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Sunday, April 25, 2021


Balance Is Tricky for Every Writer

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 To some, my early morning work, may appear a little strange. I was preparing some social media posts for early June—and yes I'm writing these words in April. Why was I working on June? When I search for content for my social media feeds, I am looking for timeless articles focused on writing and different aspects of publishing. Before I post each article I carefully look at it to make sure there is nothing about a particular date or time of year and if there is, I use it earlier. It's just one of the details I keep in mind with my 12–15 daily social media posts.  Most of what I do is routine only because I've created a system for these posts and use my system over and over. I hope it is something you are doing for your own writing life.
 
Besides my social media posts, this morning, I created and sent an email to my list. It's a current campaign that I'm actively involved in, telling people about free events (again keeping my audience in mind). Each of these events have a purpose and if someone takes the additional step (buys the product), I have an affiliate relationship with the originator and will make some income. Nothing is predictable or certain in this process. Sometimes I receive an unexpected check and other times zero. These couple of details are just some of what I'm doing for my work today.
 
I'm sending emails and phone calls about some aspects of future work. I've called an author friend to get an endorsement for a current book that is about to finish typesetting. I'm calling some Morgan James authors today about their contracts and other aspects of my work for the publishing house. I'm also doing some writing like on this piece for The Writing Life (weekly). I'm writing a blog post which is due in a couple of days. I'm also writing on my monthly deadline for another blog, which will post to the public in a few days.  In some ways, I'm doing multiple juggling yet focused juggling to accomplish each task to the best of my ability. As I've written in these articles, the details matter.
 
I hope from writing about some of these projects, you see the delicate balancing act of our writing life. I have long-term projects which I need to move forward. I also have short-term projects that need to happen. Besides these various writing related tasks, on the personal front, I'm also trying to find time in my day to read, exercise, eat healthy and of course enjoy life with my family.
 
In this article, I'm writing about the tricky aspects of balance. In this process, I've learned some important truths:
 
1. Not everything I do will work. For example, I pitch my colleagues and convince them to send publishing contracts to writers. Some of these writers do sign but some do not and decide to publish somewhere else. 
2. Some of what I do will work. Some of my writing will sell books or products or services—and actually pay to have done it. The key is to have multiple streams of possibilities and payment.
 
As I'm writing about in this article, I'm involved in a daily careful balancing act. For any of us, this work is not easy. Each of us need to find that balancing place in our own daily lives and keep working to tweak it and refine it.
 
How do you get it all done? The truth is not everything does get done but the ones you focus on and finish, those get done. Here's some important elements in this process:
 
You need to have a vision and a plan
You need to have routines and follow your routines
You need to use multiple tools—email lists, Hootsuite, etc
You need to be diverse and create multiple income streams
You need to be consistent and keep at it—even when some things fail, other things will succeed.
You need to keep in the back of your mind your why. Why are you making this effort and doing these things? For me, I do it because books change lives. I had a book change my life years ago and you can read that story here.
 
It's all part of our lives as writers. It is not clear cut. Each of us have to carve out our own take on these various routines. I've shown you some of my details in this article and my atempt at something that is not easy for anyone called balance. I freely admit I don't have all the answers and continue to learn and grow. Let me know how you find balance in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, April 18, 2021


Four Reasons I Write at a Keyboard

 


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

 
Some of writers prefer to begin writing on a legal pad with a pen. They believe there is something important for them in this process. I'm a fan of novelist Daniel Silva and I've heard him say he writes his novels on a yellow pad with a certain type of pencil. Each of us need to experiment and figure out the best way for us to write.
 
As a young journalist with some steep deadlines (in an hour or two for the newspaper), I learned the skill of composing at the keyboard on my typewriter. There wasn't time to write something longhand or dally around with the wording of something. Instead you had to create the outline for the story in your head, then put your fingers on the keys and move. As I look back, I learned a valuable writing skill that I've been using for many years. I learned to type taking a summer school course—and did not do well. I recall getting a C for that class (probably a lack of applying myself) yet this skill is something I've used daily for decades.
 
While I understand the writers who begin with a legal pad, for me, I use a keyboard for several reasons.
 
1. Readability. To be honest, my cursive writing is unreadable and I've been printing my writing for years. Sometimes I will handwrite a note that I mail and I have to slow myself down to make the letters readable. When I interview people on the phone or in person, I always record to capture everything) but I also take notes. I don't trust my recorder and countless times have had it not work for often some weird reason. In recent years, I've found those notes growing in difficulty to read so even my printing is pretty unreadable. Writing at the keyboard is much more dependable and something I know I will be able to read later when I turn to it.
 
2. A Faster way to write. I'm a fairly quick typist and have been composing my thoughts on the keyboard for decades. These days I do most of my writing in my office on my desktop computer. Other times I use my laptop computer.  While I've watched friends who text with both thumbs, I am not quick at texting so that is not my method. 

In other entries about The Writing Life, I've mentioned using an AlphaSmart 2000. This old technology runs on three batteries and is a full size keyboard—not connected to the Internet. It holds over 80 pages of text. I've used mine in hotel rooms, outside on my porch and in airplanes (even if the person in front of you puts the seat back you can still type). If you want to try one, I recommend going to Ebay. In general they are inexpensive. I've written many pages on my AlphaSmart and it easily transfers to my regular computer.
 
3. Preserves My Writing. Using a keyboard gives me flexibility in how I use the results.  I can write an email or an article or a chapter in a book or any number of other things. I like the flexibility and possibilities which are open if I have the material in print rather than just my poor printing.
 
4. Helps my organization. It's one of the key skills every writer needs—organization. If you can quickly find something you've created, then you can open it and move it forward in the publication process. Scraps of paper can be lost but if I've used a keyboard for a file, I can save these files and easily access them. The details of how I have these files organized will have to wait for another article.
 
How do you begin the writing process? On paper or on a keyboard? Let me know your method and why in the comments below.
 
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Sunday, April 11, 2021


Writing in the Cracks of Life


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When do you write? Early in the morning? Late at night or in the cracks of life? For me, it often depends on what I have that needs to be written. If I'm writing on a book, then I will often figure out how many words I need to write in order to meet the deadline. Often I will add a few days of cushion into this process because interruptions and unexpected things always happen. If I'm on a book deadline, then I will write for an extended period of time (several hours). It doesn't matter if it is in the morning, afternoon or late at night. For some of my deadlines when I had a full-time job at an office, I've written all night long to meet a writing deadline.
 
While it is nice to have a big block of time to write, I also have written in small portions of time or in the cracks of life. Maybe I will have a few minutes in the morning to write a few paragraphs. Or I will have some time in the late afternoon to write a few more paragraphs on a piece. In general, I scratch out a few phrases as an outline first, then I write from that outline and in my mind I have an idea where I'm going with the piece and how it will come together.
 
After years of tackling these questions as a writer, I believe some of the issue is mindset. If you tell yourself that you are a morning person and can only write in the morning, then you will be challenged to write late at night. If you are a night owl and tell yourself that you don't think well in the mornings, then you will find it hard to write in the mornings. My counsel is not to play these sort of mind games with yourself. If you can write, then you can write whenever you have the opportunity to write.  I have no preconceived notions and that is a key part of my writing mindset.
 
Another element is to learn when you do your best creative work. For some people it is early in the morning. For other people they need to be at a coffee shop with people around them (sort of like writing in a newsroom of a newspaper). Sometimes I write on my Alpha Smart (especially when I travel). Admittedly for a year I have not been in hotel rooms or airplanes with a world-wide pandemic. But this situation is beginning to change as I'm starting to traveling again.
 
For my small deadlines (like these weekly articles about The Writing Life), then I write in cracks of time. Do you have a system or method or manner about your writing? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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Sunday, April 04, 2021


The Importance of Consistent Action


By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin


Early on a Saturday morning before the sun had risen, I was working on my social media posts for next month (May). Why? It's part of my consistent pattern of collecting then posting content for my social media feeds on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Through the years I've posted thousands of entries. It takes consistent action to get results. Not everyone reads every one of your posts on social. Sometimes someone will email me about an interview I've posted—like they are hearing it for the first time—when I recorded this interview months earlier but I'm consistently putting it into my social media posts. It's all about taking consistent action.
 
Often in these articles, I've written about the importance of taking consistent action with your writing life. You may not see the results immediately (or ever) but the fact you are consistent will pay off.
 
Recently I was one of the speakers at a virtual writing conference. One of the people attending the event was a writer in Nigeria.  He learned about the event from one of my tweets on Twitter. Which tweet? I have no idea but the fact I was posting consistently paid off and this writer saw my words and took action and attending the event. Because of the time difference, many of the sessions were in the middle of the night in Nigeria but this writer saw the importance of attending the event—and he came because of one of my social media posts.
 
I am writing consistently—like the hundreds of entries in this blog on The Writing Life. Like clockwork, I write something new every week. Are you consistently blogging or writing for something else? Besides these blog articles, I regularly write for several other blogs. Sometimes I write an original article. Other times I repurpose and rewrite older articles and use them. Each article includes links to resources where people can subscribe to my email list, buy my books or other strategic ties. Sometimes from these consistent efforts, people buy my books. Yet not everyone buys my books from these articles. I know someone has to hear about your book 8 to 12 times before they buy it. These articles might be one of those exposure times. It's not always about book sales but consistent action will pay off in other areas of your writing life—even if you can't see the results.
 
Often in these articles, I've written about the importance of reading for writers. While I love to read, several years ago I began to write reviews on the books that I read (or if I hear the audiobook version) I've done it so often, writing a review only takes me a few minutes. I've written over 1,100 reviews on Amazon and over 700 reviews on Goodreads.  While that is a large amount of reviews, it didn't happen overnight but through consistent action.
 
What consistent actions are you taking with your writing life? Let me know in the comments below.
 

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