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The Rich Writer

The Rich Writer: April 2010

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Friday, April 30, 2010

New Project-itis

I have work I’m supposed to be finishing—two nonfiction projects on two different, very interesting topics. I’ve given myself a schedule complete with deadlines, and every morning around 8:30 I’m seated at my desk surrounded by research, interview notes, index cards, notebooks, pens, and color-coded highlighters.


And then I think of the-best-ever idea for a craft/nonfiction book proposal/article/story, which thoroughly distracts me from the project I’d planned to work on.

Anyone else have this problem? I call it “New Project-itis.” Any project idea I have while in the midst of the grinding work for my CURRENT project is, by definition, superior in every way.

Sigh. I’m learning to jot down the idea in my idea log, set it aside for later, and plug along on the real work of writing, which is always less exciting than daydreams and brainstorms…but is the only way to actually get to a polished product!

:) Cheryl

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Challenge #4: Lack of Time, cont.

iStock_000010793987Large This is continued from last Wednesday. If you haven’t read the beginning, click here to see what the heck I’m talking about :) or read on for a quick recap:

Writers tend to feel time-strapped. Want to discover more time for writing? First, you need to do a little self-examination:

Step 1: Own your time. Recognize that, for the most part, you choose where your time goes.

For more thoughts on this topic, check out “10 Essential Tips to Change Your Life” on the Life Optimizer blog.

Step 2: Inventory how you spend your time.

Take stock: where are you spending your time? Do your hours disappear in Facebook? Blogging? Housework? Busywork? Productive activities? Unproductive activities? One you know where your time is going, you can make changes as needed.

Step 3: Define your priorities.

Take a few minutes to identify your top priorities. They can be general (such as family, relationships, or financial security) or specific (publishing a novel, boosting income to 100K, etc.) What’s important to you? What do you want to accomplish in your life, if you can’t accomplish anything else?

There are lots of great resources on determining your goals, priorities, mission statement, and so on. Here are a few articles to get you started:

Step 4: Compare the two lists. Ideally, you’re only spending time on things that are important to you.

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

I have good news and bad.

The bad news is that my promised next post will be delayed a few days.

The good news is that this is because I'm at the Pikes peak Writer's Conference, busy attending sessions, hobnobbing with writing friends, and getting fired up about writing.

I'll be back in a few days full on inspiration and news to share!

:) Cheryl

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Challenge #4: Lack of Time


The past few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about challenges writers face and how to deal with them. If you missed previous posts, check them out:

This last challenge—lack of time—is one shared by almost every writer I’ve ever met. Why? Because writers seldom have the luxury of doing nothing but write. Most of us have part time jobs—or full time jobs—or young children who need attention—or older relatives who need care—or….

You get the idea!

Even the lucky ones who DO make a living by the written word usually have an array  of projects to balance. Sometimes the “money-making” work can edge out time for the projects closer to the heart.

So what’s a writer to do? I have the answer! Okay, I have “answers”, because like most answers, these aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, they’re starting points to help you figure out what will be helpful in your particular situation.

Step 1: Own your time.

When kids are screaming for attention, something in the oven is starting to smoke, and you have three activities to attend before bedtime, it probably doesn’t feel like your time is your own. When you take a hard look at your days, though, you’ll discover that most of your time demands stem from YOUR priorities and choices. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You stay late at the office for the third day in a row because you’re working on a deadline—and you’re determined to give your boss (or client) good work, on time. Priority: Professional excellence is important to you.
  • You spend Saturday shuttling kids between play dates, soccer practices, and violin lessons. By the day’s end, you’re too exhausted to do anything, much less spend that hour with your novel. Priority: You love your children and believe these activities will help them grow to be confident, successful, and good friends.
  • You planned to write this evening, but your significant other seems down. Instead of curling up with your computer, you curl up with your sweetheart to watch a movie. Priority: You value and nurture your relationships.

Obviously, there are exceptions, but in most instances we choose where to spend our time. The first step in finding more is to recognize that YOU are in control of it. More tomorrow…

:) Cheryl


Friday, April 16, 2010

The week’s Tweets on how to bypass roadblocks and WRITE THE STORY!

WTS=Write the Story! Why? Because it's fun—rewarding—excruciating—fulfilling—and ultimately cheaper than therapy :) Happy writing!


WTS 67: Explore synesthesia--hearing color, tasting sound, etc.--as a way to make the abstract vivid in your writing

WTS 68: When inspired, seize the creative moment by writing with speed, not perfection. Capture ideas, not details! #writing

WTS 69: Write YA? Read what your audience is reading for topics, inspiration, and voice. Top 10 teen girls' magazines

WTS 70: Sometimes being "in the zone" shifts into being in the grip of an obsessed muse. Don't fight it--but prepare to collapse afterward!

Susan K. Perry, author of Writing in Flow: Keys to Enhanced Creativity, shares tips on re-entering your creative zone

WTS 71: Inspiration dragging? Try taking a writing class. For instance, low-cost classes available at Writer U

RT @MelissaWrites: YA author, Laura Resau on Strong Female Protagonists (who you want as your best friends)

WTS 72: Map character motivations and what they’re thinking in response to events in each scene to create believable reactions and dialog.

What color is your universe? Read Nisi Shawl's "Transracial Writing for the Sincere" for thoughts on writing diversity:

WTS 73: Imitation can help you discover new ways with words. Take a paragraph from a fave author & rewrite with your character and setting

Great info: SFWA How to Kill ...: A writer’s guide to diseases and injuries, and how to use them effectively in fiction

RT @ShrinkngViolets Do your online habits need an overhaul? Ours did. - Great food for thought


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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Challenge #3, cont: Strategies to Stay Motivated

iStock_000010790632Large Here are some more of my strategies for staying motivated:

  1. Writing Contests: A writing contest—and its deadline—is a great motivator, plus a contest win provides a nice pat on the back, an addition to your writing resume, and potential feedback from contest judges.
  2. Blog: (I had to mention this one, right?) Keeping a blog encourages a regular writing practice, involves you in conversation with the online writing community, and helps develop your platform for future marketing efforts. For more thoughts on blogging, read this post.
  3. Conferences: Where better to regain your fire for writing? Conferences bring together writers, both experienced and inexperienced, editors, agents, and other industry professionals. Attend a conference for a dose of inspiration mixed with craft and market info.
  4. Smile File: Also known as a brag box, this is a collection of affirming feedback. I keep an email folder where I store glowing letters from freelance clients and the occasional message from a fan. (Okay, one letter from a librarian who read my short story in Cricket and wanted to know if I wrote a book based on it…and I treasure it!) I also keep a running list of things I proud of. I look at it when the going gets tough or I start to feel discouraged.
  5. Ignore everybody (negative): See The Creative Penn for a review of Hugh MacLeod’s “Ignore Everybody and 39 Other Keys to Creativity”—which, apparently, includes blogging as a creativity booster.

What about you—have any tricks to staying motivated through the ups and downs of the writing life?

:) Cheryl

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Challenge #3: Lack of the Positive


Last month, I began a series of posts about the Happy Writer—especially the challenges writers face and how to overcome them. If you haven’t heard of this before, check out some of the previous posts:

Today we tackle Challenge #3:

  • Writing is a very tough field in which to succeed—moments of positive feedback can be few and far between.

Whether you’re just starting out or have a few articles under your belt—or even if you’ve had some success with longer works—you’ll probably face a fair bit of rejection. Maybe you’re ready for it; after all, everyone knows that you have to collect a mountain of rejections before publication, right?

I think most writers are aware that rejections are an occupational hazard. However, most of us face another, more insidious challenge: namely…silence, an ongoing lack of feedback on our work and its worth.

In a traditional office environment, people tend to receive feedback on a fairly regular basis. You crank out a last minute project and your coworkers pat you on the back; you put in a little extra effort on a presentation and engage a roomful of listeners; you come up with a creative solution and your boss recommends you for a raise. Writers, on the other hand, slave over a project, send it out, and…wait. And wait. And sometimes hear back nothing at all. It can be years before positive feedback arrives in the form of a publication contract. How do we keep up our spirits until then?

Over the years, I’ve developed a slew of strategies that help me stay positive and continue working toward my writing goals whether I’m in a feedback flood or famine. Here are a few, with more to follow:

  1. Take a Class: Particularly for the beginning writer, a class is a great way to receive feedback and constructive criticism . Online writing classes such as those offered by Writers Online Workshops encourage students to critique each others’ work, which creates an “office cooler” environment where writers can share concerns and encouragement. The Institute of Children’s Literature course pairs students with an instructor who provides personal feedback on class assignments.
  2. Join a Critique Group: Critique groups are a wonderful tool for writers of all levels, where writers can receive feedback, get new perspectives on their work, and grow as writers—not to mention all the emotional and mental support such groups offer. Read this, this, and this for info on the different types of critique groups and how to find them.
  3. Find a Mentor:  A mentor can help you accelerate from so-so to amazing—and keep you sane in the process. Mark McGuinness writes about the importance of finding a mentor on his excellent blog, Lateral Action.
  4. Branch Out: If you’re spending all your time on projects that won’t show results for years, consider adding another type of work to your writing life. By writing nonfiction articles as well as my current novel project, I maintain a steady stream of positive feedback and a bit of income. Other ideas include giving a school talk (even if you aren’t yet published in the book genre), branching out into other types of freelance writing, or teaching a class.

As always, mileage will vary with the individual; the key is to keep a few strategies on hand for times when you need a boost.

What strategies help you keep on keeping on?

:) Cheryl

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

An Unanticipated Break…

iStock_000011488510Medium Many of my fellow writers take a break from blogging when, say, it’s Spring Break and their children will be home from school. Now I know why! I’ve missed you, oh fellow Blog-o-sphere inhabitants!

A quick summary of events since I last posted:

  1. A March blizzard rated a snow day for the local school district. Of course, since it was Spring Break, the kids were out of school anyway….
  2. Multiple sunny, 70 degree days coaxed tulips out of hiding.
  3. My agent, Gary Heidt, started submitting my latest book, a YA paranormal (Yay!!!).
  4. I took my first ride on a road bike since I tried to learn to ride on my father’s bicycle at age ten.
  5. My Google Reader crept up to 1000+ unread posts (ack!)
  6. I discovered that The Container Store opened a store within driving distance :)

I’m back now, though, ready to continue the series on The Happy Writer, which you can find in the following posts:

It’s good to be back :).


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