Friday, June 12, 2015

The Dance of a Writer: Finding your Rhythm in Life

Megan was excited to get “The Call.” She’d worked for years to perfect her craft, spent hours at her computer doing what she loved most: Writing. This was the moment where she would now write beautiful, heartwarming stories for a living. A dream come true. What Megan didn’t know at this moment, however, was her dance as a writer would also begin, and it wouldn’t be a slow Two-Step. 

The pull, the twist, and the most sensational step of all, the spin, kept Megan on her toes—until she started to trip around the dance floor. At first Megan thought maybe she had two left feet as she struggled to keep up in her new writer life. There had to be a trick to staying upright and keeping all those moves together, and there were a lot of them. Just how did all the other authors make it look so effortless? The deadlines on top of home life, parenting, friends, and a day job became overwhelming for her. They had to know something she didn’t. Megan began to think maybe her “call” was supposed to go to someone else. Someone who already knew the steps to this dance. Someone who had the rhythm to not just know the steps, but to take the lead in their dance. Would one of them just tell her how they did it all?

Hello, Seekerville. My name is Katy Lee, and I’m also like “Megan” in the story above. Thank you for having me back to spend the day with you. I set aside this time just for you, and I’ll spoil this whole post right now and tell you this is the answer to the question, “How do you do it all?”

I am asked this question a lot. I used to reply that if you want something bad enough, you will find the time. This is still true…to a point. A writer writes and has no trouble finding the time to write. It’s who they are, and they will rearrange their lives to fit it in. But what happens when multiple books, multiple book edits and promoting those multiple books step up to the dance floor and cut in on an already established routine called life? Now how do you do it all…and get dinner on the table at 5?

I mentioned the answer being about setting aside a certain amount of time devoted to a certain purpose or person, as the case may be. I could list all the things I need to get done throughout my day, but I know you have your own list and reading mine would just be one more thing to add to yours. I’ll save you from having to do this and share how I straightened out my dance moves and found my rhythm as a writer, instead. It was not an easy task. I spent my first year losing my hair. Literally. I knew this couldn’t go on in the direction I was heading—right off the stage—and had to figure out how to readjust my tempo. But first I needed to secure my foundation. 

I am all about that bass, and by bass, I mean base. Before we can step out, we need to be grounded. For me that meant faith, family and fitness had to established and maintained daily. Time must be allotted to these things during your day. Put them on your day planner; honor them with your undivided attention. These are things that must be in place before we can be productive. This comes as no surprise. Maslow’s Hierarchical of Needs pyramid tells us this, but what it doesn’t tell you is not everyone will want to see you flourishing at the top of that pyramid. Which leads me to the next step in your dance.


I’m sorry to say, many will not support you in your new writing life. But there’s a reason for this. The world needs to see this is a writing career and not a hobby. It’s now your profession and deserves to be put in its rightful place as such. But that means you must take the lead in your dance by first standing and moving in your new identity. You are a writer. Once you establish writing as a key component in your life, you won’t feel guilty for giving it the time it needs to produce. In fact you’ll honor it with its own special time in your day. And people, whether they support you or not, will have no choice but to honor it as well.
I have told my children since they were very small that they control how people treat them. I had to take a page from my own advice. I had to be able to stand in my place and say, “Hey, this is me. This is who I am,” without any apologies or self-effacing language. When you give yourself the respect first, others will follow your lead. 

Now don’t get me wrong, the pulls and the twists and the spins will still creep into your dance. There’s only so many hours in a day to be divided up, but something I learned is it’s okay if a task isn’t completed all in one sitting, or one dance. It’s okay to work on it over the course of a week or more. For example, my office can get very messy during projects. Books, magazines and research materials can take over, not to mention a lot of candy wrappers. It could take me all day to get it back into shape. A whole day that could set me behind and stress me out. I can’t give it all day, but I can give it fifteen minutes a day. This can be done for any pressing need that vies for your attention. Set a timer so you don’t go over, but during those fifteen minutes, your undivided attention is on the task in front of you. 

Honor it.

This also goes for the people in our lives. We can’t be so busy that we miss the needs of the people around us. They’re all dancing, too, by the way. Some are struggling, some just need a little love and attention. Some just miss you and hope your paths cross soon. Make it happen, and when you do, honor the person in front of you with your undivided attention, a time carved out just for them.

And last but not least, take a breather. There’s a reason that dances don’t go on forever. Use the breaks in between to refresh yourself, to rest and to reestablish your foundation again if need be. Sometimes those spins catch us by surprise—like when multiple deadlines collide together during a book release week. Yes, it happens. And guess what you’re going to do. You’re going to take the lead and dance on. 

Thank you, Seekerville for having me today! I’d love to hear how some of you handle the stresses that come your way and catch you off guard. 

2015 Rita nominee Katy Lee is the author of five published novels. She likes to say she writes higher purpose stories at high speed because her suspenseful romances thrill, inspire, and satisfy the reader—from the edge of their seat. A native New Englander, Katy loves to knit warm wooly things. She enjoys traveling the side-roads and exploring the locals’ hideaways. A homeschooling mom of three competitive swimmers, Katy often writes from the stands while cheering them on. Her Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Grave Danger, is both a RITA and Daphne Du Maurier finalist. Keep in touch with Katy at her website, There you will see links to Facebook and Twitter. 

Permanent Vacancy

When Gretchen Bauer begins renovating an old Victorian house to turn it into a bed-and-breakfast, she barely escapes several dangerous "accidents" at her home. Colm McCrae, host of the home improvement TV show helping her renovate, refuses to believe these aren't on purpose. Could this be a harmful ploy by his boss to boost ratings? Yet with Colm's smooth-talking Irish brogue, Gretchen wonders whether he could be involved. But with a whole town full of neighbors disgruntled about the inn bringing strangers to their shores, Gretchen has a list of more likely suspects. Now she must trust Colm if she wants to keep her new business venture from turning into a five-star death trap.

Find it at your online retailers, including: Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Today, Katy is giving away a print copy of Permanent Vacancy to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition!


Helen Gray said...

Coffee's on!

Yep, it's a constant juggle, keeping on top of everything. We each have to find our methods and pace.

Your new release sounds interesting.
Thanks for sharing.

Terri said...

Hi Katy, love your books. Sometimes it is so to keep a balance in life, but it is so important. If I get too exhausted, I may be making my word count, but oh the revisions required! I haven't figured it all out yet. If I'm honest, I may never figure it out, but I hope I'm getting better! Thanks for sharing your journey.

Mary Preston said...

I find that the best way to deal with any stress is to deal with the cause of the stress. Deal with it & move on.

Cindy W. said...

I believe I really needed this post today. It was just last night that my husband read this quote to me,
“The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith
is the end of anxiety.”― George Mueller

I am currently trying to deal with a lot of stressful things in my life and I know if I stay focused on God and let Him handle things I will get through this season a lot easier.

I love the Love Inspired line of books, especially the Suspense line. I would love to be entered to win your book.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Katy Lee, this is awesome. Really, you touched on so much and succinctly. I LOVE THE DANCING SHOES.

The image of those well-worn toe shoes is perfect. So perfect!

I've noticed this ride is easier on some than others. I think there are a lot of reasons for that, and the best advice I have is work hard, keep writing, and don't worry.

The last one seems to be the toughest for most.

I have a tough hide. That helps. Sensitive people can be thrown for a loop by the bevy of expectations and the less-than-rosy reality of deadlines, lack of control and revisions/edits.


Okay, we need food, Helen, thank you for the coffee!!!! I've got chocolate croissants this morning, but made with real homemade Ruthy-chocolate-pudding.... no chemicals and these are NOT GLUTEN FREE.

Yes, I am politically incorrect (we know this) and I serve flour-rich foods... with broccoli on the side! :)

Goooooooood Morning, Seeeeeeeekerville!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome, back, Katy!!!

Congrats on your Rita nom. With THE NORA in the same category. WOOT. Dream come true.

I love that you have the guts to say what we are all thinking.


You simply have to do what is most important and leave out the rest!!!


Mary Hicks said...

Yep, you can't do it all—no matter what some say. That's why we have priorities.

Choose that thing you're passionate about ( other than eating, sleeping on a clean bed and wearing clean clothes ) and work it into your busy schedule and then work hard for it—no apologies.:-)

I'm off to a 'reward' day of lunch and shopping with a friend! :-)

Excellent post, Katy, thanks for sharing! :-)

Jackie said...

Hi Katy,

I never thought of it as a dance. I consider it more of a balancing act, but I'm not published yet so others view it as a hobby. I give myself deadlines and goals, which I'm sure are not like real deadlines you face, but it helps me stay a little more structured.

Thanks for sharing your story and the image of a dance. I'd love to have my name in the drawing!

Have a great day!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Katy! And congratulations on the awesome finals!! There's no perfect "balance," that's for sure. Oh, maybe for a week, a few days, a few hours(!) -- and enjoy it whenever you can -- but I've never been able to "do it all" since getting published.

Writing and writing-related things can't come first for me due to a demanding day job. So I work writing in as I can--which is why I'm typing this at 4:30 in the morning Pacific time (contract deadlines keep me moving!). The trick is that you prayerfully soldier on...learning to accept that there are some things that you just can't do even though you'd very much like to and other people think you should be doing. I'm a good time manager, but I can't "make time" for everything and must ask God to help me set priorities. Thank you for the reminder!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good morning Katy, What a terrific post and I love the analogy of the stresses to dancing. Like Ruthy, love the dancing shoes.

What great advice and I love to see all the different ways writers handle the stress and the craziness. Because life happens to all of us. And I keep thinking I'm getting better at handling it. I really do mainly because I'm learning to trust God more and me less. LOL. Its amazing how that works.

But you know how we humans are? We keep wanting to take back what we give to HIM>

Thanks again for sharing. Have fun today.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Cindy W. I LOVE that quote. I am going to type it up and FRAME IT. Its a great reminder of the truth I know but keep forgetting to follow. smile.

Whatever you are going through, I'm sending prayers for you.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Ruthy, bless you for bringing chocolate croissants. and HELEN, thanks for the coffee. Great way to start my day. Seekerville and a cup of coffee and goodies. sigh. I'm in heaven.

Oh yes, and off the road. We arrived in Oregon yesterday afternoon safe and sound. Thought we were floating part of the way due to rain in the desert. But it really was lovely as it cooled it down.

Gorgeous here. So I truly am in heaven with the above because I'm also in one of my favorite places in this awesome country our God created.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Katy, Forgot to congratulate you on the nominations. woo hoooooo.

The Daphne also. Very prestigious in my humble opinion. Yay.

Best wishes.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Glynna, You are my inspiration for time management. You are amazing. Whenever I think I can't do it, I think of you and say, "Well, Glynna can do it, so get on the stick, Sandra" LOL It helps me.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome back Katy! I'm so excited about being able to cheer you on at RWA this year!

Great post on this dance we're all in. I'm still working on trying to use small chunks of time. I tend to have trouble doing that. I love long, uninterrupted days.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Katy,
I'm a reader, wife, mother, grandmother, sister, friend, church volunteer, etc. as so many of us are. When I see writers add writing and day jobs into the loop all I can think is "how do they keep all those plates spinning in the air"? Nothing short of amazing.

I do know this, we each have one life and freewill choice how we live it, so what MARY HICKS said holds true, find what you are passionate about and do it.

I would love to read Permanent Vacancy, please include me in the drawing, thank you and thanks for sharing you journeys dance :)

Audra Harders said...

Katy, good to have you back in Seekerville! Ahh, The Dance. Don't we all have to indulge in a little two-step at times? Finding a rhythm that works for your writing life is not easy, but every tip for success is helpful!!

"It's all about the bass"... I'm going to have that song running through my head all day now, LOL!

Thanks for joining us today!

Audra Harders said...

OMG, Katy! I clicked send too quickly. CONGRATULATIONS on the RITA final!! What a huge accomplishment!! YAYAYAYAY!!

DebH said...

Hi Katy
first of all, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED Grave Danger. Snoopy dancing for you and your nominations. YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY. I love your books.

Now that THAT's done. Many, many thanks for the post. I'm still struggling for balance. I'm still struggling with justifying time to write when I've got a five year old boy who covets "mommy time" and a hubby struggling with PTSD. I haven't found the balance yet, but with prayer, support from the awesome peeps here at Seekerville, and a little bit of pull up my big girl britches, I know I will succeed. In the meantime, it's nice to know that I'm not alone. I really appreciate what you've shared today. THANKS!!!!!

oh, and please put my name in the draw for your newest. gotta put that on my TBR list pronto...

Audra Harders said...

Cindy W, thanks for sharing the George Mueller quote. THAT is going on the wall of my office at work! Sorry for the stress levels you're facing right now. Faith will help you through, and a little prayer or two from your friends : )

Got you covered!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tracey Hagwood and Mary Hicks, yes.

I think the passion drives the plate spinning. If you love it like crazy, you make the time and that's probably true of anything, right?

But for those who have the desire and maybe not the be-all, end-all passion, the mini-reward system works great. Reward yourself for goals reached.

We're all different, and viva la difference!

Glynna Kaye said...

Good grief, Sandra! Would you like me to email you a list of all the things I DON'T do that you ARE doing? I'M not the Seeker to look to for inspiration. LOL! Try one of the other eleven!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Oh Kathy, I needed this post today. Thank you!!

I've been struggling the past few weeks and quickly losing ground with my current wip and a fast approaching deadline. It hit me hard a couple of days ago when I realized all of the things I'd neglected in my personal life, including my daily Bible reading, and I realized my priorities had gotten mixed up.

Yes, I'm passionate about writing. Yes, I am determined to finish this project on time. Yes, I want to be published. But, no, I'm not willing to sacrifice my health, my family, and most definitely not my relationship with God. The amazing thing is when my priorities are straight and I devote time to each of these needs, the writing is usually easier. And I'm a happier person, which in turn makes Mountain Man happier because he's the one who has to live with me.

Barbara Scott said...

Good morning, Katy!

Congrats on finaling in two prestigious contests. You go, girl!

I'm blessed to have the time to write now that I'm retired..."retired" being a relative term. I still need to make a living by editing other people's manuscripts or we don't eat, so the writing comes really, really, really early in the morning. Did I say really enough?

Anyway, I love the fact that your priorities are straight, but as I used to tell my authors, "Life Happens." If you plan on those unexpected moments, you can avoid falling off the cliff and take them in stride. Just like in school, I allow myself "makeup tests." Or another way to look at it is if I miss a step and take a tumble, I get up, brush myself off, and run faster for the next mile. Like I could run a marathon. How hilarious is that?

Your book sounds really suspenseful. Love a good Irish brogue. Please put me in your drawing.

Blessings on your day!

Katy Lee said...

Good morning, Seekervile!!!!!! So excited to be here today. :)

Thanks for all who have stopped by already. What wonderful posts to respond to.

Helen- Thanks for bringing the coffee!

Terri- You've had a wonderful year. You will find your dance moves!

Mary P.- So true. Procrastination falls into that as well. Many times when we are procrastinating in our writing, it's because we know we have a knot somewhere in the story that won't let us move on. Find the knot and fix it...then move on. :)

Cindy- Thanks for that quote. So true. I'm praying for God to be something for you in your life right now that He couldn't be before. Whether that is your healer, peace-giver, or maybe closest confidante. May He work in your life.

Ruth- I love getting paid too! LOL! And thank you for bringing the chocolate croissants. They are calorie-free, right? I do have a RITA dress to zip up come July. ;)

Tina- Thanks for having me again! And thanks for the congrats. NYC is going to be a whirlwind. Speaking of staying on my toes!

Mary H.- Priorities. It really is the key word. Enjoy your reward day!

Jackie- Good for you on the self-imposed deadlines! You are ahead of the game.

Glynna- Agreed! Not everything will get done. And I'm not supposed to do it all, and some of those things are for someone else to do, so they can be a blessing as well.

Sandra- I am really working to be aware of the things I take back from God. Thanks for the congrats!

Missy- We all love those days, but when they are few and far between, it can get to you. So I try to use those small chunks to feel a little productive. Can't wait for RWA!

Tracey- Dancing with plates! Now there's an image! And freewill-what an amazing gift from God. Thank you for stopping by!

Audra- I sing it all the time. LOL! But like I said, for me, it's all about the base. ;)

DebH- So glad you enjoyed Grave Danger! Wesley and Lydia were so fun to write about. :) As for justifying time between writing and family, I understand. I need to make sure all my responsibilities, like homeschooling are met before I can do anything writing related. I also say to my family, "I'm going to work." I don't say, "I'm going to write." Unless you're talking to other writers, or someone who really gives writing its significant place, work holds more weight. I will also be praying for you and ask God to strengthen your relationships during your individual times with each member of your family.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Nope Glynna. Its YOU.

But all the other Seekers are an inspiration also. smile

Katy Lee said...

Rhonda- God knows what you need to finish. Keep your eyes on Him and He will help you. I can't count the number of times He has given me what I needed in the exact moment I needed it. He is so amazing. I hope I never lose the awe I have when He shows up to help.

Barbara Scott- I write really, really, really late. :) And yes, getting back up is the key!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Deb H. Don't get discouraged. I don't think any of us have the formula for balance yet. LOL We try and that's what counts. And we pray a lot. And you do also so we have to have faith that that's what truly helps.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Katy Lee are you another night owl? I so envy having the ability to stay awake. So much writing can get done when everyone else is asleep. Unfortunately that is me also. LOL

Tina Radcliffe said...

so.....the question begs to be asked.... Are you a dancer in real life???

Cara Lynn James said...

Mary, I like your solution — deal with the cause of the stress. Sometimes I find that it's me (I'm restless and can't seem to settle down) and sometime it comes from external sources. Either way, stress is hard to control. But I think if you're determined enough to do what you have to do, then you can take charge. And pray often.

Katy Lee said...

Sandra- I do write at night. I find what keeps me alert is a quick nap in the afternoon. 15-20 minutes allows me to plow through the rest of the evening. I also am up by 7a.m. to get the day going. I have high schoolers to teach. Never did I think I would be learning chem and geometry again. Yikes! :)

Tina- I grew up dancing ballet and jazz. Now I just dance at weddings. I do love to dance whenever I get the chance, though. As an adult, I also did some Scottish dancing a couple years ago.

Julie Lessman said...

KATY, WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, GIRL, and THANK YOU for a much-needed post!! Wish I had it last year when I took my 8-month sabbatical to focus more on God, family, and writing for the sheer joy of writing!! But the points involved in today's post certainly echo what I learned during my 8 months!

CINDY W QUOTED: “The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith
is the end of anxiety.”― George Mueller

OH. MY. GOODNESS!! What a smart man you married!!

RUTHY SAID: "I have a tough hide. That helps. Sensitive people can be thrown for a loop by the bevy of expectations and the less-than-rosy reality of deadlines, lack of control and revisions/edits."

You are SO blessed to have that tough hide, Ruthy, because I have the thinnest skin of anybody I know, both literally and figuratively!! As a result, I have been "thrown for a loop" by this industry -- not so much what it expects of me because I can handle that, but what I expect from myself. Sure glad I took that sabbatical, because it was a correction I needed desperately!


Julie Lessman said...

KATY!!! Forgive me for not congratulating you on the Rita nom!!! Like Tina said, "With THE NORA in the same category. WOOT. Dream come true."


LOL ... SOOOO true!! At least for me ... ;)


Janet Dean said...

Katy, welcome back! I have faith and family as top priorities but have failed miserably with fitness and I'm feeling the effects of that neglect. Thanks for the push! Staying on our toes takes self discipline and respect for the gift God has given us. Thanks for the inspiring post!

Huge congrats on your Rita and Daphne nominations!!! Grave Danger's premises is intriguing! Will be pulling for you at RWA's Rita ceremony.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Katy Lee. I love Katy Lee. I've a middle name Lee also. Southern roots I'm told. But back a couple generations. smile

I've tried the naps because hubby is a night owl and when we were first married I tried staying up with him. He naps like a true Spaniard. But when I nap I awake and am grumpy as all get out. Doc told me my body type thinks I've gone to bed for the night and doesn't like being awakened. So funny.

Now I embrace fact hubby is a night owl because he sleeps in the morning and gives me lots of time to myself. YAY. But it would be nice to be able to stay awake past nine. chuckle

Happy writing.

And congrats on working with those high schoolers. Whew. That takes a lot of energy, but they are blessed to have you. smile So are you home schooling your high schoolers or do you work at a high school? Either way, best wishes and congrats.

Janet Dean said...

Speaking of Nora, I heard her speak at RWA. She said writers are like jugglers, keeping all these balls in the air. We have to know which balls are rubber and which are glass. We dare not drop the glass balls.

That analogy should keep us on our toes. :-)


Janet Dean said...

Cindy W, thank your dh for the awesome quote. I'd heard George Mueller quote before but need to brand its truth in my brain.


Janet Dean said...

Anyone who can work a day job and/or raise a family and write is to be admired. Glynna, that means you, Ruthy, Tina, Audra, and all the Villagers doing the same. As well as those like Katy Lee who are homeschooling kids. Wow, I'm awed by all you do.


Katy Lee said...

Julie- I am a believer of sabbaticals. A time of learning and listening helps so much.

Janet- Fitness keeps me alert, body and mind. Even if I can only get in 20 min. a day. Nutrition is also part of it. Think lots of colors on your plate.

Sandra- You made me chuckle when you said your middle name is Lee. Mine is also. Yes, I am Katy Lee Lee. :) If my mother knew I would marry a Lee, she might have rethought her choice. And I homeschool my children.

DebH said...

Hi Katy
I will also be praying for you and ask God to strengthen your relationships during your individual times with each member of your family.

This is why I love the community of Seekerville. I get the benefit of coveted prayers from sources I never dreamed possible. Thanks!!!!!!!!

Thanks for your note too. I know there is never a true balance. Can't stay discouraged for long when there's so much support and care here at Seekerville. AWESOME You Seeker ladies are God's GIFT to writers (and wannabes).

Debby Giusti said...

For the record, I can attest that Katy Lee is as sweet as she is pretty!

I had the pleasure and privilege to room with her in Milwaukee, at Barbara Vey's Reader Appreciation Luncheon weekend. Katy and her every-bit-as-energetic-and-intelligent-as-Katy daughter snagged the room early on. By the time I confirmed plans, the hotel was booked, but dear Katy invited me to join in the Lee fun! Which meant mother and daughter shared a bed and seemingly the more crowded part of the room, while I stretched out on the other side!

Thank you again, Katy, for answering my need and sheltering the homeless, so to speak. It was great fun being with you both! :)

Sarah Claucherty said...

Stresses...hmm, I've got s few of those! ;) but at least some of those are lessened by visiting Seekerville and catching up on all the writerly news and community conversations!

Debby Giusti said...

Katy, so proud of your success and your RITA and Daphne finals. I'll be cheering you on at RWA! :)

Loved your blog. The dance can be difficult when our schedules get so full. Yes, keeping our faith, family and health priorities are necessary if we hope to dance long term! :)

At first, I thought I had to do it all. Eventually, I learned to pick and choose that which was important to me and helped to keep my dance card filled. I hate having to say no, but it's necessary at times. No to lunch dates with friends, no to shopping trips with daughters, no to extra classes I'd like to take.

That being said, I did take yesterday off to be with my youngest in the city. We were shopping for conference clothes (for me) and teacher outfits (for her). Came home empty-handed but happy...and refreshed! :)

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Deb H. We were wannabees for a long time ourselves so we know. smile

Sandra Leesmith said...

Katy Lee, That is too funny to be a Lee Lee. But its really cool too. Love it.

Wow, you are brave to home school high school. I would be in deep trouble with the sciences. But hubby is great at it. I told him that I married him for his math skills. chuckle. My math skills are the reason I taught kindergarten. At least I can count to 10. LOL

Sandra Leesmith said...

Yay Debby, I bet your daughter enjoyed her time with you. Some times you just need to say yes.

Cindy Regnier said...

I'm running late this morning but wanted to say that this post was so great! Thank you Katy. You are an inspiration. Congratulations on your finals and looking forward to reading Permanent Vacancy!

Pam Hillman said...

Great post, Katy!

How do I do it? Some days it ain't easy. Some tips that work for me...

1) I work for ACFW, write books, and am the bookkeeper of our ranching well as occasionally having to ride shotgun as a farmhand (sigh). The nearest gym is 8 miles away. I don't have 2 hours in my day to devote to the gym. However, I'm the queen of multi-tasking. I'm walking on my homemade treadmill desk as I type this. I'm getting in 12-15K steps a day so that I feel better about getting in that exercise, and I literally feel better, and I'd like to hope the brain fog of sitting on the couch/office chair has lifted a bit since I got serious about moving a couple of months ago.

While writing fresh words every day sounds easy and wonderful and the best way to meet a deadline without going insane and I long to accomplish that goal, it doesn't always work that well for me. Sometimes I hit a brick wall and it takes a week to work through a major plot problem. I'm learning better strategies of working through those times, but since I've finished six novellas in a little over a year, the reality has been more along the lines of huge chunks of time devoted to writing and editing, then switch off to the business, accounting, and marketing (Sheehs, I forgot marketing above), then edits come back, then back to writing, then get the idea. Eventually--oh, every 2-3 months--a window of time opens up, and I clean up the house. Sorta-kinda.

When I'm not on a hard deadline, though, like you, ideally, I divide each day into writing, marketing, ACFW/Ranch Accounting, housework and decluttering. Obviously, decluttering is on the back burner for now, but some day I'll get back to it. Decluttering is one of those things that I try to devote 15-30 minutes to. It's very liberating and not only clears my house, but clears my mind. :)

Hmmm, I think we need a blog post on decluttering. Look for it soon! lol

Gail Chianese said...

Hi Katy,

Great post and perfect timing. As always your wisdom fills me with confidence and serenity. Congrats on the new release; its sitting on my night stand waiting its turn (next up!).

Sandy Smith said...

Hi Katy. I don't know how you manage to home school and still get everything done. I always love reading about how others manage their schedules because I do a terrible job of it. Even now when I am off of substitute teaching for the summer, I still am not getting anything done. Besides writing, I have so many household projects to accomplish, and I just don't seem to do it. I am going to keep at it, though.

Please enter me in the drawing. Your book looks great!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Rhonda, and probably most of us, I'm a pantser writer but I've also got an analytical mind. This helps me to stay ahead of the curve, and I think this is clutch in NOT GOING CRAZY.

I've talked about this here before, and it's not the answer for everyone... but it's a stress reliever! I've got a big family. Six kids, 13 grandkids and one on the way... a job... a writing career... a house/farm/extended family. Part of not letting any of it make me crazy is my nature, so that's no help to others... but the most important part is Working Ahead of the Curve. I look ahead, I use the 1K/day as a measure and that's what I deliver. If I have a good weekend day and do more, then that's a bonus. But I can predict what I'm capable of with simple math 1000 x 30 days = 30,000 words/month. And I edit as I go, and do a hard copy edit every hundred pages to catch mistakes early.

Simple works for me. I bet it works for most. If I reduce things to numbers, I can plan accordingly, that way when there's a birth or death or illness or sadness, I'm not pressured or behind.

And that's huge in any size family!

Suzie Johnson said...

Wonderful, Katy! I love the correlation you made between writing and dancing. I love the idea that if we own our identity as writers, others in our lives eventually will, too.

Pam Hillman said...

Ruthy's comment about being sensitive or easily flustered made me think of something else. Nothing is ever wasted, and for 28 years I worked in an office at a manufacturing plant. In the grand scheme of things, it was a small business, and when I started, there were two women in the office, the owner, a salesman and a purchasing/shipping/receiving clerk. 5 people.

Over the years, that expanded to 15-20 people, but during that 28 years I juggled a LOT of hats. Payroll (from adding up time cards manually to filing FUTA, SUTA, SWH, etc.), accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, 401-K, sales tax for multiple states. The list goes on and on. For the last 15 years, I was the Purchasing Manager and was responsible for ordering all materials to keep production going on a daily basis. It took a lot of prayer, detail-oriented spreadsheets and sticky notes, but I never once shut production down because I'd dropped the ball on my end. Not to say that sometimes things didn't get dicey.

My background in a pressure cooker definitely prepared me for what I do these days.

So, out of this long explanation, two major thoughts surface that have sustained me then and now:

Don't panic, pray: More than once I woke up in the middle of the night praying that a 40,000 lb truckload of steel would be at the dock when I arrived at work the next morning.

Don't be afraid to admit when you've MESSED UP: A few weeks into my job as purchasing manager, I goofed up big time. I sent out quotes for an order of stainless steel sheet metal. About a week before it was due to deliver, I checked something and to my horror, I had received the quotes back from the vendors, but never placed an order with any of them. I panicked, thinking, well, there goes my job. But gathering my nerves, I went straight to the supervisor over that department and told him what had happened. We did some figuring and he rearranged his employees' workload to give us time to get the shipment in. Even if things had gone badly for me, I bit the bullet and admitted that I'd messed up. But it was a lesson learned and I never did anything that drastic again!

Mary Connealy said...

Katy....the book sounds so cool.

If only they suspected ghosts. Wouldn't ghosts liven things up? HUH?

I got it. Murders and betrayal were enough of an incentive. I can't wait!!!!

Spooky, great cover, too.

As for How do you DO IT?

I've got to think. That's always a painful process (thinking I mean)

I'll be back.

Mary Connealy said...

I don't think I really have an normal experience because I had so many books written before I sold the first one.

I had to write 2 HPs, very short novels, and 3 cozy mysteries, but as for long books, I think my first full length novel (although HPs count as short novels, not novellas, so do the cozies) but my first long one was inserted into the middle of this stream of other books. I'd say maybe the eighth book that released was written after I got my first contract.
So you can see I had a LOT of time to write it and to do the marketing that came with the books (which was a SHOCKER!)
Also My kids were grown. My baby, the youngest of four daughters, graduated from high school in May the year my first book released in February, so they almost perfectly overlapped.

When I see all the young mothers doing this I often wonder HOW DOES SHE DO IT!!!!!!!!!???

Mary Connealy said...

I also know the solution to looming deadlines, facebook launch parties, blog posts due, interviews due, on and on.......
Is simple but not easy.

Work harder and smarter
Buckle down
Keep your backside in the chair
Up the word count
Push and keep pushing. Work earlier and later.
No excuses.
Get it done.

I worked so hard for this chance for so long and I am so deeply honored that a publisher took a chance on me and supports the marketing of my book with their efforts and their money and I am determined to do my part BEYOND the best of my ability. To step out of my comfort zone. TO HOLD UP MY END OF THE BARGAIN.

Remembering the gratitude, helps me get things done. NO EXCUSES.

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Katy! Great advice here, because sometimes life really does throw in some crazy dance steps and it can be hard to keep up, much less look like we have any clue what we're doing!

And I have to agree with MARY--no idea how young moms manage writing careers. I could never get much writing done while my girls were in the house. Summers? Forget it! (BTW, both our daughters swam competitively from age 6 through early teens. That is TRULY a crazy way to live!!!)

Congratulations on the RITA final!!!

Mary Connealy said...

I am also a hermit with no life. That is incredibly helpful.

Mary Connealy said...

PS I can put up with Ruthy's amazing energy and fantastic food ONLY BECAUSE she isn't wearing pearls and high heels while she does it.

Thank You, Ruthy!!!

Myra Johnson said...

MARY, I so relate to being a hermit with no life.


Had a great week with our daughter & fam for their #2 son's high school graduation festivities. Also attended their church and got to hear my daughter sing with the praise team, also a FANTASTIC solo!!! I am so (to borrow a RUTHY word) stinkin' proud of her!!!

Jan Drexler said...

Hi Katy Lee!

A great post. You were so right when you said, if you want something bad enough, you will find the time.

Prioritizing helps me find the time. I scrutinize every opportunity that comes my way with the question, "how will this affect my writing?" If it cuts into the window of time I have reserved for writing, the answer has to be no.

I'm getting better at saying NO.

Like Mary Connealy said (yes, I'm quoting Mary!), I worked so hard for this chance for so long and I am so deeply honored that a publisher took a chance on me and supports the marketing of my book with their efforts and their money and I am determined to do my part BEYOND the best of my ability. To step out of my comfort zone. TO HOLD UP MY END OF THE BARGAIN.

I really, really want to hold up my end of the bargain. And I'll sacrifice a lot to make that happen.

At the same time, you mentioned needing to take breaks. I take every weekend off. Saturday for playing or working with my family, and Sunday for worship. My weekly break makes the other five days so much more productive.

And congratulations on the Rita nomination!

Now my Seekerville time is all used up. On to my WIP :)

Katy Lee said...

Debby- It's the saying NO that hurts-for all parties, but it needs to be practiced and done well. And I loved having you as a roommate. Congrats to you, too!!!!!! So proud of you!

Cindy- You're not late!Thanks for stopping by, and as always, glad to inspire.

Pam - A De-clutter post? NEED!

Gail- Thank you for coming by. You are an inspiration to me, too!

Sandy- One thing at a time. Do the most pressing thing in front of you, but also set a time for your writing that can't be broken.

Ruth- I also use numbers to gauge my progress. You need to have something to hold you accountable.

Suzie- OWN IT, GIRL! :)

Pam- Admitting when you've messed up really eliminates unneeded stress.

Mary- No ghosts allowed. ;) I love your perseverance and philosophy.

Myra- YAY, another SWIM MOM!!!

Jan- Saying NO gets easier, and it's a complete sentence, meaning nothing has to come after it. Just no. :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Yeah, Mary C. The whole NO LIFE thing is helpful. so did Katy answe??? Is she really a closet ballerina??

Katy Lee said...

I still have my ballet slippers, but that was another time of my life. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Connealy, I MIGHT be wearing pearls.

You're not here.

But I agree with all you said, although it pains me to admit it in public.

I just burned down a house.

It was a fictional house.

But I recently burned a whole town.

I'm starting to be a little concerned. Hide the matches!!!!!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Katy agreed with me, she uses numbers!!! Alleluia chorus being sung in upstate!!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh goodness, another Alleluia chorus. sigh. You girls put me to shame. With your numbers and go get um.

And how fun to put on some pearls when you write. Dress the part. hmmmm great idea.

Katy Lee, I agree. We do need that de-clutter post from Pam.

Myra, isn't Montana a gorgeous state? I love it there. Wide open spaces. yay. So glad you had fun with your daughter and family.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Jan, You are doing great and definitely holding up your end of the bargain. I love your stories. smile

Janet Dean said...

Katy, I'm grinning at the colors on the plate sage advice. My mom used to say that and she was never wrong.

Anyone tried Classical Stretch on PBS? It's a great low impact workout, if I do it. Sigh.


Myra Johnson said...

KATY, you know you're a dyed-in-the-sunscreen swim team parent when you get so involved that you get certified as a stroke-and-turn judge, starter, and/or referee!!! (Done all of the above.)

Rhonda Starnes said...

Katy, I must apologize for misspelling your name. I don't know how that pesky "h" got in there. Just goes to show that I should have proofread before hitting post.

Ruthy, I think most of my problems, besides being a total pantser, is that no matter how hard I try it is impossible for me to turn off my inner editor. I've completely given up on trying to fight it and have convinced myself that editing as I go saves one round of edits at the end. ;)

Mary Curry said...

Hi Katy.

This is brilliant. And so creatively written. Easy to see why you're a double award nominee!

I'm apparently big into confessing faults this week, but I'll confess another. I'm a rotten time manager. Rotten to the point of stinking at it. But I'm trying to improve, and I love your tips. I do need to learn to stay focused on one thing at a time instead of flitting from one thing to another.

Thanks, Katy. I'm so glad I'll be at RWA to cheer you on.

Sandy Smith said...

Ruthy, you said you burned down a town. In my book I am destroying a town with a tornado. That's not good either. :)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Rhonda, I always edit as I go. I think for some of us it's natural... and then I re-read the previous day before I re-start because then my head clicks into the story progression. That probably doesn't work for everyone, but if it works for you, go for it!

I keep it simple.

There's all kinds of folks who tend to make this job a lot more complicated than it is. (Not you, Katy!!!!)

Write, write, write.

And 1K/day will gain you 360,000 words a year.

That's 3-4 books including editing.

It's like how do you eat a bear?

One bite at a time.

Mary Connealy said...

Life's a dance, you learn as you go.
Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow.
Don't worry 'bout what you don't know,
life's a dance, you learn as you go.

Mary Connealy said...

As long as we channel your inner pyromaniac into fiction, the world is safe.


Suzie Johnson said...

Wonderful, Katy! I love the correlation you made between writing and dancing. I love the idea that if we own our identity as writers, others in our lives eventually will, too.

Debby Giusti said...

Katy, I can see you dancing across the stage, accepting the RITA! Wouldn't that be a lovely way to spend Saturday night of conference week! :)

Katy Lee said...

Rhonda- not to worry. I grew up will all my teachers calling me Kathy. :) I was so quiet I never spoke up.

Mary C.#2- HI!!!!!!!! Thank you, I had fun putting it together. Looking forward to seeing you in NY. And yes, focus on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is a farce.

Ruth- I'm all about keeping my writing simple. I tried the plotting boards and the computer programs that touted organization. I just found everything to be one more step in my process. No time for that. :) Although, I am not a pantser. I write faster knowing where I am going.

Mary C.- You got me singing!

Katy Lee said...

Debby! You're making me cry just thinking about it. I got my RITA pin today in the mail. It's a good day!

Tina Radcliffe said...

So cool. My dtr is a ballet dancer.

We will all be cheering in NYC!!!! TEAM KATY!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Was that Garth Brooks Connealy who snuck in here????

Ruth Logan Herne said...

I cannot disagree, that as long as I'm VERY BUSY WRITING BOOKS, I cause less trouble and start fewer fires and have stronger teeth.

That last might be an exaggeration.

Sandra Leesmith said...

I love Debby's image of Katy Lee dancing across the stage to accept her RITA. yay. I will keep that in mind. Will you wear your dancing shoes? smile

Mary Coneally- Are you singing for us? Lovely.

Sandy Smith. A tornado? Oh my. Between you and Ruthy, our small towns are in trouble.

Chill N said...

Wonderful and honest post, Katy. Particular thanks for the point about giving others undivided attention when we are with them. When I don't truly put other things out of my mind, what I'm hoping to focus on suffers. For me, relationships are precious -- no one should feel like they are second in importance to my mentally working out a plot problem when we're together :-)

Congratulations on all your accomplishments!

Nancy C

Keli Gwyn said...

Congratulations again on your RITA final, Katy! I'm so excited for you.

Thanks for the entertaining and encouraging post. I intend to do my dance gracefully, really I do, but there are days when I have so much on my plate I'm at risk of throwing my back outta whack. I need to heed your tips.

Katy Lee said...

Nancy and Keli- We're all in this together!

Thank you, Seekerville, for having me. I had a blast!!!

Deanna Stevens said...

Since retiring my stress is less! I usually read to get my mind off things.
Congratulations on you RITA final!
toss me into the draw please, your book sounds sooo good :)