So, let's see, I believe that last Tuesday we began talking about the time problems involved when writers are working but not making sales. We said they came in two flavors: problems related to how others perceive us and problems related to how we perceive ourselves. Today we'll cover some ways to try to deal with them.
Problems related to how others perceive us. When we aren't generating income because we're not making sales, others perceive us as not working, and thus available for everything.We can't control what they believe or how they behave toward us. We can only control ourselves. So what we can do to better manage our time:
- Set blocks of time when we aren't available to others, even if it's just a couple of days a week. They can call us, but we don't have to answer the phone. This will work better if you have Caller ID. All I have is a Caller ID Box, no answering machine. The calls I need to take for work or to make sure there are no family emergencies, I can take. Without an answering machine, the callers I don't respond to can't leave messages for me to hear coming in. That can be just as disruptive as calls. If you feel uncomfortable about this, you can spread the word about what you're doing so family and friends understand. My experience, though, is that the people who believe I'm on call for them don't believe me. This really is a case where controlling ourselves is probably our only option.
- Be quick to adapt to each week's situation. If, say, you're loosing an extra day of work time to elder care, you just can't accept that invitation for lunch. I speak from experience. This happened just a couple of weeks ago. I didn't think ahead and adapt quickly enough. I accepted the lunch invitation on top of that extra day of elder care and lost a lot of work time that week.
- Consider yourself a novelist? Use some of your writing time to try generating shorter material so you can submit more widely. The more you submit, the better your chances of publication. Even if you get published in nonpaying journals, the publication fills gaps in your publishing history and gives you something to show editors and agents.
- Try finding a writers' group. If the writers' group advocates are correct, this will provide work feedback as well as networking. You have to be careful, though. Writers' groups can be very time consuming, if they meet often and require a lot of work from individual members. You have to balance benefit and costs here.
- Try doing some studying. There's always a possibility that there's a reason for the publishing problem, one that you could address through education. There's no one way to do this. You can do a do-it-yourself MFA type thing with self-study. You can take workshops and go to conferences and retreats. I know of published writers who experienced a publishing drought post 2008 who used the opportunity to go to graduate school. Again, you have to be careful to make sure you're balancing study with writing. Also, keep in mind that some critics believe that MFA programs turn out uniform, cookie cutter writers.
Yeah, writing's a trial.
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