Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Writer's Survival Guide. 5 Tips

Writing is a dream job, but it's not an easy job. We've all read the quote about how writing it like opening a vein and bleeding onto the page. Easy peasy, right?

Not in the back and forth of real life.

Real life with its interruptions, challenges, and just plain work. So what's a writer to do when life is just plain making you live in a frazzled daze? I don't have it all figured out. But as I write book 22 and edit book 21 while plotting book 23, I have a few suggestions and tips that I hope will help you on your writing journey.

  1. Join a circus. No, seriously, learn how to juggle. One of the things I do is cart my laptop around with me when I think I can grab even 30 minutes to work. I've learned that sometimes the quick bursts can be more productive because I understand just how precious the time is. And if there's no internet? Even better! That means fewer online distractions.
  2. Look for ways to delegate. Are there things that someone else can help with? At one point in our family that was getting my kids to start helping with chores each week. We've slid away from that, and life feels more chaotic. Hmm, maybe it's time to reemphasize the help around the house. Hate doing the email newsletter all the publishers want to see? Then see about hiring a virtual assistant to help take the ouch out of creating it. It doesn't have to cost a lot, but just removing a couple things from your mental to-do list can be very helpful and create space for writing.
  3. Take a Break. Yes, I actually typed "take a break." Sometimes the well has simply run dry, and we're forcing words that we know are terrible. Worse yet, we're staring at a blank screen and beating ourselves up for not being able to force words onto the screen. So go grab a movie, read a book, take a walk. Do something other than writing and take care of yourself. I'm learning this is a critical piece of surviving the process of writing.
  4. Fall in love with your story and characters. Some books are a job. They simply are. But if you can rediscover the reason you decided to write the book in the first place, it can help reignite the joy in the writing process. Reread what you've written. Write a page of journaling for your character. Rehear his or her voice and passion. Before long, you'll be itching to get back to the keyboard and their story.
  5. Invite God back into the process of writing. Sometimes in the stress of writing and deadlines (even the self-imposed ones) it's so easy to lose sight of the Giver of the gift and call. I have truly felt God's joy as I've partnered with Him in writing a story. And when that piece is missing? I want to quit. So if the stress and strain is draining you, turn the whole process, story, and characters back over to Him. If He's called you to write, He will equip you!
As I've been dealing with the stress of lingering boxes and distractions, I uncovered a box of writing books. In the box was one I enjoyed, but need to pass on to someone wondering how to have a career as a novelist. All you have to do is use the rafflecopter form below to be entered to receive the copy of Don Maas' book. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Angela said...

Loved this post. Thanks Cara for the tips.

kaybee said...

Helpful post, Cara. I too have learned to make the most of bits and scraps of time, like our foremothers did with their quilts. I edit by printing out a chapter and going at it with the red pen, so my work is highly portable and if I have time between appointments, I find a café or a library carrel and go at it. Like you I'm writing one, editing one and planning one, which is a lot of work, but good for the juggling -- if I feel stymied on one project, I go to the others. We have to find ways to make it work, because nobody is going to make it work FOR us. Or do it for us. Because nobody else can.
Kathy Bailey

Cara Putman said...

The juggling can work great when you hit a wall on one book, Kathy. Great point!

Darcy Southern said...

My biggest question about publishing might be: How do you find a good agent, and what exactly defines a good agent anyway? :)

I love this list of writing tips. Thank you!

Kelly Bridgewater said...

Thank you, Cara! I live the tip about taking a break. It is nice to hear this. I set up a schedule with how many words to write everyday. Even if the words don't come, I feel like I have to sit there and knock that quota out. But I don't have too. Maybe watch a good movie or read one of my favorite books, so the writing comes back to me with more strength. Have a good week :).

Jeanne Takenaka said...

I love this post, Cara. And yeah, I think the biggest challenge is the juggling. And I don't have nearly the amount of stuff to juggle that you do. :) Thanks for the five tips and for the chance to win a book. :)

Unknown said...

How do you find an agent and do they handle everything or are there other things that you still have to do yourself?

Cara Putman said...

Darcy, that is a great question, and one I'll tackle in a future post.
Kelly, I have a daily word count goal, too, and it's taken a long time to realize that banging it out isn't always productive.
Jeanne, the juggling can cause such stress! We're in a new season at my house and I really have to focus on redeeming time, when all I want to do is relax. Ugh :-)
Laurie, great question. I'll address it in the future, but an agent relationship should be a partnership, and you'll definitely still do things.

Pepper Basham said...

Beautifully written, friend.
YES - we are all in the circus, but at least we're weird together ;-)
I love point #5. I think the fog of everydayness tends to push God to the back of the equation and we forget that without Him life's much MORE chaotic and stressful.

Thanks for this, Cara!

Anni said...

Great tips! You are always so generous with your books! Thank you!