Thursday, September 12, 2013

WRITING AMIDST THE CHAOS


Congratulations to "Jaclyn L", the winner of Julie's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

I have written 50 books.  Currently, I’m working on my 51st story, a romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue, tentatively titled ONCE A COP.  Some of those 50 stories simply flowed out of my fingers and imagination like a gift from God.  Others?  Well, let’s just say writing is my full-time job.  And while it’s a job I dearly love, it’s still a JOB.  Some of those books I wrote specifically for readers who’d requested a particular character’s story, while others I wrote just for me because a theme or character or plot element was particularly meaningful.  Some of my written words have won awards and made bestseller lists and been fan favorites—although, I’ve been surprised that the same book doesn’t always accomplish all three things.

See the word I’ve repeated in various tenses and parts of speech?  WRITE.  I write.  I’m a writer.  Sometimes, the work is glorious.  Sometimes, it ain’t easy.

This summer has been particularly busy for me. We’ve been saving up and have dedicated these few months to working on our house.  After some bad storms and hail/water damage, and a tad of neglect (we’ve been paying for college, not home repair ), it needed it.  Plus, we worked in a mini-vacation with my mom and son.  I went to the RWA conference in Atlanta.  And so on.  In other words, summer wasn’t much of a vacation for us.  And through all this, I’ve had a book to write.
There are millions of people in the world who want to write a book.  There are thousands of people who actually do.  I heard a shocking statistic at RWA (Romance Writers of America) this summer—1 in 2000 so-called writers will actually finish a book.  Not sell a book.  FINISH it!  We all have busy lives with second jobs, kids to raise, parents to look after, friends to support, homes to care for, hobbies we want to pursue, classes or workshops we want to take, promotion work and volunteer work that takes time, repairing and remodeling homes, and so on.  I do all those things and more.  And I’ve still finished 50 books.  I’m about to finish 51.

How do I do it?  How have I written so many books and still have a life?  How do I get it all done?  There’s probably no one right way for everyone.  We all have different priorities and different levels of self-discipline.  But this is what works for me.  The idea is simple, but the execution can be hard.

Treat writing as a job.

Yes, it’s a job you love to do. But if you wait for the muse to strike or the stars to align or your life to get to a calm place, you’ll be waiting a long time and that book won’t get done.  If you had to go to a business office or teach a classroom or assist in surgery, you wouldn’t wait until you felt like doing your work.  You wouldn’t show up to do your job when it was convenient.  You’d have a certain time you were required to work.  You’d show up at a given time in a given place.  Same with writing.  Whether you’re in an office, on a laptop, writing on your commute, in the mornings, over lunch, after your other job, etc., it helps to set a specific writing time.  And that’s what you do.  You report to your computer or notepad at a given time every day or 3 times a week, etc.  You go to work.  And then you use those 3 hours or 30 minutes or whatever to write.  Sure, sometimes, you’ll have a sick day.  Or a mental health day.  But if you’ve ever had to prepare for a substitute teacher, you know you won’t do that very often.  You can’t leave a classroom of students to answer email or play on Facebook.  You can’t skip a business meeting to have lunch with friends.  You don’t leave a patient on the table because you’d rather be reading a book.

Now, part of treating writing as a job is to know your schedule.  What are the other demands on your time?  You must realistically budget your time so you can get the important things done (like feeding your children, getting some sleep, working another job, meeting with contractors who are tearing up parts of your house).  And, I recommend scheduling vacations—whether it’s every weekend off with your family, or a month off in the summer, or whatever, you’ll need to the break to refill the creative well and refuel your energy.  Otherwise, when it’s time to work/write. Write.

I have more helpful hints that I’ll post on my website at www.juliemiller.org October 1st with my monthly newsletter and updates, but for now, I hope this teaser gives you something to think about.  I’d like to say Good Luck with your writing!  But I think a savvier thing to say if you want to achieve writing success is, “Get to work!”
Share some of the challenges you face when it comes to getting your work done.  And tips and tricks you have for getting the job done in spite of them

Giveaway:
I’ll be giving away a copy of my current release (#49!), TASK FORCE BRIDE, to one lucky poster. E-book or Print copy, winner’s choice.

And don’t forget to check out the Book Bundle GiveAway on my website this month at www.juliemiller.org.  You can read an excerpt from Task Force Bride there, too!
Julie Miller

24 comments:

  1. Don't put me in the drawing as I have already read the book and loved it. Julie writes such wonderful characters with action that keeps us turning pages. Great post Julie! Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Brenda! (And you can enter the contest on my website since you already have TASK FORCE BRIDE) Appreciate the lovely review you wrote, too!

      Delete
  2. Good insight into writing. I know I have heard other authors also say to treat writing like a job, but you really broke it down. Thanks. Denise

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad I could help, Denise.

      This is actually part of a long article/workshop presentation. So I'll have more tips & tricks on my website next month.

      Delete
  3. I know people who say they are writing books in different genres, and all say the same thing. It is a job and have another job while waiting to hear or decide to submit their book to a publisher. They all tell me I should write a book considering how many romance books I have read in life. I will not do so because it requires a Great Commitment from the writer to do so and I haven't figure out how to stop leaving things to the last minute. Julie I totally love all your books. Ever going to do any about A.J's sisters. just wondering. Hope to see you at RT next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Edna--We writers appreciate having such loyal, voractious readers! Thank you!

      And... after I finish this deadline, the next book I'll be writing DOES feature A.J.'s sister, Theresa. She's an ER nurse now (she'll keep her art on the side, but after events as a teenager, she decided she wants to follow in his brother and sister's footsteps and do more to serve KC. I envision it as a slam-bang thrill ride.

      Delete
  4. Sorry Julie It's me Edna I forgot to include my name in the Anonymous.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can see that treating writing like a job is really the only way to get it done. But I cannot imagine how you can possibly write as well as you do and still find time for home renovations and family time.

    joanneboykoATyahooDOTca

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a matter of prioritizing, Jo-Anne. (I'll talk more about that on my website Oct. 1st) There are things I willingly or reluctantly give up so I can focus on my family and my writing. I'm not the world's best housekeeper, for example (and I trained my family early to know how they, too, can dust/vacuum/pick up stuff. I feed them. I do laundry. I clean the johns. Otherwise, they can wait until I'm off deadline, do the job themselves, and not complain about dust bunnies under the dresser. ;) I pick and choose what tv I watch (try to make it something we watch together) and I never watch tv during the day. And so on.

      Delete
  6. asking for help

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do that, too. Having friends and family who support your efforts is invaluable to getting any job done.

      Delete
  7. letting others help :) I'm a bit of an independent, OCD :) Thanks for sharing and congrats on the new release!

    efender1@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, erin! One of the next tips in my article is how writing friends help me get the job done.

      Delete
  8. I love your post as most of the successful writers I know practice much of what you've stated. I'm starting my own business (from home) and have already established when I plan to begin and end my day. The hardest part is getting friends and family to respect that time and not think you're available just because you're not away at an office. Discipline is key and making a plan and sticking to it is an important step.

    I have the first three books in the Precinct:Taskforce series and would love this one!

    Jonettaallen77 at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jonetta! Glad you're enjoying the books!

      That IS hard to do--training family & friends to respect your work time when you work at home. But I think you'll find that your true friends will understand and respect that you're working with a clear explanation and some gentle reminders. Take phone calls for example. My mom, son, friends know to call me either at lunch or in the evening if they want me to answer (unless there's an emergency, of course--certain numbers I'll pick up no matter what, and they know who they are). Others, I don't answer and let go to voice mail to be listened to later, and called back if necessary. It takes a bit to train folks, but the ones who care want to be supportive, and respecting your time is an easy way to do it. With the renovations, I knew the contractors' numbers. If one of them called, I'd answer. Otherwise, when they were at the house, I told them I was working. They'd check in when they arrived, and then rarely bothered me until they were leaving at the end of the day. (Of course, I was curious to see the progress, so when I took a break, I'd go out and chat, ask questions, take pix. ;)

      Delete
  9. The hardest thing is taking the lead of a project when my position is not a project manager. I just happens to manage the funds for the project. My tactic is you want the money, show me the project. I do tend to get into trouble for acting as a project manager after all, I'm not an engineer.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those team dynamics can be tricky, Kai. Some people's toes are more sensitive than others. ;) But you also have a responsibility to manage funds/budgets, and it sounds as if you're doing what you need to do to get your job done.

      Delete
  10. I've read TASK FORCE BRIDE as well. It is fantastic. Characters that have stayed with me.

    (Don't count me in.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by, Mary! So glad you enjoyed TASK FORCE BRIDE! Appreciate the review from Down Under!

      Delete
  11. I love this series! Your post was very interesting! Thanks for the giveaway!

    jaclynlavigne@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jaclyn! Glad you're enjoying the books!

      Delete
  12. Julie, very interesting post!

    You know, years ago when I couldn't get something done on time I used to think that there's always something or another going on that delays the completion of my task. And then as I went on to University I found that it was just an excuse I used to justify not getting things done. Like you've said, we all have numerous things that go on in our lives. I learned while I was studying in university, attending the practical-hands-on training for my program, holding a part-time job, and having friends and families to remember that it all became sort of a balancing act. Prioritizing, time management, and organization became essential for staying on track as much as possible. It was not only important for my personal life but my professional one also. I now use a calendar to keep track of everything. I pen in the most important things in my life (ie. work, meeting friends, family night outs, due dates for paperwork) and then fill in all my spare time with some of my own personal interests...whether it be cycling, photo/video editing, writing, or reading. Nowadays I read, sometimes even write or draw, while I'm traveling on a bus or sitting in the waiting room at a docs office. I either have a book in my hand, a sketch pad and pencil or a notebook and pen. Something to keep myself busy at the same time getting things done. But like you, even I find allotting a certain time to do things during the week works wonderfully. And sometimes you'll have to bend a little but it’s a good foundation to use. Thanks for sharing such a great post! Take care!
    Kind Regards,
    Daya

    ReplyDelete
  13. Very well said, Daya! Your calendar sounds like a good idea--penning in more than just work, but the fun things, too.

    ReplyDelete