Monday, August 25, 2014

New Baby vs. Writing Schedule

Well, eventually that time arrived, and our little son was born on August 13th, 10 days early. They say that's unusual for a firstborn, being born almost 2 weeks early. They also said that it's unusual to feel the really early labor pains that I had to tolerate for 23 hours before being admitted into the hospital for the "real thing". Exciting! LOL. However, it wasn't really that laughable at the time, mostly just torturous, especially since being admitted only meant that I then had a few more hours of much more intense labor before delivery since I opted out of the drugs...
Either way, the painful part is all over and done with, and we are off on a new adventure in our little family! Like they say, it's worth it. It's been 12 days with a newborn needing feedings every 2-3 hours and attention at random times both day and night, so my writing schedule has been basically nonexistent. Fortunately, I have had a little time to get prepared for my online teaching job these last few days, but I haven't been using baby's nap times for writing just yet. I'm still adjusting and trying to catch up on lost chores and business matters. Hopefully, life will get into a new and improved routine shortly, and I will be back up and writing in no time. For the time being, I think about how this new experience will lead to new ideas that I will likely pen to paper in the months and years to come. Watching a newborn experience even the most simple things with a fresh perspective makes you see the world with a new perspective, as well. A walk around the block becomes an epic journey. A simple mobile becomes symbolic. It's all brand new, and I hope to soak it all in. Experience is everything for writers, and it appears that that's true for mothers, as well.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Favorite Genres

At a writers' conference that I attended back in April, one of the speakers said that writers should pick a genre and stick with it. "Nobody wants to see a chick lit written by Stephen King," she said in way of explanation. Her comparisons were quite humorous, but I could see the point she was making. Writers become associated with the genre and style of writing they do. (I guess it must be the same for actors. For example, I would be very creeped out if I suddenly saw a new serious action thriller starring Will Ferrell.)
I think, for the most part, this idea only applies if you are already a successful, published author. I mean, if nobody but your friends, professors, and family have read your books, poems, or stories, why shouldn't you feel free to write whatever you like? Still, even if you do become successful and published, I think you should have the right to write what you like. Sure, your fan base will change, and marketing your work may become more difficult, but if the writing is superb, I like to believe that everything will work out eventually.
Of course, I'm still in the process. I do love to write in multiple genres, however. My favorite is young adult literature. I love the creative power that you can have with writing for that age level. It's just fun! Plus, as a high school English teacher, I am used to reading and writing YA lit. You can imagine yourself expanding their vocabularies and imaginations as you write your novel, nerdy as that may sound. I also love action and mystery. I recently started outlining a mystery series that I would love to write, and I can't get my ideas on paper (er, Microsoft Word, I should say...) quickly enough!
I think it's completely awesome to expand what you might consider your genre limitations. Don't be afraid to challenge yourself. What genres do you like to read? What ones do you write in?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Finding Time to Write

Perhaps my greatest downfall as a writer is not setting aside enough time to write every day.
During the school year, I easily fall into the pitfall of saying that I don't have enough time; being a full-time high school teacher these last two years, I was incredibly crunched for time during the school year, and free moments were spent just trying to keep the house clean, pay the bills, or go about the other necessities of daily life, like sleeping or eating... It didn't help that I had several additional after-school (and sometimes weekend) duties that went along with my job and a daily commute of about 1.5 hours eating away at my non-working hours.
However, this summer, I started with a fresh slate, telling myself that I would write every day. For the first month, I wrote 2,000 words a day (except for Saturdays) in any of the three novels I'm currently working on. I was dedicated and motivated. Then, the summer became busy. Relatives' weddings, friends visiting from out of town, baby showers for our soon-to-arrive little bundle of joy (and all the doctors' appointments, baby-proofing and planning that goes along with that little bundle), and my search for a new, more flexible teaching job all began to bog down my Summer of Writing. Fortunately, the best thing about goals (at least in my personal opinion) is that you can readjust and get yourself back on track even if you fell off of your original course. I have about a month left of the summer, and I intend to once again dedicate myself fully to my Summer of Writing. I am setting daily goals, even if they aren't as grand as my original goals, with the full intention of meeting them. I can do it! I hope that any of you other writers out there will take that advice, as well. Even if life gets in the way and drives you off track, you can pull yourself back up and put your pen to paper once more. I think the best motivators for me have been the following:
1. Setting a realistic and specific daily goal. For example: I will read/edit what I wrote yesterday and then write 1,500 new words.
2.  Giving yourself rewards for meeting your goals. For me, I like to promise myself a half-hour of reading after an hour of writing or maybe a trip to the local coffee shop to finish up my daily writing with a tasty reward.
3. Post a longer-term goal for your writing in addition to the daily goal. For example, I have goals of the word counts I would like to see for each of my manuscripts by the end of August. As I see myself getting closer, it is even more of a motivator!