In some ways, we writers have the easiest jobs on the planet. We generally don't work outdoors in the elements. We get to be creative for large chunks of the day. And the wardrobe...hello, working in your pajamas all day, goodbye fitted khakis. And farewell annoying coworker who always, always eats fish for lunch. At his desk. Right next to yours.
Still, even writing for a living has its downsides. Besides not knowing where your next paycheck is coming from, you also have to learn to take really good care of your body. Because a broken, burnt out body/psyche aren't going to help your career.
I was recently asked to write a guest post over at Writing and Wellness on this very topic: how to take care of your health while writing full-time. I shared some of the tips and tricks that I use and hope you'll get some benefits from them.
I'm sharing news from my writing studio (including a new book coming out soon!), a special giveaway for newsletter subscribers only, and a glimpse of our newest family member in this month's newsletter. You can read all about the January 2019 News here. Not a subscriber yet? Sign up here and join in the fun...you also receive a #free short story when you sign up.
Somewhere out there must be a writer who loves editing.
That person is not me.
Out of the entire book writing/outreach/administrative/publishing parts of writing, editing has to be my least favorite. I've tried everything I can think of to make the process smoother--even writing from an outline (I hate outlines and much prefer to follow the story as it unfolds), but nothing seems to make it easier.
As you can see from the photo above, I've now resorted to sparkly gel pens and highlighters along with tea and pumpkin-scented candles to keep me going. Whatever works, right? ;)
As I work on the edit of the next novel I'm struck by something: there is a "next novel." I am so blessed. Despite the angst I feel about editing, despite the fact that I'm not some huge, best-selling novelist, I get to write books. What fun! And some people buy them. Amazing!
Counting My Blessings
It's easy to get caught up in the why-can't-I-be-as-popular-as-that-author type thoughts, especially when you work alone day after day. I'm making it more of a point though, to count my blessings when it comes to work (and life in general).
What a thrill to be able to write for a living!
I've dreamed of this for years and years: when I worked as a receptionist; when I toiled as a vet tech; when I helped women in the clothes store pick out that "just right" dress; when I was employed for several years in human services where I worked as everything from a DUI program assistant to a case manager.
When you have a creative dream, do all you can to make it reality. Even if you work on it in tiny chunks (like say, writing a book in 15-minutes a day), keep going. Even when people make snide remarks about "getting a real job," keep going. Even when you're stuck in the 9-5 treadmill life, do whatever you can to move just a little closer toward your dream.
And hey, if you find yourself in need of a pep talk, drop me a line: jpcwrites (at) gmail (dot) com. I love talking with other creatives and may have a tip or two that will help you.
All right fellow booknerds and bookworms: I have a pressing question for you today: what are your special reading habits?
The topic of this post is similar to one I wrote about recently on the blog, "Do You Have a Reading Ritual?" It's also in the same vein as this post, "Do Your Suspense Tastes Change with the Seasons?"
I was inspired to write this post after reading a great one called, "My Reading Habits," over at I Wish I Lived in a Library. Katherine offered some great behind-the-scenes info about her own reading habits. I thought it would be fun to do something similar here.
In no specific order, here are five questions about my own reading habits. Please chime in and share your answers in the comments!
Q1: What time of day is set aside for reading?
A: I have a fifteen-minute block of time after lunch when I most enjoy reading. I have been doing it for years and it is very relaxing. I sip my (decaf) coffee and let go of the morning busyness and just unwind...ahhhh. Lovely!
Q2: Where do you most enjoy reading?
A: I usually read curled up in a corner of the couch. I also like to read in bed before sleeping if I'm not too tired.
Q3: Sticky note, scrap of paper or proper bookmark?
A: Sadly, you'll find the most ugly things marking my place. I have been gifted with pretty, REAL bookmarks over my life, but somehow my books end up with scraps of junk mail, crumpled post-it notes or (ahem) as is the case right now, a piece of a tissue. But at least it's a CLEAN tissue.
Q4: How do you choose your next book to read?
A: This is tricky! I will sometimes pick up a book if it's recommended to me by a friend. I'm also part of a mystery/suspense online readers' group and sometimes I get ideas from there. I also love browsing used book shops and used book sales and admit that I will frequently pick up a book due to its cover.
I went through a minimalism phase where I donated about 75 percent of my books (!). Now I'm back to collecting them, but with care. I still don't like clutter and figure I can get most at the library when I'm ready to read them.
Q5: If you start reading a book and don't like it, do you plow through anyway or give up on it?
A: Give up! This didn't used to be the case though. When I was younger (teens) I would keep going no matter what. But then college came and then work, family and other things that take up my time. Now my reading time is so limited/precious that I will only read things that I really enjoy.
Now it's your turn, readers. Please answer these questions in the comments below. I can't wait to find out more about your reading habits and preferences. :)
You know how you might envy someone who keeps an immaculate house, drives a big, shiny SUV, or has perfectly-behaved children? Well, I envy authors who outline.
Outlining? Not for me. No, I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type, a rebel. A true jump-in-with-both-feet type of girl. Which is fine and great in its way. Writing fiction is pretty much the only time that I "break the rules," and do things in an un-planned for fashion. It's fun to throw caution to the wind and write freely without thought of what might show up next on the page...until you're not sure what should show up next on the page. Or until the dreaded editing process begins.
Have I mentioned previously that I don't like the editing process much? It's true. Give me the freedom of the empty page and the energy that comes pouring out while I'm working on that messy and imperfect first draft. But then the editing starts and GAH! I want to run from my desk and hide, preferably with a tub of dairy-free ice cream in a room streaming Netflix.
I've just discovered a new way of outlining through, that doesn't hurt quite so much. I still do this after the first draft is written (I know, I'm weird but you've gotta go with what works) and use index cards to track the major points in the novel. Other writers are all high-tech with Scrivener, but I'm more of a Luddite. And that's OK.
I'm really enjoying this new system. Above, you'll see many of the cards spread out for "Pretty Poison," my seventh book (coming 2019). The blank cards at the end of the rows gave away the plot, so I had to flip them over.
Currently, I'm working from another set of index cards. These are helping me to better flesh out the main points in my sixth book, the Creepy Doll Book (*not it's real title). In honor of this book which will be coming out later this year, I thought it would be fun to go on a little Creepy Doll Field Trip. Here are some frightening dolls that I found while browsing the internet. Vote for your favorite in the comments!
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