Guest Post: Self-Care Is Good Business

When you think about the business of writing, you probably don’t think about good self-care do you?  Many people don’t.  Yet, I would argue it is a critical piece of any good business plan.  You won’t do yourself any good as an author if you’re not healthy.  Making good business decisions require clear, well thought out decisions based on facts.  Something most people cannot do when not feeling well.  Have I sold you yet on making sure you keep yourself healthy as a smart business decision?

The Basics

Good.  The first piece is to make sure you’re covering the basics.  Get enough sleep, eat reasonably healthy, and get some exercise.  Yep.  I get those nights where you’re in the groove and end up awake way too late writing.  Pulling an all-nighter every once in a while is fine.  Doing it on a regular basis will burn you out, get you sick, and throw off your writing schedule worse than not having stayed up like that.  Eating healthy and exercise are just as important.

Stress Management

Streself-caress management is the next piece.  Okay.  Now that you’re done laughing at that, stick with me.  Writing is a never-ending of cycle of excitement and enjoyment as a project gets started alternating with the stress and insanity of revising, editing, and time leading up to the actual day the story is released.  After breathing a little, the next project comes along and it all starts over again.  I also know the writing itself can be a stress reliever, but it also brings its own stress.  Make sure you’re taking breaks to do other enjoyable things.  I can’t give you the answer to what to do as each person needs to find their own blend of stress relieving activities.  Just make sure you do, or burnout is inevitable.

Relationships

Third, take care of your relationships.  I’ll duck now to avoid all the objects introverts are throwing at me for even suggesting interactions with people are necessary.  They are, though.  Human beings are social by nature.  It is part of our biology and we cannot change it.  Now, I am not suggesting everyone must spend inordinate amounts of time in the presence of others, but we do need at least some interaction.  Find that healthy balance of taking time for the loved ones around you and spending time alone writing.  If anything, think of these as opportunities to research social interactions for your next story.  Your loved ones will thank me for it, and so will you when things get stressful.

Ask Questions

Finally, ask questions.  No one person will ever have all the answers.  When authors first start out, the learning curve can seem almost impossible.  I know it was for me, and still feels like it at times.  Building connections with people who have these answers is critical to succeeding as an author.  Find writing communities you connect with.  Reach out to local writing groups.  Connect with those who have started on this journey ahead of you.  I know I would never have made it this far without the tremendous support I have received along the way.  Whether it is here at Our Write Side or somewhere else, build those connections.  You never know when they may give you an opportunity you would not have otherwise gotten.

Have I sold you yet on making sure you keep yourself healthy as a smart business decision?… Click To Tweet

I hope you see now why self-care is an important business decision, not just a good idea.  I’m even convinced that good self-care can help address things like a lack of ideas or the dreaded writer’s block.  Sleep, eat right, exercise, take care of your stress well, tend to relationships, and ask questions.  Easy to say, but harder to do.  Trust me, though, you’ll be better off for it in the long run as an author and as a person.

The Business of Writing by Eric Keizer

You’ve really gone ahead and done it now. You’ve started your novel in earnest. You’ve gone through the dreaming and fantasizing phases and are making your dream a reality. Before you sit down and start typing away, please understand that if you’re looking to translate your ideas into a successful enterprise, you need to look at yourself like you’re a business.

You need to look at yourself like you’re a business. #writerslife #authors #writingadvice… Click To Tweet

Just as any “9 to 5” job has clearly defined expectations for your performance, you need to establish rules for yourself. Do you need a dedicated time slot to produce your most effective writing? Schedule it. Do you need a special seat/desk/computer monitor/ specialized keyboard? Purchase it. Give yourself every opportunity to create a comfortable and distraction free zone- much like an office or cubicle. Pay attention to your lighting needs. Maybe you enjoy soft, diffused light rather than harsh, bright light. Maybe you need bright lights to see your screen better. Whatever choices you make, be prepared to give yourself the possible space to foster your creativity.

business of writingArt and music are proven catalysts for creativity. Perhaps some favorite photos on your wall or desk will help you relax or inspire you. Research has proven that any musical genre, softly playing in the background, helps students learn and retain information more readily. The results of this research were extrapolated to include adult students. Music also helps to incubate artistry on a subconscious level. Have you ever wondered why some offices play soft music (“elevator music”) over speakers across the entire office? The studies proved the benefits of music with regards to productivity and increased quality of work produced.

Pay yourself. Reward yourself for doing a great job when you’re particularly productive. Look at it as though you’ve earned a monetary bonus from a “9 to 5” job. Of course, you’re not going to hand yourself an envelope full of cash, but maybe you can treat yourself to a nice meal, a spa treatment, or even an expensive cigar. The small rewards you give yourself will help motivate you to stay focused and reinforce your discipline. Conversely, don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad day (or two), and can’t manage to jot down one single word. Just as in the corporate world, where time is allotted for task completion, so too should you allow yourself to have a flexible deadline schedule. Just make sure you don’t procrastinate to the point where you find that you haven’t written anything for weeks.

Pay yourself first. No, this isn’t a repeat of the first sentence of the previous paragraph- I truly mean “pay yourself first”. This means that you must take care to put your interests first when it comes to writing. Sure, it feels good to be a member of multiple “writer” pages on Facebook. Yes, it’s great to get involved in different communities that help newer writers develop their craft.  The key to participating in these groups is to limit yourself to a designated amount of time- and not one minute more. Most groups require some level of participation, and that is perfectly fine, but just as in a corporate setting, where endless committees will distract you from completing your job tasks, too much involvement in discussion groups will steal time away from what you have designated as essential to your success.

Plan your strategy, protect your interests, and watch the dividends come rolling in; you’re worth it!

Excerpt: Bounty of the Everdark

Bounty of the Everdark

Sometimes you just need to read a short little tale that will take you out of your daily routine, and thrust you into another world. A story that will have a sense of closure within a sitting, because even just a few minutes in a book can give you an escape from the daily grind.

Bounty of the Everdark is a short fantasy about a dark elf that discovers a plot to capture the human Queen. Those plotting are none other than two of her own people, so she does everything she can to put a stop to it.

Enjoy this excerpt from Bounty of the Everdark.

The North Moon waxed and waned when the first sound of wood and metal creaked through the Everdark, not a hundred yards below Lorel. It was the first day of a new month and little light was given from above. Excitement was the first reaction to the uncommon sight, but when the horse sigil of the Crown d’Oruth tipped and teetered over the unlevel earth, her stomach soured and her jaw ached in tension. Queen d’Oruth knew what she risked and yet she had come.

“Stupid woman,” Lorel murmured to herself, thinking back on the goblin, Thik’s, own words. She scanned the trees around them and found no sign of any creature in their midst. Drogan and Logil must have drawn everyone away from the path through the Everdark to make sure none would harm her.

She clutched a thick branch above her and swung silent as the night to the boughs below. Her movements were quick and fluid as she slipped through the trees with what speed only the dark elves could achieve and made her way to the edge of the wood. There the path was near its end and there she waited for the Queen’s carriage.

It wasn’t five minutes before the squeaking presence of the Queen reached Lorel. She stood in the road, about ten yards from the Everdark’s exit—still deep enough to be hidden in the forest from anyone waiting to capture the Queen on the outskirts. The anticipated six soldiers were in clear view but the holy men must’ve been seated inside the carriage with the queen. Lorel stood tall and confident.

“Halt!” the soldier on horseback, who rode a few yards ahead, cried. The ring of blades leaving their scabbards sang unanimously. “Stay where you are, dark elf!” the lead commanded.

“I am unarmed,” Lorel called in return with her arms outstretched. “Though the men waiting for you beyond this forest seem prepared for a fight.”

The front soldier’s eyes flickered to the pathway leading out of the Everdark. “Why should we trust a creature of the Everdark?”

Lorel took a step forward, biting her cheeks and holding back a snappy retort. The stories of old were so hard-pressed into the minds of people that convincing the man of the truth in her words seemed like an impossible task—but she had to try. If anyone discovered the involvement of the dark elves in the Queen’s kidnapping, it would surely mean the death of any possible alliance between the races.

The ring of blades leaving their scabbards sang unanimously. @lf_oake #amreading #TBR #read… Click To Tweet

 

The Collaborative Writing Challenge

Laura Callender shares an article telling you all about the Collaborative Writing Challenge, yet another platform dedicated to helping authors succeed. Scattered throughout this post are images of the four collaborations they have published. Can you accept this challenge?

Introduction

CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) stemmed from an idea I had over ten years ago. As a young, struggling writer in numerous writing groups, I felt that becoming published was an impossible dream. I wasn’t yet ready to write a full novel, always fighting to get past the third chapter where a more comprehensive knowledge of structural writing was required. All the feedback I received on the content was great, I just felt weighed down by the size of the story as it grew. I lacked vital experience I needed to move forward, so although I could write a great chapter, I couldn’t finish a novel.
CWC gives writers the opportunity to become published without having to write the whole story alone. They also get to write independently, without having to navigate many different opinions, which is usually a big complication with collaborative work.
Since starting CWC, I personally learned how to structure a story idea, how to build notes, and how to summarize chapters so I can move around the story with more ease. I’m still a ways off from completing my own novel, as CWC has absorbed most of my free time, but I now have a full outline and am ready to start fleshing out my story. By providing writers with all the tools they needed to write a chapter, I inadvertently taught myself how to approach a novel.

What is the CWC?

I like to describe our projects as the ultimate writing prompt. Rather than being prompted to write a short, independent piece by a title or phrase, we prompt our writers to continue our story chapter by chapter and develop the characters while still having the freedom to add their own interpretation of the story. If their chapter gets chosen, they also have the satisfaction of holding a copy of the published book in their hands. That in itself is hugely inspiring to writers of all levels. It gives them that extra boost to know that they are part of something wonderful, and I’m told it gives them the drive they needed to complete their own work. I have also been toying with the idea of turning our process into an academic credit. We believe a scaled-down version for children could bring out a passion for writing in many kids, if it’s handled in a fun, exciting way.
It took me ten years to find that eureka moment and finally figure out a way to organize the project. Then, in just a matter of days, I had found 25 writers willing to take part from nothing more than an email invite. At that stage, I had no website or online visibility, so I was incredibly humbled that these writers trusted me enough to get involved. The concept is really well-received, and the feedback is always fantastic, even for those writers whose chapters don’t get chosen.
I never expected the process to be as rewarding as it is and hadn’t put much thought into what would happen after the pilot project was finished. All the writers involved had such a great time, many asked when the next project would be starting. So I promptly set up our website and created standard documents and spreadsheets to manage the process more effectively. Three years later, we are soon to release CWC’s fifth novel ‘The Map’, and two more projects are currently underway.
Now we have an established system, with writers from all over the world and new writers finding us every day. We plan to keep up with the demand and really establish CWC within the writing community.

How does the CDC work?

Each week, up to five authors submit a 2500-word chapter, adding onto the previously written chapter, and the Story Coordinator choses the best fit. The book is built this way for 25 chapters. It’s important to the process that we have a set number of chapters so we can guide the story to a well-timed conclusion. Our Story Coordinator compiles extensive notes to which the writers have access, and this helps them jump right into the story. Summaries of each chapter help them catch up quickly rather than needing to review full chapters.
We are really pleased with how well the process works and have hardly tweaked anything since CWC launched. Once the project is finished, it goes through multiple rounds of editing with three or more people, including our own in-house editor. We put a lot of time and effort in on our end because we want to showcase what incredible things CWC writers are achieving. They blow us away each week with such imaginative and well thought-out chapters.
CWC is planning to register as a non-profit as soon as the time is right to help us gain access to necessary funding to help expand our reach. We want CWC to become another well-known writing organization, designed to challenge and inspire writers at any stage of their career.

How You Can Get Involved

We are on the lookout for a marketing intern to join our family to help us manage the promotion of multiple projects, novels, opportunities, events, and outreach. We will also be re-releasing ‘The Concierge’ this year, CWC’s pilot novel. It has now undergone a thorough edit, something we didn’t have the capacity for when the project was originally completed. We felt it was time to re-visit it and bring our pilot novel up to our current high standards. We can also exclusively reveal to you that our next project will be in the Romance genre. This will be our first foray into romance, and we are excited to see how our writers take on complex character development focusing on matters of the heart. That project will be CWC’s eighth novel, set to start around June 2017. For anyone interested in signing up for current or future projects, please visit www.collaborativewrtingchallenge.com, and of course, for anyone interested in reading one of our completed novels, you can find links to them on Amazon through our website. We would love to hear what you think.

The #CWC is designed to challenge & inspire #writers at any stage of their career. #amwriting… Click To Tweet

Laura Callender lives in the UK with her two young daughters, who rarely afford her time to write. She is the founder of CWC (Collaborative Writing Challenge) and spends a good chunk of time organising numerous ongoing writing collaborations. She also organises and publishes various anthologies, alongside working as a professional cover designer.

www.collaborativewritingchallenge.com
www.justpublishit.com
www.cwpublishinghouse.com

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