by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson
Okay, take a deep breath. We have survived the Christmas crazies and the New Year's excesses; since it's after Twelfth Night, all the Christmas decorations should be packed away for next December and probably most of us have already broken the ambitious New Year's Resolutions we have made.
It's time for normal (whatever that is!) life to begin again. Some of us have already returned to our jobs. 2019 is a blank slate, ready for us to fill in for good or for ill.
The prospect is terrifying. There is only so much time and yet so many things that cry to be done. We have families who must be attended to and enjoyed. We have jobs that need to be done, whether day jobs in the business world or the job of running a home or whatever. We have civic duties. We have.... You get the idea; everyone's life is different in details, but the same in so many ways.
So how do we do it all? The answer to that is as individual as we are. Speaking only of the writing part of our lives, we must write. And edit. And re-write, sometimes ad nauseam. Add to that research, and the necessity of giving some thought to our next project, and that bête noir of every writer I know, publicity. All the above apply - in various proportions - whether we are traditionally, self or hybrid published, whether we are a full time or a part time writer.
I read on one of the writers' chat loops that several writers spend up to 50% of their writing time on publicity. Somehow that seems so wrong. We should be writers, not publicity hacks. I know that If I wanted to spend that much time dealing with publicity and such I would have stayed in advertising - and be making a lot more money!
I know there are loads of publicity services available, all with different pricing structures. Most - dare I say all? - are out of my price range. I have a stubborn refusal to spend more on publicity than I am making. It is illogical, to quote Mr. Spock.
It's late for making Christmas wishes, but if I were allowed one it would be that some enterprising person would start a publicity service that even those of us who don't have a lot of money - read 'very little' - could afford. Think of what we could do with all that creative time! And even if the prices were kept quite low, think of how much money that publicity person could make. It would be a win-win situation.
As for the writing itself, I have long said that writers work pretty much 24/7. Even if we go days without touching a keyboard, somewhere in our brains there is a part that whirrs and thumps and wrestles with storylines - even if we are sometimes totally unaware of it. Ideas and wording and plots don't come from thin air; they are lured into the open air by hard work, creativity and skill. There is no magic shortcut, darn it.
Neither is there a magic formula. Some writers write a set number of words or hours every day in rigid discipline. Others write only when their 'muse' dictates. Others write in unbelievable multi-day explosions of creativity, putting aside every other consideration. There is no absolutely 'correct' way. Neither is there a completely consistent way, no matter what style of writing one chooses. There is family, there is illness, there are unexpected emergencies... all commonly called 'life,' and writers must work around them. And somehow we all manage.
It's called life, and life does go on.