Writing: Job or Business?

I was reading a thread a few weeks ago about writing, specifically about the need to write every day and the idea that if you didn’t, you weren’t serious about being published. One of the you-must-write-everyday proponents wrote, “I treat writing like my job and show up every day.” As I turned that thought over it occurred to me “Is writing my job or my business?”
Now, in case I have been unclear in the past,  I’m am firmly in the camp that recommends writing when you can, making use of whatever time you have to write. Working this way has seen me through four published books with another novel set to release in September. A job usually has set hours and an expectation of working a set time. As a small business owner, in addition to being an author, I can tell you that working on your business is a matter of finding/making time to do what needs to be done. Owning a business involves thinking and dreaming, strategic planning, cash flow management, and setting goals.

Just showing up every day and putting words on paper does nothing if you don’t have a plan for what to do with those words. If having your book traditionally published or indie publishing is your goal you have to have a plan, and then you must take advantage of every second you have to work your plan.
As someone with a day job, who is also a spouse, a parent, and a daughter with older parents and in-laws this is the only way I’ve been able to get any writing done with the goal of publication. I’ve researched publisher sites and calls for submission databases sitting on the couch while my kid with a fever dozed next to me. I’ve written in hospital waiting rooms while various family members were having surgery, and in medical offices and occupational therapy waiting rooms, and very late at night when the house is quiet, and I can’t sleep.
When my kids were little, I had exactly 2 hours and 45 minutes to write between when I dropped them off at pre-school and when I picked them up. I wrote like a fiend during that time, unless I need to grocery shop, or had to run some other errand that would have been incredibly stressful with three-year-old twins in tow. Writing every day does not make you a writer or indicate the level of your seriousness. The things that indicate a serious approach to publishing your work are writing, editing, submitting your work, finding ways to improve your craft, and working steadily towards what you want. Writing for publication is not just about writing, it is about learning your craft, striving to make the next book better than the last, and most of all it is about not listening to people say you have to do X, Y, or Z to be considered serious writer. You do you. Find your way. Don’t listen to people who insist there is only one way to do anything, even me.

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows and yes, those are her monkeys.  When she is not loitering at her local tea shop and writing, she wrangles two kids, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot.  She reviews books, blogs about life as a writer with ADHD and publishes photographs on her blog Writing While Distracted. You can find her on Facebook by clicking here.

 

Website: www.brendalmurphy.com

Books available at

Amazon

NineStar Press

Both Ends of the Whip

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

Dominique and Other Stories

 

The Four Stages of Submission

 

No. Not that kind of submission. I’m talking about hitting the send button after I’ve polished my manuscript to hell and back and send it off to my editor. That kind of submission. With all due apologies to my friends who have to deal with me between the time I send a manuscript out and hear back from my editor, this is what I experience every time I send a book off for evaluation.

  1. Elation. The highest high, I’ve finally sent it off. Woo hoo I am done. Now I can start on that awesome idea I had for a book in the middle of this book.
  2. Anxiety. Oh hell, what was I thinking? It wasn’t ready. I should have spent more time editing it. Damn it’s too late. They’ll hate it. I better get to work on the next book.
  3. Anger. The hell with it. What do I care if they don’t accept it? I have other stories. So many  other stories to write. Let me channel my anger into this scene.
  4. Relief. The editor has responded. No more wondering. No more obsessively checking my email fifteen times a day.
    Substages: *1. They accepted it. Woohoo. Time to celebrate and then get to work on the next book. 2. They rejected it. Damn. Time to wallow in sadness for a bit, soothe myself with old movies, and bourbon. Then I let it go and get to work on the next book.

The key to surviving as a writer is to always get back to work. Feel the feels and then sit down and write. 

What are your stages of submission?

 

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Rejection: The good, the bad, and the angry

Rejection. As a writer, you will have rejections. And if you plan to keep writing you need to find a way to deal with rejection. Writing is unique in that there are a number of ways to be rejected. Most are form letter emails. Some, if you are lucky, will offer an explanation for the rejection. Some are the unmistakable sound of crickets, even with polite follow-ups.

The non-response response is perhaps the most difficult to deal with, it always leaves me with questions. 1.) Did you get my submission?  2.) Are you so unprofessional even a quick form rejection is beyond your ability? 3.) Am I not worth a response? 4.) Did something horrible happen in your life and you can’t even respond, or it has been so long that you don’t want to respond because you are embarrassed? 

A good rejection for a writer is a “revise and resubmit”, or  “I liked this but it does not fit with our anthology/brand/ direction”, or one that contains suggestions on how to improve your chances of being accepted. The best rejections end with “We would like to see future submissions or some such language that indicates the rejection is not a rejection forever, simply a rejection for right now, and that in the future it may be a yes.

The best way to respond to a rejection? Feel your feelings. Be angry, cry, fuss, swear, go for a run, eat ice cream out of the carton, do whatever you need to do. But do it away from the keyboard. Never write back a rude or angry reply. Just don’t. It will never serve you well in your career to respond with anger.  Remember publishing is a business, and as such decisions based are on more than the ability of a writer to write well.

Write this down. Post it where you can see it.  It is not personal. 

Send a very polite acknowledgment of the rejection. And if you are fortunate enough to have had an editor take their time to offer suggestions on how to improve your writing, be very gracious, and acknowledge their time and kindness. Editors are some of the busiest people I know, and for them to offer assistance when they owe you nothing but a professional reply, acknowledging them is reasonable and a good business practice. 

Writing is an exhilarating, frustrating, addictive career. Find constructive ways to deal with rejection. Do not let it derail your dreams. 

Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One was published by NineStar Press. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, https://www.brendalmurphy.com/blog.html

Website: www.brendalmurphy.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Writing-While-Distracted

Books available at

Amazon

NineStar Press

ONE  

Sum of the Whole 

 

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Creativity: Habit or Gift?


One of the questions writers hear over and over is: Where do you get your ideas?, often followed by the statement: I’m just not creative. I don’t have a hard time answering the first. I get my ideas from everything I see, read, experience, and bits of the world I discover, often while looking for something else. Like this picture of my grandmother and her best friend.

One day I will tell a story about this photo. I found it looking through a photo album at my mother’s house.  I made a copy of the photo and added it to my flat file where I keep bits and pieces of ideas until I have enough to put together a project. 

The second statement is so hard to hear. I detest the idea that creativity is a gift. I don’t think it is, because there are so many ways to be creative. It is not only writing, drawing, or painting or any of traditional ideas of what being creative means. Being creative is allowing yourself time to think, to do something only you could produce with your thoughts, and hands, and time.

Lack of time is the greatest barrier to creativity. If you want to create you have to set time aside to think, to plan, to play with your ideas, and to experiment. If you want to create make a plan, schedule it into your life. Set aside time to think and discover. Anyone can create. Fine arts are only one aspect of creativity. Do you like to make changes and adapt recipes? That is being creative. Do you spend time decorating your home or planting a garden? That is being creative. Creativity is what happens when you stop and let yourself imagine, and dream. Give yourself permission to look at life sideways. Take the walk, visit the museum, read, and absorb the world around you. Creativity is a habit. It is work. Rewarding, delightful, soul filling work. Do the work. 

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