Blog

Blog

5 Strategies for Writers to Manage Non-Writing Tasks

Feel like you’re buried beneath a to-do list that is full of non-writing tasks? Two weeks ago, I talked about five activities writers do that seemingly have nothing to do with writing, things like bookkeeping and organizing and communicating. This week, we are going to cover five strategies to help you manage all those non-writing tasks. So grab a shovel, and let’s start digging our way out!

Read More

5 Non-Writing Tasks Writers Need to Master

One day shortly after I became a full-time freelance writer, I stopped working mid-morning, hopped on my bicycle, and made three stops around town: my accountant’s office, the post office, and the bank. While I was out, I saw a friend walking outsider of her office. “Getting a little exercise?” she asked. And I was. It was a beautiful day, and the brisk pace of my peddling had produced a gleam of perspiration on my brow. But I wasn’t taking a break. I was working.

That’s the thing I’ve been most surprised (and frustrated) about in my freelance writing career: all the time I have to spend NOT writing. Like most jobs, there are lots of administrative tasks that accompany my work. But since I am self-employed, it’s up to me to make sure they get done.

I haven’t gotten my own system down perfectly, and even though I try hard to plan for both the writing and non-writing tasks of my day, my calendar doesn’t reflect the ratio perfectly. But if I had to make an educated guess, I’d say it’s about a three-to-one ratio. For every three hours of writing or editing I do, there’s about an hour of other tasks required.

You don’t have to be a full-time or self-employed writer to know the frustration of “wasting” your writing time doing something other than writing, even if it’s related to your writing. What’s most frustrating, though, is when you didn’t realize these tasks needed to be done and so you didn’t plan for them. Remove the surprise factor, and maybe these non-writing tasks aren’t quite as irritating.

Read More

Dreams and Daydreams: Using Your Subconscious to Help You Write

One day last week, I woke up with the alarm, remembered a writing assignment I needed to work on that day, and then immediately rolled over and went back to sleep.

From the outside, it looks like I was avoiding the task, but in reality, I was hard at work, even as my mind lingered in the liminality between waking and sleeping. Recalling the assignment and a detail or two from earlier pre-planning was all my brain needed to begin making connections and outlining paragraphs. An hour later, the alarm went off again, and by the time I readied myself for the day and headed to the office, the article was practically written. I just needed to sit down at the laptop and hammer it out.

Read More

5 Steps to Take Your Writing to the Next Level

A couple of weeks ago I offered a few tips to help would-be writers get started writing. Today, I came up with a few tips for people already writing at any level.

Ready to move to the next level in your life with words? Here are five steps to help you move forward today.

Get Feedback

Writing can feel like such a solitary activity, but it’s important that you don’t always work alone. Getting input from readers will help you know where your writing needs improvement or development, and particularly, getting solid critique from other writers in a writing group or workshop can be especially instructive. Of course readers aren’t editors. Often, the work of critique is more about helping you know what is and isn’t working in your draft. If you want to hone in on structure or correct errors or focus on style, you might need an editor. You could hire an editor, or you could see the editing process as part of the payment for submitting your work for publication.

Read More

5 Steps to Get Started Writing Today

Often when I meet people and tell them I’m a writer, later they’ll pull me to the side or send me a note on Facebook and say, “I want to be a writer, too. But … “

Then they tell me one of several reasons they feel stuck or sidelined in their writerly desire. Some people are afraid. Taking precious time away from other priorities to write feels like a big risk. Others are insecure. They’ve been told (maybe by someone they admire or maybe by their own insecurity) that they could never be a writer. Still others are paralyzed by an overloaded life. They don’t know how they’d add another thing to their schedule. Many people just aren’t sure what they would write about.

Whatever your reason until now, if you want to write, you should. You can! Here are five steps to get started writing today.

Read More

Want to Be a Better Writer? Practice Writing

It’s not all that surprising to me when I try a new hobby — sewing, hand lettering, or candy making, to name a few recents — and find my efforts don’t turn out like the picture on first try. Of course, they don’t. I’m a newbie. But it should be no less surprising that I’m still not an expert after 10 tries, or even a hundred. Mastery— becoming an expert seamstress, calligrapher, or chocolatier— can take hundreds, even thousands of hours of practice.

Of course, since researchers began to debunk Malcolm Gladwell’s suggestion that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become a master, there’s some confusion about the role of practice in developing expertise. The controversy stems mostly around the premise that anyone can become a virtuoso or the best in their field. Certainly there are circumstances and genetics that come into play beyond simply practicing. And it’s also true that practicing something wrongly— like swinging a golf club incorrectly over and over and over— won’t lead to expertise.

But for most of us, we can become better at whatever it is we’re doing through practice. That includes writing.

Read More

Words to Life: T.H. Meyer

Welcome to another installment of my new occasional feature on the Frankfort Writers Center blog called Words to Life, where I’ll highlight the work I do with clients. In addition to describing the client project I’ve helped them with, I also highlight other aspects of their writing and/or their work so you can get to know them a little more. I hope their stories will inspire you as you bring your own Words to Life.


TH Meyer Head ShotToday, I’d like to introduce you to T.H. Meyer (also known as Tammy Hendricksmeyer). T.H. lived in Asia and Europe before settling among dairy and poultry farms in an oasis of rye fields and Bermuda pastures on acreage in east Texas. Far removed from big-city slickers, she enjoys family, back porch “dates” with her hubby, intimate gatherings of friends, and eating out anywhere someone else does the cooking. You can follow her spiritual and writing journey on her website: The Art of Fear Not: Putting Spunk into the Creative Life.

Recently, I asked T.H. a few questions about her writing process and what led her to self-publish her latest book, A Life of Creative Purpose: Embrace Uniqueness, Explore Boldness, Encourage Faith.

Read More

The Next Step for Your Writing: Let Somebody Read It

What are you going to do next with that story you finished last week, the essay you finally completed yesterday, the poem that you’ve been working on for years, or the novel that languishes in your laptop? You’ve done the work … or at least all you know to do … so now what are you going to do with it?

Let somebody read it.

Read More

Start the Year Out Slow

On December 1, I turned in an assigned writing piece on deadline. I think I even turned it in early in the day, pretty much a miracle considering I’d come in late for that monthly assignment far too many times in the past. I was so proud of the accomplishment I mentioned it to my editor, who promptly gave me the “attagirl” I was looking for.

But the attagirls quickly turned into, “I’m sure this piece could work somewhere … but not for us. Unless you work at it a little more.” I was disappointed. I liked what I had written. But once I reread it and started into revisions, I realized that it just wasn’t ready for publication. I had turned in an unfinished piece.

This is one of the hazards of being a freelance writer. Lots of deadlines means constant writing, and if I’m not careful, I begin to write too quickly to really give the pieces the time they deserve. Ultimately, I want to be the writer who hits deadlines and turns in high quality work. But first, I have to back things up a bit and slow down.

Read More

Before You Resolve, Take Time to Reflect

The last days of 2016 are coming at us quickly now … just 8 more shopping days until Christmas and Facebook is prompting me to make New Year’s Eve plans with friends. Another week or two, and we’ll be on to New Year’s Resolutions and goals for 2017. Some of us will choose a word for the year; others will start a new exercise plan. As writers, we also will start mapping out our next writing projects and setting up word-count and submission goals.

Read More