It's Not Miller Time
This was originally posted on Coffee and Porn in the Morning.
There’s more to writing than the book.
It starts simply enough, an idea, a desire to write a book. So, you ya’ know, write one.
Turns out that’s the easy part!
That first book? Piece of cake. No one is waiting on it, writing gets done when there’s time. There is no pressure, it’s fun. So, you write that book, polish it up, maybe have someone help with editing before packaging your baby up and sending it off to a publisher.
Then you wait.
Oh, and wait some more. That’s hard, but not horrible, cause seriously, you have no idea what’s coming.
Then that glorious day happens, you get the oh so coveted acceptance letter be it by email, snail mail or some other mail that was invented while you were waiting. Happy dance! Yee hee you’ve gone from a writer to a published author. Time to celebrate! Crack the bubbly, cause it’s Miller time, right?
Wrong. Might want to stay sober a while longer.
Funny thing is, one does not simply package up a manuscript and send it off to be published word for word just as you wrote it. Oh no. Oh HELL no. Somewhere between the glorious day of acceptance and the equally glorious day of release there is the editing. A copy of your manuscript arrives in your email and it’s covered with comments and red marks and suggestions and requests to change, expand, take out this or that.
Along with that first round of edits, yeah, there are going to be more, deal, is the writing of that all-important blurb. Someone will edit that too. Oh, and don’t forget the work you’ll have to do providing details for the art department cause your stick figures and block letters saying: READ THIS isn’t really what the publisher had in mind and won’t go with all their other lovely covers nicely displayed on their website.
All of these chores require time and brain power, which usually requires some amount of energy.
The big release day finally…finally…more waiting…arrives. More happy dance, the thing sells. People like it, love it even. They comment on it, reviewers say nice things about it and then somewhere, someone makes the comment of when is your next book coming out, because I love your writing.
Wait? What? I gotta do this again? Seriously, folks want me to do this again? The answer is, yes silly, it’s what grown-up authors do. Truth be told, those release dates are a little—okay a lot—addicting.
About now is the time realization sinks in: this writing books stuff? Hard work. It’s almost like another job. Well, the fact is, it is another job. At least that’s what I realized I was going to have to consider it to build and maintain a readership. No one wants or buys your books if they don’t know who you are and making sure they know who you are means you have more than one title out there.
It also means promoting those books. There are chats and blogs and promo weekends sponsored by many various sites. Somewhere in there I needed to find the time to write more books. Of course, after writing those books they were sent off to the publisher and how exciting, they’ll become books too. But not after a few rounds with the red editing marks.
Yeah, second job indeed. Miller time just flew right out the window, cause it never, ever arrives.
If I wanted my writing to be more than a nice hobby and move into the realm of career (with a paycheck) I realized I was going to have to make some life changes. There are about nine-billion articles and books out and about revolving around the subject of writing. Goal setting, taking your writing seriously, how not to get into a rut, you name it about the act of writing and there is something somewhere about it. What it all boils down to is what do you want out of your writing and how do you plan to achieve those goals?
Step one was to get more organized and for someone who couldn’t organize herself out of a paper bag that was a challenge. Thank the heavens for computers. Even bigger thanks for the endless files that can be created, stored and labeled.
I had to do more, however. I needed time to not only write, but then complete the edits needed prior to that coveted release date. All while I headed out into the wide world of the internet to promote my books and by extension myself.
What I had to do was consider churning out enough to produce a publishable work on a regular basis a job, my second job. Which, really, it is, I get paid, I have to meet deadlines and I have to commit to events be they online or in person doesn’t matter. If I tell someone I’ll show up for something, I should show up. Talk about getting serious and taking my writing more seriously than ever before.
So, I asked myself, what would a second job require? A place to work and a schedule I’d have to commit to were the topmost answers.
I already had a nice workspace. I live alone and one of the bedrooms I’d turned into a computer room. I love faux painting, so the computer room is pleasant and comfortable, though an office chair is next on the list of things to purchase.
The hard part was the schedule. I had to take a few steps, first I had to decide how much time each day I could devote to the business of writing. Later I added in deciding on a certain amount of words each week and used a calendar to keep track of what projects I wanted completed when.
My final step was actually announcing to the world I had a second job. I didn’t necessarily say what, because I’ve found the general public views writing as “something you can do anytime” or “not as important as your day job” and like opinions we’ve all heard and know too well.
I informed my current employer that I had taken a second job and then I gave them a list of hours I would be committing to that second job. I work for a small company and every week there is always a need for someone to put in extra time if a coworker is on vacation or sick. Without that cushion of saying I was committed elsewhere I could go weeks without the time and energy needed to write.
My day job (which is also at night sometimes) can be both physically and mentally demanding. The simple fact is: I can’t write, or edit or proofread if my brain is mush and I’m worn out. Cutting back on double shifts and extra work days during the week was going to be a necessity.
This turned into more of a challenge than the actual writing. I thought, naively, that I’d say I have this other job and I work these hours and that would be the end. Not so. Even after a year I’m asked to stick around extra hours or pick up an extra day or rearrange my schedule. A hard thing to do sometimes, say no.
I’ve been strict about keeping my writing schedule and so far it’s paid off. I’ve seen a steady increase in my word count every week and have been keeping on top of editing and polishing those words. Having the number of manuscripts that I’d like to submit this year is looking better and better all the time.
Of course all this did impact my income. I had to make adjustments there also, though, thankfully, temporary ones. I promised myself I’d devote that time I could be putting in extra hours at work to producing manuscripts which in turn have produced extra income. It’s been slow and steady, but the more I stick to my plan, the more I’m producing and earning.
What it all really comes down to is deciding what you want out of life, then arranging your life to meet those goals.
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