Writerly Life No. 5

I thought I was going to share some more thoughts on the publishing industry today. But, instead I've had a buzzing bee in my head all day about my writerly life.

I started this blog as a gift to myself. Seriously. Which is probably why I am so dedicated to blogging everyday. Not to mention that I've developed this habit so deeply that around 9pm every night my brain switches to blog mode. I begin to feel that nag at the back of my consciousness that turns the alarm bells on. I can't fight it. And the evening ritual begins.

On a typical day I've bookmarked all of my blog links in the morning. As the day progresses, I check my news sources and fine tune what links I am pretty sure I am going to use. So, when the alarm goes off I am halfway done with what I need to accomplish. Somewhere in my head the ideas have been stewing and I've pondered what I want to say about whatever I am blogging about. I don't always rely on news sources. Some days I have more personal things to share.

I try very hard to be current and to stick to my overall goals with this blog. And in case you don't know what that is I'll just sum it up. This blog is my personal journey living life as a full time writer. So, I talk about things that are important to me. I share news that I hope will help other writers who are also navigating this wacky world of publishing and writing.

Today has been a good day. So far, I've written 2843k and I am not done. This is just a break from writing. I've only been writing for about three hours today. So, my words per hour are looking really good to me. I've learned a lot about my writing capabilities from having this blog. I've spent time looking at what I can reasonably accomplish when I sit my butt down and write. I don't know how long I can sustain this amount of words per hour, for now it seems to be my normal output. Everyone is different.

It's important to know and understand your writing self. A large part of why I can write as much as I do is that my children are grown now, I am not working an outside job, and I have a private office where no one disturbs me. You may not be this fortunate and I sympathize. This is the first time in my adult life that I've had this opportunity. I am not taking it lightly whatsoever. And no, I am not independently wealthy, I haven't even made a penny off my writing yet, and I am a single mother of three-- who all live at home for various reasons.

What I did do was make serious lifestyle choices. I cut my monthly costs by continuing to live in a small town instead of moving back to the city after I finished my degree in 2008.  I joined several writers groups for support and critique partners. I've studied my genre inside out and upside down. Everything from who writes it, where they are published, and how they got where they are now. I've contacted authors in my genre and have been overwhelmingly surprised by their kindness and mentoring.

Am I lucky? Hell yes! But, I will tell you a little secret. Be yourself. Don't try to impress people.  Being yourself goes a long way in finding people to hold your hand while you take the big leap of faith in yourself.

So, what did I do to get so lucky? Probably the most important thing I've done is be consistent. I've set a schedule for myself and I've stuck to it. It's not as rigid as a nine to five schedule, but it is comprehensive. I write everyday. Yes, everyday. Even if it's crap. Sometimes I have to get the crap out to get to the good stuff.

I write in 45 minute blocks. Yep, with a timer. Then I take a 15 minute break. I get away from the computer, I do something totally different. On a good day I can do this for about six hours. On a phenomenal day I can do it for about ten. I've learned those ten hour days cost me though. I am usually spent the next day. I also get so wrapped in up in my storyverse that I am not really back in reality. Even on the six hour days it's difficult to pull myself out of my character's world.

The other thing I do that is vitally important is read. I read and read. I read in my genre like a crack addict. I've written close to 20k words this week and I've read four books cover to cover. I am not trying to brag, I am just one of those really fast reader people. And I am loathe to put a book down that I am engrossed in. That said, I don't waste time on books I don't enjoy-- unless the author sells well and I am trying to figure out why.

So, my advice today:

1. write everyday

2. be yourself

3. read, read, read

~Andi

 P.S. because I am a LOTR geekess and Colbert is just damn cool:

The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Republican Ring of Power
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive