Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I'm a about you?

I live a busy life. Who doesn't? Whether you work in an office or a home, you're busy. (And I have utmost respect for those of you who have chosen to stay at home with kids. My personal opinion--it's the hardest, most rewarding, job there is. At work you get lunch breaks, alone time, conversations with other adults and monetary rewards. At home, it all comes from the heart and goes to the heart. Hats off to all of you). Okay, I needed to say that because so many times I hear other writers say, "I don't know how you do it all. You work, you write, you raise your family. I just stay at home with my kids."

And I think, "Hands down, I guarantee you're every bit as busy if not more."

So how do we do it all? I think the best advice I can give to anyone who is still in the "trying to be a writer" stage is this--Stop trying. Start being. And by that I don't mean as much physically as I do mentally. It's a shift in thinking, being a writer. It's an acceptance that this is what you are and what you will be.

When you start answering the question, "what do you do?" with, "I'm a writer," a strange thing starts to happen. You start to believe it. And once YOU start to believe it, you become determined to make sure others believe it too.

The first (and I might add most difficult) barrier is going to be your family. You have to convince them that writing is a priority in your life and that there will be times--on a regular basis--where their needs will come after you finish your allotted page count. How do you do it? You draw a line and you respect it. If you respect it, the others will respect it too (although it may be grudgingly) .

You might start with something like going to your local chapter RWA (sister's in crime, MWA, etc) meeting once a month. Once a month, without fail. Sounds easy, but I am forever hearing new writers tell me they want to come, but this or that is preventing it. Well, this or that will have to wait until the next night or be done the night before. Meeting commitments you make to yourself are a critical part of being a writer. You won't have a boss or a contracted deadline while you're writing your first book--probably longer. So you have to become that boss and make the deadline yourself.

Once you've accomplished this small feat, set a time--everyday--when you write. It needn't be hours long. Some people tell me it takes them an hour just to get into the story. I say, gee that's nice. Wish I had that luxury, but I don't. If I have an hour, I write an hour. That means I multi-task in the hours before. While I'm doing laundry, making dinner, etc, I'm thinking of my story. Driving is always a good time, although I admit it can be hazardous. I can't count the times I've gone from home to store and not remembered how I got there.

Whatever time you have, use it. You may only turn out a page, but a page a day is a manuscript in a year. And a completed manuscript is one step closer to being a published writer.

If you're at home when you write, find a place where you can close the door or train yourself to write in the midst of chaos. This is what I did for the first 3 books. It takes a lot of discipline, but it can be done.

Now I go to my office, close the door and light some scented oil. I write and my family knows if it smells good in there, stay out. :-) If you can get out of the house, go to a coffee shop or the library. One hour a day. You deserve one hour a day, don't you? Especially if that hour leads you to seeing your dreams come true...


Libby said...

Great thoughts, Erin! I have found that it makes a big difference when I think of myself as a writer first and foremost. (Career-wise, that is. Very first is Mom these days.) I've only recently begun to think that way and I'm loving how much more writing I'm doing as a result.

Erin Quinn said...

It is an important step in your growth as a writer and I'm glad you're making it Libby. Sometime's it's the hardest step, but so worth the effort!

Thanks for stopping by!

Laurie Schnebly Campbell said...

Oh, Erin, I love the idea of OWNING the career internally, even without the external trimmings like a contract or a book cover. I think I might start introducing myself differently at parties!

Erin Quinn said...

Laurie, what a perfect way to describe it. I talked around it a bit, but OWNING your career internally is so much clearer. Thanks!