Return to the Joy of Writing

By Edie Melson, @EdieMelson

Sometimes the business of writing—and the commitments of writing—can steal the joy of writing. When that happens, it helps me to return to the basics. I take an inventory of everything I’m doing and re-evaluate my priorities. Here are the steps I take to return to the joy of writing.

Have To, Need To, and Want To!

I have a love/hate relationship with lists. They definitely keep me organized and on track, but they also highlight just how many commitments I have.

To combat the downside, and keep me moving forward, I’ve found a way to categorize my writing tasks through a 3-tiered approach.
I call it my Have To, Need To, and Want To system. It’s the definitions of the writing tasks that determine where they fit in this. Today I’m going to share those definitions with you, along with examples.

HAVE TO
These are my non-negotiable tasks. There’s really no wiggle room for these because they affect either my income, my reputation, and/or someone else’s income or reputation. For me, the usually include:

  • Blog posts I write for money or as a regular contributor to a professional site—like Guideposts and Novel Rocket. 
  • Daily social media updates. These are the updates I schedule every morning, but they’re divided up part here, in the Have To category and part in the Need To. I tell myself I HAVE TO schedule a minimum of 5 updates a day, 5 days a week. I’ll share the Need To part later. 
  • Articles that I’ve been hired to write. 
  • Certain blog posts on my site. My Have To posts are Monday’s Social Media Monday and one post minimum for Tuesday and Wednesday. 
  • Writing that’s been contracted (like for a book) or on a proposal that needs to go out. 

NEED TO

These are the things that I know I need to do, if there’s any way I can. They’re also the things I let slip if something important with my life comes up.

  • Daily social media updates beyond the HAVE TO five—I feel a NEED TO schedule 12 – 15 per day, 5 days a week. 
  • Additional blog posts on my site. I feel the NEED TO have new content 7 days a week on my blog. That means I NEED TO write a large part of that content. 
  • Contests that I feel would move my career forward. 
  • Commenting on social media and blogs. 
  • Finding new people to connect with through social media. 

WANT TO
This part of the list is what fuels my joy in writing. If I’m only ever doing the HAVE TO and NEED TO, my time writing is in danger of becoming drudgery. So I try to make sure that I hit at least 1 thing that’s designated WANT TO. These include a lot of different things.

  • Poetry—I think writers can improve by playing around with poetry. 
  • Short Fiction—again, it is part of improving my craft. 
  • Photography—I know, it’s not writing per se. But I use my photography directly in my blog and in other parts of writing. 
  • Research and brainstorming for new projects. 

By taking a full, hard, look at where I am with all my writing endeavors, this can help me reprioritize and return to the joy of writing.

All right, this is how I look at my writing life. Do you have a similar system or something completely different? Do you have a system at all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

TWEETABLES


Return to the Joy of Writing by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Here are the steps I take to return to the joy of writing.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

How I reprioritize and return to the joy of writing.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson, Senior Editor of Novel Rocket, is the author of numerous books. As a respected freelance writer and editor with years of experience in the publishing industry, she’s connected with writers and readers throughout the country. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been re-released as Connections: Social Media and Networking Techniques for Writers. Her popular writing blog, The Write Conversation, gives her the opportunity to share what she’s learned and mentor others. She’s the Diirector of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. She’s also the social media mentor for My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. Be sure to connect with her through Twitter and Facebook.

The Best Things About Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

We all know there are aspects of choosing to write for a
living that can make life tough. It’s easy to get focused on just the
negatives. Today I want us to celebrate the best parts of being a writer!

My 15 Favorite Things
About Being a Writer
1. We get to use our own
experiences—good and bad—to impact others.
I’ve learned that we all share a
lot of the same fears, hopes and struggles. Writing gives me a chance to share
what I’ve been through and watch it impact others.

2. We hear voices in our
heads and it’s completely normal.
Not only is it normal, but it’s downright
scary when our imaginary friends stop talking to us

3. I can buy books and
write it off.
Books are some of my favorite things in the whole world. Now
I need to buy them to further my career.

4. We can take revenge
on those who irritate us.
Of course we don’t make them recognizable, but it
makes us feel better when we can expose their actions in our books. After all, there’s a reason for that old saying, the pen is mightier than the sword.

5. We get to work in our
pajamas.
Or at least in comfy clothes. There’s something to be said for
working at home where we don’t have to worry about how we look.

6. I get to be the boss.
I’m a total control freak, so being in charge fits my personality
perfectly. I’m in charge of me, my schedule (to a certain degree) and I get to
tell my characters what to do.

7. We get to be friends with
other writers – and some of them are famous.
Some of my first heroes were
authors. Now, I’m friends with other writers and get to hang out with the
people I’ve always admired.

8. We get to research
anything we want.
I like to think of it as a healthy curiosity. I refuse to accept my husband’s description of me as nosey.

9. We get to hang out in coffee shops and libraries. I love the atmosphere of coffee shops and libraries. As a writer, I have a legitimate reason for hanging out there.
10. I get to buy pens and
paper.
Again, these are some of my favorite things. But since I earn my
living as a writer, I have to have them for my business.

11. We get paid to make
things up.
No, not when we’re writing articles and things like that. But
for those of us who write fiction, we get to create everything from our
imagination.

12. We get fan mail. It’s not the fan mail exactly that’s the best. For me it’s hearing from someone I don’t know that has been touched by the words I wrote. I love getting to see glimpses of God working through me.

13. I get to be weird.
Writers look at the world a little differently. We can embrace that because
people expect it. No need to hide behind a mask of normalcy.

14. All those hours of
daydreaming are legitimate work time.
Even if we write nonfiction, we still
have to come up with new and different ways to present the information. That
means time spent thinking and dreaming is a workday requirement.

15. We are courageous
enough to follow our dreams.
We talk a lot about the fears that come with
being a writer. It’s important to never forget the courage it takes to
following our dreams. That’s something we should celebrate!
These are my 15 favorite things about being a writer. What’s
your favorite thing? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section
below.

TWEETABLES
The Best Things About Being a Writer by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

My 15 favorite things about being a writer~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

It’s easy to get focused on just the negatives. Today I want us to celebrate!~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Getting to the P.O.I.N.T. of Being a Writer

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Many of us came to the world of writing in a roundabout way. A lot of us don’t have degrees that qualify us. Because of that, we often struggle with insecurity.

We strive for validation through publication.

But no matter how many awards we win, things we publish, followers we have, the only validation that lasts is confidence.

And confidence is a decision, not a designation.
Our confidence may come from knowing who we are, knowing what we were called to do or even where we are on the journey. But it always takes a great dollop of faith to make it stick.

And some days it sticks better than others.

So here is my acronym for getting to the point of confidence, which is foundational to being a serious writer.

The P. O. I. N. T. of Being a Writer

P is for persistence, permission, and patience. Being a writer is a journey, not a destination, so it takes persistence to stay the course. Beyond that, it’s not a path that ends in perfection. To be confident in ourselves means we have to give ourselves permission to to try things and fail. Failure is an option and frequently holds the key to learning the best secrets. Finally, we must have patience. Nothing about being a serious writer comes overnight.

O is for optimism, organic, and obstacles. The writing journey isn’t easy, and that’s especially true if we’re only looking for the worst in ourselves and everything around us. We have to develop a glass-half-full-mentality to survive. Organic is the best kind of growth for a writer. We all progress at our own speed. Comparison is the quickest way to discouragement. Finally obstacles—there are always bumps in the writing road, no matter how far along we are. Obstacles are challenges to be met, hardships to be conquered, and barriers to get around. They are NOT excuses to stop.
I is for insecurity, intuition, and inconceivable. Insecurity isn’t something that disappears on its own. It’s one of those obstacles that must be conquered—sometimes on a daily or even hourly basis. Accept the fact that almost one hundred percent of those writing feel insecure. Intuition is often something we must learn to trust. We should take critique well, but we must become secure in our own abilities. Finally inconceivable is the emotion that happens when we take a minute to realize we’re living out our dream. It isn’t easy, but it’s a courageous thing to do and we should lean into that and celebrate on a daily basis.

N is for noise, never, and nevertheless. Noise is the chaos of life threatening to drown out the words clamoring to escape our souls. We must fight against the siren call of busyness and be about the work of writing. Never is the time when we quit. We never give up the pen. The only way to fail as a writer is to quit, so never is the driving beat deep within our souls. Nevertheless is how we keep moving forward. Certain things happen, but nevertheless we keep writing.

T is for toiling, testing, and THE call. Toiling is what we do. It’s more than just work, it’s the driving force that keeps us writing through the night and through the chaos of life. Testing is what happens again and again as we prove to ourselves we can persevere. Finally THE call is why I do what I do. I felt God whisper that I was a writer. I feel His joy as exercise the gift He’s given me. And one day I pray to receive the ultimate affirmation when I stand before Him. “Well done good and faithful servant.”

These are the points that make up the lines that create the words that we share with the world. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this writing life.

TWEETABLES
Getting to the P.O.I.N.T. of Being a Writer by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

My acronym for getting to the point of confidence~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

This is foundational to being a serious writer.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)




Edie Melson
—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.

Streamline Your Social Media Life With These 9 Tips

By Edie Melson @EdieMelson

Social media can be a time suck if we’re not careful. 
We can
spend hours and hours without seeing results that justify the effort—unless we
pay attention. It’s time to work smarter, not harder. 
Today, I think I can give
you some ideas of how to multiply the benefits without cutting in to valuable
writing—and family—time.

9 Time-Saving Tips for Social Media
1. Use a scheduling
program.
If you’ve spent any time at all reading this blog or following me
on social media, you’ve heard me say this. It doesn’t matter which program you
use. My personal favorite is Hootsuite, but Buffer is just as good. By using a
scheduling program, you can multiply your presence on social media without
being tied to it all day and all night.
2. Set a timer.
After thirty minutes on social media, your return on investment goes way down.
It’s easy to get lost on a network, scrolling through what others are posting,
but that’s not working smarter. Do what you need to do, have a few
conversations, then get off the Internet. Your writing progress with go up and
so will your social media presence.
3. Pick three.
Pick three social media networks, that is. None of us can have a
consistent—meaningful—presence on more than that. If you follow my advice and
use Twitter and Facebook, you’ll reach almost one hundred percent of your
audience. After that, pick another one you enjoy or want to try out. Don’t try
to follow all the newest trends, no one can keep up with them all. Relax, do
two or three well, and don’t stress about the rest.
4. Don’t play fair.
I used to think that I needed to spend the same amount of time on all three of
the networks I used. But the truth is, that wasn’t working smart. Each of us
has a social media sweet spot. For me, that’s twitter. So when I spend thirty
minutes a day on social media, that’s the network I spend the most time on. I
just get more bang for the buck there. I still do Facebook and Google+, but buy
spending my time where I’m most effective, I have a larger reach.
5. Promote others ahead of yourself. Don’t fall into the
trap of thinking you have so little time, it has to be about you. Stick with
Edie’s 5 to 1 rule, (For every 5 social media updates, you’re only allowed to
then post 1 promoting yourself) no matter how rushed you are. Putting others
ahead of yourself—unless it’s release day for a new book—will always get you
farther faster when it comes to social media.
6. Vary your updates.
By not being predictable, people will be more interested in what you have to
say. I share four types of updates to keep my social media feed fresh:
  • An inspiring quote or Bible verse.
  • Something funny.
  • An open-ended question.
  • A link to something I find valuable.
7. Remember to be
authentic.
It’s easy to get caught up in 
only sharing the best of life with those you hang out with online, but
none of us has a storybook life. Don’t be depressing, but give enough of
yourself so that if someone finally got to hang out with you in person, after
getting to know you online, you wouldn’t seem like a different person.
8. Be safe.
Authentic is good, but so is being safe. Remember to not advertise the fact
that you’re away from home, or check in at places. Always use a different
password for EVERY single thing that requires a password. Don’t store those passwords
on your phone or computer, unless you use a special program like KeePass and
1Password. And NEVER enter credit card information or a password on public
wifi.
9. Engage with those
who engage with you.
If you post an update, especially a question, be sure
to stop back by and comment on those who’ve taken the time to answer. It’s the
very height of rudeness and self-centeredness to ask a question to generate a
conversation and then ignore those who participate. Don’t forget to answer
comments on your blog posts either. And if someone mentions you, follows you,
or otherwise promotes you, try to thank them. Sometimes there may be too many
to answer everyone individually. In that case, send out a blanket thank you,
like “Thank you to everyone who has followed me today.” Or  “Thank you to everyone who has shared my blog
post.” And always follow people back—as long as they’re not creepy or spammers.
These are the ways that I streamline my social media time.
These may seem like small things, but together they really save me a lot of
time. I’d love to know what tips you have for saving time with social media. Be
sure to leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

TWEETABLES

Streamline Your Social Media Life With These 9 Tips by Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

It’s time to work smarter, not harder.~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

How to multiply the benefits without cutting in to valuable writing time~ Edie Melson (Click to Tweet)

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including her most recent, fiction, Alone, and nonfiction, While My Child is Away. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and a member of the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She’s the the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com.