you can’t hear on an “Oprah” rerun. This makes sense, and it works.

But it doesn’t solve the problem of feeling guilty for working when the kids are around and feeling guilty for playing when you should be working. That isn’t going to go away. I battle it daily. Guilt has a starring role in my house. Heck, I’m even thinking of giving it a bedroom of its own.

A few things that I do when the balance is tipping precariously in one direction or the other:

  • Let the kids fend for themselves: I know, it sounds cruel. What do you mean, not make them a sandwich? Not bathe them? Not put away their laundry? Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. My daughter, at nearly 8, is pretty proficient with the microwave and knows how to make soup from a can. My son, at 3, has attempted his own sandwich. He can change his own clothes. They do many things for themselves. To me, it’s not a bad thing. It teaches them independence and makes them feel proud that they can “do it themselves.”
  • Pass the guilt trip to someone else: Think you feel guilty? Think about your spouse, who is probably working more hours than you and spending even less time as a parent. Share that guilty burden. Don’t be a martyr.
  • Involve them: My daughter and I play “Mancala” while I answer e-mail. My son colors at my desk while I work. It doesn’t always work out, but if my task is light, their company is nice.
  • Walk away from work: I do this when the kids least expect it (keeps them on their toes 🙂 There are times when I have to say no to playing a game or watching a video, but I try to temper that with just as many yes times. I counter this by sleeping less and working during their sleeping time, but it works out okay.
  • Show them you love them: I leave notes in lunchboxes, put lipstick kisses on hands, bring home the occasional treat, dispense hugs no matter what I am in the middle of, and tell them I love them all the time. It’s not a substitute for being with them, but it reminds them that I think about them all the time.

Last of all, accept that you will NEVER have that perfect balance. If you weren’t writing, you might be at a full-time job, or going to school, or spending your time knitting. Everyone needs something for themselves, whether it’s a job or a hobby. That time is time well spent because you are investing in YOU.

And isn’t that a great lesson to teach the kids?

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Pop Quiz: Who Are You?

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

Pop Quiz: Who Are You?

By Shirley Jump

When I first started writing, I thought I wanted to be the next Jane Pauley. I could just see myself, leaping after the big story, landing the big headlines and the cheers of the newsroom. Then, after a few years at a city newspaper, I realized I didn’t have what it took to be an investigative reporter. I didn’t like butting into people’s lives, I didn’t like stirring up trouble and I especially didn’t like hunting down a story that didn’t want to be found.

It was an epiphany that shaped my life from there on out and changed my career course. I started freelancing, instead of being a staff reporter, and like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman,” I had the power over who and when and what I wrote about. It was great. It didn’t pay as well 🙂 but it worked out much better for my conscience and my heartburn level.

It may take you a while before you figure out what kind of writer you want to be. To help you, try this “Pop Quiz.” Take some time with these answers – give them some thought. You might find you are a different writer in your heart than you are in your head.

POP QUIZ ON YOU

If you’re having trouble figuring out your roadblocks to success, take this quick quiz. Ask yourself:

  • What are my strengths and weaknesses? Am I procrastinator? Am I good at research or concepting?
  • What kind of articles do I like to read?
  • Do I have the personality to write investigative journalism pieces, personal essays, think pieces, research articles, or lighter features?
  • Do I enjoy research and statistical work or am I happier interacting with people and learning about their stories and adventures?
  • Am I willing to try my hand at a number of different article genres until I find what works best for me?
  • Do I see writing as a regular part of my life or just a temporary endeavor?
  • Am I interested in writing articles as a full-time or part-time job?
  • Do I have the courage to put my articles in the mail? To face the inevitable criticisms and rejections? To meet the challenge when my work is accepted?
  • Am I willing to put in the time to study the market, research my article ideas, and study the craft of writing?
  • Do I have the discipline to do this on my own? Would I be better off collaborating with another writer or expert?
  • What kind of writer do I want to be? When I close my eyes, where do I envision my work appearing?
  • Most importantly: Do I have the persistence, dedication, and drive to make my dream come true?

Doing this kind of self-analysis helps you understand your own weaknesses and strengths. By knowing yourself well, your writing and publishing efforts will be far more successful because you can adapt your approach to fit your particular forte.

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The Literary Food Chain

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

The Literary Food Chain

By Sharon Horton

In the world of acting, the Food Chain is well defined. Theater actors look down upon Movie actors. Movie actors look down upon Television actors. Television actors look down upon Commercial actors and I suppose Commercial actors look down upon Infomercial actors. Everyone has an opinion as to what is legitimate within the Thespian World.

It is the same within the Literary World.

How often I have encountered the curious and intrigued expression when I announce I am a writer. And, how often I have encountered the “looked down upon” expression when it is discovered I am an unpublished writer.

The first question after they learn I write is always, “Are you published?” They don’t care if I’ve written a charming tale about an artichoke that talks and teaches the meaning of life to children, or if I’ve written a complete manual on how to split atoms over a campfire. All they care about is whether they can enter a bookstore and see my name in print.

Will seeing my name in print validate my craft? Maybe. Will it ensure I am a writer? No. I am a writer pure and simple and struggling with the best of them. The dream of creating our stories and characters is what makes us strive to perfect ourselves. The dream of being published keeps us striving. And yet, we are all still writers.

As the well read person may have seen in print by another writer- ‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.’ Those who are actors, act. We, who are writers, write. If the reading world views the unpublished me as being at the bottom of the Literary Food Chain then I shall accept it proudly, for I am in good company.

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How Not to Procrastinate

RESOURCES-TIPS: For writers of all genre who want to write, and the readers who love them.

If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn't matter a damn how you write.
- Somerset Maugham

All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary -- it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
- Somerset Maugham

Anecdotes don't make good stories. Generally I dig down underneath them so far that the story that finally comes out is not what people thought their anecdotes were about.
- Alice Munro

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs

Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil -- but there is no way around them.
Isaac Asimov

To write fiction, one need a whole series of inspirations about people in an actual environment, and then a whole lot of work on the basis of those inspirations.
- Aldus Huxley

Get it down.  Take changes.  It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good.
- William Faulkner

Books aren't written, they're rewritten.  Including our own.  It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it.
- Michael Crichton

Any man who keeps working is not a failure.  He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he'll eventually make some kind of career for himself as a writer.
- Ray Bradbury

How Not to Procrastinate

By Shirley Jump

I have a confession to make: I procrastinate as much as the next person. I’ll avoid a pending deadline by cleaning out the bathroom cabinet, taking a trip to the mall or simply overdosing on junk TV. The problem is that I’m a working writer, and I’m responsible for a sizable chunk of the household income, so procrastination is not a good idea.

Still, I do it. And I’m not alone. “I procrastinate about almost everything, even though when I do occasionally do something right away it always feels so good! If something is going to be unpleasant I will procrastinate,” says writer Holly Gumpher Fawcett.

How do you overcome procrastination and learn to move forward with your work? After a writing career that has spanned more than twenty years, I’ve developed a few tips that have worked well for me.

  • Accept that you are a procrastinator: If you know you have faults, you can work around them. Understand that your tendency is to put things off and work hard to encourage yourself to do the opposite. Just be careful to build in enough extra time to accommodate your habits. “I’ve learned through experience how long certain projects take, and I procrastinate accordingly,” says humor writer Jennifer Doloski. “I have, however, been burned by procrastinating under the assumption that my sources will be available when I’m ready to work, and it doesn’t always happen.”
  • Take Baby Steps: If you need to get three queries out this week and feel overwhelmed by the task, do one tiny thing at a time. Just outline the first one on Monday, then write the opening paragraph on Tuesday. Wednesday, finish it and outline the second one, and so forth. “You know that analogy about the eagle with the branches in its talon?” asks Melanie Gold, a freelancer and Associate Editor with the National Association of Colleges and Employers. “Singularly the branches are weak, but together they’re unbreakable. I reverse that. A seemingly impossible project can be done if you break it down into parts.”
  • Take the work with you: Often, the problem is in your environment. Some people feel all their self-doubts and fears come back the minute they sit in front of their computer. If that’s the case, then pick up your pad of paper, your pen and some Post-its and journey to wherever you feel most comfortable. I’ve worked on the couch, in the library and even in a coffee shop as a reward and a break from my office. A change of pace can also restart those creative juices.
  • Get the beginning done: When I have a huge article to write and only have a minute to work on it, I’ll often write just the lead. For some reason, once that opening is done, the rest of the article easily falls into place when I come back to it later. Even though I’ve only composed a paragraph, it feels like the bulk of the work is done and the project isn’t so overwhelming anymore.
  • Put a mental boss on your shoulder: Working at home or on your own schedule is too much temptation for most procrastinators. It’s far too simple to opt for baking cookies over writing essays or sending invoices. Writer Cheryl Duksta pretends she has a To-Do list from a boss. “What helps me is to create a list and pretend that it’s my boss. I don’t think; I just follow my list.”
  • Do the icky stuff first: If you have a long list of projects and have a couple that you are dreading doing, do those first. Author Melissa Hill says she uses a prioritized list and deals with the unpleasant jobs early. “If say, number 1 is no fun, [say to yourself] I’ll just do it for ten minutes. After ten minutes, you’re kind of in the flow of the thing and you end up just finishing it up.”
  • Make bargains with yourself: I’ve set all kinds of rewards for myself to get dreaded projects done — from a Hershey bar to a walk around the block. The key is to find something that motivates you enough to get your work done so that the reward is worth the effort.

You can learn to overcome bad procrastination habits and make yourself a much more productive writer. The key is knowing who you are and finding the right approach for your style of work. Before you know it, you’ll be getting ten times more work done than ever before – and seeing ten times the results of your efforts.

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