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Jacqueline Vick on Inside the Writer’s Mind

Jacqueline Vick is the author of the Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery series and the Harlow Brothers mystery series. You can find out more about her on her website, www.jacquelinevick.com, or by clicking here. See her last post here, and buy her books here.

Writers. Readers. Moms and Dads. Singletons. We’re all in the same boat when it comes to sorting priorities, meeting the needs of loved ones and bosses (even if that boss is a toddler or a terrier), and finding time to regenerate bodies and brain cells. Fiction authors have additional hurdles.

My daily duties include writing, naturally. Writers write. They also include managing Ads with a capital A, business operations, rewrites, editing, promoting other writers (because successful writers don’t live in a bubble), putting out fires, wondering why I ever thought I could do this, and having the occasional breakdown. That’s a lot to fit in a day and doesn’t touch on cleaning the house, cooking dinner, balancing the checkbook, and the dozen or so things people do every day if they don’t want their home to resemble a condemned building.

I found it easier to manage time when I worked in an office. Duties had clear outlines. Coworkers and customers made their expectations clear. And they included deadlines.

When I stepped into the Indie Author world, all those lovely, concrete elements dissipated into mist. The clients on the phone, verbalizing their wants and needs, morphed into faceless wraiths summed up in statistics and surveys, reachable only through Amazon algorithms and Goodreads Giveaways.

Priorities, well, everything feels like a priority when you’re the one handling it all. And time off? It’s difficult to turn off creativity, especially when your livelihood depends on it. Writers are always writing, even if it’s only in their heads.

So, how can writers keep hysteria to a minimum?

  1. Learn to say no. There are so many worthy groups, classes, and events. Pick two. Say no to the rest. That no can always become a yes in the future, so don’t stress out over missed opportunities.
  2. Imagine your target reader. Write their bio. Clip a photo and post it near your computer. Most people don’t have the time or inclination to respond to social media or emails in a meaningful way. So, write your novels and your newsletters for that imaginary person who represents those readers you’re trying to please. They’re out there, and they will recognize themselves in your words. S/he’s writing for me!
  3. Remember why you started writing. You had stories to tell. You had something to say. You liked it. Keep that joy alive and people will respond.
  4. Walk away from your computer. Make some cookies. Go for a walk. Do a jigsaw puzzle. Read a book. Recharge.
  5. Place less importance on what you’re doing. It sounds counterintuitive but trust me on this. You will have trouble with deadlines. The contractors you use will fail you. You will miss a typo, even after several independent proofs and your own review. Nothing is the end of the world. Have a good rant, fix it if possible, and move on.
  6. Repeat step 4.

And laugh. A lot.  

This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Jackie, I resonate with your post, especially Tip #4. I do find that stepping away often helps me recharge the writing batteries and discover fodder for more writing ideas. For me, this mainly means going for a walk or going out to lunch with a dear, neglected friend. As to Tip #2, my granddaughter and grandson are my target audience. Their photos cover my computer’s desktop. If they like my books, then I’m doing something right.

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline

      How fabulous to have real audience examples to draw on. Recharging is something that is so easy to neglect, isn’t it?

  2. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    “Walk away from your computer.” Such good advice. We can’t write unless we experience life, which varies for every individual obviously. It’s amazing how we so easily feel guilty if we’re not constantly writing or working on marketing what we write. But we can’t find JOY if we’re mired in the muck of it all. I’m all about JOY in writing and the writing life, so your post resonated with me in a big way. Thanks!

    1. Avatar
      Jacqueline

      Joy is always good, and you can find it in your books. 🙂

  3. Avatar
    saralynrichard

    Laughing is mandatory. None of it is all that serious that we can’t laugh at ourselves, at our typos, at our misguided attempts at seriousness. Thanks for this reminder, Jackie.

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      Thanks!

  4. Avatar

    Such great advice, Jackie! Every year, I commit to finding balance in my writing life, and every year the months get too hectic as launch day approaches. “Walk away from the computer” is going to be my new mantra. Right after I tell myself to learn to say no. LOL Thank you for this succinct post.

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      They are both so important. It’s too easy to get overwhelmed.

  5. tracey64p
    tracey64p

    Jackie, This is a wonderful checklist. I resonate with number 4 and this time of year, getting outside is the only thing that recharges my batteries. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      We just went for a hike in the woods. Getting out into nature is so rejuvenating!

  6. Laurie Buchanan
    Laurie Buchanan

    Jackie — Great advice. I especially resonate with #4. WALK AWAY (and no one will get hurt)!

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      That’s funny! If you don’t walk away and eventually explode…you’re doing it for the safety of all.

  7. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    Great tips, Jackie! Thank you! For me this month it’s #5. My 2nd manuscript is due to the publisher in one month and panicking will not help me write those last 1000 words (I’m so close!) or make it easier to go over my editors’ notes.

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      If people didn’t miss deadlines, we wouldn’t hear so many stories about it. And they all survived to tell that story. 🙂

  8. Avatar
    Laurie’s story

    Learn to say no— I like that one because every potential event comes off like a missed opportunity in our minds. Thanks for the insight!

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      Doesn’t it? And then you become focused on what you’re not doing rather than all you are accomplishing. I heard a Deacon refer to the demon of Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. Appropriate!

  9. nickchiarkas
    nickchiarkas

    Excellent advice – nothing is the end of the world, take a walk, a deep breath…now and then my wife will interrupt my writing/thinking/lost in thought, with a, “Hey, Hemingway, how about taking the dog for a walk?” I, of course, do, and it always helps in some way.

    1. Avatar
      Jackie Vick

      It is always good to have someone around to keep us grounded. Both the spouse and the dog. 🙂

  10. Joy Ann Ribar
    Joy Ann Ribar

    Excellent advice, Jackie. I apologize for the late response but last week I said yes to too many other things. Thanks for the timely reminders.

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