Tuesday, April 05, 2011

So Much and So Little Time

If I noted one thing in a recent conference, it was that many of the writers had their fingers in a lot of pies. They were writing memoir, nonfiction, poetry, and maybe a script. I'm all for diversity in submitting - contests, grants, markets, freelance gigs. But, how is someone going to remember who you are if you don't have a firm grasp of it yourself?

People remember other people with tag lines - formal or informal. For instance, I've had names like:
  • C. Hope Clark - High Hope for Freelance Writers
  • Hope Clark - editor of FundsforWriters
  • Hope Clark - author of The Shy Writer
  • Hope Clark - organizational queen (yep, got tagged with that one in a chat)
  • C. Hope Clark - marketing expert
People will make up a tagline to remember you. Note that the above revolve around FundsforWriters and aiding writers. That's my niche. I've written for Chicken Soup, published magazine articles, and now I'm writing novels. But I set the first niche in concrete. Now I'm C.  Hope Clark, editor of FundsforWriters, who is now writing mystery novels. People see me going from Point A to Point B instead of operating in a shotgun approach.

One step at a time is the point.

Kole McRae of Office Buddha recently wrote a guest post for Problogger, one of my favorite blogs. He deleted all of his 15 blogs not long ago. I adore efficiency advice. When I worked the 9-to-5, I was a time management guru. He handles the same issues through another angle - Zen. He has a simple $3 ebook that tells you how to maintain your sanity and focus your work efforts in the office. Office Zen  I subscribe to lots of efficiency advice blogs and such, whether they address writing or not, because the concepts are applicable across the board.

His suggestions:

The less you spread yourself, the better your work.
Everybody knows this. Everybody. But few of us practice what should be common sense. When we focus, we perform better. Mothering, writing, golfing, water skiing, painting, public speaking, everything. Quality deteriorates when your brain has so many balls in the air.

Cut back.
You don't have to cut out everything in your life and become Thoreau. However, to better yourself at writing, you have to remove some facets of your life that will suck energy away from it. Don't toss your kids in the street, but designate time that is JUST yours, JUST for writing. Make them adhere to it as well. Select ONE or TWO writing projects. Put the others on the backburner if you don't want to trash them. Just put them out of sight. Sort of like not checking your email while you're writing.

But if you are starting out trying to earn a living at this writing deal, pick one direction and focus. Study, hone and practice one mission until that's what you're known for. Because once you're fairly good at it, you become efficient at it as well. And efficiency buys you time to stretch in another direction. Pulling in several directions at once from the outset, usually gets you nowhere.


Unknown said...

Thanks for this post Hope. I've been working to make my living writing but I am struggling to figure a business plan/focus that really works for me. I needed this reminder not to spread myself too thin and actually focus.

Julia Munroe Martin said...

An excellent reminder; something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Thank you!

Christina Katz said...

We so think alike it's not even funny. Great minds...as they say. :)