"...everything in life is writable...if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."..... Sylvia Plath

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Keeping up with it all

This is what I do: I run a bed and breakfast, I write 4-5 hours a day, and I read and research a lot. Yes, I have help in the bed and breakfast so that I am free to think and write. I also have four blogs of my own and maintain a blog for the Louisville Bed and breakfast Association. I occasionally blog on She Writes and BlogHer. In addition, I write for the following online magazines: Examiner.com, EyeonLife.com, Hub Pages, Pink and Salon. I also guest post on a lot of websites.

I started a memoir about a year and a half ago and have written around 56,000 words so far. I am now on my third re-write. I have a Beta reader who is reading my chapters and giving me lots of feedback. And I belong to a critique circle of writers, who are giving me critiques chapter by chapter. Recently I hired a professional editor to help with the final editing and polishing.

You probably think the first thing I’m going to say is that the answer to keeping up with this kind of schedule is organization. And, that is partly true. But there are some other components that are just as important. I’m referring to: flexibility, work ethic, and the ability to stay and to switch focus easily. Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have a good sense of humor, a positive attitude, and the motivation to keep going day in day out. Let me add one more thing here, despite the fact that I am eighty years old, I am in great health, get a little excersize, get 7-8 hours sleep every night, and socialize occasionally...but only occasionally, and always with close, positive friends. Most of my socializing is with guests who visit my Inn. I meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world.

Do you have to give up anything for the sake of your writing? The answer to that is a rousing yes!
I have given up friends and acquaintances who drain me or who are totally negative. I have, for the most part, stopped watching TV, gabbing on the phone for extended periods, going to business meetings, and shopping in stores. Except for groceries and meds and sundries, I do everything on-line. In place of those activities, as breaks from the writing, I run a business, play word and brain games on the computer, go to the gym, and read a lot. Right now I am reading mostly memoirs and books on fictive techniques.

I have people ask me all the time how I handle writer’s block, how often do I blog, and how do I come up with ideas for posts. Amazing as it sounds, I never have writer’s block. I try to post on all of my blogs at least once a week, sometimes more. Finally, the secret to coming up with compelling copy for posts and/or articles is to be compelling and interesting yourself and to focus on interesting things. How do you do that? By reading magazines, books, newspapers, other peoples blogs, on line articles, etc. There's a wealth of information out there...the world is full of it. Also, traveling, engaging in conversations, watching TV and listening to the radio will generate ideas. Another place to look is at yourself: Do you have hobbies and talents? Are you a good mom? a good cook? and so on.

You absolutely do not have to come up with something thought provoking for every post. You can post a recipe and talk about how your baby wont eat vegetables and what to do about it. Or post a video. Or do a book review or review a TV Show or movie or a new CD just out and why you think it's awful. If you’re new to blogging or have not tried it yet, try this: Just start writing about the things that interest you...the thought provoking stuff will come later after you get used to blogging. The more you write, the easier it gets. Jot down ideas for blogs as soon as they pop into your head. Good luck! I'll be looking for your posts.

Finally, the reason I emphasize blogging is that it will definitely help your all over writing. You can experiment with various styles, find your “voice”, and start feeling comfortable about putting your writing out there for all the world to see. This is how I got up the courage to start a memoir. This is also how I found my “voice”, the one I’m using to tell my own personal story. If you don’t have a blog already, I suggest you go to Blogspot or Wordpress and start one. You’ll never regret it.

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