The 9 to 5 lifestyle: go to the office, do your work; leave the office, leave work behind. In some ways it has its advantages, something I thought I could bring with me when I decided to work for myself.
A while back I found myself able to live my dream of becoming a full time writer. Excited at the possibility of putting my heart and soul into my new position, I created a cozy writing space in my home. I had the best of intentions, and readied my days for long hours of writing and editing, pouring my heart and my inspiration into everything I wrote. Then the challenges began.
I could stare at the screen for hours, never getting more than a word or two out at a time. Yet the moment I would leave my workspace and do something just for me, that’s when true inspiration would find me. Very quickly I realized that as a full time writer, I would never have a 9 to 5 job ever again.
Writing doesn’t work that way. Writing is a process that extends beyond the time you spend behind a computer screen, fingers touching the keys. To become a writer means always thinking about how your words will come together. It means cultivating ideas from every thing I do, watching stories grow and come together in my mind.
I have learned several things in my time as a writer; things that have helped me become more efficient with my writing process.
Limit my writing time
While I need creative time to write each day, its equally important to have time for other things. Health, wellness, relationships – they all have an equal place in my life.
Block time for more purpose
I value the time I spend on each area of my life each day. When its writing time, I write. When I spend time with family, I’m ever present. I believe in blocking my time into chunks for more purpose and more focus.
Build ideas from what inspires you
What inspires me? Travel. Cooking. Being the best I can be. And as I discover myself through all of my activities, I find I become more inspirational as a writer, with more to give to what I do.
Find what has meaning in your life
Some of my happiest times involved places and events that allowed me to discover the best of me. They continue to inspire me today, giving me viewpoints and perspectives that make my writing more real and more vivid.
When I’m on vacation for a week, I can easily go through three or four books as I sit on the beach, sipping a drink and enjoying the sunshine. The books may not stand out as great and thoughtful works of literary fiction, but they do add a lot of enjoyment to my holiday. And while the stories may linger for awhile, I admit I probably wouldn’t go home and immediately review the books that I’ve read. But why is that?
When people are content they don’t generally leave reviews. Reviews have become a powerful tool for selling any product. Yet people generally leave them only when their emotions are running high. With a book, they either loved it and will likely read it over and over again, or they absolutely hated it and will do their best to convince others not to buy it.
Yet if you consider the life of the writer as she struggles to tell her story—the reality never quite living up to the vision in her head—the months of writing and rewriting, of editing and proofreading, of researching and finding an agent and a publisher. She may have critique partners and an editor, but she never really knows how her work will be received until it gets into the hands of the readers. And the only way she has of knowing at all is through sales and reviews.
There is nothing an author loves more than receiving feedback from readers. Good or bad, it’s the only way she really knows what works and what doesn’t. And it is exciting to discover that her work has affected someone’s life, even in some small way. It is the encouraging words from readers that get the author through some of those early morning writing sessions when nothing seems to be working and she is ready to pack it in and take up basket weaving.
But the reviews aren’t just for the writer. In fact, reviews are for the readers. In the current world of electronic publishing where anyone can literally publish a book for next to nothing, it is overwhelming for the reader to look at covers and try to pick something decent. And there is nothing worse than opening a book that you are looking forward to reading and finding it to be of poor quality. Reviews help readers to sort through the titles. If a book gets many good reviews, then it’s probably worth the investment of time and money. If it gets mainly poor reviews, well, there are many more to choose from. Perhaps this is lazy shopping, but it is a quick way to sort through your summer reading list.
I hope you will pick up my book, Pinnacle Lust, to complete your summer reading list. And I’m always eager to hear your thoughts, so don’t forget to leave a review. What books were on your list this summer? Which was your favorite?