Friday, September 30, 2011

Are You Working Hard?

I'm piggy backing on Jody Hedlund's blog post today. Jody says that there's no secret to gaining success as an author or on building a web presence.

It takes hard work to gain success.

And if anyone I know is the epitome of hard work, Jody sure is.

But saying it's hard work to me, is like reading a book with absolutely no setting, or vise versa, only setting, no dialogue, no internal monologue, no interaction between characters. It's too vague for me. It doesn't offer advice on what to do. I want to know what constitutes working hard?

This made me pause to consider if I'm working hard. But more importantly to me, if I'm working hard and smart. Let's face it, time is of the essence this day and age. It's hard to come by, and yet it still does exist. We still have twenty-four hours in a day, and we don't have to plow our own fields, hunt for our food, travel up hill to the outhouse, chop wood for the stove, or pump water from the well in that same time span today, but yet it just seems to disappear in a fog regardless. If we use our time wisely in this age of amenities though, God can do wonders with it . . . in His timing, I'm certain!

So, okay, I'm going to do a little analysis of how I believe a writer should use their time.

1) Write daily. Whether you're working on a first draft or editing, or creating a query or proposal, be sure to write with respect to your writing career daily. Am I not working hard if I take weekends off for my family's sake? That's debatable, as most things are. But for me, if I've destroyed my relationships with my loved ones in order to build my writing career, then I'm not okay in God's eyes or my own. But if I can etch out a half hour or more on those "family" days when my working isn't taking away from family, then I better make use of that time wisely, or I'm not working hard. Do you have a TBD (to be done) list? Make sure there are things on it writing related that can be done in small increments of time for when the family unexpectedly disappears during "family" time.

2) Never stop learning and apply that new knowledge every chance you get. If you don't have a novel you're "studying", you most definitely should have a how-to book on the craft of writing, or on social networking and marketing on the go. Life is a journey of learning and growing and there are all kinds of ways to nurture this. Find what works for you, and make sure it's available for a daily dose of L&L (Live and Learn). If you're creative, you can even do this while enjoying "family" time on occasion. Hint: Movies as homework --have a pad of paper at hand to jot down the structure, find the MOG (moment of grace), discover the moral premise (if there is one), or whatever else aids in your current study.

3) If you're a blogger, be consistent with posting. I'm failing in this lately. Good thing I'm doing this analysis after all!

4) FIGURE OUT the social networking sites you SHOULD be on, and learn how to use them wisely. I'm still working on this. How do we do this smart so that it doesn't eat up precious hours of our writing time? This is one journey that's a huge struggle for me. I've read Kristen Lamb's books and I'm still in a fog. Guess it's time to reread and find other sources of how-to's regarding this topic.

and to do all of the above leaves me with one more glaring analysis.

5) Divide the household chores. My kids would hate me if they read this. But it's true, somewhere along the way I've made the upkeep of our home my responsibility. And I'm sacrificing sanity/health for writing. Yes, you read that correctly. Since I can't do all those things "writerly" and keep up with the daily chores, I settle for dust and fur motes surrounding me as I write, which increases my blood pressure and has me mentally fighting with myself. Why am I not super woman? Why can't I keep up our house AND build a successful writing career? I just can't. At least not alone, I can't. So, girls, a new ship's about to sail (no, I would never use that cliche in a book, but since I need to get back to editing, I will here), and you're not a guest on it, you're a fully fledged member of the crew! (Check back with me in a week to see if I stuck to my plan. Lifting prayers now that I do.)

So what did I miss? What more do we have to do to work hard and smart as novelists?

Surrendering to Him,



Loree Huebner said...

Eileen, these are all great tips on using our time wisely as writers. Organization is the key.

Jessica R. Patch said...

Yep, I agree with Loree, great tips and being organized is key.

I also like what you said about which social sites to be on. There are so many that if we (or me I should say) try to keep up with them all, no writing would get done.

I spread the household chore love around here. It not only helps me, it teaches them responsibility--something many kids these days know nothing about. :)

Great post!

Diane said...

Number five is speaking to me too. They should help and take pride in their home just like I do and there is no better way than taking part in keeping it up. :O)

Terri Tiffany said...

I've wanted to work hard on my current novel and found the only way I could right now was to cut way back on social networking--I had to make a choice and I wanted to focus. I think you are doing great!

Sandra Orchard said...

As a newbie to social media and blogging, I'm finding it to be a wonderful way to meet new people, but a huge time consumer. So your post really resonates with where I'm at.

I want to be more anxious to spend time with God in the morning than to check my emails! I think each writer needs to find what works for them, and feels right for them, with regards to an online presence. With all the hype about Ebooks, I know it's hard to believe...but there are still tons of readers who are rarely online, and who don't read blogs or use social media.

Ultimately, writing great books is the best way to reach your audience.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, yes, those are great, Eileen.

My #1 biggest help in keeping organized (sort of), is to pray and ask God to lead me and guide my steps. IF I follow His voice and obey, I can get everything done that I need to. If I try to manage my own life with my pea brain, it never works. Never.

Love your idea of splitting up the chores. I did that when my kids were home and it was a lifesaver. And they know how to keep house and cook now.

I'm also a huge believer in hiring help. I sacrifice other things so I can pay someone to mop and vaccuum and swish toilets.

Jessica Nelson said...

What?! You're not super woman??? I'm disappointed.

Just kidding. :-)

I need to start writing daily. As for chores, I'm all for divvying those up. lol Last night I made my 7 yr old load the dishwasher. Heeeheeee!