Writer Wednesday – Finding Balance

It happens to every writer,  a life event of some form or another.   Some are joyous like weddings, babies, new puppy, new home, etc.   And of course, there are those that are not; death, illness, injury and job loss.

There are also Life Events that don’t fit into either category but cause chaos.  I’ll give you an example.

In 2014 I was part of a team that helped implement a new software throughout my company.  It involved training, travel and late nights.   This proved to be a wreckage on my writing habits, which were modest at best, and I can’t say I’ve fully recovered.

About this time my family dynamic had changed as well.  I went from a mom of two at my peak of productivity to an empty nester.

I thought both events would be advantageous to my writing.  I’d have all this time alone while traveling for my job to write.   I didn’t factor in the pure exhaustion I would feel when I hit the hotel room and how appealing a bed would be.

I thought once my children moved away I would have the weekends and really add to my productivity.  I didn’t factor in how much I would miss them or how their homework and sleep habits played into my writing time.

Life events have an impact on our writing because they affect us either emotionally, physically or both.   And often create a rather large writing block for us.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you are suffering from a mental illness or trauma, please seek professional help.  As someone who has loved ones with SAD and PTSD, these life-altering events should not be taken lightly.  They require sensitivity and care, and left untreated they can have devastating effects.

Because of my experience, I look for ways to achieve work/write/life balance.  I do this by setting goals.  Not just around writing but around my life too.   Granted I make more allowances for life because its mine and I can. 🙂

Here are some:

  1. Writing – Minimum writing of 200 words a day.   Mostly because I find once I start writing I usually go to 500 or 1000.   But at a minimum, I do 200.  This is 200 on anything including this blog. 🙂
  2. Sleeping – Sleep at least 8 hours a night.  Sometimes this means going to bed early, or sleeping in on the weekends, but I try and stick to this as a goal.  I find I’m well rested and generally feel better.
  3.  Bum Day – Because I have a day job still, I find Sundays the best day to do this.  I stay in sweats all day and generally watch movies or read.  Then I feel more like I had time off.
  4. Date Night –  My husband and I try and go out one night a week.  Middle of the week works best, but last week we did a play on Saturday, so that was nice. It’s not always so formal.  Sometimes its Pizza and TV or a campfire and s’mores.   Sometimes we count breakfast after a trip to the Gym, mostly to sit and talk.  Reconnect in a way that is important to us.
  5. Reading – I actually still read romance fiction.   I think reading is like filling the creative well, and generally, I prefer a good book over a good TV show.   I’ve just started Books on Tape for my commute and I really love that.
  6. Learn new things – I’ve got a passion to sew my own clothes though I haven’t done it in years, so I bought a book to relearn the skill.

These are just a few suggestions and what works for me right now in my current life.   If I have a life event that changes things, I’ll reevaluate what will work then.

 

 

 

 

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Writer Wednesday – Writing the Synopsis

The synopsis is an integral part of most submission packets, including my most recent agent submissions.   This was a struggle for me, as I hadn’t written one since I published “The Pilot and the Pinup” with  Liquid Silver Books.   A fellow author told me to break each of the chapters down into paragraphs.   I did exactly that and it was quiet the disaster.

The Acquisitions editor at the time informed me I suffered from Dreaded Synopsis Syndrome.  Boy did I ever.   LSB requested a love scene (probably to make sure I didn’t purple-prose the hell out of it) and the last chapter (likely to make sure the book was done).   They accepted my full ms and I never had to write a synopsis for them again.  Thank the writing gods.

Thankfully, My other digital publisher, Resplendence Publishing, didn’t require the synopsis.  Whew.

Now that I’m looking for an agent I’m back in the land of having to write a synopsis.  Ugh!

Luckily, there is a ton of info on the interwebs on how to write one.   I found this site to be very helpful.

http://www.publishingcrawl.com/2012/04/17/how-to-write-a-1-page-synopsis/

After writing said one page synopsis, I find some agents now want 3-5 pages.  Ugh!   And I thought I’d mastered the dreaded synopsis.

~Join me next week as we continue the query journey.

Writer Wednesday – Retreats

My apologies for missing last Writer Wednesday.  I’d returned from an annual Writing Retreat for the Founders of Writer Zen Garden, and found myself forgetting.

I’ve attended this Retreat annually and the theme or tone of the meeting varies from year to year, depending on where we are at in our lives.

This year before meeting, one member suggested more writing time, and I’m so glad she did. 

We routinely do Morning Pages, Free Write and a CRAFT.

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WZG 2017 Craft

This year we added in Writing Prompts, Mind Mapping and Creative Journaling. 

The Mind Mapping and a prompt on setting were exactly what I needed.  I tend to write dialouge heavy, so this was very helpful to help me find a balance. 

If you are planning on hosting a retreat, Even a self-retreat, there are a few things I would recommend: 

  1. Have goals – This is reason for the Retreat.  Finish a book, commune with like minded writers, relax.  Whatever it is, even if each writer has different goals, this will help with making a plan, so everyone walks away with what they want. 
  2. Have a plan – Get input from all people attending your retreat.   Pick a location. Create a schedule.   Share it.   A plan will give you framework for your retreat to ensure everyone has fun. 
  3. Have Fun – So you can’t hit the park, because your location has suddenly been deluged by rain.   You spent more time chatting and less time writing – been there.  If you think of the plan as a framework and not a schedule, you can better roll with it. 

Last year I hosted the WZG Writing Retreat on my Farm.   I’ve toyed with the idea of coordinating a spring retreat for local authors at my farm or at The Smokey Hills in Minnesota. 

The goal for me has always been to catch up with authors about what they are writing and trying to re-energize my own writing.   This is for both retreats and conferences.  Before investing time and money into any event, be sure you have a goal.  My goal helps set the expectations and I can measure sucess from it. 

My goals were met, so I would call the retreat a success. 

Here are some other great blogs on planning retreats:

http://rawdogscreaming.com/8-things-learned-planning-writing-retreat/

http://www.alexrwhite.com/how-to-plan-a-writing-retreat-part-1-goals-and-rules/

https://www.janefriedman.com/value-writing-retreats/

https://jenniferlouden.com/create-your-own-writing-retreat/

http://www.writersdigest.com/writing-articles/by-writing-goal/improve-my-writing/do-it-yourself-writing-retreats

Join me next week as we continue my query journey.~Tina

Writer Wednesday – Query Letters

I sent off my first query for The Courtesan of Constantinople on September 1st to an agent.  I’ve done Query Letters before to publishers, but this was a bit different.

It still had the blurb portion and writing credits, but the letter doesn’t contain the hard sell that I would have in a query to publishers.

When querying publishers, I’m aiming for a specific line, so I’m very specific in my query of how my book will fit into the publisher’s line.  I’m selling them my product.

When querying agents, I’m selling me and my brand.  It’s a bit more of a soft sell.  I’m telling them what I write so the agent can decide if we will be a good fit.

I’ll be sending off more queries, along with sample chapters and the Synopsis.  How I hate the Synopsis-Its such a struggle for me.  Digital publishers usually take a query and the complete manuscript, so I’ve been a bit spoiled. I haven’t had to write one since my very first, “The Pilot and the Pinup” story was published.   I’m sure there will be some learnings ahead.

Until next time be naughty ~Tina