Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tricks of the Trade

I mentioned on Facebook that I wasn't going to blog about ACFW until (at least) tomorrow, and that's still true. I've got, like, 500 photos from the Memphis-Little Rock-St. Louis trip that need to be loaded onto my computer.

It's a job, let's just put it that way.

Anyway, lots of exciting stuff on the horizon and the realization that my year of quiet has come to a close. Once book projects become official, I will have a lot of work to do.  This is good, because it's a little disconcerting to be a writer by trade and not have any official projects on the horizon.

I am a bit overwhelmed at the prospect, though, partly because the writing process for Sara (and Jayne, in some ways) was VERY stressful.  I have to remember that I've learned a lot; every book is a learning experience!

Several of my friends have books releasing soon, so I thought that until I get those 600 or so photos downloaded (which, I have to admit, are largely photos of waterlilies in various botanical gardens. Apparently I have a waterlily photography "issue"), I've definitely got time to share the bits of writer's life wisdom I've discovered along the way...

1.) When the going gets tough, the tough go underwear shopping.  And socks.  Basically, when you're on a deadline/ tight marketing schedule, laundry needs to not be quite so high up on the list. Stock up on undies and socks, and an extra pair of jeans for everyone in the family.

2.) Spruce up your own wardrobe.  The writer's life doesn't lend itself to business wear acquisitions, but you'll appreciate having go-to pieces of clothing for headshots, book events, and conferences.  Take a small chunk off the top of your advance and look for pieces that can be dressed up or down (like a silk blouse in a print) and worn for multiple seasons. I'm a big fan of denim suiting pieces for author events - a denim blazer or trouser pant looks polished without being stuffy.  You're a writer, not a stockbroker. Have some fun with your look!

3.) Set goals and stick to them. It seems basic, but it really is helpful.  Figure out how many words per day you need to crank out, be realistic, and work from there.

4.) When it comes to marketing, now is better.  When you get interview requests with questions, do them right away. It's much easier to get those done and sent off rather than keep track of the interviewer's schedule and have it leave the forefront of your consciousness.  Take a break from writing, set a timer, and answer the questions (however brilliant or inane they happen to be).  Just think back to the days of email forwarded surveys...

5.) Keep your files organized. I strongly recommend keeping your headshot jpg (in a large and small size) and book cover jpg (ditto) in the same folder (mine is labled "promotions"), as well as your press release and whatever interviews you're working on. That way, they're ready to go on a moment's notice whenever you're asked.

6.) Look sharp. Speaking of headshots, it's really best of an author shot to be a true head/shoulders shot. More than that, if it's viewed from far away or printed small, isn't going to read as well (and by "read as well," I mean that the image won't be quite as easy to understand or have the same visual impact). During the conference, there was one author who's photo made us scratch our heads until we figured out what was going on in that image.  Simple really is okay - it's your face we want to see!

7.) Synopsize! I totally made up the word, but you get the picture. Basically, if you're thinking ahead about your story's events and structure, you'll spend less time repaving over plot potholes later on down the road.  Seat-of-the-pants writing is only for people with years of time on their hands to write.

8.) Eat. Just not too much... Maintaining a steady blood sugar is important, so make sure you're feeding your brain as you work.  However, know that the write/snack/write/snack thing will come back to bite you - literally - in the behind.  Typing does not burn calories. Watch the munchies - eat smart.

9.) Take breaks. If you're not spending time with your family/friends/spouse/children/dog/cat/whathaveyou, you will become a hull of a human being and a sucky writer. It's okay to back away from the computer. Boundaries are your friend.

10.) Exercise.  I get through writer's block while walking with my husband (and these days, my dog).  The exercise does a lot for your body and your brain chemistry, so make sure to figure it into your schedule.

Remember, you can get creative with your exercise, as demonstrated here:'s my bedtime.  What tricks of the trade have you picked up?


  1. Love your list! Especially the shopping advice.
    I hope you are doing well!

  2. I love that you just gave me permission to go shopping. I'm using your argument with the hubster. :) Glad you made it home! It was great catching up with you, and I look forward to seeing those waterlilies. :)


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