It’s a Struggle to Keep My Writing Torch Lit

Don't let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Don’t let your writing torch dim. Image compliments of morguefile.com

Like most conference attendees, my heart and mind are on fire with all I’ve learned and the encouragement I received. My I AM A WRITER torch shines so brightly in my soul that it overwhelms every other thought. My world is changed. Sigh!!! Then I drop my things inside my front door—reality hit hard. My mother has called several times. My grandchildren are needy, and there’s a pile of laundry that needs to be done.

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.  Image compliments of morguefile.com

Realty shows its ugly face in the form of laundry and other tasks.
Image compliments of morguefile.com

I want time to decompress. But I spend my first day back with my elderly parents. Calming anxieties, attending to needs and cheering them up. Back home I am hugging grandbabies and cuddling granddaughters while their parents attended to things they need to do. I have a few days to organize myself before I go back to work.

If I let it, my day can return to business as usual. Well, I choose not to. I have projects to complete and new ones to start and this blog to get out on time. I will lock myself in my room and work. I’ll ignore the phone and the knocks on my door by family members. (Well, most of the time.)

I spent a lot of time and hard earned money to make connections toward publication at that conference. I’ve learned valuable things I need to start implementing right away. And I’ve discovered more friends who get my writer’s mind. Yet, it is easy to let my other life, the one full of housecleaning, job responsibilities and grandbabies squash the zeal, bury the plans and deconstruct my conviction that I am a writer.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your  I AM A WRITER flame burning bright. Image from free microsoft clipart.

Schedule it and follow through to keep your I AM A WRITER flame burning bright.
Image from free microsoft clipart.

Over the years I’ve started with baby steps. Scheduling time, even if it’s only a few hours a week to write. Taking reading material with me when I am waiting, pulling out a notebook to write. Even taking my laptop on long trips. I have my email connected to my phone. I can delete unimportant emails during break time at work. I rise extra early to write. Sometimes if my brain is functioning I write at night. Whatever it takes, I will not let life extinguish my writing flame.

The funny thing is—perhaps funny is not the right word—I always had excuses over the years as to why I couldn’t write. I’d lay it aside when life changes came. I’ve slowed my steps toward publication on many occasions. It was simply easier than pressing on. Now, however, I am now busier than I have ever been, yet I am writing more than I ever have. And truly experiencing what it feels like to be a writer.

I will do what it takes to feed my writing flame. How about you?

 

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Home from the Conference Now What?

Clip board do list

Now that you’re home from your writer’s conference, it’s time to get organized. While you are decompressing that first day back, take time to send thank you notes. Yes, thank-you notes are still in vogue even though they may be electronic ones.

Thank you notes

Send them to all the people you had appointments with, thanking them for their time. You could send a note to the conference organizer and the instructors whose classes you attended. Gratefulness is an attribute every writer should practice. We all know how good it makes us feel to be thanked and appreciated. Go forth and do likewise.

Send stuff

If anyone requested information you mentioned you had (not proposals), send it now. It is easy to get busy and forget, and when you see them next at a conference, it will be awkward and embarrassing.

Request stuff

Some teachers will say, “If you email me, I will send you my notes.” Or they might have a special email for submission not available at the conference. Be sure to email your request for those things right away. It may take them a little while depending on their schedule to get back to you.

Sort, friend and follow

Sort through the pile of business cards you collected, and if they are not a friend on FB, add them. Follow them on tweeter, and if you use Linkedin, make the connection. Add them to your email list. All those connections are golden.

Post comments and photos on social media. Tag you new friends in pics or mentioned them in your comments.

Organize and rewrite

Organize all your notes. Don’t just place the notebooks on a shelf without perusing pages. You may find you wrote a vital piece of contact information in the midst of your workshop notes. Search for web addresses and books mentioned by teachers, and transfer the info to another sheet. I had written proposal request information from an editor who didn’t have a handout on a page of my notebook. Good thing I found it.

Calendars and time

Time Management is mentioned many times and in many ways at conferences. Plan how you are going to conquer it. Write down your commitment. Get out your calendar (whether on paper or PC) and plot your writing projects. Set goals for completion and days, hours, minutes you plan to write to reach those goals. You don’t want to let a whole year pass and conference time rolls around and you still haven’t submitted to all those who requested your work. Be sure to plan time to edit the things editors and critique groups suggested.

Read and Listen

Go through the books and CDs you purchase and plan when you will read and listen. If you commute to work, you can make that a classroom time with your CDs. Most writers are avid readers so I’m sure you know when your primo reading time is.

Do it now to gain success

The sooner you do these things the more like a writer you are going to feel. The discipline of reaching your conference goals builds confidence. Confidence is just another step toward the success you desired when you attended the conference in the first place.

What’s the first task you do when you come home from a conference?

 

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Revitalizing Writing Time

Many people don’t believe that writing is hard work.  How hard can sitting in front of a computer for hours be? Speaking from experience, I sometimes get up from a marathon of writing feeling like an arthritic 80 year old.  I have been working diligently on editing my novel to submit again. Deleting, rewording and revising take time. Let me not forget to mention my articles and short stories, blog posts and musing. My neck and back ache, my legs scream from sitting so long. My wrists remind me they have worked hard, and my eyes blur from staring at the computer screen.  Week after week of typing exacts a high toll.

My job as a receptionist requires the same sitting position and typing. Add answering the phone and remaining cheerful for clients for eight hours a day, and exhaustion is a given. I’m drained of creativity. My housework goes by the way side as I sit and channel surf. Housework and I are not best friends, but to quote Scotty from Star Trek. “Captain, she can’t take any more.”  In times like these I need a new strategy.

A new strategy

I am a morning writer.  That’s when I am most inspired. My mind is more alert, and my body rested. However, days of receptionist duties drain my creativity and my body screams for rest.  My new strategy required working smarter, taking breaks and rearranging my to-do list. This is not an original idea.  After reading the same theme in a few other blogs, I knew it was time to change my ways.

What did I do

I broke up my writing with breaks. I started Tuesday (I am off on Tuesday and Wednesday) by cleaning my downstairs and doing laundry.  (The upstairs is for another day.) I played music and got the job done—even reorganized my pantry. I spent time reading my Bible (something that can get set aside.) All that before I spent a few hours editing. After lunch and a walk with my hubby, I went back to editing—did six chapters. Then I checked my e-mail (all 46 of them) and Facebook before preparing dinner. My day ended reading the last few chapters of a book on my Kindle.

What a difference

I accomplished more Tuesday than I imagined possible. So I organized Wednesday the same way. I slept in until 7 am. (I usually arise at 4:30). That was not by choice, my hubby didn’t set the alarm.  Once up I called my son in Germany. Hubby and I had prayer time and went for a walk before it got too hot.  I made chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and weeded the flower beds. (Actually I pulled out all the dead plants from the drought.) After a shower I checked my email (another 46. I joined a few new writers groups. *sigh*). Then I edited another 4 chapters.  I checked my email again (another 23 *sigh*) before perusing Facebook and adding comments.

Then I drafted a blog post and an article before thinking about what to prepare for dinner. The nice thing is I didn’t feel exhausted. I had the energy to clean the kitchen and relax with my Kindle for the evening. After work the next two days, I set small goals to accomplish intermingled with a walk and time to put my feet up.  Again I accomplished more than I expected.

Doing physical activity between writing times is more productive and less draining than marathon writing.  I accomplished more writing than during non-stop writing times. The additional benefits are my house is cleaner and my mind clearer.  I also discovered I can write productively after 2 pm. What a revelation.

 

What do you do to make your writing time more productive?