Maintaining The Infrastructure

No one builds a house starting with the roof. A foundation must be laid, the framework put up, drywall nailed into place and then the entire structure must be filled in and decorated.

A writing career is no different. Granted, not everyone out there is writing with the intention of making a career out of it. Some do it as an enjoyable diversion, others to fulfill a need to create. Whatever your reason, you should consider establishing Infrastructure to support your creative efforts.

How do we do that? There are a number of ways to support your creative urge so don’t take this as an all-inclusive list. I’m working on a writing career so what I do may not work for everyone.

1) Funding
Like it or not, it takes money to get around in this world. Office Supplies, a place to write, dealing with unexpected equipment repairs or replacements, etc, cost money. You should establish a budget so that you can meet the needs of your craft. Ideally, the funds for your Writing Budget should be kept separate from your Personal Budget so that when writing needs arise, those funds will be available for use.

2) Record Keeping
This is more for those who aim to be professionals, so if you have no plans to publish, you can probably disregard this part. Record Keeping is a vital part of any business and make no mistake, Writing is as much a business as any other. You are creating a product that people will want to pay to consume. That means keeping track of assets, liabilities, expenses, and that wonderful ameba: TAXES. In this respect, it’s little different from establishing any small business, such as a Sole Proprietorship.

Record Keeping also extends to your content. Keeping track of your writing projects’ state of completion is important because it allows you to see what you have going on and not getting bogged down in playing Twenty Questions with yourself. Organization is important. I recommend using a spreadsheet program such as Excel to create these records.

3) Your Writer’s Toolbox
I discussed this in my article, Off and Running Again, and I highly recommend that you look that over if you haven’t already. Assemble your tools so you can do the best job possible.

4) A Technical Library
This goes hand in hand with the Writer’s Toolbox but is expanded. Every book on writing, every reference material you put on your bookshelf, anything that helps you to be a better writer can go here. The purpose of a technical library is to have an easy to go source for those times when you feel you need to brush up on something. It will pay for itself a thousandfold and I highly recommend putting one together.

5) A Place to Write
Finally, you will need a place to write. The beauty of this is that you don’t need a fancy office space to set up and create. It can be at a table at home, a coffee shop, Internet Cafe, anywhere that you feel comfortable working at. Personally, I prefer a quiet place where I can be alone with my thoughts and easy access to caffeinated beverages and an ashtray. Yes, I smoke, but that’s a whole different conversation.

I hope you all find this useful or at the very least, entertaining. Please note that I am not discussing submitting, writing things like query letters to agents and publishers. This article is about helping you get ready to create. There is no magic bullet to getting published, only a massive superhighway system with many offramps and few Rest Stops.

Practical Writing?

I’m sure there are more than a few out there who are reading today’s articles and wondering what the heck Practical Writing means. This article will attempt to explain what I mean by it and more importantly, what it means to you.

Practical Writing in the context of today’s theme is all the elements that exist outside the creative process. In other words, everything that doesn’t end up in a story.

Writing is a skill set that involves a wide spectrum of abilities and an equally wide assortment of hats to wear. Unless we are fortunate to have secured a traditional publisher early on with an in-house staff, we as Writers fill a large variety of roles. We are part artist, accountant, personal assistant, travel agent, researcher, editor, and typesetter. We also have to be our own motivational speakers, life coaches, and our own boot to the butt that forces us to stop procrastinating and get to work.

I may slip some creative writing tips in with my articles today, but I wouldn’t count on them. I love to discuss Writing, but I feel that the creative side is incomplete without the nuts of bolts of maintaining the infrastructure that allow for the creation process.

Finally, I don’t get paid to do this and probably will never do so because I feel it’s part of my responsibility to impart what I have learned to those who may not be as far along as I am. Don’t get me wrong, goods and services cost money but this is my way to give back and it’s good writing practice for me to be able to whip up this stuff on the fly like I do.

More articles coming today so until then, have a great day and remember that there is no such thing as a bad story. Only stories that need some editing and rewriting.

Off and Running

Okay, my little nuggets, put down the blankies and gather round. We’re going to take a moment to put together your writer’s toolbox. Before we start, take all those flowery romantic notions of what being a writer is and put them aside. This discussion is about the establishing a firm practical occupational foundation for your writing endeavors.

First off, ask yourself why you want to be a writer. There are a number of hard questions that you should ask yourself:

1) Am I in it for the money?
If you are writing in hopes of landing that million dollar book deal, disabuse yourself of the notion right now. Less than 3% of all published authors make enough money to actually live on their earnings from books, stories, and articles. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, just that it’s a hard road to make a living at and if money is what you want, there are better and easier ways to get it.

2) Do I really want this or am I just playing at it?
This is an important one because the answer will shape how you proceed. If you are in love with giving yourself the title and not willing to commit to the Craft, ultimately you may find yourself frustrated and not able to finish anything. I see Writing as a calling, something that you need to do and are willing to put in the hours, isolation, and effort to achieve. Anything less is doing yourself a disservice.

3) Am I willing to learn?
Becoming a better writer means constantly striving to improve your craft. It means being flexible enough to try new things, new methods, and most of all, expanding your comfort zone to incorporate what you learn and experiment with. Some things will work, some won’t, and that’s okay.

4) Am I good enough?
Only you can answer this one so answer honestly and truthfully to yourself. You have to believe that you are good enough even when there may be a Greek Choir behind you telling you that you are wasting your time, you aren’t good enough, and nothing will come of your efforts. Tune these people out, you don’t need that kind of negativity. What’s happening in most of these cases are people feeling threatened by your striving to move out of their perception of you. Define your path.

Now then, let’s get to that Writer’s Toolbox:

1) Dictionary
I prefer to have a hardcopy version whenever possible because it represents stability. Plus, it looks cool on the desk.

2) Thesaurus
There will always be a time when you need an alternate word for something and it’s better to reach for a hardcopy version than opening up your browser. You should be writing anyway, not web surfing. Discipline.

3) Grammar Guide
Self-Explanatory.

4) Notepad and Pen/Pencil
There will always be a time when you need to jot down a note to yourself about a story idea that you want to explore in greater detail later. Not to be confused with the next item on the List.

5) Writing Instruments
I’ve saved the best for last here. This is the most important part of your writing toolbox because this is where the magic is created. Pen and Paper (separate from the Notepad) is the most basic of all writing instruments, but if you have aspirations of sharing your work with the world (and you should), you will need to invest in either a typewriter (they still exist, but rare), word processor (same), or a computer (either a desktop or a laptop for mobility). I’m not a fan of writing on a tablet or a phone because the workspace is too small and no self-respecting writer composes prose on a screen the size of a postage stamp.

I should state here that I am expressing my opinion, one that I have cultivated over the past 25 years of writing. Feel free to add to this list and use what you find useful. Thanks, Guys, for your time.

Announcement: #PracticalWritingMonday

Happy Monday, Everyone, and welcome to Practical Writing Monday, where I will do my utmost to provide useful and entertaining information about the practical side of being a writer. I’m still working out the idea of daily blog themes, so bear with me while I get all my crap in one sock. 😉

I’m starting a little early today because I spent the entire weekend doing next to no writing for various reasons and I have been chomping at the bit to do anything fun and creative. That being said, I already have a new article coming up after this so grab your popcorn, a nice drink for whatever time of day this is for you and enjoy. 🙂