The Ins and Outs of Writing

If you’re interested in writing, or recently found yourself sucked into it, here are some important things you need to prepare for. Old-timers may also find a gem or two below.

Being a successful book author is a “whole life” plan. It’s nothing like being a machine shop operator or assembly line worker, or even a desk jockey, although you will spend much of your time at a desk. You are not doing the same thing over and over. You can’t survive on knowing how to do only one job. It requires learning as much about the whole industry as possible and keeping up with the constant changes that happen as the internet molds our way of thinking, buying, selling, and communicating. Before long, the daily challenge to be a successful author consumes your whole life.

So, what does an author really do?

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Along with writing, many other skills are required to be a successful author. One must know how to use a computer writing program, most of all. Manuscripts must be formatted to the requirements of different publishers and contests.

We also have to join online and offline groups, purchase programs/memberships that will be helpful in one manner or another. Before long, we’re also attending conferences, workshops, and webinars. If we do not buy into the most popular plans and products, we may be left behind when the writing industry moves forward. Then we scramble to catch up.

It is important to have some understanding of the skills others do for us. This often requires knowing whether we plan to self-publish, use a hybrid publisher, or be traditionally published. Do we need an agent? Some need illustrators or cover artists. Others might need formatters or marketing specialists. Many authors use a video or audio specialist, or both. Learning your publisher’s schedule also alleviates unnecessary frustrations.

Regardless of how you plan to be published, critique groups and beta readers are important for polishing manuscripts. And, all writers need to learn how to work with editors.

We need to determine whether our work is for newspapers, magazines, anthologies, or books. Different publishers have different writing rules, style manuals, and different submission preferences. We even have to learn how to pitch our work to a publisher during a short elevator ride!

Once we learn how to write and submit our stories, we have to learn more about selling them. Most of us start out selling to family and friends. Then we join a plethora of social media sites, schedule multiple book signings, speak at events and purchase advertising online, in printed publications, etcetera. If we’re smart, we also have a “street team.”

If we don’t have a website when we start our writing journey, we soon will. Learning to blog is also important.

During all this shuffling of skills and knowledge, we adjust our schedules again and again. Our family lives can easily be hindered or lost to our careers.

Just when we think we have mastered most of the skills and sit back to draw in a nice, long, relaxing breath, a new skill is required, we see something we missed along the way, or some fantastic new product, group, or idea comes along. Being the good authors we are, we must learn this new thing. And, so we get after it before we can exhale that beautiful breath we just took.

Somewhere along the way, our health comes into play. For many authors, health doesn’t become an issue until something serious happens or the doctor gives an ultimatum. Or both. So, we find ways to fit healthy foods and almost daily exercise into our plans. By this time, many of us already have physical limitations, so this can create a downhill domino effect if we do not take it seriously. Ultimately, most of us learn that a health plan of some sort must be added to our busy schedule. (If you’re just now starting out, please take this into consideration and plan ahead.)

How can you find your place in this constantly shifting field?

If you are an aspiring author, prepare to take on these challenges. Learn what you can about each stage as you move into it. Although many things different as times change, so try to stay in touch with the writing community.

If you’re a trailblazer, find your area of expertise and create new paths for other writers to follow.

If you’re a friend or family member, try to imagine what your writer is going through. Share their successes with your friends and family. Writers NEED your support. They can get overwhelmed in this craziness, and it’s nice to know someone close to us is paying attention. One of the best things you can do is acknowledge their career choice as a real job and help them set aside time to meet their daily challenges.

Need some great gift ideas for a writer? That’s my next post, so stay tuned!

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Time keeps on moving along

A couple of weeks ago, my mother-in-law passed away. But, time kept moving along. Everything she stood for lives on in those of us who loved her. My husband is the last survivor of that immediate family. We almost lost him more than once last year, so I feel very, very blessed. I’m probably also a bit over-protective of him. I hope everyone will keep that in mind as I try to relax that mode.

In about a month, we’ve also lost a good friend in the pool/billiards industry, three cousins, and a long-time friend’s dedicated husband.

Another friend lost her dog who helped her through some of her toughest days, and a very close friend (one of our classmates) within a couple days of each other. My heart breaks for her huge loss. She needed one to help her deal with the other, but she lost both. I hope to always be present when she needs a friend.

This has been a year of great losses. If you are also dealing with the loss of loved ones, my sympathies go out to you. It is not easy to lose someone, even if you have known they were suffering and moving in that direction for a long time.

But, life moves on. The world keeps on turning. Nothing stops just because of our losses. I once had a best friend whose heart sank every year during the holidays because he lost his grandparents at that time of year, when he was young. It was very hard to be a close friend and have his intentional depression looming over all of us during a time when our family was supposed to be cheerful and thankful for what we did have. We were thankful for him, as well, but he did not see that. I tried many times to help him feel better and to find a way to be LESS focused on his childhood losses and MORE focused and thankful for having the rest of his family and friends to enjoy during those months. But sadly, but we weren’t that important to him. He purposely focused on his loss, because he was afraid he would not be properly acknowledging his grandparents if he did not keep their memories and his loss constantly in his mind.

Most people would never want you to lose your happiness in order to remember what they stood for. You can honor their memories by being what they wanted you to be, or succeeding in what they did not expect. That would make them proud. And that can help you smile. Focus on doing that and be the happy person they loved.

Focus is the key. We have to intentionally FOCUS on the good of here and now, even if we can’t see it, yet.

It is not easy to let the past go. So many of us worry we will forget those who left us behind. Don’t forget to appreciate those who are still here and present and NEED us to be present, in return.

I HOPE, as I lose more of the people I am very close to, I will always be able to focus harder on those who are still here with me. I also hope that if I have trouble focusing, someone will care enough to help me along to that place. It is where I want to be.

Hmmm… This is not what my blog post was supposed to be about, but it seems to be what is on my mind. Maybe I am having to work a little harder on my own focus, right now. So, I’ll go do that and come back later to post the blog I intended. In the meantime, I hope this helps someone else, too.

New Things

In recent weeks/months:

I’ve been promoted to Children’s Corner Imprint Editor at 4RV Publishing. It has been a wonderful move for me, although I’m still adapting. I love my job!

I’ve got my own car to get around town, now. I love having my freedom, again.

Our son and his family have temporarily joined our household. I love having them here, but it does put a little crimp in my work time. I’m still learning to work around everyone and all the activities.

I have acquired a new “writing room.” When the weather permits, this is my private space to work. It is small, but warm and offers windows and a door to let the sun or breeze in, so the claustrophobia monster doesn’t disturb my progress.

Moments ago, I added a new page with links to books I’ve edited, or helped edit, etc. Click on the Edits link, above, to learn more.

See you again, soon!

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