Mobile Writing

I’m frustrated. I do not regret quitting my job, not for one second. But I did expect that not working a set schedule would cause the progress of my novel to skyrocket. This has not been the case, much to my annoyance. If anything, my progress has slowed down. Though I do have to shift some of the blame to the holidays and my son having a two-week winter break, I can’t really use that excuse to justify my lack of achievement.

It’s like the pressure of only having an hour or two at a time to write instilled in me a sense of urgency. Without that pressure, I’ve become lazy and less motivated.

I’d heard of some people using their tablets or smart phones to write, but I could never understand how they did it. I hate poking and pecking my way letter by letter when I text or email. I wondered how anything ever got done for them.

So, desperate for a way to somehow fit writing back into my days while taking care of a four-month-old and trying to keep up with the house work and my freelancing, I did a little searching for some writing apps. I tried a couple that were really more trouble than it was worth. But even with the better ones I had to type the letters using the tiny little keyboard.

Then, I discovered something awesome. I have an Android phone, and I noticed a little button way down in the corner that brought up a menu for keyboard options. There’s this mode called Swype that lets me slide my finger around to connect the letters to form words. Sounds funny, but it totally opened up a new world for me. I can get words out fast on my phone now. Not nearly as fast as typing on my laptop, but there’s this sort of fun factor to writing a novel on a smart phone. I can now work on a scene periodically throughout the day, even when feeding my little one or making dinner. It’s pretty awesome. In fact, I actually wrote this entire blog post on my phone. This is the first time I’ve done that.

Since I’ve gotten the app and switched the keyboard on my phone, I’ve written a couple thousand words on two different stories. And that’s not counting what I did on my laptop.

Give it a try. :)

And have a Happy New Year!!

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Getting Used to the Writing Life

It’s been a month now since I quit my job. At first it was weird. I just kind of floated around, enjoying the lack of a schedule I had to adhere to and spending the morning napping with my baby after my son went off to school. I’ve had some time to adjust and attempt to work out a routine that gives me plenty of time to write, and a little bit of extra time in the evenings to do some freelance work to help pay the bills. I’ve had to enforce the “writing is my job” rule, reminding both myself and my husband that I need to take it seriously and treat it like work, regardless of whether or not I’m being paid for it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that writing at home is hard, especially before I implemented a schedule for it. I’m often distracted, and almost every time I plan to sit down and write I end up laying down for a “short nap” instead, only to wake up three hours later feeling like a failure. I tried writing in the evenings, but I prefer to do my freelance transcription work during that time, as I tend to be more productive. Plus, I don’t want my novel to be interrupted by a baby waking during the night to be fed. So I’ve decided on mornings for writing. This past week I’ve started going to the library a couple days a week somewhere around 9 to 10 a.m., staying until it’s time to pick my son up from school at 2:30. His school is right down the street from the library, so it gives me that extra push to stay until then. On the days I write at home – which, when it comes down to it, is a lot more comfortable for a lazy house cat like me who wears pajamas until 3 p.m. – I have to find a way to zone out and pull myself away from my Real Life surroundings. Sometimes I sit out on the porch, but I’m not much of an outdoors person, so I do prefer to sit at the dining room table. Plus, I love easy kitchen access. I’ve had a lot of success with music and a pair of headphones. The Epic Soundtracks channel on Pandora has lent a hand in quite a few epic scenes.

Writing for several hours at a time is difficult, too. I’d gotten used to having little-to-no spare time and getting short spurts of writing in here and there, chunks of no more than 1 to 2 hours. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to write full time before now. Although I’m thrilled to have this time, it’s certainly going to take another adjustment on my part to train my mind to focus for the entire time. I have “Oooh, shiny!” tendencies, and if my little baby bear starts making adorable noises in the next room, forget about it. I’m there.

But that’s the beauty of writing full time, isn’t it? I’m here in my home, with my kids and husband, in charge of my own schedule and productivity. Although quitting my job was scary, it feels empowering to finally take control of my life.

Though I have to admit I’m worried. (Am I ever not worried?) Having self-imposed publishing deadlines is brand new to me. I’ve dealt with submission deadlines for anthologies and contests, but publishing? I think the thought is still incredibly daunting for me. I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that I have set an actual deadline to publish my novel in January. Meaning, if I can get my ass moving and finish it, the book will be out there. My story will be available, and people will read it. People that aren’t my husband or my sister. Exciting and terrifying at the same time, and I can’t wait to experience it.

I do expect that I’ll have to push the deadline back. Trying to get enough sleep, planning my son’s birthday party, and preparing financially and emotionally for the upcoming holidays have caused a concerning spike in my anxiety. I’m tearing through my Disaronno here, trying to get a handle on things. Not to mention, I’ve had some issues with the book cover, the details of which I’ll divulge in another post. But I’m not stating this officially yet. I’m still giving myself a chance to finish it on time. Not giving up on that yet!

This is still only the very beginning of my journey, but at least now I’ve stepped foot on the right path.

 

~Beka

Paving My Own Road

I’ve never felt more sure of myself and my decisions. Ever. It’s a wonderful feeling, and one I’m going to cling to as if my life depended on it. Because in a way, it does.

And so, since making the decision to forgo traditional publishing in favor of becoming a full-blown Indie Writer, I’ve been spending my last few weeks constructing my plans and goals for the next year. The first important thing I needed to figure out was whether or not I wanted to set up a publishing company name or do everything by my own name. I’ve decided on the publishing company, for a few different reasons. For me personally, having the company rather than just my own name will put me in a more professional mindset – and having failed at treating my writing as my job and my business in the past, I need this badly. I have set up a publishing schedule for most of this next year, starting with a fantasy novel that I have given myself until the end of December to complete. And yes, by “complete” I mean drafted, revised, beta read, and cover complete, with the intent of publishing it in January 2014.

At first, as I was talking about my future publications with my husband, I was referring to my set dates as “tentative,” using the excuse that I needed some time to work out how long each project type was going to take me. But I realized even saying that was detrimental to any progress I wanted to make. It showed me that I have a real fear of setting and sticking to actual goals involving my writing. So the “tentative” was stripped away and the dates are set. These dates are realistic for me, as I have a good grasp of how fast I can work (participating in Nano has certainly helped), particularly when I’m having fun with my story and have somehow managed to get past the stress and worry that was eating away at my mind whenever I tried to sit down and write.

My schedule will be three novels a year, as well as a short story per month, focusing on fantasy for the year 2014. Yes, that’s a lot compared to what I do now… but when I made the decision to jump in head-first, I meant it. I’m also in the process of securing my DBA (Doing Business As) name for my publishing company, and have already snagged the domain as well. I plan to have my site up and running by the time my first fantasy novel is complete, and announced in January 2014.

Here we go :)

~Beka

Time For A New Outlook

Four months!! Waaaay too long. I’m still around, I promise. Eight months pregnant, only one more to go. And let me tell you, it has not been an easy ride. I’ve still been writing, I’m just a lot slower and less focused than usual. Besides having baby constantly on the brain, there’s something about being pregnant that’s made me think differently about every aspect of my life. It’s easier to see what’s truly important, and these last months have been something of an eye opener for me. I’ve come to some major conclusions regarding how things are going right now, all of them involving my career.

By day I’m a medical transcriptionist. I’ve been in this field for just over 5 years now, and for most of that time it was honestly enjoyable. The hospital I worked for treated their employees well. Their transcriptionists were well paid and well appreciated, and I loved my job. Unfortunately, last October (and I may or may not have mentioned this in a past post already, so apologies if I’m repeating myself) my hospital deciced to restructure their transcription department. Specifically, they’d chosen to rid themselves of in-house transcriptionists and instead obtain this service by outsourcing their dictations to an outside company. All in the spirit of saving a few bucks. And hey, I understand that ultimately they’re a business and to them that must have seemed a sound business decision at the time. But me, I felt abandoned. For years they insisted we were appreciated, hard workers, an asset to the company, etc. Then, suddenly we were kicked to the curb. They announced their decision to us in the form of a transcriptionist’s meeting, turning the entire thing into a sales pitch for the company that they intended to outsource to and giving us no more than 2 months to either make our transition or make other arrangements, whichever we decided. I was basically screwed either way, but ended up transitioning to the outside company. I knew that our finances would be much lower than we were used to. It’s been seriously rough – we went from me being able to solely support our family on my income alone to panicking at the end of each month and scraping quarters together just to make rent. I make less than half of what I made at my previous job. But it has taken the better part of a year and the impending birth of a second child to fully understand the impact of this job on our lives.

I simply can’t do it anymore. The benefits are ridiculously high, and I have to work my fingers to the bone just to hit minimum wage with my productivity. And as it turns out, the medical transcription field as a whole seems to be heading downhill. Most hospitals and clinics, as I understand, are doing the same thing my hospital did. There were some transcriptionists in my department with 20 to 30+ years of experience who are making the same amount of money as an entry level Wal-Mart or McDonald’s employee. It’s not right. But such is the world we live in.

And so, miserable as my job is, I have made the decision to get the hell out. Though I can’t bail without backup. Not with a family to take care of. This is where my other career-oriented decision comes in.

I spent a long time looking for another job. Even $9 an hour would have been a major improvement. I looked at everything from medical records to housekeeping at a hotel to Starbucks barista… even transcription at a different company. As long as I was making even a little more with manageable benefits, we’d be all right. But then I’d be right back where I started – in a job I hated while I beat myself up for not working hard to follow my dream. And it occurred to me that all this time I could have been working toward my writing dreams. I had the time. What I didn’t have was the motivation. I went on and on about how crappy my job was, feeling sorry for myself because I just couldn’t make the writing thing happen, when the truth is – and it stings a little to admit, that’s for sure – it was absolutely, 100% my fault that it hadn’t happened yet. If I really wanted to be a writer and quit my job, I could have done it. I just… didn’t.

Which leads me into something else that was difficult to admit, even to myself. I had no motivation and I didn’t want to write. My stories didn’t grab me like they should have, I was never excited to sit down and write. In fact, I’d begun to avoid it. It was starting to sound like a chore, and I had to drag myself kicking and screaming through my scenes just to get them done. It took some time and effort to figure out what the hell was going on, but the reality is this:

Writing wasn’t fun for me anymore.

Writing had become a worry for me, filling me with anxiety and dread. I’d become fixated on the end product, constantly convicing myself that my story was garbage, that it would never sell. I was plotting it wrong, using the wrong words. I would surely get laughed at, or reamed on review boards. All of it was worry, and all of it was blocking me from actually allowing my creative self to just do its thing.

Then I came across a website that completely altered the way I think about writing. I don’t want to sound cheesy, but this writer has singlehandedly changed my outlook on my writing life. Here’s the blog:

Dean Wesley Smith

In a nutshell, he’s a very successful writer who has used both traditional publishing and indie publishing (self publishing), and his advice is absolutely recommended to anyone who has lost some of the fun in their own writing. It’s worth a shot, at the very least, to try to recover that spark of excitement that our stories should give us. And it’s certainly not for everyone. There are some who live and swear by traditional publishing, love the process, and are extremely successful doing just that. Totally fine, everyone is different. I know sometimes the traditional vs. indie thing can be quite the debate. For me personally, as I read and absorbed the information and advice that Dean gives, amongst other successful indie writers, I felt like I had finally discovered my path. The light came on, and that spark of excitement returned. I didn’t have to try to please editors or agents, didn’t have to try to land a contract with a big time publisher. I could do exactly what I wanted to do, write exactly what I loved to write and nothing else, and I didn’t have to worry about what others thought about me or my writing. And all of that was ok. There are many, many authors that are doing just that, making a living writing. Because they love to write. I didn’t want writing to feel like a job or a chore, something I had to do to pay the bills. I wanted to be passionate about it… and finally I found a way to do it.

Before now I’d been researching and weighing the pros and cons of indie vs. traditional publishing. I’d been on the fence about it, indecisive, and to be perfectly honest afraid to make a decision one way or the other. On one hand, I’d always understood the traditional publishing route to be where the “real” career was – slaving over that first novel, seeking out and landing an agent, that painful waiting period while the agent tries to sell your story, then if it’s sold there’s some more painful waiting until your book actually comes out. I was so ready to do it if that’s what it truly took, but I have to admit just thinking about the process stressed the hell out of me. On the other hand, though I was in love with the idea of freedom that accompanies indie publishing, I was worried that if I took this route I’d be less respected, and surely have a much smaller fan base (if any fans at all).

But I’m not confused anymore. I don’t want to stress about something I’m supposed to love doing. I’m going to write for me. I’m going to write all the damned time, practice my craft, self publish, and move on to the next story.

A career in writing is no longer just a dream for me. It’s an inevitability.

~Beka