Balance? Ha! Baby, the world is tilted!

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

97. Finding life/writing balance

I’m going to confess something here: when I first read the words “Finding life/writing balance” I nearly died from the gut-wrenching laughter/hysterical crying that occurred. I may have gone just a tiny bit insane from reading those words. It’s okay now. I had a peppermint-Kahlua-spiked coffee that my husband made me and all was well. But it was touch and go there for a moment.

In all seriousness, this is something that I’ve been struggling with for years, and to this day I haven’t figured out how to manage it. Additionally, over the past year of blogging I’ve come to follow quite a few very talented bloggers/authors and it doesn’t really seem as though they’ve figured it out either. I’ve even Tweeted with writers – published and otherwise – who seem to react to the topic with the same mad hysteria/life-crushing misery as myself. It just doesn’t seem to be a subject that many find they have been able to work their minds around It’s one of those things…like trying to get a moment’s peace with 20+ members of immediate and extended family having a shouting match in your home. Possible? Maybe. Likely? Not really.

Finding a balance between life and writing is one of those mysterious things that most people don’t believe is possible…like leprechauns. Or unicorns. You’d like to believe, you really would, but in your heart you know it’s a pipe dream.

Okay, so maybe I’m being over-dramatic. Perhaps it is possible to find a balance, but I personally don’t know anyone who has managed it.

The problem is that most writers have a heck of a lot of responsibilities aside from writing. Many writers will tell you that the only way to truly become a successful author is to suck it up, grit your teeth, and focus 100% on your writing, even if that means that you’ll be destitute for a while during the interim. And while part of me agrees with that, it’s not exactly as simple as being willing to make life hard on yourself in the short-term for the hope of long-term gain. After all, people have important responsibilities. They have families, children, mortgages, car payments, other assorted debts, and any other number of things that require them to have an income that stems from something more stable.

So immediately we have that disconnect. We have the day-job life, and the writing life. Now add in a couple of other aspects of life that many writers have to deal with… In addition to the day-job life and the writing life you might have the mommy/daddy life, the (ever elusive) social life, the household-chores-and-errands life, the “I desperately need to lose some weight before I die of a heart attack” life, and so on and so on.

Personally, the only way I’ve been able to “balance” life and writing is by sneakily combining the two. When I’m at my day job I write between tasks and during breaks. When I’m in mommy mode I’ll pluck out a blog post (sometimes a sentence at a time) whilst braiding ponies’ hair and making Leonardo beat up Michelangelo. Sometimes I’ll pluck out a few words whilst keeping an eye on supper, or I’ll save a couple of sentences on my iPhone while waiting in line at the supermarket. And since it’s pretty much impossible to write while exercising, I’ll use that time to mull over a scene in my mind, which doubles as a way to distract myself from the burning pain all throughout my body.

(I’m not going to comment on my social life. It’s silly to comment on things that don’t exist.)

And that’s my two cents on that. If any of you other writers out there ever find a better way to “balance”, I submit to you that it is your duty to share it with the writer community (in the form of a comment on this post). 🙂

The Infamous Agent

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

42. How not to get an agent

If you’ve been paying attention to any of my previous posts, you know that I don’t have an agent. I have no writing career to speak of, aside from my ambitions and will-be-finished-someday-soon-I-swear manuscript. As a result I’ve had to do a bit of research on the next few prompts, since they all involve information that only someone who had put actual effort into a serious writing career would know.

For how NOT to get an agent, I’ve snatched a few ideas that I found from actual agents explaining what not to do if you want them to pay any attention to you.

If you do NOT want to get yourself an agent…

…send them a query letter that talks about how wonderful your book is. They will be the judge of that.

…send them a manuscript of a genre that they have stated they do not represent.

…waste time and energy telling them your entire life story when you should be focusing on the important information about your manuscript.

…send them a manuscript that is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.

…contact them in inappropriate ways, i.e. stalking their Facebook page, calling their home phone number, etc.

…reply to a rejection with anger; seriously people, grow up. You’re supposed to be a professional.

…beg and plead for them to accept you. Again, I say, grow up.

So there you have it. Pick a couple of the above suggestions, have at it, and you’ll not have an agent in no time!

Back to Basics

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

33. Reviews of your favorite office supplies

A few years ago I probably could have made this post long enough that no one in their right mind would have bothered to read it all. Traditionally, I love writing in a notebook with a really nice pen, so I have a bit of an unhealthy relationship with office supplies. As I’m typing this there is an entire shelf on one of my bookshelves devoted to my notebooks, and about a third of them are almost completely empty…I bought them because I fell in love with them at the time, but only wrote a few pages before getting distracted and/or moving on to something else.

These days, as previously mentioned, I do the overwhelming majority of my writing on my laptop. It’s just quicker that way. That said, I do still have a couple of favorite manual writing supplies that I can say a couple of words about, for the sake of this post:

1. Cambridge City Vinyl Notebooks
I’ve used a lot of different notebooks, but this one has to be my favorite. The vinyl front and back covers feel almost like a supple leather, and the spiral binding is very tough and stiff so you don’t end up with those annoying bent spirals that constantly get your pages all caught up. The pages themselves are beautifully ruled, as beautiful as ruling can be anyway, and all in all the notebooks are a pleasure to write in.

2. PaperMate Capped Ballpoint Pens, Fine, Blue
You might think I’m kidding about this one because these are quite possibly the cheapest pens on the planet, but I’m totally serious. I’m a bit of a pen nut, and these ones remain, to this day, my absolute favorites. They write smoothly, they’re comfortable in the hand, and as previously mentioned, they’re quite possibly the cheapest pens on the planet. What’s not to love?