Writers Tricks of the Trade ISSUE 1, VOLUME 9 - Page 34

will soar. We everyday writers generally don’t have ghost writers like many celebri- ties or public figures who “write” a best- seller. We don’t have a cadre of “our peo- ple” who take care of our every need. For thousands of authors the very real challenge is how to keep the balls in the air so they don’t hit them on the head. Between writing, posting on blogs, soliciting inter- views and reviews, trying to find podcasts, radio or TV gigs, editing, designing promo- tional material, thinking about the next project, participating in writers and read- ers groups, re-searching local press clubs, Toastmasters chapters and fraternal organ- izations, plus paying attention to the family and going to the cleaners and grocery store along with other mundane necessities, the list is like Pinocchio’s nose. It gets longer every day. W HAT IS AN AUTHOR TO DO ? Rigid schedules work for some, but not for others. Some authors can absolutely commit to a number of words or a page count per day and that target is literally etched-in-stone. With the required writing completed for the day, they move on to the juggling act for the rest of their schedule. But what if writer’s block hits? That com- mitment to write “X” amount of words or pages could eat up every working hour, which knocks out the possibility of doing anything else. Imagine this: You’re facing a deadline. Well, no problem because the day is tightly scheduled. Then you, the kids or your spouse come down with an awful cold. Now what? Worse yet, maybe your computer crashes or the air conditioning goes out on S PRING 2019 the hottest day of the year. You thought your speech to the book club was next Tuesday, but your Outlook reminder just dinged and you were mistaken—it’s today! While you put on the perfect “making a speech” suit and hop around with one shoe on and one off, you suddenly can’t remem- ber where you stashed that box of books. If any of this sounds familiar, and it should, the key to conquering the juggling act is one word: flexibility. Life is full of un- expected events and quite frankly there is nothing you can do to head off those ruts in the road. But you can devise ways to deal with many of the roadblocks. W HAT KIND OF A SCHEDULE WORKS FOR YOU ? Like them or not, schedules are a valua- ble tool even if you wind up adjusting to conditions. A schedule gives you a frame- work for budgeting precious time and try- ing to make everything fit. When mapping out your day, think about how much time you should spend on a particular task. Then acknowledge that probably won’t be the case. Pad it a little. Allow extra time for traf- fic jams, fruitless searches, chapters that just won’t come together—things like that. People like me, who tend to lose focus or procrastinate, find a common timer is a great taskmaster. Seeing the minutes tick away often results in working more effi- ciently as long as you don’t keep resetting it to buy more time. Go through your list and prioritize tasks in order of importance. For example, you know it is imperative to send the manu- script to the editor, so taking time to re- search reviewers can wait another day. Fa- cebook posts yield hits on your website, but P AGE 29 W RITERS ’ T RICKS OF THE T RADE