Monday, February 25, 2013

Are you treating your writing like a business . . . or a hobby?

Next month is Speedbo here in Seekerville, so it’s not too early to start preparing. And one way to prepare is to examine your attitudes about the writing business. Because for the serious writer, that’s what it is--a business. As with any job, if you don’t put in the time, you don’t reap the rewards.

So even though you may never earn mega-bucks as a writer or even come anywhere close to being self-supporting, it stands to reason that if you think and act like a professional, you greatly increase your chances of success.

Okay, so many of us go to work in our jammies--and that’s definitely a perk in this business! But we still try to exhibit professionalism in our written communication, presentation materials, telephone manners, and responsiveness to editorial requests, right?

Even more important is our day-to-day approach to writing, and that says a lot about where we fall on the continuum between “hobbyist” and “professional.” 

The following self-test is an updated version of the quiz that appeared in my April 2010 post. If you took the test back then, how are you doing three years later?

1. Do you set “office hours,” certain days of the week and/or specific times of the day that you devote to writing? (score 5 points for yes, 3 points if your writing time is random but you set a daily or weekly word count quota, 0 points for no set writing time or goals)

2. Do you log the number of writing hours you put in as well as how you spend your writing time (writing, revision, marketing, etc.)? (5 points for all of the above; 3 points for just logging your hours or word count; 0 points for none of the above)

3. Do you have a writing office or study, or at least one corner of a room designated as your workspace? (5 points for a separate writing office; 3 points for a corner of a room; 1 point if your only available writing spot is the local Starbucks or library; 0 points if you don’t have a clue where you’ll be writing next)

4. Are your computer, reference books, and supplies readily accessible? (5 points if everything is easily reachable in your writing workspace; 3 points if you have a designated shelf or crate somewhere nearby; 0 points if you have to go searching)

5. Do you have a system for tracking manuscript submissions and results, including those to editors, agents, and contests? (5 points if you use a spreadsheet or other electronic system; 3 points if you keep a handwritten log; 1 point for notes stuffed into file folders; 0 points if you don’t remember what you sent where)

6. Do you belong to one or more professional writers organizations, such as ACFW or RWA? (3 points for every national writers organization you belong to; 2 points for every local chapter or writers group; 0 points for none)

7. Do you subscribe to writers publications and study them for writing instruction, marketing news, etc.? (3 points for every major publication you subscribe to and actually READ; 1 point for every writers group newsletter you read; 0 points for none)

8. Do you have a critique partner and/or do you regularly submit your work to contests for feedback? (5 points if you have a regular critique partner or have entered at least 3 manuscript contests in the past year; 3 points for at least 1 manuscript critique or contest submission in the past year; 0 points if you don’t generally seek out critique feedback of any kind)

9. Do you attend writers group meetings and conferences regularly? Take classes or read instructional books to improve your craft? (5 points for every major conference you attend annually; 3 points for regular writers group attendance; 1 point for every online or local class you have taken or craft book you have read in the past year)

10. Do you keep track of your writing income and expenses? (5 points for yes; 0 points for no) Expenses (keep all receipts and consult your tax professional) may include:
  • Postage
  • Writers group membership dues
  • Mileage to and from writing-related events
  • Lunch with your critique partner
  • Writers magazine subscriptions
  • Office supplies and equipment
  • Reference books
  • Education expense

Well, how did you do?
  • 55 points or higher--you’re a regular writing CEO!
  • 41-54 points--Vice President
  • 31-40 points--Middle Management
  • 21-30 points--Administrative Assistant
  • 11-20 points--Prospective Employee
  • 10 points or less--Hobbyist
If you scored 35 points or less, what are two things you could change right now to improve?
In searching through the Seekerville archives for other helpful posts on this subject, I came across this one by our beloved Ruthy. Definitely worth a second look, because if Ruthy can’t motivate you, no one can!

Here’s another kick-in-the-pants post by Glynna. Glynna works full-time at a demanding “day job” and fits in writing in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends. She knows how to treat her writing like a business.

And, for some no-nonsense advice about using the time we have to its best advantage, don’t miss this post by Tina.


Myra Johnson is a Texan through and through, but (except for the scarcity of real Texas barbecue) she has no regrets about her move two years ago to the scenic Carolinas. She and her husband of over 40 years proudly claim two beautiful daughters and two fine sons-in-law with huge hearts for ministry. Six precious grandchildren take up another big chunk of Myra’s heart. The Johnsons also enjoy bird-watching from the back porch and pampering their very spoiled over-sized lapdogs. Myra's latest release is A Horseman's Hope (Heartsong Presents, January 2013).


Christina Rich said...

Awesome post! I'm surprised my numbers are as high as they are. I lack in the organizational area. Hey, I did buy folders though. That's a step.

What sorts of publications do you suggest reading. I get the RWA and ACFW's Journal. I admit that I don't always read them though. Oh, and I read Seekerville all the time whether I comment or not, that should be worth some points.

Narelle Atkins said...

Myra, thanks for your helpful post :) I sneak into CEO status because of all my writing organisation memberships (2 national memberships in US and 2 in Aust) and my conference attendance. I have allocated writing time but I'm not so good at recording hours (word count is much easier) although my accountant has told me I need to count hours. I like writing in different places. Today I wrote 1000 handwritten words at the pool (school outdoor swimming carnival) between watching my daughter in her races. I'm not quite sure how to calculate the number of writing hours, lol,

Jackie said...

Thanks for a great post. I'm middle management.

Organization skills are not my strongest suit, but I really try when it comes to writing.

Thanks for the good ideas.

Jackie L.

Cara Lynn James said...

Hi, Myra! At first I thought I'd flunk your quiz in a big way. But I didn't. Still, I need lots of improvement and now I know exactly what areas I should concentrate on.

Christina, sometimes I read Writers Digest. I also read the Inspirational section of Romantic Times magazine. It rates the books coming out the following month and gives short blurbs about them. The covers can be problematic though!

Carol Moncado said...

42!! And that's without reading any publications ;).

If only we got points for EVERY local meeting instead of just in general :D.

Regardless, I'll take VP any day.

I agree with Christina - Seekerville should be worth bonus points.

Marianne Barkman said...

Way to Go! and i'll pop in to encourage you all. i am so excited to see what comes out of SpeedBo. and today Mom and i are off to Arizona for about 5 - 7 weeks. It's been a long journey, but worth each minute as we saw our Gracious God at work. Praying for you, my friends.

Tina Radcliffe said...

The reality is that if you don't respect your writing business, if you don't treat it like it is a business and not a hobby, why should anyone else??

Tina Radcliffe said...

Guilty of not recording writing hours. MUST do this, not only for tax accountability but the fact is now that I am home I am sitting at the computer 16-18 hours a day. What am I accomplishing...hmmmm???

Tina Radcliffe said...

Oh, I like that. Bonus points for Seekerville. Yes. Indeed.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Marianne, have fun in the land of Teeeeena, Sandra and Glynna!!!!


Okay, I love this Myra-post, and this is a great way of 'measuring' your progress and your dedication.

I don't have to measure, ever, because I cannot stop. I just keep going. But I've stopped going to any meetings on anything because my time is better spent writing. I love helping other writers, but I can do that better online with youse (YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!!) I have never found meetings (on most anything) to be productive, so at church and in writing, call me, give me a job, and I'll do well, but I don't do meetings.

I'd much rather write.

Time's too short to waste a minute of it.

I belong to RWA, FH&L and ACFW and I'm not active other than contest judging. (Which I love)

I'd rather be writing.

I don't read magazines or writer's books.

I'd rather write.

I don't watch TV other than 4 shows on DVR so I can fast forward through commercials and not lose twenty minutes of...


:) Writing time.

I think the more time you have, the easier it is to waste. I told Mary and Tina the other day that I'm afraid to stop working because my habits are ingrained. But laziness can become ingrained too, and that's a scary prospect.

Talk about a total New Yorker.(small sigh because we Yanks are a driven sort)

I loved seeing Glynna's post there, her candid take on full-time work and book production. And Tina is always a spot-on cheerleader of GET 'ER DONE attitude, frankly speaking to the put your butt in a chair and write focus we all need to be successful.

Myra, this is awesome. I probably wouldn't score well, but I get the point and love it.

Unfortunately at no point did you make fun of CONNEALY, so I have to come up with something on my own.


And, (of course!) I will.

Lauging in upstate where 35 feels WARM.

Cara Lynn James said...

Marianne, have a wonderful time in Arizona. I'd love to take a vacation. Get a lot of writing done.

Narelle, why does your accountant want you to count your hours of writing? It's never occurred to me to do that so I never have. If it's important maybe I should.

Myra Johnson said...

Good morning, Seekerville! Wow, I don't know about you early risers. Or maybe you just stay up really, really late??? Sorry, I'm not good in either department.:-)

CHRISTINA, the RWA and ACFW publications are the main ones I try to keep up with. I used to subscribe to Writers Digest and The Writer but found over time that they were too general for what I most needed.

Instead, maybe try to follow a few industry blogs, like those by agents and editors, Publishers Weekly, etc.

Myra Johnson said...

NARELLE, I have been keeping an Excel spreadsheet of my writing hours for several years now. The hours aren't exact but they come close. I was informed this is helpful at tax time for showing your intent to make money at writing as opposed to writing as a hobby. Seems like the break point was around 500 hours in a year? Don't quote me on this!!!

Myra Johnson said...

JACKIE, middle management is an excellent place to find yourself at this stage! So maybe you have a few ideas now to work your way up the "corporate ladder"?

Myra Johnson said...

CARA, good advice about keeping up with RT. We need to stay abreast of what's happening in our main writing genre. And not just in the CBA but what's going on in the wider world as well. We may not always like what we find, but it can clue us in on general trends and interests.

Julie Lessman said...

Hey, Myra, I'm a VP, although I sure didn't expect to be ... I thought I'd be a janitor!! :)

LOVE this!!! However, the two that I felt stilted on are:

1.) ... 3 points if your writing time is random but you set a daily or weekly word count quota

I try to write from about 11:00 AM on throughout the day and night, but it can be random at times (i.e. being sick for 2 weeks recently where I was too miserable to write much or unusual problems cropping up), but because I do not set a daily or weekly word count quota, I gave myself a zero, so I think "random" writing of at least 4 to 5 hours a day (be it day or night) should be counted even without a goal.

Then #6 says " 2 points for every local chapter or writers group."

I wasn't sure about this. I consider The Seekers a writers group, so I counted that, but is it??? Also, I am a member of about six online writers' FB pages, so do THOSE count??

Either way, your blog today was a true kick in the butt, showing me I need to be more focused on this.


Myra Johnson said...

CAROL is a VP!!!! Way to go, girlfriend! You are on your way!

MARIANNE, have a wonderful trip with your mom! Maybe you'll garner a bunch of story ideas on your trip. If you can't be writing, at least keep a notebook handy for those jolts of inspiration that come to you along the way.

Connie Queen said...


I only scored a 29, but I won't let that deter me. Most of my low scores are on purpose.

I read a book about a year ago called Write is a Verb that hit me upside the head. It talked about going to meetings, conferences, and meeting w/other writers, contests,etc but not getting the writing done. That was me. I entered a lot of contests 18 months-4 years ago. Even got several requests. I went regularly to local RWA meetings. Met w/critique partners. I loved talking about writing but never wrote. Or at least never finished my books.

The book suggested quit doing all the "writing" things and start writing. That's what I've been trying to do and it's hard. It's been over a year since I entered a contest, and I LOVE contests. I still meet w/critique partners but not as often, too much visiting and eating w/out actual critiques.

It's like finaling in a contest and getting a request from an editor/agent validated my writing, but when the day was done, I had nothing.

I'm not saying I couldn't benefit from learning more craft, but for right now, I'm working on completing 2 books. One I'm revising and the other I will finish rd during Speedbo.


Connie Queen said...

Ruth said--I think the more time you have, the easier it is to waste.


Myra Johnson said...

TINA, truer words were never spoken. It's all about the attitude. And sometimes it takes a little 'tude to say NO to things that distract us from the business of writing.

And it is nice to watch those writing hours accumulate over a year. I also have a column on my log for tracking mileage. If I shop for writing supplies, I count it. If I drive to a speaking engagement, it goes on the list. As do conference and writers group meetings.

Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY, just once . . . maybe for one day . . . do you think you could NOT make fun of Mary??? I mean, doesn't she deserve a break???

And talk about work ethic! YOU are the queen of work ethic!!!

As for meetings, I am not fond of them either. That's why I don't do church committees and the like. Just give me a job to do and let me do it! However, I do love my local ACFW chapter. Every few weeks it's fun to reconnect in person with other writers, because no one else on earth understands exactly what this crazy business is all about.

Now, if we could just arrange face time with all the Seekers more often than once every year or two, that would be IDEAL!!!!

Cara Lynn James said...

Ruthy, I love your work ethic! Is it for sale? I definitely need to be more productive. Like you. I love to surf the net so I know a lot of useless trivia. I have too much time. Writing is hard work, but nobody's going to write my book except me.

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE, I think you can count those random hours because you are doing SOMETHING writing-related, right? You can count the hours you spend on marketing, PR, Seekerville, AND the actual writing.

But of course the WRITING is what's most important. I'm usually in my office starting around 9:30 or 10:00 a.m., but the real writing part of my day doesn't start until after lunch. Then it can go as late as 6:00 or 6:30--or whenever hubby decides he wants dinner. (Thank goodness he's doing most of the cooking these days!)

Myra Johnson said...

CONNIE, we all eventually get to the point where we've absorbed all the writing craft we can handle for the time being, and the best way to continue improving is to WRITE. Glad you learned that important truth!


Jan Drexler said...

Myra, thank you! I've been trying to define what it is I need to ramp up to make my writing life more professional, and your list will certainly help.

One thing I was able to do while homeschooling and that I NEED to transfer over to writing is to dedicate time. Scheduled time, sacred time, prioritized time. If I let (unimportant) things interrupt that time, then writing isn't really a priority, is it?

By the way, I'm not sharing my score....

Susan Anne Mason said...

Thanks for the wake-up call, Myra!

Right away I typed up a page on the submissions & contests I've done in the last 6 months. Whew! I feel better now.

Great way to focus on what you might be missing.

On another note ...

Any spare prayers for my son still appreciated. We've now got a teacher willing to come to the house to teach him 2 subjects twice a week. We start tomorrow. Trying to take advantage of the time in the day that he is migraine-free and can function. Still working with a naturopath to figure out what is causing these things EVERY day. Poor kid is grumpy cause she's got him on a really restrictive diet. Mom is grumpy too 'cause she has to cook so often (grr - I hate cooking!) but for him I do it as cheerfully as possible. I think the poor guy has lost 10 pounds and he can't afford to lose an ounce. I know the answer is out there, we just have to figure it out!

But I'm still writing/editing during all this. I sent in a revised manuscript to an editor last week (worked on revisions for abt 6 months). And sent in two contest submissions on the weekend.

Have a great day!


Susan Anne Mason said...

I think Mary deserves a break from ridicule. The poor woman is up to her neck in baby cows!! Twins and everything. Geesh. How does she do it?

Lyndee H said...

Hi Myra,
That was a fun test. I'm a vice president, and boy, the pay is lousy, ha ha...Good thing I love to write - that's the payoff right now.

Gina Welborn said...

So apparently I need to be more organized. :-/

Donna said...

I am starting a writing log today. That will help with accountability! Thanks, Myra!

Susan, so sorry to hear your son is still suffering with migraines. We'll keep him in our prayers.

Carol Moncado said...

Wait. If the ACFW and RWA magazines count, then I'm up to 48. And another point for having SOME of my craft etc books at hand [somewhere between 3 and 5 ;)]. So 49. Which still makes me a VP. Unless Seekerville counts. Then it's 52. And wait! FHL! Forgot about it. That's 54.


Myra Johnson said...

JAN, it always comes down to time, doesn't it? I know there are many writers who simply don't have large blocks of time they can devote to writing, and I admire them for being able to sneak in a few minutes here and there and keep plugging away. My brain flits around too much, though, so if I don't have at least an hour or two, completely uninterrupted, I don't get much writing accomplished.

Myra Johnson said...

SUE, I'm so very sorry about your son! I can't imagine having migraines every single day of my life--yikes!!! Praying they figure out the problem soon and can fix it!

Congratulations on keeping up with your writing on top of everything else. I hope you get a GREAT response from the editor on that revised ms.! Good luck with the contests, too!

Myra Johnson said...

LYNDEE, no kidding about the pay! We don't do this for the money, that's for sure!

GINA, organization is relative. Glad you can't see my desk right now. Actually, I can't really see it either. At least not the surface.

DONNA, yay for starting a writing log! You go, girl!

Myra Johnson said...

CAROL, we ALWAYS count Seekerville!!!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Hey, Myra! Lot's to think about here. I'm going to discuss this with my writer's group and see what they think.

I'm not too keen on things that require funds to determine how serious a person is about something. Some people just truly don't have the money. If it's a matter of feeding the kids or submitting to a writer's contest or even renewing your ACFW membership, I will choose feed the kids.

In fact, I did have to choose feeding the kids this year over renewing my ACFW membership.

But, I do have a book under contract, I'm writing book two, I founded and coordinate my local writer's network (we're approaching our 3rd anniversary), I network with writer's online, I have a Friday with Friends I invite writer friends (pubbed and unpubbed) to come talk about what their doing... I'm pretty serious about writing even if I did only score 35. :)

Ways for me to improve would be to keep better records. I'm terrible about record keeping, and I need to be more disciplined about weekly goals or at least monthly goals. With so much chronic illness in our family, weekly goals are rather challenging at times.

I had to laugh on the part where you said to keep track of not just my time but what I'm doing with my writing time. I'm so all or nothing, I have to be careful or else I would end up spending all my writing time on tracking rather than writing. o.O

Great topic for discussion among writers. You gals always give me good stuff to think about!:D

Myra Johnson said...

LINNETTE, you're right--we have to be wise about the money thing. Even writers with multiple book contracts are not necessarily making big bucks, and we all have to prioritize and economize where we can. The cost of contests, subscriptions, memberships, and conferences can add up quickly.

Really, what Ruthy said earlier is right on target (don't let her know I said so, okay???). WRITING is the most valuable investment you can make in your writing career. READING outstanding books in your genre is probably the second most valuable activity, and you can do that for free at the public library.

Myra Johnson said...

P.S., LINNETTE, forgot to say congratulations on the book contract!

Digging for Pearls said...

Great post Myra. I fall into the VP category.

No writing today though as I soon leave for the hospital to the outpatient surgery center to get an injection in my back. I'm praying it will lesson the pain in my back and sciatic nerve.

Jodie Wolfe

Myra Johnson said...

Ouch, JODIE! Praying with you for quick pain relief!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Thanks, Myra! I'm pretty excited! :D The release date (tba) can't get here fast enough. :D

Linnette R Mullin said...

And, oops! That's 2nd anniversary on our writer's group. But we're still cooking! God continues to bring new writers and I'm so excited about that! :D

Carol Moncado said...

Do we get bonus points for helping found our local group? We'll be a chapter next month. Lord willing and the creek don't rise, of course.

What about bonus points for having more than one crit group? I have an online one and an in person one. And Christina ;).

Yeah. I want that next level!! :D

Myra Johnson said...

LINNETTE, glad to hear your writers group is going strong!

CAROL, take it easy, girl! The points are what they are--take 'em or leave 'em!

Piper Huguley said...

Hello Seekerville,

Thanks for a great post Myra! I made it to the Veep status! I am pleased with that. There's always room for improvement. For me, I need to work on questions 1 & 2. Like others, I need to do a better job of keeping track of hours and logging contests, etc.

I can certainly relate with the concerns that some have with financial concerns. It is good that the Internet, for example, can help to find creative ways around that. I've also taken up some extra duties at work to fund contests, craft classes and membership fees, etc. Good luck and God bless to others who are working through such difficulties. It's tough.


Myra Johnson said...

PIPER, sounds like you are doing everything right and making real progress! It's true, there is so much help and information available on the Internet--another reason I have let some of my professional subscriptions lapse. Glad you are finding creative ways to fund your writing expenses!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Myra, I could take a day off from my pestering....

But folks would walk away sad. I believe it's like my civic DUTY now to poke fun at Mary.

Think of the number of times she's KILLED ME in books.

Or tried.

It's kind of mind-boggling and yes, I do sleep "armed" when she and I are together.

Because you NEVER KNOW.....

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Myra, you said the most wonderful thing up there!!!! (Ruthy points UP because her Blogger is posting comments from the bottom, not the side today. Blogger is a fickle creature)...

The library. I always read/studied for free at the local library, borrowing famous author's books repeatedly, and when Matt Damon used that line in "Good Will Hunting" about getting an education for a "buck-fifty in late charges at the local library" he was talkin' to me.

It doesn't take money, clubs, trips, or anything else to be a writer or learn to write.

It takes work. And if your heart just sings at the chance to write (like mine does!) it doesn't even seem like work.

It's more of an honor. Truly.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Great points Myra, If we aren't treating this like a career, no one else will either.

And Ruthy, behave yourself sweet thing.

Myra Johnson said...

Okay, RUTHY, so Mary has killed you off in her books? I would worry if I were you. Yes, indeedy. She might be trying to tell you something.

Although I'm not sure I'm any better off being written as decrepit and incontinent. Wait--did she kill ME off in that book??? A double whammy!


Myra Johnson said...

SANDRA, I'm not sure Ruthy knows how to behave herself. Especially where Mary is concerned.

Hey, I'm kinda missing Mary around here today. I wonder if she's snowed in.

Myra Johnson said...

RUTHY said: "And if your heart just sings at the chance to write (like mine does!) it doesn't even seem like work."

Oh, honey, I agree! When I'm deprived of writing for any length of time, I just sort of shrivel up inside. I get really crabby and restless and depressed.

Yeah, I know sometimes other things have to come first, like when the family visits. And my kids have been here for a full week now, so I haven't gotten any actual writing done on my wip. Played a lot of Wii Resort and watched Transformers and Men in Black 2with the grandsons, shopped and did "girl stuff" with my daughter, tried to keep three growing teenage boys from starving to death--yep, a busy week.

But tomorrow . . . oh, tomorrow!!!! I WILL BE WRITING AGAIN!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Has anyone else had trouble getting in today? I'm sorry to be so slow checking in.
HEY GOOD NEWS!!!!! I rated Vice-President status.
That whole LOGGING HOURS is a little foreign to me. That would involve like spread sheets and numbers and math 'n stuff, right?


Chill N said...

Ruthy, I must rise to Mary's defense (after all, I won her latest book). Your namesake is a terrific character in Swept Away ... love her, absolutely love her!

Of course, sometimes she gets called Rosie because the hero likes that name better than Ruthy ...

Nancy C

Mary Connealy said...

I didn't exactly kill you off, Myra. You died of completely natural causes at an extreme old age, good grief what more does a woman want???

And my hero and heroine bought your house because all your long years in the nursing home had put you in a bind. this is in The Bossy Bridegroom btw, reviewed today on Vince's Philosophy of Romance Blog
Philosophy of Romance

And just so you know, if you BLINK you will miss utterly Myra's role in this book. In fact only Myra in the whole world, seems to have noticed.

Mary Connealy said...

I made Ruthy into an amazing heroine. A woman of the west. The kind of woman who settled the west with her bare hands. Who could stand over her child with a Winchester and fight off cougars and outlaws.
A woman who can out shoot, out fight, out work and out love anyone west of the Mississippi and we don't even count the people EAST of the Mississippi, the wimps.

I ask you, does this treatment of Ruthy earn me ANYTHING???

clearly NOT!!!!!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Ruthy asked me to make her a cereal killer but they hadn't invented corn flakes yet.

Myra Johnson said...

There's MARY!!! Really? You've had trouble getting into Seekerville today? I'll have to talk to Ruthy about issuing you a new key. She may be trying to get back at you for killing her off so many times.

Natural causes, eh? I suppose that's better than being shot at close range. Or falling off a horse. Or being thrown off a cliff during a high-speed stagecoach chase.

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY, are you saying Ruthy gets to be young, beautiful, and adorable in Mary's new book?????


Chill N said...

Wow, Myra, I'm a vice president ... but that's thanks to so many Seekerville posts, chapter meetings, blogs, online classes, and writer friends' advice about the business aspect of writing.

Until recently, I belonged to a chapter's challenge group. We reported our hours/pages for editing, writing, research, etc. The problem for me was that I re-read a bit of what I wrote the day before to get myself back in the groove, and that led to editing. Plus I might have a random "oops, better double check the research" moment. (I know I could leave a comment in the manuscript, but sometimes a needed correction nags at my thoughts and hampers my writing.) Now I keep track of hours and make a note about what was included, but don't try to keep track of the individual items. It works for me :-)

Thanks for helping me figure out where i need to direct more attention business-wise.

Nancy C

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, so she's a crack shot, too? Brave and strong? And did I mention YOUNG?

Humph. I may need to go back on edits and change the name of my beautiful, spunky Irish nurse in my Abingdon WWI series. (Hint: I did NOT name her Ruthy.)

Myra Johnson said...

NANCY, I have to do that, too--go back and reread at least part of yesterday's writing to get myself back into the story. And I can't help editing a little in the process. I also get fanatical about finding the exact right fact or best word, which does slow me down. But we've got to get that info eventually, right? So we're saving time in the revision stage.

That's my logic and I'm stickin' to it.

Chill N said...

>>> Myra Johnson said...
NANCY, are you saying Ruthy gets to be young, beautiful, and adorable in Mary's new book?????<<

Well ... her nose is peeling from a sunburn. And she looks really washed up when the hero rescues her. And she has to wear hand-me-downs ...

Does that help?

Nancy C

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, yeah. I'm feeling better already. Thanks, Nancy!

Chill N said...

From now on when I re-read or edit or look up a research fact I will remind myself I am simply practicing Myra Logic :-)

Nancy C (who really needs to get back to writing)

Kav said...

Funny things are happening on the internet at my house -- it wouldn't let me get into the comment section until I switched to Chrome.

Loved this, Myra, even though I flunked. Some I couldn't help flunking though -- like writing groups. None in my neck of the woods. Well, there is one really scary one with very strange people. I only went once. Sat next to a coven of witches (really) and a lady who wrote erotica. So out of my element I skedaddled before the meeting was half way through. :-0

Never thought about logging hours spent writing. That would really keep you honest with your daily goals, wouldn't it? I'll have to try that.

So let's just say that if I hadn't spent some serious time setting up my office and organizing my writing stuff (with colour coded binders for my hero and heroine) then I'd be cleaning toilets at the corporate office. As it is, I think I might be the elevator operator for all you VP types. :-) Going up?

Myra Johnson said...

KAV! I can only imagine what that writers group experience was like! Glad you were able to slip out unscathed! Online writing groups count, too. Do you belong to ACFW or RWA? We will also let you count Seekerville!

Debby Giusti said...

I had trouble getting to the comments section today on Google. Went to Google Chrome and everything appeared.

What's up with that? Maybe the storms in the Midwest?

I mentioned our warm temp yesterday in GA, and it turned damp and cold today. Brrrr! I must really be in Upstate NY with Ruthy! Eating her chocolate chip cookies and drinking coffee with yummy creamers!

Myra, loved your quiz. I did better this time.

But I don't keep track of my writing hours. Should I?

Fact is, if I'm not doing something else, I'm writing...morning, noon and night.

Just emailed my next proposal to LIS! Woot! Hope my sweet and savvy editor likes the story.

Now catching up...

Jenny Blake said...

Fun post and fun comments. YOu know this can also apply to other jobs We had similar things told to us when I was doing Creative memories like making office hours etc.
which probably shows why I didn't do well.

Myra Johnson said...

DEBBY, I know what you mean--yesterday was gorgeous here! Today? Not so much. And honey, with your publishing track record, I don't think the IRS is going to come after you as a hobbyist.

Debby Giusti said...

Have a great trip, Marianne!

Carol, sounds like you're at CEO level, to me. :)

Myra Johnson said...

JENNY, it's true--much of these tips could apply any self-employment type of work.

You did Creative Memories? I took a CM class many years ago. I started the huge project of moving all my old photos to archival-quality albums, but I didn't get very far. There were just tooooooo many! Now all my photos are digital so they never even make into a "real" album.

Debby Giusti said...

Professional mags?

Years ago, I wanted to be a writer and didn't know where to one told me to start with writing. :)

I checked out a huge binder with seven years of back issues of THE WRITER. I read all of them cover to cover. Don't know if I'd do that again, but I did come away with a better understanding of all types of writing. At least, it was a start.

Like Cara, I get RT and enjoy reading the reviews in the inspy and suspense genres. I don't necessarily recommend it pre-publication. But it is nice to see the reviews they post when my books come out.

Debby Giusti said...

Just saw Kav had a similar problem with Google today. Thank goodness for Google Chrome. When I post an entire blog with photos I always use Chrome. For some reason, Google won't cooperate.

Waving to Kav. Sending prayers and love!

Debby Giusti said...

Mary wrote: cereal killer = corn flakes! Love it, Mar!

Mary Connealy said...

I had to come in through Chrome, too, Kav.

Nice job escaping the coven.

Myra Johnson said...

I once murdered a bowl of oatmeal. Just sayin'.

Pam Hillman said...

Do we get points for being tethered to the computer with an umbilical cord 24/7?

Just askin'

Myra Johnson said...

Um, trying to picture this, PAM. If you will help me get this image out of my mind, you may have all the points you want!

Pam Hillman said...

Myra, I'm going to guess that your 500 hours a year is correct because recently my tax preparer mentioned 500 hours a year on a non-related (non-writing) business he and I were talking about.

Pam Hillman said...

Linnette said: I'm so all or nothing, I have to be careful or else I would end up spending all my writing time on tracking rather than writing.

I can SO relate to this, Linnette!

Pam Hillman said...

Praying for you Jodie!

Pam Hillman said...

Carol, you get an extra point for baking chocolate chip cookies for writers AND lugging them all the way to conference!

Pam Hillman said...

I could never do Creative Memories albums. You have to choose like 3-5'ish pictures for each page.

I have millions of pictures, and I could never choose.

So I quit.

Pam Hillman said...

Well, the umbilical cord is like this...well, like...uh...think of a USB port on one end...

Oh, never mind.

I'll just settle for my measly 10 points...

Linnette R Mullin said...

Pam Hillman, so glad to know I'm not the only one! :D

Jenny Blake said...

I did CM for around 11 years but never made a profit. I have around $3000 in stock in the spare room! I do have quite a few albums done but still alot to do. haven't done much in the past few years.

Its the 26th In australia so Happy birthday to me!

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, yeah, definitely huge brownie points for bringing cookies, CAROL! You could maybe see if that works with your tax accountant. Let me know how it goes.

Myra Johnson said...

That was my problem, PAM. I NEVER get rid of photos! I hated cropping them, too. I mean, suppose someday I want to see what was in the upper left-hand section of background?

Myra Johnson said...

JENNY!!! It's your birthday? Have a wonderful, wonderful day!!! My grandson's birthday is the 25th (today here), so shortly we're going out for pizza to celebrate. It's kind of intimidating when your first grandchild is not only taller than you but also a legal adult. He's a really great kid, though!

Jenny Blake said...

Thanks Myra, yes today 26th. I am working this morning then going out to lunch.

Missy Tippens said...

Great post, Myra! I'm glad to see I'm a regular CEO even if I don't feel like one sometimes. :)

Cara Lynn James said...

Sue, I'm praying for your son that he'll be healed from his migraines. I know from experience it's hard to cook a restricted diet. It takes time to find recipes etc. My grandson who lives with us and his mom has lots of food allergies and it's changed our cooking. My favorite recipes went down the drain! But I've found new ones.

Walt Mussell said...

I'm being promoted to VP with Speedbo starting this week. Should be good to get a promotion. :-)

Ruth Logan Herne said...


Happy birthday to YOOOOOUUUUU!

Walt, you're always a VP around here, my friend!

Royalty, even.

Myra Johnson said...

WALT, I hear there's a 35% pay increase when you move up to VP. Let me know if that's true. ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

MISSY, we are the only kind of CEOs who can go to the office in our jammies!

Christina Rich said...

Carol, I thinking having me should be worth like fifty points, don't you? ;)

Myra, I do follow quite a few blogs like Books and Such, Steve Laube and MacGregor. I haven't figured out RT yet. Btw, is anyone going to RT this year? It's in my backyard. I'm at least going to the awards banquet for one of the most awesomest people ever *wink, wink* Haven't decided if I'll go any of the other days or not.

DebH said...

low numbers. i'm at the hobby stage working towards the business end. i knew that as i read through the post. i'm definitely in the beginning stages.

i loved the post and the links to the other seeker posts as well. very encouraging and full of wisdom to guide me along the writing path.

Carol Moncado said...

Christina -

You are definitely worth 50 points.

But that means I am too right ;)?

DebH said...

had trouble getting to comments at work. i attributed it to the blasted security settings for the building. guess it was just a bad day for blogger.

just finished going through all the comments. laughing enough that my toddler wandered over to see what i was reading.

Mary and Ruthy... thank you for the entertainment.

Christina Rich said...

Most definitely, Carol!

I'm already at the VP. Now that I know what it takes to be a CEO I'll be on my way.

DebH, sometimes the beginning stage is more fun. ;)

Myra Johnson said...

CHRISTINA, you're following some very informative blogs! Of course, we're kind of partial to Seekerville around here.

And where do these 50 points come from exactly???

Myra Johnson said...

DEB H, we all have to work our way up this professional ladder. Sometime it's baby steps, sometimes we get a much needed boost from an unexpected opportunity.

Yes, I hear Blogger has caused several people some problems today. Hope they're working out the bugs,

Debby Giusti said...

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

Sending cyber balloons and cake with candles and ice cream and...

Let's throw in Captain Jack too!

Have a delightful day!!!


Eat lots of cake!!!

Debby Giusti said...

Christina, if you go to RT, report back to Seekerville. Okay?

Debby Giusti said...

Happy Birthday to your grandson, Myra! You were such the child bride! :)

Christina Rich said...


10 for my humor and willingness to look up French words

10 for my Gangnam style dance moves

30 for just being moi! ;)

Of course Carol may decide the points belong elsewhere. *g*

Myra Johnson said...

LOL, Christina, I don't see anything about Gangnam-style dance moves in the list of necessary traits for a successful writer!!!

Good try, though!

Christina Rich said...


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Deb H., honey, we do what we can.

Of course I'm more entertaining than Mary ever thought of being.

That's just a given.

Hey, Christina, I'd give you a flat-out "50" any day. I think anyone that can write Biblical fiction is at least a "60" on the Ruth-meister scale!

Myra Johnson said...

Well, okay. I might concede a few points if you posted a YouTube video of those dance moves, Christina.

Debby Giusti said...

I'd like to see that YouTube, as well.

Plus you can spell Gangnam...that's worth 10 points! :)

Audra Harders said...

Okay, so IE was having hiccups today I guess. I read Myra's post early this morning and didn't find a comment box to leave my comment. I checked in throughout the day and still no box.

Thank you, Tina for recommending a different browser. Worked wonders : )

Anyway, Myra, great post. I'm so guilty of not keeping track of hours, miles or meals. Why can't they just take care of themselves?? I know, dream on.

I'm going to make a concentrated effort to ink in expenses and time. When I remember to do it.

What a vicious cycle.

Thanks for the prodding!

Jenny Blake said...

Oh I want to see the video also!

thanks for birthday wishes had yummy cake but right now feel sooooooooooooooo full.

Audra Harders said...

Okay, so IE was having hiccups today I guess. I read Myra's post early this morning and didn't find a comment box to leave my comment. I checked in throughout the day and still no box.

Thank you, Tina for recommending a different browser. Worked wonders : )

Anyway, Myra, great post. I'm so guilty of not keeping track of hours, miles or meals. Why can't they just take care of themselves?? I know, dream on.

I'm going to make a concentrated effort to ink in expenses and time. When I remember to do it.

What a vicious cycle.

Thanks for the prodding!

Janet Dean said...

Myra, you covered every imaginable detail in your awesome post!! I record word count, not hours so overlook time spent on promotion.

I couldn't get in today with Internet Explorer. Anyone figure out why?


Pam Hillman said...

I imagine it's over already, but HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Jenny!!

Janet Dean said...




Janet Dean said...

Myra, I kept track of submissions on a calender from our children's zoo. Does that count extra points? The pictures are darling.


Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Myra ... I am SO jealous!! Jack does most of the cooking these days??? Mmmm ... wonder how I could get Keith to do that. Of course Jack is retired, so I guess that helps a lot. Poor Keith will be working for a long, long time ... because he's younger than me and I'm expensive. :)


Jenny Blake said...

Pam its 3pm so plenty oftime to go!
thanks and thanks Janet.

Narelle Atkins said...

Happy Birthday Jenny!!!! Enjoy the rest of your day :)

Cara, counting my writing hours is for the benefit of the tax office, and necessary if you get audited. Thankfully notes written in a diary are good enough.

Myra, in Australia we have to earn a certain amount of writing income to move from 'hobbyist' to 'professional' and claim deductions. I've started adding years of writing expenses into a spreadsheet, and it is scary to see how much money I've actually invested in my writing career.

Mary Preston said...

I imagine the time & expense would add up quite easily.

Myra Johnson said...

Hi, AUDRA! Yeah, too bad about Blogger and IE doing battle. I'm on a Mac, so I always use Firefox and haven't had any issues.

Spreadsheets are wonderful things for tracking hours and expenses, BTW! Recording my writing time is the last thing I do before shutting down at the end of the day. Takes five minutes tops.

Myra Johnson said...

JANET, a calendar with big squares would be a fair alternative to spreadsheets. At least you can see at a glance what went where when so you know about how long to wait before following up. Yes, I will give you points for that. ;-)

Myra Johnson said...

JULIE, it took me a long, long time to get Jack accustomed to even thinking about what to make for supper. Now he can do simple things like baked tilapia or chicken, spaghetti with sauce from a jar, and recipes from our Flat Belly Diet book. I figure I cooked for him for the 35+ years he worked full-time, so turnabout is only fair.

Myra Johnson said...

Oh, NARELLE, I hate to think of all the money I've invested in writing over the past 30 years! In the U.S., we're supposed to show a profit a certain number of years--can't quote the exact figure--or else be able to show CLEARLY that we have a profit motive. Putting in the hours is one biggy. Manuscript submission records and even rejection letters also show intent to earn money.

Myra Johnson said...

MARY PRESTON, as I said above, writing for publication is NOT an inexpensive venture! Unlike expensive hobbies like golf or skiing, as writers we have the potential of actually selling our work and recouping at least some of that expense.

VisionWriter said...

Great post. Thanks for the tips. I'm doing most of that, Vice President.

I have two questions though:
1)any suggestions for best magazine/publications (besides Seekerville) that is great for beginning writers?

2)How do you evaluate/find a good critique partner?

May the K9 Spy (and KC Frantzen) said...

Oversized lapdogs... Gotta love it! :)

Excellent post, Myra.
I did okay on the quiz - for where I am in life...

Writing's definitely more than a hobby. ;D

You said As with any job, if you don’t put in the time, you don’t reap the rewards.

Which reminded me of the quote: Don't do the crime if you can't do the time. Surely there's a corollary there somewhere. Ha!

Marianne Barkman said...

Checking back on the comments...Nope i'm not a reader, but AM hoping in this land of authors and books i find some of the great novels you guys write. In Phoenix surely i should find those! (Plus the shipping of books for me to review is more reasonable when you send them to Arizona instead of Alberta.) Doing coffee time in April, fellow Arizonians?


Myra Johnson said...

Hi, VISION WRITER! Let me see if I can help with your questions.

1)any suggestions for best magazine/publications (besides Seekerville) that is great for beginning writers?

I started out years ago reading Writers Digest and The Writer. Also check out agent and editor blogs. Are you an ACFW member? Their journal contains lots of good info. Another source is Christian Fiction Magazine Online

2)How do you evaluate/find a good critique partner?

The best critique partners are other writers whose experience you respect and whose advice you trust. Sometimes you have to try out a few before you find the right fit. Start with a short-term commitment and see how it goes. Again, a writers group like ACFW is a good place to start looking for a critique partner.

Myra Johnson said...

Yep, KC, at 55 and 85 pounds my dogs, under any other circumstances, would NOT be considered lapdogs. But don't tell them that!

Myra Johnson said...

MARIANNE, I bet you're enjoying the Arizona weather this week! Yes, you are sure to find some excellent novels from the many published authors here in Seekerville! Happy reading!

Natalie Monk said...

Excellent post! A much needed reminder that I need to take writing more seriously.

I love quizzes! This one helped me see right where I am and where I need improvement.

Thanks, Myra!