making time in the new year

Happy 2019 all! How is yours starting out? I must admit mine has been a bit rocky, but I still have hope.

I have realized in the past few weeks of reflecting that my life has taken many twists and turns I didn’t expect it to when I began my writing journey. To be fair, I’ve been writing my whole life, but when I really considered myself an author– that’s when I count the beginning of my journey. And since then, so many things have changed. Within those changes- slowly but surely my writing has moved farther and farther back on the burners of life.

Now, I’m a writer. An author. Anyone who knows that feeling of an attachment to the written word like it’s your left arm knows that it doesn’t just go away.

But sometimes other things become more important. Raising babies. Relationships. Moves. Other careers. Getting well.

We enter seasons of life that don’t always allow our left arm to be as important as our right. It’s a scary feeling, and many times I have denied it. The truth is, though: it’s okay.

It’s okay because I’m still writing. I’m still working on things and jotting down ideas and making time in my schedule to sit down and write. Those times might not be hours upon hours like the days where I only had one child, or no children for that matter. It might not be a drive to be traditionally published quite as strong as it was three-and-a-half years ago before I signed with my first agent. But that’s okay.

I have written earnestly before about making time to be a writer, but what about the seasons of life where we truly cannot find that time? I know, I know. I’m eating my own words. Before I said something along the lines of: if you’re a writer, you make/find the time. And I still believe that. But I also know there are those of us that want to make that time, and maybe even have that time– and then we make the choice to say “not right now” and watch a movie with a friend instead, or sit and read another author’s book.

My goal is to take as many little moments this year and put them toward my writing. However, I also want to give myself grace and know that even if I chose other things first-

I’m still a writer.

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give thanks for your writing

In a competitive business where everyone is hoping to make a break, it’s hard sometimes to be thankful for the season you’re in.

You might just be starting out with your novel (it is NaNoWriMo after all). You might be querying, starting with your new agent, on you third agent, about to score that deal, releasing your fifth book– who knows!

The thing is, the publishing industry is a crazy, scary, beautiful place. If we didn’t know that, we wouldn’t be writers… but sometimes it’s easy to forget it.

This is just a small reminder to give yourself a pat on the back, and it’s as much for me as it is for you, reader. Remind yourself that you’re amazing because you’ve actually put words to paper. You are one step ahead of those that “want to find time” or “always wanted to write.” And if you are one of those later people that I’ve mentioned, there is never a better time than now to start.

Yes, now. I mean, maybe finish reading this…but then get your butt off here and start writing your own words.

There are never going to be perfect conditions. Maybe you think you need to work for a while so you have the time to really focus on your writing after, or maybe you want to build your family roots before you write that best seller– but if you put off writing over and over and over again… eventually you’ll miss it.

Set your mind to it. Write. Even if you can’t come up with that amazing idea, just start writing something, anything.

Anything is better than nothing.

Give thanks, writer. You are in a beautiful season- even if you don’t think you are. There’s always something beautiful to find…and something beautiful to write.

writing for quality over quantity: beware of the dreaded word count

IMG_4939These days, every genre has its requirements/preferences.

Adult Novels can be up around 80k, sometimes higher.

YA it’s good to be between 55k-80k.

PB you shoot for 28-32 pages, keeping it below 1,000 words so it doesn’t seem too long.

MG is safe between 20k-55k, depending on subject matter.

(Thanks for the info, Writer’s Digest!)

But the truth of the matter is, focusing on word count while you’re writing can throw off your groove. You’re afraid to add that subplot that the book needs because it will push you over that high number of word count. Or, you’re book is a little shorter and you’re worried that will scare away agents/editors/publishers. Whatever it is- it’s hard not to think about the word count.

So how do you do it? How do you write, submit, edit (and so forth) without worrying about the end number of words that will be sitting at the bottom of your word document?

Remember it will CHANGE

Word counts change with every draft, every edit, every time you sit down to look at your masterpiece. This is why it’s so important to have writing counterparts- your critical readers and writing buddies and critique partners and editors and fellow writers. If you do it all on your own, then your work is more than likely never going to be as good as it can be.

Keep exceptions in mind 

Books push boundaries. As readers and writers this is good to keep in mind. I’m not saying that you should be like Ulysses and have your opening sentence being pages and pages long, but it’s good to keep in mind that there are always authors who can push those boundaries/limits/suggestions and do it well. Maybe your MG is a little long, and it worries you– but it is all together and beautifully rafted. Don’t worry. Either someone will love it, or someone will help you tender it to the right word-length.

Just keep WRITING

Goodness knows that if you focused on everything that could go wrong, or everything that is wrong, or everything that you NEED to do to get your novel there– it would never be written. My first book I was so concerned with the chapters being the same amount of pages that it almost kept me from writing certain scenes, and almost made me write in things that weren’t needed. In fact, if you ask my editor, she’ll tell you these things were there in the first draft. Because I was SO worried about hitting a certain amount of words, that I lost track of what I was really writing.

As always, my final suggestion is to just keep going. Write what you have in mind, and then whether you need to add or cut- it’s going to be alllllll right.

bouncing genres as a writer

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As a writer, you hear a lot of things in the rumor mill/professional tips/ writing tips, that often you want to question. For example, one of the first things someone told me was I needed to settle on a genre in order to make it as a writer.

At the time, I was dipping my toes into the publishing world by querying my first project (which eventually got shelved and is now under revision with my agent). I told someone that my Young Adult Contemporary was going out into the world, but I had this Young Adult Historical Fiction I just had to start getting down or I was going to go crazy. I might have mentioned some Picture Book ideas I had as well, and that I always wanted to do a cookbook.

This is what you get when someone asks you what you are writing/ want to write/ etc.

After a nice pause, this person said, “I think, as an author, you should probably stick one thing you’re good with and keep writing that. Like, Contemporary, right? That’s what John Green does?”

I bit my lip, nodded my head, and responded: “Well, they’re just ideas right now, after all. I guess we’ll see.”

I was nervous.

I started second-guessing my writing goals, and stayed away from the computer for a little bit– worried I was doing myself an injustice by writing a Historical Fiction rather than trying my hand at another Contemporary.

Thankfully, I have an amazing bestie/CP/beta reader who told me something very important:

Write what you feel called to write. Write what you want. Write. If you’re writing, you’re doing it right.

Or, it was something like that.

So, here are a couple things to think about if you can’t shake that Middle Grade idea when you typically write Romance, or however the skipping around goes for you.

Write it. Get it out of your system.

Get that MG down on paper. You might find that MG is more of your calling than Romance! Or, you know what I mean. OR you might find out that it isn’t. Or you might find out you love both! Whatever the case, you’ll never know unless you try. And that’s one of the biggest things about writing, isn’t it?

Do some research.

There are plenty of published authors who have written in more than one genre (like, I don’t know- J.K. Rowling?). Don’t just google authors and what they write, talk to some fellow writers who are writing in the genre you want to try. Or who write more than one type of book. This is going to help you grow! You can never get too much help. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true, but you definitely can never ask too many questions!

Never listen to naysayers.

People are going to put you down all the time in life. This, I find, especially happens when you are in the creative sphere trying to spread your wings. Don’t listen to people- particularly people who have NO IDEA what they’re talking about. Talk to more than one person about your idea, and always make sure you include a fellow writer or two.

 

By the way, if I had never written that YA Historical Fiction- I never would have snagged my agent. Letting fear and doubt dictate what you do is never good.

Remember:

Write what you feel called to write. Write what you want. Write. If you’re writing, you’re doing it right.

 

 

Also, Congratulations to @darkchiibsb for winning the Amazon $10 gift card! Please contact me @ emily.herring.dunn@gmail.com to connect and receive your prize! Thanks so much for following, everyone!

 

they are the exception. your writing is the rule.

imageEvery day I plan to write at night time. When I’ve taken care of everything on my to-do list, finished clean-up duty, and snuggled in to the couch with a blanket and my laptop.

And almost every day, I never get much, if any, writing done.

My name is Emily, and I am a morning person.

You’d think the progression of life would have changed the way I feel about mornings, but I have always been the one to get up early and seize the day. I feel most at peace when I have my first cup of coffee, sit down with my journal and planner, and figure out how the day is going to go.

It’s just how I am. But somehow I have yet to learn that that’s the time I should be writing.

We all have the idealistic relationship with writing. Let’s sit down with a snack, our laptop, our thoughts, and hash out a few thousand words in one sitting. Some people can do that. Some people have the luxury to do that, but most of us don’t.

 

Let’s be real.

 

So what do we do? How do we figure out the best time to write? And more importantly, how do we stick to it and make it happen? At what point do we need to put other activities to the side so we can dedicate more time to our writing? 

Figuring out the right time of day to write can help you when it comes to making writing the rule, not the exception.

 

TAKE NOTES

Are you grumpy in the morning and bouncing off the walls around 2pm? That’s your high-time! While you may not always be able to dedicate your best time of day to writing, at least find five minutes to jot some things down to feel accomplished.

 

BE INTENTIONAL 

Be intentional about making extra time to dig deep and work on your project, especially on the weekends or holidays. I’ve found myself setting my alarm for what may seem as an ungodly hour, but it works wonders for me to get those words on paper. When I’m able to seize those extra moments, I start my day feeling accomplished instead of getting to the end of the day feeling guilty for doing “nothing.”

 

DON’T FEEL GUILTY

There are always going to be times when you miss a moment or opt out of it to do something else. Writing may be your life and it may be your job and it may be your passion, but you’re always going to have other things to do, too. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting up one morning because you had a late-night with the baby. Or not staying up and writing but instead going out with friends.

 

There are always going to be special occasions. Visitors. Things to do. But the important thing is that they are the exception, and your writing is the rule the majority of the time.

 

You got this. Set that alarm and drink some more coffee—you’ve got some writing to do.

 

Like this post? Check out: finding the time to be a writer and writing through the distractions, too! 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!