Moving and The Writing Life
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Last week I missed writing a new article about the Writing Life for the first time in years. After ten years in Colorado, we moved back to the community in Southern California where we lived ten years earlier. Change has been a key word in this process. In this article, I want to show how my skills as a writer gave me what I needed to make this move.
Moving is Hard
To get published is also hard but possible. We used movers to pack some of our fragile possessions and to carefully lift outside our furniture. With publishing, there is much to organize and learn how to write a book proposal or a query letter or just formatting your magazine article so it looks professional. Each of these steps is part of the process and something every writer has to do if you want to get published.
Much Is Different
Our new place is radically different from our former location. To enter the writing life, you have to continually make new connections and study different companies. For example, to get published in a magazine, you have to study that publication and see what types of stories they publish and do freelance writers send those stories or are they staff written? For three days to get to our new location, we drove eight or nine hours each day. Ahead of time we had made hotel reservations and planned our path. Yet at times there were delays in the process and it's the same with the writing life, sometimes it takes an unexpected amount of time to reach a particular editor or literary agent.
There Is A Lot to Learn
Because we lived in this community years ago, the street names and various locations has a feeling of familiarity, yet we are struggling with even simple directions. I’m constantly using the directions feature on my phone to go to anywhere. The world of publishing is similar and is always changing. I’ve been studying the details for years yet I still have a lot to learn. It's an action step I encourage for each of you--always be learning more about the publishing world.
Your Routines Are Changed
When we moved across country, the location of everything shifts. For several days last week, the bulk of the day was spent unpacking boxes and organizing the things as they came out of those boxes. The process of moving interrupted my writing and I wasn’t able to blog last week. Often my writing routine has been changed or interrupted. Many writers create a certain pattern about when and where they write. Of necessity, I’ve learned not to place restrictions on my writing routines. I’ve written in busy environments such as coffee shops but also in libraries, on airplanes and in hotel rooms. Every writer needs a measure of discipline and persistence to get it done when your routine is interrupted.
You Have to Adapt
To prepare for our move, I used my scheduling program for my social media posts to Twitter and LinkedIN. Because of using this tool, these posts continued whether I was near a computer or not. My posts to Facebook simply didn’t happen during these days. The move has forced many changes and I’ve had to adapt to get things accomplished. For example, during our several days of driving to our new location, I had authors sign their Morgan James contracts. Often late at night, I was working on my laptop to keep these authors moving forward through the production process. Admittedly working on my laptop is different from using my desktop computer. I had to adapt to accomplish some simple publishing tasks.
The same sort of action happens in the writing world. We need to adapt as writer to give the readers (and our editor) what they expect and want. If your book proposal is incomplete or missing a critical section, because of the volume of submissions, you will often get a simple form rejection letter. It is best in these situations to use a checklist to ensure you have all of the essential and expected items. It's why I created my book proposal checklist to help writers achieve this need and submit a complete proposal.
Each Day Gets Better
As I explained in the opening, moving is filled with confusion, a feeling of being lost and many changes. Yet as we’ve worked through the details of each day, it has also gotten better. We love our new location. As we’ve unpacked our belongings, the routines of life are slowly falling into place and getting better.
The same sort of process happens in the writing world. As you tackle something unfamiliar such as writing a magazine article or a book, the more you work at it, the process gets easier. Each day is filled with challenges yet also opportunities. As a writer, I am often a plodder and keep moving forward in the process. It's the same element I’ve used with this move. Persistence and the ability to keep moving forward helps me know that eventually all the confusion will disappear and life will even out.
Continue Your Routines
As we’ve set up our kitchen, we’ve intentionally kept many of the same patterns of our former kitchen. For example the plates and silverware are located in similar places. This pattern has helped us settle into the new location. I suggest the same is true in the writing life. If you have a place where you write, where you keep your pencils and computer, maintain that place as much as possible. It will help you be able to consistently take action with your writing life.
Overall there are some basic characteristics of every writer which have also been in play with our move:
--a commitment to continued learning
--a sense of curiosity and adventure
--knowing as I continue, things get better every day
My writing life feeds into my regular live including my recent move. Let me know what you think in the comments below.