Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time and Blood

I always wonder how someone can write in coffee shops or restaurants and get anything done. Complete strangers will come up to someone writing and feel free to ask all kinds of questions about it.Usually the verbal exchange will end with, "Oh, you know, I could write a book. But I don't have as much time as you." 

Tell me, writers, how many of you have heard that? Have you even said it before you started? Another common lament is "If only I didn't have a day job!"

In other words, the writer MAKING time to write is obviously a layabout and lazy person who gets scads of money and probably smokes and drinks (or at least drinks coffee) and eats DeBrand's chocolate all day. Their words go on the page like pouring melted butter on hot bread with an ending to leave the reader full and satisfied. Right? Is that how it is with you?

  Ernest Hemingway said, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." (Nowadays that's called a keyboard, Ernie.) 

My friend, W. Terry Whalin, a writer and editor and publisher wrote a very helpful book, Book Proposals That $ell: 21 Secrets to Speed Your Success. He has this in his book, "Jerrold Jenkins, CEO of this group [Jenkins Group,] estimates that more than 6 million Americans have actually written a manuscript--just over 2 percent of the population. Publishers Weekly recently said that more than 1,000 books were published each week during 2003."

That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. Writing the book is the first big battle, but getting it published is a whole new battle. If you have a desire to write a book, then the first thing to do is to find the time to write first. Then, you must find out all you can about writing craft, professionalism and the proper channels to take in order to sell your book, too. 

This takes time, as any published author, editor or agent will tell you. But again, the first thing to do is put your behind in the chair and crank out the story. That's easier said than done. It helps if you have an ending, but most authors will tell you that they did not just sit there bleeding out words and--shazzam!--it was published. There is a lot of stuff in between "Once upon a time" to "The End."

How do you find the time? Well, you cut something in order to become proficient at that thing you desire. A doctor doesn't just decide to be a doctor and walk into a hospital and say, "Hey,I'm going to doctor on you now. I finally made the decision." 

And also, a wannabe writer doesn't just call up an editor and say, "Hey, I've got this idea for a book, I know you're going to love it." Or worse,(well, depends on if you're an editor or a writer, I suppose) you don't approach a writer/author and say, "I have a great idea for you to write for me." (Believe me, most authors have enough of their own ideas. That's another business relationship entirely--one YOU pay for.) 

One prolific author I know was a full-time wife, full-time mom/then grandmother and a court reporter. She typed all day long. But when she decided to start writing fiction and "live her dream," she took a night class with author/professor, Dr. Dennis E. Hensley, at the university where he started a professional writing major in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, Taylor University. (This program is now at Taylor University, Upland, IN.) She got up extra early every morning to write before typing at her job all day, never knowing if she’d ever publish. She admitted that she is not a morning person.Then, she’d go to her night class once a week. (I was in that class with her.)

Today she is doing what she loves--an "overnight success"--Diann Hunt took many years to become that overnight success, and a lot of behind in her chair. You can check out her blog with her writing buddies at Even though life hasn't been easy these days, she continues to write. She made the decision to write and make time to improve, too. Check out The Girls Write Out gang of Diann Hunt, Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck and Denise Hunter (3/4ths of these women are Hoosier ACFW authors, and we just love Kristin, too.) :) which just published the book Smitten (Thomas Nelson.) (Also, note Hannah Alexander, another one of the Girls Write Out crew.) Every one of those girls started off putting in time and money to learn to write, the rejections, the years of not publishing.

You make the decision to WRITE and to give up something in your life in order to do what you love. Where you spend your time says a lot about what you are passionate about--but you have to make those choices. Joining the American Christian Fiction Writers is a great place to make that step to excellence and commitment. Once you join ACFW, and if you live in Indiana, do come join our chapter! (And if you live somewhere else, there are chapters all over, even for international members.)

"It's never too late to become what you might have been." George Eliott said. Just start today. Take that step. 

If you're a writer/author, what do you give up to follow this dream? Do you have advice for anyone who might come across this site?

And, if you want to be a writer, what could you do to free up some time each week to write? 


  1. I'm a writer, and writing is a battle, but it's worth it pain and effort. I have been writing on and off, mostly on, for nearly 10 years now. This year, I finally landed an agent. I still work my full time day job, AND I write.

    I live in Indiana - and a few weeks ago I sent in my dues to join ACFW - Indiana Chapter. I love the support that other writers give to each other. We need that community spirit to keep us on track.

    We must keep learning, and re-learning the craft and social media to keep up with the fast paced changes in publishing.

  2. Terrific post, Crystal. To write, a person must sacrifice some things others won't. I can't count the times I've had to tell people, No, I didn't see that TV show, or No, I didn't see that ball game, or No, I didn't _________, because I was writing an article or a story.

    At least one person said to me out loud, "You must have large blocks of time when you can write." Ha! I scrape together writing minutes like a beggar scrapes together lost coins. If I didn't, I'd still be channel-surfing and dreaming, "Someday I will be a writer." :)

  3. Hooray, Loree, on getting that agent! It is hard work, isn't it? And yay for joining Indiana ACFW! Will look forward to your posts here.

    Rick, ain't that the truth! LOL, most writers I know have to find pinches of time, and while some get to that place where he can have huge chunks of time to write, that doesn't make it any easier. (Usually that comes with a whole new set of time issues!)

    I didn't mention one of my greatest examples (though he's not a writer.) My husband has a very demanding, high stress-life-and-death job. He barely has time to eat most days. But he loves music. He made the commitment to learn to play guitar, bass guitar and mandolin (he already played trumpet in HS.) I see him taking 15 minutes practicing when he can barely keep his eyes open some days. Eventually he not only became proficient, but has a band.He's not quitting his day job, but has played big audiences. :)

    Now, thanks for the kind words, as I go read them for myself....

  4. Crystal, I love your posts! The Ernest Hemingway quote cracked me up. Yes, I have to steal away hours from sleep in order to write--it's the only way with little kiddos, but I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

  5. Crystal,

    Good column. It reminds me of a section in James Scott Bell's book "The Art Of War For Writers", where he mentions the best way to market your book. On that top ten list, "Have an excellently written product" (a paraphrase, but same idea) came in at number one. And number two. And number three. And number four. Also as numbers eight, nine, and ten.

    Have a great day.


  6. Being a writer means you have to do more than write. Carving out writing time is a sacrifice I willingly make. Eking time to edit, submit, and research info unrelated to a story is much more difficult, but as necessary as creating. Where's a girl go to find a good minion these days?