Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Walk To Your Own Beat

When I worked at the publishing house, my day was often crammed with meetings and it was hard to find an open spot on my schedule. During those open spots, I tried to answer email, return phone calls and read unsolicited manuscripts along with contract books, work up financial statements on books and a multitude of other tasks.  Writers wrongly believe editors can instantly answer their email and respond to their queries. Instead the editor’s schedule is loaded with other events.

These days my meeting schedule is much lighter. Working in my home office, I don’t have the required meetings and other events. Instead I have to walk to the beat of a different type of schedule.

My days are still full. There are manuscripts to read for my part-time fiction acquisitions.  There are magazine deadlines.  There are editing deadlines for specific projects.  There are book manuscript deadlines (much longer range projects). There are proposals to create and query letter to write. My schedule is more flexible. Because I’m self-motivated and a self-starter (good qualities for any writer), I move throughout my day and tend to accomplish a great deal of work. For example, over the next few days I’m putting together another Right-Writing News (issue #16). Over the last month, I’ve pulled together some outstanding new articles for this newsletter. If you don’t currently get the free newsletter, you can subscribe to it and have access to all of the back issues. 

Your schedule and the amount of words you write and produce in a single day will be totally different than my production.  Maybe your goal is to write a single query letter a week or to write a magazine article each month. If you need some inspiration, just check out Tim Perrin’s article about 10 Ways to Cultivate New Markets or Robert Bly’s article about How to Get Out of a Slump. There is no need to tell anyone or shame in feeling that you are in a crossroads with your writing.  Just make some decisions and move ahead.

I love what Heather Sellers writes in her book, Page After Page, “Good writing will flow out of us, easily. It's the set up, the preparation, the habits of mind, the thoughts you think before and during your writing—that's what is so hard to get right. Preparing is complex. Writing is simple.” Each of us need to find the writing life that is right for our lives. As writers and editors, we need to walk to our own beat.

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