Writer with a Day Job

Here’s an interesting new book, “Writer with a Day Job”. I found it listed on the Writer’s Digest website and I thought that someone finally captured the reality of being an aspiring (or even published author). Through my trials as an aspiring writer, I’ve discovered that I’ll never be able to quit my job and write full-time. It’s a great fantasy to have but it’s not realistic.

The reality of being an aspiring writer is that I have a day job. I’m also a husband and a dad. Those are my priorities and not to mention taking care of a house (inside and outside). Whatever time is leftover, I try to write and that’s usually in the morning. I’ve had some success writing at night but lately it’s been tough. With a new job, my brain has pretty much cashed out on me by the end of the night.

That’s why I’m wondering if Aine Greaney’s book might provide some direction. I have a second child on the way in October and I’m a quarter of the way through my second novel. The challenge I made to myself was to have the first draft finished before then. I’ve stalled. Writing comes down to discipline, but if there are ways to work smarter not harder, I’m in.

I guess my other issue is that my creative energy get stalled from time to time. In addition to my writing challenge, I’m also on a weight loss challenge. Too many challenges? I hope not. I hoping that my improved waistline will fuel my writing, but maybe that’s where “Writer with a Day Job” can help. Here are a few takeaways based on what I’ve read so far:

  • Make the most of your writing time early in the morning or late at night.
  • Harness the power of your lunch hour for writing, editing, and revising.
  • Use your commute—driving or riding—to power your writing.
  • Plan the perfect writing getaway.
  • Set goals, revise your work, and share your writing with coworkers.

Any reviews on this book? Send them my way!

Thanks!

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Avoiding Perfection

As I’m writing, I’m focusing on a few things: conflict, word count, and avoiding perfection. I’ve discussed the first two in previous posts and now can elaborate on avoiding perfection.

I sometimes had a hard time writing, not because of writer’s block, but because I wanted perfection from myself. It’s a tall order for someone who doesn’t have a published book let alone an agent. I put a great deal of pressure to write perfect – every time. Every sentence had to magical and each page resulted in literary genius. It’s just not possible. I continue to challenge myself to just write.

Now, I’m not completely sloppy and irresponsible. I do my best to maintain form, proper sentence structure, and verb tense. I guess what I do is not second guess myself. I don’t try to spend five minutes looking for a better word for “laugh” when “laugh” works just fine. I’m not trying to draw out tons of description in a room; at least not yet.

I’m sure when I edit my work for the first time I’ll find a bunch of punctuation and spelling issues that I can resolve. I’m willing to bet I’ll find a bunch of things that need to be fixed, but I’ll worry about them later. Right now, I’m writing. Getting my ideas down on Word so that a story can take form – that’s what I’m interested in. I’ll worry about achieving perfection once I have something to perfect.

By the way, that’s the logo of the 1972 Miami Dolphins who were a perfect 17-0 which is an amazing feat to be perfect for that long. I would’ve shown a picture of the 2007 New England Patriots but they were only perfect during the regular season and lost in the Super Bowl. Bottom line, it’s important to be perfect when it counts.

Word Count

With my new project under way, I’ve commented in previous posts about time. I don’t have much of it and I’m actually OK with that. So when I do have time to write, I try to make it count. I believe I do my best writing in the morning. I’m refreshed, my mind is a lot clearer, and there are no distractions. Actually, there is one distraction, the internet. I’m tempted to check the news, facebook, and email. I try to allow myself  a ten minute max, and I’m usually pretty disciplined. If I were more disciplined, I would sit down and start writing and not get so easily distracted. Baby steps, I guess.

I digress because this post is about my word count in the morning. Before I start writing, I think to myself that if I can at least get 250 words I’ve accomplished something. Interestingly enough I usually surpass that most mornings. I know it’s not a lot. 250 words is a basically a one page Word document. But there have been mornings where’s hit close to 600 words, and on the flip side I’ve hit close to 200 words. I take what I can get and feel good about that. The word count approach keeps me focused and provides a goal for that morning.

I didn’t try this technique on my last novel. I basically pushed myself through the novel and the pace was exhausting. Now, I’m dedicating sometime in the morning and then whatever time I get throughout the day is a bonus.

Anyone have any other good goal writing ideas? I like to hear them.

Discipline

I’ve been struggling big time with getting back into writing. I have a ton of ideas but my focus lately has been queries. I’m determined to see my book published but unfortunately there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If we lived on Mars we’d possibly have a few more hours to work with. However, leaving this planet doesn’t seem to be an option for the moment. Instead, I’ll have to continue to carve out time during the 24 hours here on Earth.

I’m not suffering from lack of creativity. Just following through seems to be the hard part. I know I need to fall back in line with discipline. I’ve been lazy. I’ve watched more TV over the last week or two and read less. I supposed it’s a funk, but I now that I recognize it maybe it’ll be just what I need kickstart a run.

I have a short story in rough draft form than could use editing. I also need to jot the ideas bouncing around in my head before they’re replaced by a grocery list or what time to pick up my son.

Life has a lot do with it. I’m spent. Working a full day. Dinner, dishes, cleaning up, etc. Time with my wife. It’s all good! I love it! But it does take me away from writing. This is a challenge all writers have. This is where committment comes into play and as well as discipline. Oh, and hard work too.

This is just a venting post. I don’t know that I accomplished much other than realizing the words I’m typing would’ve gone towards a short story! Airing this out helps. Writing’s a grind; that’s no secret. I guess part of me forgot that but I’m willing and ready to go at it again.

Building a Base

Like many unpublished authors today, I’m blogging about my path to becoming published. I’m looking to chart my progress in revising my novel, landing an agent, and submitting short stories.

Right now, I’m going through a second revision of my novel, BLEED AMERICAN. I revised it once, my wife read it once, and now I’m taking another crack at it. I let BLEED AMERICAN (BA) breath for about 9 months. I’m glad I did because I’m catching a bunch of stuff I missed: missing words, poor dialogue, grammar, weak plot points, soft character development, etc. Most importantly, focusing on making my writing tighter during this process. I want it sharp so every page, paragraph, word affects the reader. A few agents provided constructive criticism that I originally ignored. Originally ignored. I set my pride to the side and took an honest look at BA, and that’s why I think this second revision will help.

So during those nine months of letting BA breath, I’ve written a couple of short stories and participated in a couple of contests. My goal was to build my base. I wanted to show agents that my work has merit just like my novel. Much like this blog I want to showcase what I’ve done. I’m going to detail my writing accomplishments, as well as BA, in future posts.

So now you know my base, where I’m starting, and this blog will document my path to publication.