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Monday, March 17, 2008

5 Steps to an Extreme Writing-Life Makeover: What Would Writers Do?

Spring has always been a better time for me to start new projects than the New Year. On January first, I'm still torpid from mainlining hot soup and my initiative is muffled in a fluffy sweater that's covered by a fleece lined jacket, shrouded in a flannel blanket. (Can you tell I'm cold this morning?)

So if you're catching spring fever, consider giving yourself a writing-life makeover. About two years ago, I decided if I wanted to write, I needed to make some changes. I read some writing advice that said if you want to be a writer, you're lifestyle needs to show it.

So I began asking myself this question:
WWWD - What Would Writers Do?
  • 1. Would writers spend a significant part of the day watching Lifetime movies about husbands with secret past lives and snoopy wives? No. Goodbye to daytime (and eventually most of night time) television. I found it worked best if I just never turned it on. Then I never knew if I was missing that Today show segment on the best new gifts for your pet.
  • 2. Do writers read only romance novels and magazines about "How to Walk Off the Weight in Ten Minutes a Day." Natch. So I found Internet sites about writing and bought books about querying. I still have my other novels on the side - for research.
  • 3. Would writers hang out in the p.j.'s with a hole in the crotch, or would they get dressed in decent clothes and go find other writers? (Great excuse for a shopping spree!) So I started actually attending the writing group I had joined two years before and raised the ante with a new critique group.
  • 4. Would a writer spend her money on manicures and chai tea, or get her jagged-nailed, decaffeinated self enrolled for a writing class or conference? (Five years before we would have been too poor for this one - it can take awhile to find the moolah.)
  • 5. Would a writer have nothing to show an agent and no query letters to send out? God forbid. This was the hardest one. I had to write. Every. Day. I signed up for NanoWriMo in November and drafted my first query letter.

Since then I've written a novel manuscript, published several articles, heard my essay read on a local radio station, and I'm now look forward to more publications coming out this year as I pitch my novel at a writing conference.

This didn't happen in a week of life surgery. It started one procedure at a time. And teaching night classes gives me daylight to work that most people don't have. But you can also ask, What Would Part-time Writers Do? How do people who write between the cracks in their lives get things done? What does their routine look like?

And before you know it, your makeover has kicked in and you have at least part of the life of your dreams. And that's worth the television drought and snaggily nails.

I'm now ready for the next stage, What Would Published Writers Do? I'm working on the questions now, so stay tuned.

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