Like anything else, being a writer is a journey. You go through stages. Some exciting, some frustrating, some overwhelming. Right now I'm in my about-to-debut phase, which is a combination of so many emotions I can't even describe it. It's the deep breath before the moment I've been waiting for since the day I put words on a page again.
And as I get closer and closer to that day, I feel my world continue to shift beneath my feet. Priorities change. New obligations get put on my plate. Blog tours get planned. Deadlines loom. I have a JOB. It's a vastly different playing field than it was a little over a year ago when I was in my "write when I'm inspired, blog like a maniac, live on twitter" existence.
So if you're on your own journey, hoping to get to the published stage, here are the things I'd pass along...
3 Things You Can Do To Prepare for Published Authorhood
1. Train for writing to be your JOB.
Enjoy the fact that you can write only when/if you want to right now with no pressure. BUT start training yourself to be a working writer early. Once you have deadlines (which for me means having 4-6 months to write a 90-100k book), you need to know how to make yourself write even if your muse is on a bender in Tahiti.
2. Being the BEST ONLINE FRIEND EVER is not going to be realistic once you're steadily publishing so learn to let go of the guilt.
In the beginning, you comment on everyone's blog who comments on yours. You visit everyone in your blog roll. You retweet all your favorite posts. You blog five days a week and it's amazing. You respond to every comment you get. This is great. It helps you build up a network of support and friendship.
BUT when the wheels start to spin faster in your writing life, something has to give if you want to make sure your time is spent writing your next book (or like seeing your family and stuff) and often blogging intensity is what falls off first. You can still maintain your own, but it gets harder and harder to visit everyone else. Give yourself permission to not be wracked with guilt when this happens.
3. Find your balance and know your limits.
I'm learning that balance is going to be the make it or break it component for me. I'm an all-in kind of girl. I don't want to do anything half-assed so I throw myself into things completely. But doing that in one area can create imbalance in other parts of your life. All you do is write, so you forget to read. Or all you do is blog and forget to write. Or you keep skipping that trip to the gym because you have more "important" things to do than take care of your health (I fall victim to this one all the time). Or you blog, write, and read but your poor family hasn't really "seen" you in a week.
So learn how to manage your time and not cut out the things that are important.
This is why you may not have seen me chatting as much on Twitter. It's also why I've invited regular guests to blog here these last few months and why I do a round-up post on Friday. Blogging is important to me, but the level I was doing it at was cutting out time for other things.
So I'm working towards my own balance. I'm holding myself accountable for writing at least 1k words every week day in order to meet my deadlines. I'm going to yoga classes to give myself quiet-mind time and exercise. I'm shutting my computer off at night so I can spend time with the fam. I'm reading for pleasure at least 3-4 times a week. And even though I still have a lot going on, I feel much happier.
Everyone is going to have their different challenges, but my guess is that these three are pretty universal. I wouldn't trade a minute of it because my dream of having my book published is coming true. But it's important to make sure we don't lose our mind in the process. :)
So what are your biggest challenges right now? Do you think you're prepared to be a writer working on a deadline? For those of you who are published or about to be, have you felt that big shift in priorities? What balls do you drop first?
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate it!