What Do You Do Every Day?

This week I seem to have spent more time communicating with editors than working on my writing. It’s a fun development, which came about from my new year’s resolution to pitch at least one editor and write for at least one hour every day, including weekends. And by day, I usually mean evenings as I have a day job. 

I started on January second and managed to hit my two goals most days. The only thing stopping me have been headaches and migraines, which always show up out of nowhere and can last up to three days. Even then I usually managed to sneak in a bit of market study or write a few lines on my work in progress. So even though I didn’t actually hit my goals on those days, I still moved forward, which was super exciting and motivating. 

Here are the two rules I set for myself and what happened: 

Rule for writing goal – Work in small bursts if I have to, as long as I hit that one hour mark before I go to bed. 

Result – For the most part, as soon as I started writing, I lost track of the time and hit the one hour mark no problem. It’s a process that seemed to build on itself. If I could do it one day, then I knew I could do it the next. As I saw the progress I made each day, it made me eager to get to work. In four weeks, I wrote two blog posts and three new articles, finished one work in progress, and rewrote another from scratch. I don’t consider myself a fast writer so these numbers are pretty impressive for me. 

Rule for querying goal – Send a pitch or a complete manuscript to a book publisher, magazine editor, or literary agent before I go to bed. 

Result – The regular querying brought me to discover new markets and opportunities here in North America as well as the UK and Australia. It forced me to put self-doubt and fears of all kinds aside and just send that pitch so I wouldn’t fall behind. Except for a few quick rejections, not much happened in the first couple of weeks. But on week 3 and 4, I started getting interested replies and requests for more information, which led to my first contract of the year. Joy! This, of course, is making me want to write and pitch even more.      

As a side goal, I also decided to journal every day. It’s something I had let go of in the last few months because I stopped being able to get up early enough to get it done. It was a painful decision, but I chose to prioritize giving my body the rest it needed over my love of journaling. The thing is, I’ve always preferred journaling first thing in the morning. I feel as if it sets me up for the rest of the day. Over the long Christmas break, I got a taste for it again as I was able to do it first thing. I hated having to let go of it when I got back to my day job. So I decided to keep journaling no matter what the time of day. Sometimes I do it as soon as I get back from work. Other times it’s just before I turn in for the night. The nice thing is that even though I don’t get exactly the same benefits as I used to, something good always comes out of it no matter what time of day I journal. I especially love when it leads to new insights and ideas for writing projects. I’m happy to say that I only missed one day of journaling this month (stupid migraine). 

My goal for February is to continue pitching, writing, and journaling every day with the addition of managing the growing number of editor responses. It’s a really good place to be and I intend to enjoy every minute of it—migraine or not!

Be the Inspiration

January is a great time to get inspired for the coming year. I’ve been finding mine by reading In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs by Grace Bonney.

The book is basically a compilation of successful women who each answer a set of questions about their experiences as business owners and creators.

As inspiring as each of these women are, I thought it would be interesting to answer the same questions myself, exactly as if I were being interviewed for the book and see what my answers might reveal about my own process.

Here are a few of the questions asked of these 100 women and my own answers. 

* What is your favourite thing about your workspace?

That it is movable. I like the fact that I can write anywhere as long as I have my laptop, iPad, or just a notebook and some markers and pens. This summer I did a lot of writing in parking lots as I waited for my partner while he attended a multitude of medical appointments. As I was not allowed to accompany him inside due to the pandemic, I made sure to bring plenty of work to help pass the time. It worked beautifully and really brought home the point that writing can be done anywhere. 

* What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?

Time (and this seems to be a popular answer in the book as well). Over the years, I’ve spent countless hours learning, writing, editing, researching, thinking, developing, reading, planning, and dreaming. The amazing thing is that none of it has ever felt like a loss. Every minute that I spend on my writing business is special to me even when it’s not going so well. After spending years wondering what to do when I grew up (I was nearly thirty when I finally figured it out), I am utterly grateful to have found my calling at last, which means I’ll never take it for granted. Ever! 

* What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out? 

Don’t wait to hear back from an editor before starting on another piece and sending out more work. Always be writing and submitting. I’ve found that not only does it help my business grow but that it keeps me from getting into a funk when I get the inevitable rejections—or complete silence in many cases. By always working on a new piece, I have less time to spend on feeling sorry for myself. 

Grace Bonney’s book contains many more questions and inspiring answers. While I encourage you to read the book, I also invite you to answer the questions yourselves. I’m sure you’ll discover some amazing things about your own artistic life. But don’t keep these answers hidden in a notebook. Make sure you find a way to add them to your posts, CV, LinkedIn profile, and anywhere they could have an impact on your creative career. 

Here’s to a wonderful writing year!