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Working Writer’s Dilemma

My muse is dancing.

For those of you who write, or are artists of some sort, you probably know what I’m talking about. The ideas are spinning around in my head and it’s hard for me to stay focused. I have to latch on to one idea, get a piece of it out and then move on to another idea, or else I will continue to just stand here dazed and confused.

This time it is happening when it is suppose to – the time I’ve set aside to be working and writing. It tried to happen last night, just as I was getting into bed. I made myself turn off the lights and close my eyes when all I really wanted to do was grab a pencil and some paper. I wanted to write, but I managed to sleep, although the dreams dominated the night and where outrageous.

Writing as a profession is not easy. It requires more discipline than I ever imagined. It is so much easier to do nothing than it is to do what I know to do. There are some tricks I am learning to help me keep on keeping on.

1. Make a to-do list and actually do what’s on that list. So many times, I’ve made a list of what I wanted to accomplish for the day or the week or the month. Then I put it in the desk drawer and forget it is even there. So much for being organized.

The only way a list is going to help stay on track is if I use it. Now I keep my schedule, to-do list, or any other organizational tool tacked up where I have to look at it through out the day. It’s much easier to stay focused that way.

2. Write down your ideas when you have them. It doesn’t have to be a full article. I’ve started breaking down a five or six step outline. This helps me form query letters and write the full article when the time comes. It also frees up my mind to think of other things without worrying about losing that perfect story.

It’s important that you always have paper and pen handy. I keep a small notepad in my purse, one in the car, one next to the bed, and one in the bathroom. No matter what the situation, I can take three minutes to jot down a few sentences to help me find my place in the idea.

3. Don’t put it off. Most of the time, if I’ll sit down and start writing something, anything, I find that I am in the mood to write. It’s easy to make excuses NOT to write. It’s much harder to find reasons to get it done.

One of the secrets I’ve heard many successful writers say they use is to have a designated time to write. This is a great concept, but as a homeschool mother of three boys, it’s not always a reality at my home. I have learned to be flexible with me writing time, and to take advantage of quite moments in the home to knock out an article or query or two. Following steps one and two have helped tremendously.

4. Set some goals and give your self and incentive to reach them. Have you wanted a laptop for a life time? Set a goal to get a certain number of jobs or to sell a certain number of articles. Use the proceeds to buy yourself the laptop you’ve always wanted.

Not only do you need goals, but you need a plan to get there. Write out steps you will take to reach the goals, a time when you intend to reach them, and include your steps in your schedule or daily to-do list.

Artists are known for being flighty. I think it’s because there are so many ideas spinning around our heads that sometimes its hard to just stand up straight much less act normal. (Not that I would ever suggest that I am normal). The key to breaking through the dilemma of being a working writer is to balance the creativity with organization. It won’t kill the muse, it will only free it up to dance some more.

This article is being featured in a blog carnival for Christian writers. Stop in and see what is exciting this week.

2 Responses to Working Writer’s Dilemma

  1. Carla Gade July 14, 2007 at 8:20 AM #

    These are great tips. Excellent post!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. » Carnival of Christian Writers #10 - July 2007 - July 23, 2007

    […] There are some tricks that Kathryn Lang is learning to help keep on keeping on. She reveals how to balance creativity with organization in Working Writer’s Dilemma. Ever wonder about the journey from idea to contract? Cara Putman shares her journey with her first suspense, Deadly Exposure with Ack! I’m Getting Published […]

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