A few final odds and ends tonight before we switch to a new topic tomorrow:
I have a quick question before we totally leave the website topic. How do you know which ending to use? For example: .com .net .info
My husband thought .info was best for my site because it’s not a commercial site.
Randy sez: I prefer the .com ending. I think .net is second best. The fact is that when people are trying to guess your web site, they’ll guess .com first and .net second. This is not such a problem as it used to be, because most people will just hit the search engines if they can’t find you on the first guess, and many of them will try Google before even guessing. But .com has a more professional feel to it than .net or .info or .name or .biz. I don’t know if it’ll always be that way, but for now, my advice is to grab a .com ending if you possibly can.
Currently I’m immensely busy at the office. I come home and there’s tons of stuff to do before I can even sit down and take a moment. Then, tired from a hard days work, I like to just relax for a while and “space out” (I think the expression is). Then all of a sudden, it’s time to go to bed. Lately I find no time to write. How do I make this work? My fingers are aching, itching to go back to work, but I’m just too tired when I get home to focus.
Help me, Obi-Wan Randy. You’re my only hope.
Obi-Wan Randy sez: Welcome back, Christophe! We’ve missed you. I don’t have an easy answer. Sometimes, you’re just going to hit a stretch where “Life Happens” and you have less time to write. There is nothing you can do about this. Eventually, things will calm down a bit and you can write more.
The goal, of course, is to run your life as efficiently as possible, so you’ll have time to write. This is why I’ve made such an effort to manage my time better, and also my money. Time really is money. The more money you can earn with the same level of effort, the better, because then you can trade money for time.
At a certain point, I went to my boss at my former day job and asked for a 20% reduction in hours. Of course, that also meant a 20% reduction in money, but I was willing to pay that price. When I moved on to a different employer, I made it a condition going in that I’d only work at 80% of full time. Because I had worked hard to make myself a valuable employee, they were willing to do that. Eventually, I asked for another 20% reduction, and got that too.
There is a price to this writing life. The price is that you will almost certainly always be stretched thin, you will always have less free time, you will always have less money. That is grossly unfair, because we Great Artistes deserve better, but that is the fate the uncaring universe has dealt us.
On that happy note, let me point you all to my friend Chip MacGregor’s blog. Chip used to be my agent before he went over to the Dark Side (temporarily) and became a publisher. He’s now back agenting again, and he has a great blog at www.ChipMacgregor.com.
In the last couple of days, he posted some interesting data on the top-selling books from last year. There were only 4 books last year that sold more than a million copies. Another 15 books sold more than half a million copies. Chips sums it up by saying that there were 250,000 new books published last year, and only 19 of them hit the big time.
That may or may not depress the living heck out of you. But it’s reality. We need to be realists. This is a tough, tough career choice we’ve made. Hence the need to use our time well, be frugal with our money, and market the daylights out of our books.
Christophe Desmecht says
I wasn’t expecting an instant-just-add-water solution, but you managed to lift my spirits. It’s true that this busy life I’m leading only started recently, and it’s sure to quiet down in a few months. So I’ll just sit it out and hope to find some quiet time to write once in a while.
I’ve been following your blog, Randy but haven’t felt able to make comments, for similar reasons to Christophe. I have struggled to find the physical energy to just sit at the computer. At one stage, I cut my hours and struggled financially, then I did put all the extra time into my book but circumstances forced me to accept extra work again this week and I haven’t written for the last few days. Come on Lottery win! Today, I have arranged my hours so that I don’t work any more than 7 hours a day. I counted my actual hours I was on the job, including travel between jobs which doesn’t have a travel allowance attached to it and decided the extra hours weren’t worth it. I probably won’t feel the benefits of that change until next week.
Charlotte Babb says
The concept of focus means that there is only one thing and the rest is on the side. The only way I can see to have time for writing is to stop doing so much of the other things that I do. Spacing out is not an option. I go to bed by 10 pm, which gives me early morning quiet time to do what I do…and writing time is still hard to manage.
Kristi Holl says
I would suggest something rather than “waiting it out” when trying to find time to write while life is busy. Even during the worst of times, you can find ten minutes to journal, or fifteen minutes to do a writing exercise (there are many excellent books of fun writing prompts), or something similar. Do it on your lunch break maybe. But keep the mind thinking “writer,” even during the busiest times. And you’d be amazed how much writing you can do in ten-minute segments. My first five or six books were written that way, with many babies and toddlers underfoot and a teaching job and health issues. Do a bit of writing every day. Otherwise, when you finally get back to it months later, you’ll be so rusty it will be hard to get back into the swing of things.
Jonathan Greathead says
Randy and Christophe – Thank you for addressing this. I have struggled with not being able to create for the past few months – and at times felt that the battle was being lost. I needed this ‘pep talk’ and will get back on track to finish the book that just won’t leave my head. At this point the writing is more for my psyche than to crack into the world of those who wrote the ’19’ last year…Thanks – Jon
I watched a fascinating program last night. It was called the “Agatha Christie Code.” (Have you heard of it?) It was on the documentary channel and is supposed to air again on Tues. of next week. Anyway, Agatha started out writing anywhere and anytime she could. She was able to focus in little bits of time here and there. I have found this works for me, too. It’s frustrating but it works. (Frustrating because I have to quit before I really want to.) I use my break time to write, and I use any time I’m able to sit with my laptop whether it’s in the car (when someone else is driving) or in a waiting room at my kids’ doctor’s appointments (they have a lot of them).
The “Agatha Christie Code” was fascinating for other reasons, too. I think it would be great if everyone could watch it. It analyzed her use of words, how she “hypnotizes” readers, etc. They said she worked with the same “formula” or “template” each time. Sort of reminds me of that snowflake guy…
ML Eqatin says
This is not going to be a popular answer, but I have to say it — “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Writing may not fit into the life that has happened for you, at least not now. That doesn’t mean that the season will not come, or that you should not prepare for it in the corners of time you have. We in industrialized, urbanized society have forgotten that we can’t always have it the way we want it, and you can’t make corn grow by pulling on it.
Ultimately, our lives are about other people and the rhythms of their lives impact us, as they should. Whether it’s growing children, the need to keep a roof over your head, or ailing parents, there are things that must have priority over our literary ambitions. If those are honored, the writing will be richer in its time.
On the heels of ML on seasons, I’ve been in a season of hyperdrive this past year. I’m sure it won’t last, and I’m prepared accept different speeds in this novel journey-marathon. But I can strike while the iron is hot, or the keys are clicking…
Can I share something here that I shared with my critique group? I think we’re a unique community, a collection of Great Artistes who I’m honored to rub cyber shoulders with.
“About a year ago, I was thinking about writing a novel. I’d never heard of acfw, pov, mru, or storyworld or scene and sequel. Goal-Conflict-Disaster was just another name for parenting teens. Definitely never heard of making a novel out of a snowflake. Head hoppers and pantsers could have been slang for the people I quit hanging around after I got saved.
A year ago the thought never entered my mind to quit making homestyle dinners and cleaning toilets, to join a critque group, to spend hours and hours into the night pounding at the keyboard, to sign up for feeds from writing blogs and leave posts everywhere like a puppy in training, to attend writing workshops, to read stacks of books on writing craft, to download a fiction writing course, to think about how to market myself, or to attend a writer’s conference. Or to whine to you gracious, wise ones for extra help in getting it right. When I look at this bio (recently created for conference), I see someone who didn’t exist a year ago. Pretty weird when I think about it.
Lately I’ve been glued to a couple pages of a proposal and the first 20 of story that keeps shedding skin and emerging a tiny bit tighter each time and talking about little else besides pre-subbing and morning tracks and elevator pitches and agent panels and the one thing to never include on the business card when you’re unpublished. A year ago, this would have been a foreign language. To family and friends, it still is.
I wonder where I’d be today if a year ago someone told me what writing a novel actually takes.
I’d like to think…I’d be right here, In a frenzy to get ready for Mt Hermon.
Thanks for blessing me this year.”
I’d like to extend these thanks to Randy especially, and to all of you here at AFW blog. Blessings to you in your season of writing!!
PS: Welcome back Christophe! :+)
Regarding unequal outcomes in the book publishing business: Take a read of N. N. Taleb’s “The Black Swan” — an extended discussion on uncertainty.