A Change of Pace, A Change of Place

If you’ve been pursuing the writing life long, you know the need to constantly balance both parts — the writing and the life. And really, the word “balance” is too tidy. The constant tension between life and writing is more like a tennis match that continues on and on, tied in perpetual deuce. First one takes the lead, then the other. But neither wins or loses. Everyone just grows weary.

I’ve written on and spoken about and lived through this reality of writing + life a lot over the past few years. And though the circumstances change, my general advice to myself and others always boils down to this two-word question: what’s sustainable? Because no matter how much you tweak or finesse either the life part or the writing part, in the end you’ve got to be able to live with it. And if you want to be a writer for the long-haul, then you’ve got to be able to live with it for a long time.

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Writes of Summer

Don’t forget our June Writes of Summer writing nights start tomorrow, June 7, here at Frankfort Writers Center. There’ll be no agenda, no schedule, no expectations. Except of course that some writing will happen. I’m stocking the fridge and will have snacks available. I’ll also have some writing prompts and exercises for anyone who might need a little help getting the pump primed.

Need more details? You’ll find everything you need here:

Hope to see you there!

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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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