Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How to Remain BICHOK in Uncertain Times

BICHOK Defined: Butt in Chair Hands on Keys

This has been an interesting week for me personally and professionally. On the personal front I have back to school shopping, back to school calendars to incorporate into my life, a weird widow wrecking havoc in Texas, a new car to get tags downtown and floors to clean.

Confession: the whole house needs a good do over, but if I do the floors, the house "looks" clean. It's like a mirage...

On the professional front I have a new online workshop to coordinate, which includes Yahoo meltdowns and new class members to welcome to the class as well as financial reckonings. I have two partials to prep for the requests I received at Nationals, which means redoing the synopsis and writing yet another query letter, meetings to attend and contests to process and prep for as well.

Confession: I'm a decent synopsis writer, but the query takes a committee to whip into shape. If I had known about the synopsis and query requirements BEFORE I started writing, I might not have started.

Now in addition to all the "stuff" I have to deal with personally and professionally, I've been processing the Dorchester news, feeling icky about my own uncertain future in this business, reading articles about e-publishing and wondering how it all will play out. It's hard to focus. Very hard. How do I get BICHOK with all these distractions?

First of all, I remember what Nora Roberts said during her Keynote address to the Romance Writers of America at the National Conference: in a nutshell--"don't whine, just write." Is it any harder to get published today amidst all the turmoil? Nora has an answer: "carbon paper." Okay, what does that mean? It means writing hasn't changed other than to become easier for us with the advent of computers, laptops and cool writing programs. Publishing wasn't easy for her 30 years ago. She got rejected, too. Then an opportunity opened up and voila, we have 30 years of books written and published by Nora Roberts and her alter pseudonym, J.D. Robb.

She is ONE of many writers who fought to make our genre the powerhouse that it has become today. And yes, e and digital publishing have changed the face of the writing world, but in order to survive and win we have to remember one thing: "don't whine, just write." Get into the "swimming pool" and be ready for your opportunity to arrive. Then grab hold and hang on tight cause the work's only going to grow exponentially. Ask any writer who just got the call this year. Ask about the workload and the deadlines and the expectations.

So that's my first rule: look for inspiration, write it down, post it somewhere and then write.

Do you have to write every day? Some people do and some take breaks. I tend to dabble a bit every day, but my focus changes. I also give myself permission to take "breaks" from my manuscripts. I like to let them percolate before I hit the revisions and edits. I use the break time to work on my contest entries, learn about my craft, read good books, bone up about the business of writing and publishing, send off queries, and submit.

So here's my second rule: find your own process and your own rhythm for writing. If you aren't published, really work hard to hone this process so when you get the call, you'll know what you have to do to get the JOB DONE.

This brings me to the third rule: treat your writing like a profession and you will be treated like a professional.

How to be a professional? Make a commitment to go to the "office" and write on a regular schedule. Life bopping you over the head? Give yourself a break. Need a sick day? Take it. Need a Vacation? Take one. But know when you're going back to work. Schedule it if you have to do it.

Okay, so that brings me to a sidebar: sometimes you have to chunk the schedule and roll with the punches. Yup. Like today. Today I had big plans--I was going to make it my errand/clean house day/run to the courthouse to get tags day. Instead I got a humungous hive on my lip while I started writing this blog and, given my allergy history I got pretty gosh darned freaked, so I popped two Benadryl and called my darling husband downstairs to watch over me.

Nothing else happened except I finished this blog under the influence of Benadryl. So I'm giving myself permission to take a break from work cause I need a wake up call. And that's a wrap for me. But tomorrow? Tomorrow I get back in the chair and become BICHOK all over again.


Jeanie said...

Christine, you are so right! Writers write, and that's the plain hard truth. I, too, have been freaked out about the future of publishing. But most of that is out of our control. What we CAN control is ourselves and we can make ourselves sit down and WRITE! Otherwise, as Nora said, you're sitting on the side of the pool whining that it's too hard when you should be in the pool swimming.

Christine said...

Exactly! Just focus on writing and submitting and writing and submitting. Eventually, you'll get there. A CP told me that being in the pool with more than one novel completed means I'm getting closer to that "wheel of fortune" turning to nab me.

Meanwhile I write and submit. Can't get nabbed if I don't keep up my end of the deal.


Callie James said...

Yep, just keep writing. It'll all fall into place eventually.

I don't take many breaks when I write a book, but I've learned to take them in between. And I'm starting one today. Four weeks of catching up on that reading!

Can't wait.


Hope the lip gets better, Christine!

Christine said...

Enjoy your reading!! You deserve it and it will fuel your writing soul!


Gwen Hernandez said...

Hope you feel better. Nora's speech was a great reminder that in the end we just need to focus on writing, revising, and submitting. The rest is out of our hands. Nice post!

Jennifer Shirk said...

GREAT advice!!

Debbie Kaufman said...

Great post, Christine. Writing while life is happening to and around us is always a challenge. Love what you said and had to laugh

- If I had known about the synopsis and query requirements BEFORE I started writing, I might not have started.-

OH, sooo true, LOL!

Christine said...

Hi Everyone: first the lip is better--and I learned about a new cure for this that doesn't involve walking around in a Benadryl fog--yay!

As I await my second critique of my query letter, I am ever so grateful to my CPs and their patience.

And now, back to life!

Katherine Bone said...

Great blog post, Christine! Your three rules make perfect sense. Now to implement them. ;)

Christine said...

Ah yes, Kathy--have fun! Just write and submit!!!
You are on a roll!!

RedPeril said...

Thank you for the reminder in perseverance. I just wrote myself a small sign to stick to the top of my monitor:

It's the ADD; I need all the help I can get. >.< Can't wait for the hubby's hesitant but inevitable inquiry on this one.

Christine said...

RedPeril: I just laughed when you wrote about your husband's take on BICHOK. Thanks!! And I suffer from a mild form of ADD as well so I know all too well how easy it is to become distracted.

One trick I know that works for me is to close and shut off all email/safari/web tools before I start writing. I am allowed to check email etc., AFTER I finish my own writing tasks.

Have a great day and have fun writing :-)

M.V.Freeman said...

So blasted true...

and so here I am..WRITING. :D

Onward and forward.....

M.V.Freeman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cari Hislop said...

Thanks for making me laugh! I need to make a t-shirt with "Bichok" on it. :)

You're so right though...I've been working on brain washing myself into not freaking out about endless silly things, being paranoid the list is quite long, but now that I'm back on a mega healthy diet (no sugar, low salt etc) I'm sure I'll be finding myself too energized to sit here and whine to myself (that will make a change) and I'll finish those two books I've been working on for far too long. That's the for the execution...

Christine said...

Mary: I agree that when we write the phrase, "onward and upward," is very true!! We can only get better by writing and we can only improve our chances by submitting regardless of the tides of change.

Christine said...

Cari: I think that taking of yourself physically is a must for helping us become and stay creative. I hope your lifestyle changes add zoom to your writing and you meet your goals!