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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: life of a professional writer

Image via Moyen Brenn Flikr Creative Commons
Image via Moyen Brenn Flikr Creative Commons

Recently I ran across a neat post over at Forbes 14 Things Successful People Do on Weekends. It was a real eye-opener for some critical areas where I’m slacking. Namely, I’m not slacking enough.

See, y’all can at least rest assured that, as I’m lecturing you, I have three fingers pointed back at myself. Today’s topic dovetails nicely with last week’s post Entropy is REAL & Author Careers Need Feeding Daily.

ANOTHER Time-Saving Device?

Is it just me or, do you feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose? It seems like the more apps and gadgets and widgets they invent, the more crap we’re expected to keep up with. I rarely feel my time is saved at all. Yet, what would I do without the alarm on my iPhone to remind me not to leave my child at nursery school?

Calling CPS on a negligent mother? There’s an app for that.

Image via Pink's Galaxy Flikr Creative Commons
Image via Pink’s Galaxy Flikr Creative Commons

Repairing My Damaged Relationship with Rest

I grew up in a home that didn’t know how to rest. If you sat still too long, Mom would have you lemon-oiling something or pulling weeds. Weekends were for yard work and painting the kitchen some new color, because, well the current color was at least three months old. 

Yes, my mother is Norwegian and Norway is the motherland of OCD.

Even now, I find it hard not to be doing something productive all the time. If I happen to be on the phone, I fold laundry and clean while I talk. I’m always moving, tidying, scrubbing, and sorting….unless I’m writing :D.

Wash off your dish, or I will hunt you like a dog....
Yes, I wear this apron everywhere except BED.

Before DFWWWCon, I went to get a pedicure and forgot to bring any work with me. I thought I was going to have to be medicated because I wasn’t doing anything productive!

Busy, busy, busy. B.S.

Johnny in the DOG BED.
Cats have the “rest thing” DOWN.

Hotel California

And, have you ever tried breaking free from time-saving? We’ve done paperless billing and auto-debit for the past few years, but then, because Hubby and I are now both full-time entrepreneurs, we wanted bills sent on PAPER.

White stuff. Remember that? So the electric company apparently knows to send me a boatload of meaningless paper junk mail, but did they send the BILL?

Nope.

Woke up this morning to no power. Had to pay a $40 reconnection fee. A $15 I’m Sorry I’m Human Fee and a $150 I Swear I Will Never Do This Again Fee just to get power.

Yes, it’s why the blog is late.

When did I enter the Moronosphere? The effort it took to get a paper bill was just mind-boggling. They wasted at least an hour of my time to save me time? I’m lost.

Don’t the French drink wine with breakfast?

Yes, I Have a Point

These days there is a lot to do. For writers, we DO have a lot on our plate. This post isn’t to give any of us a pass to get out of working hard, but sometimes I believe we can get too sucked in. We should seek balance.

Work hard, play hard.

The World WILL NOT End

In an age of instant this and that, everyone (including me) wants stuff yesterday. Yet, here’s the thing. What we WANT and what we GET in life are two different things. I now turn off my phone and I don’t check e-mail over the weekends (unless WANA is running a class). I’m also banned from doing ANYTHING on Sunday. No making the bed or cooking. No picking up toys. I veg. I recharge…and my left eye twitches.

But I’ll get better with practice. Have no Make-You-Happy-Meals to serve today :D.

Suck It Up, Buttercup

All people need rest. Creative people especially need rest. Rest is work. Seriously!

Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Zoetnet.
Image via Flikr Creative Commons courtesy of Zoetnet.

According to that Forbes article, almost all 14 activities successful people did on weekends involved rest. That really hit home for me and showed me where I had to sit still longer if I wanted to climb up higher.

Yet, I admit it. I feel guilty for having fun. I know I have a problem, but the first step to solving a problem is admitting we have one, right? Rest is important. It allows us to recharge the creative batteries.

Resting gives time for our subconscious to chew on problems and come up with brilliant solutions. I know all these things consciously, but it’s going to take time to give myself permission to chillax, especially in a culture that worships workaholics. Games, fun, naps, vacations are just as important as the WORK.

*writes that on sticky notes to paper the house*

Can I just be French?

What about you? Do you feel guilty for resting? Do you not know how to have fun? Do you feel guilty when you’re having fun? Do you have a hard time writing fiction because it’s fun and doesn’t feel like “work,” so you feel bad because you could be cleaning something? Have you overcome your workaholic tendencies? How did you do it? Tips? Tactics? I’m all ears…*sets down Swiffer*.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of June, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of June I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

Will announce May winner later in the week. Had no power :p. I’ll get there. Sigh.

Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!
Look! I made my own breakfast! Daddy left out CHOCOLATE!

One of the traps we can fall into is we believe the world is somehow static. We feel overwhelmed because we are doing dishes again, the laundry again, mowing the yard again and cooking meals again. It’s easy to feel caught in this loop that can get depressing with a quickness. The same thing can happen in writing.

The world does not reward perfection, it REWARDS FINISHERS. It rewards DOERS. What are we doing?

Our goals in life need daily feeding. Our writing needs daily care. Our brand needs daily care. Entropy is real, and she’s a $#@%$. She will make sure everything we do falls apart faster than a three-year-old’s sock drawer if we aren’t vigilant. Our In-Box will never be empty. The rest is easier if we just accept that.

Our Brand is a Living Thing

Living things need to be fed, just like pets, kids and husbands. They need daily care. We can’t say, “Sure, I fed the dog last week” and expect Fluffy to live long. A lot of writers (me included) whine about social media.

What is the bare minimum? What is the minimal attendance? Do we really HAVE to blog?

We can feed our kids once a week and they remain alive. Probably a super bad idea. We don’t have to play with our kids or even talk to our spouse. Yet, how healthy will kids, pets, family and marriages be if we only do the bare minimum to sustain life?

Our brand is the same. Our author CAREER is the same.

No one will haul us to writer jail if we only tweet once a day. Don’t use Facebook. No one will force us. But here’s the hard reality. In a world where people are inundated with advertising and free books, they have learned to “unsee.” The cerebral cortex is very efficient at processing chaos of the modern world.

How does the visual cortex keep our computer brain from crashing with all the massive influx? It ignores virtually everything but what we are specifically looking for.

Ads Don’t Sell, RELATIONSHIPS SELL

When was the last time you bought something off a Facebook ad? What about pop-ups? Ever buy anything off a dancing ad you didn’t ask for? Or did you shut that sucker so fast you couldn’t even tell what they were selling? What about automatically generated tweets? When was the last time, you bought a book off author link spam? Or a form letter?

*crickets chirping*

Brands are Formed with Relationships and Relationships NEED FEEDING

I encourage writers to blog. Heck, it should be an area of strength—WORDS. Writers write. Blogs have the power to create long-term passionate relationships with…readers. Only about 8% of the population defines themselves as avid readers. This means 92% of the population still needs entertaining and informing. Most of them have smart phones, and a lot have tablets. They won’t go to a bookstore…but they will buy on-line.

Are we talking to them?

Again…Relationships Lead to Sales

Regular people (the 92%) like short works. They LIKE blogs. If they like our blogs, not a stretch to think they might even enjoy our books. Who cares if someone only buys one or two books a year if it is OUR BOOKS? People buy from who they know and who they like.

Blogs are the most resilient form of social media. Friendster? MySpace? *POOF* GONE. Blogs? Still here and going strong since the 90s.

Blogs grow in power the longer and more frequent we contribute content. It helps our SEO. Blogs can be harvested for books.  Blogging trains us to ship. Blogging helps us get over perfectionism and hones our skills.

We learn to meet self-imposed deadlines no matter what. Family drama, crises, injuries, sickness and housework don’t magically disappear once we are successful. If anything, the workload increases. With blogging, we learn to write, leaner, meaner, faster and better, because we are training. Blogs are the gym for the author.

How good is a gym if we go once a month? Our bodies won’t retain muscle and general health if we don’t train. Why would our writing be any different?

If blogs can create long-term, loyal relationships, and relationships lead to sales, how much are we feeding those relationships?

Don’t want to blog? Don’t, but DO focus on people. Focus on relationships. Serve first. Talk about kittens and laundry and kittens doing laundry. Just be human a few times a day and CARE. Relationships are about giving not taking. Do you like friends who only remember you when they decide to sell vitamins? Or when they need to borrow money? Noodle on that ;).

Writing is a Living Thing in Need of Care

Yes, the brand and platform is important, but only because it should lead to sales. Feed the relationships and feed the craft. Read, watch movies and write. FINISH. SHIP. Again, the entropy thing. Keep writing. Get stronger, better, write more books. Most authors (traditional and non-traditional) start seeing success/traction at BOOK THREE.

As I point one digital finger at you guys I have three pointing back at me. I’m not above this stuff. There are some areas I need to come up higher. I’ve been giving the excuses: But it’s so haaard. I don’t have tiiiimmmme. But I am not gooood at that. Well, if I don’t ever DO something, how can I expect to get GOOD at it? I am kicking my own @$$ about organization today, so this lecture is for me too. Don’t feel left out ;).

Yes, It IS a LOT of Juggling

I know when I get great at writing books, my blog starts getting puny. I start blogging really well and have to kick my own tail to get back to the WIP. It’s like a family. We have laundry and chores and yards and bills and most of us kinda want to stab Martha Stewart in the face.

Again, be realistic. Small steps every day. A lot of the SAME steps. Just like we have to cook dinner every night. Unless we cryogenically freeze our families, we will have to feed them, wash them and care for them every day.

The point of this post is to help shift how you view your career. It is a living thing, a member of the family and it needs tending daily. A lot of the SAME stuff. Once we accept this, it’s much easier and we are far less likely to get depressed and overwhelmed.

How well are you feeding your dream? What steps do you take daily to make sure your writing an brand are cared for? What obstacles do you face? What are your biggest challenges? Do you have an area you’re afraid to face? It’s too overwhelming? Hey, I do. That whole “getting organized” thing is kicking my tail today.

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of May, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of May I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

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