Friday, 12 November 2010

Writing is Writing

{please note, this article is aimed at writer's not participating in this month's NaNoWriMo}

"OMG! I haven't written anything — anything — in a month! Where has the time gone? What's wrong with me? I'll never get this book published if I can't hunker down and write!"

Have you said this? I bet you have, at least to some degree. But let's look back over your last month, or number of weeks, since you've written.

Have you been concentrating on submissions of a previous story?

If you're previously published, are you submitting to reviewers or doing guest blog spots to promote your latest book?

Are you a member of a critique group or have a partner you critique with?

Do you write a blog?

Have you got buried yourself in research?

There are a number of reasons why you're not working on your story, but that doesn't mean you're not writing.

If you're submitting to agents and publishers, that's important if you want your story published. But that's no reason so sit back and wait for one book to sell before starting the next book. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, as they say. In other words, don't expect one story to launch your career and earn you enough money to live on. A first publication is your foot in the door. Those submissions are ultimately just as important as writing the book. But don't wait until that book sells before starting the next one. Keep the submissions going. It might be a good idea to set aside days where you concentrate on just submissions, and on the other days, concentrate on writing your next story.

The same goes for submitting your book for reviews. People who consider reading your work will often read reviews to see what the book is about and get the reviewers opinion on what they thought of it. It's important to build a good and lasting relationship with a selection of reviewers who like your work. Be sure to post those reviews on your website, too. Reviews are an important aspect of getting sales for your book. AND, prospective future publishers will also often look at your website and read previous reviews, too. When they see how well a first book was received, they're more likely to invest in your current story.

If you're involved in critiquing, whether in a group setting or individually, you're still engaged in some aspect of the writing process. It's called editing. OK, so you're not editing your book directly, but your partner's comments will be instrumental in how you see your story and your writing ability. And vice versa. Getting another person's opinion often shows us where our writing becomes inconsistent, passages may be confusing or contradictory to something you wrote previously, point out passive writing or even words you over-use. Like raising kids, ours are always perfect. It takes an outside view for someone else to point out our child has been wearing the same shirt for a week!

If you blog regularly, that's another aspect of writing, especially if your blog is writing related. I run several blogs, but they're not all about writing. I keep a personal blog about my life in Ireland. As well, I write travel and historical pieces for a travel site. Those are nonfiction, but I'm still writing.

What about research? That's also part of writing. Without the research necessary to plot your story, there would be no story. Research involves a lot of note-taking, so don't discount that as part of your writing life.

A writer's life can be hectic at times and take our focus away from the actual writing. After all, it's that story that needs to be published so we can have the rest of it . . . that promotions, reviews, guest blogging, etc. All of it is important.

If you find it difficult to schedule your day, here are some suggestions to help you through it —

1) I use the alarm setting on my mobile phone's calendar app for important appointments I need to remember. The alarm is not just for appointments outside the house, but for internet ones, such as guest blogging, when articles are due, etc.

2) I use a yearly diary to keep appointments as well. It's spiral bound so it doesn't take much space on my desk, and it's flipped open to 'today's' date so I can see what's due today and what other tasks need doing. When I schedule a guest blog or anything else that has a due date or appointment, I can quickly flip ahead in the diary to see what's coming up. It helps me plan my week.

3) I also keep a to-do list. I write one out every Monday — things that need to be done during the week at some point, but not necessary due on any specific day. Those are mostly goals I want to accomplish with in my work week. This list includes a lot of non-writing tasks, like laundry, vet appointments, grocery lists . . . even web design commitments and such. The to-do list and the yearly diary help me schedule life tasks with my writing ones.

It's funny how I used to laugh at people who lived like this — keeping diaries and setting alarms. Now I am one of those people. I'm not laughing anymore! While I've published short stories in previous years, I've never been busier than since my first novel, A Piece of My Heart, was published earlier this year. Scheduling has become even more important, which is ironic since I've never worked to a schedule in my life!

I've always said, "It's better to be busy than bored." However, it's not hard to lose focus on the side of writing that's made me so busy with all of the other writing responsibilities.

Stay tuned for my article on how to make time to write during the holidays!


  1. Great post, Kemberlee. :-)

    Oh, a 'to do' list wouldn't come amiss but - in the day job as well as my writing - I'm hopeless. But I agree with you to keep a note of important appointments/deadlines, etc.

    Critiquing can be hugely helpful, but it's also a tempting distraction. When those words don't flow as you want to, it's much easier to do a critique for someone else instead. ~sigh~

    Happy Writing!

  2. You've given me hope, Kemberlee, and also the idea that it's time to start setting some writerly goals on the calendar and setting some writerly alarms! Thank you!

  3. I used to think I had a great memory, and I do, but when it comes to multiple commitments and being asked for similar stuff from similar groups, the diary and my phone alarm app come in really handy. I've worked off to-do lists for a long time, but now more so than ever. I never thought I could juggle, but look at me now ;-)