Welcome, J. Scott Savage!
He's one of my favorite people and one of my favorite authors! This post is actually something he wrote on facebook. He frequently writes the most inspiring advice, and here is a gem!
You can visit his website and learn more about him HERE!
Hi, everyone, my name is Jeff (Scott) Savage and I have a hard time saying no.
Okay, let me clarify. I don't have a hard time saying no when it comes to:
Going to the grocery store Clothes Shopping Pulling Weeds Being a Cub Scout leader.
Ask me to do any of these things and my lips are saying, "No," before my brain has even engaged. My wife has a lot of fun with this. If she asks me over and over to come to the grocery store with her, I get stuck in a "No, no, no," loop until smoke starts to come out of my ears.
Where I get in trouble is when it comes to writing related things.
Want to teach a class? Sure. Write a blog post? Why not. Youth conference, skype visit, literacy night. All right. Absolutely. Why not? Want to do a blurb? You bet. Two blurbs. Ok. Three blurbs, using only the letters M, U, and H? Umm Hmm.
The things is, I LIKE to do writing related things. I WANT to do writing related things. I have FUN doing writing related things.
So I commit to doing writing related things, even when I don't technically have time to do all the writing related things I want to. Along with writing books, and being a father and husband, I also have a full time job, church callings, grandkids. You know the routine, because you have it too.
What ends up happening all too often is that I overbook myself and people who are waiting for me to get back to them with blurbs, class descriptions, blog posts, etc. are like, "Hey, are you still alive over there?"
Fortunately, I have an amazing wife who checks my calendar and tells people, "I'm sorry, but Jeff can't come out to play next week." But I can't expect her to do that all the time, so over the last few months, I've tried to start being better about saying, "Thanks so much for thinking of me. I really appreciate the opportunity. But right now I can't."
This is really hard for me to even write, and it's even harder to say. But I am getting better at it. And a big part of this is figuring out my priorities. Here are a few of the things I've learned.
1) Don't let your writing life harm your family life. Whether you are a published author or aspiring to be published, there are times when your writing life starts to take a ton of time. Sometimes this is a short term sacrifice you have to make. "I have a big deadline and I'm going into my office for the next two weeks, only coming out for food and bathroom breaks." That's hard, but we all have times when we have to focus intently on something. The problem is when your regularly put your writing before your family.
Want to know a secret? You won't shrivel up and die if you miss a writing conference. Your publishing career won't die if you stop blogging. Writing actually isn't like breathing to a "real" author. You won't die if you stop writing for a while. One of my wife's favorite sayings is, "You can do it all, you just can't do it all at once."
2) When it comes to marketing, If you don't like it, don't do it. No, I'm not saying to tell your editor you won't be rewriting your latest book. What I am saying is if you don't like blogging, get rid of your blog. If you don't like tweeting don't feel like you have to tweet every day. When choosing what to write next, always choose writing what you love to write over what you think will sell. Just because Bob the author juggles flaming chainsaws at all the local schools doesn't mean you are less of an author if you don't. Ultimately doing more of of what you love will pay off and forcing yourself to write blog posts you don't care about will hurt you.
3) Evaluate your priorities. How much publicity will doing the event provide you and is it your target audience? How much money will you spend doing the event compared to how much you will make? Is it something you enjoy doing, or are you only saying yes because you think you should? What will you have to give up if you say yes? How many things have you already committed to that month?
There is nothing at all wrong with doing things just because it sounds like fun. But as a writer, your main job is writing. When you start doing things you don't enjoy, that cost you more than you make, and take time away from actually writing, just say no.
4) Whenever possible, try to bring your family life and your writing life together. Discuss story ideas with your kids and your spouse. If your kids are interested in writing, bring to them to conferences. Maybe your spouse isn't into writing conferences, but that doesn't mean they can't meet you for a fun dinner out after the conference. Share your good reviews with them and get them to take you out to dinner when you get bad reviews.
Even writing itself doesn't need to consume all of your free time. You can write more than a novel a year simply by writing 30 minutes a day, all the rest is optional. So there is no reason for your family to suffer because they are the spouse, child, grandchild of a writer.
Finally, have fun. There is a very good chance you will never make a living as a writer. There is an excellent chance that at least some parts of writing will break your heart. Even if you have more good times than bad times, the bad times are what you will remember most. Being a writer is hard work. So laugh whenever you can. Hang around writers that make you smile not writers that make you depressed. (Although to be honest, some of the biggest laughs are when funny writers are depressed. We laugh with each other through the misery.) Do what you love and try to find a way to keep loving what you do. And when you stop loving it, give yourself permission to stop doing it until you love it again.