Believe it or not, it’s time to get back to “14 Murder, She Wrote Tips for Balancing Your Writing LIfe.” March 9, I shared the first half of those tips. I promised you seven more. So let’s not waste any time. Here is Part Two of …
14 Tips for Balancing Your Writing Life
Jessica Fletcher, best-selling mystery novelist in the fictional Murder, She Wrote television series, had to manage the many facets of her writing life just as we do, That included not taking, but making …
- Time to write. We often saw Jessica sitting at the kitchen table of her home in Cabot Cove, pounding the keys of her typewriter. As she attempted to beat the publisher’s deadline for her new novel, she refused to be interrupted by all but dire needs. Later, in her New York apartment, she turned to writing at a computer … and sometimes dealing with computer problems. Even Jessica had computer problems. Unlike us, they usually led to solving a murder mystery.
- Time for research. Do you remember Jessica poking around in the book stacks at a library? Or searching for information online? How about interviewing experts and visiting her novels’ settings to ensure the accuracy of her stories? I especially liked the scene where she made up a dummy to be the “murder victim” in her WIP (work in progress) and then acted out the scene to make sure the imaginary bullet’s trajectory was possible.
- Time for conferences. Every writer from beginner to published needs to spend time at writers’ conferences and seminars,and Jessica was no exception. Of course, when she showed up to network with other writers, or meet with her agent, editors and publishers, she invariably wound up involved in a murder mystery. I have to admit that with all the conferences I attended, not once was anyone threatened, much less murdered. So, you are not only safe going to a writer’s conference or seminar, you will love it. Here I am with three friends at Write-To-Publish, John, Cindy, and Kris.
- Time to teach. And how about those criminology classes Jessica taught at a college in New York? Or when she spoke at a writer’s conference? She not only became adept at writing and at solving crimes, she shared her knowledge with others. She also occasionally made time to read unpublished writers’ stories, offer suggestions, and encourage them to continue their pursuit of publication.
- Time for readers. No matter how famous Jessica became, she made time for her readers. Time to autograph books. Time to speak to fans gathered at a meeting to hear her read from her newest novel and share some interesting facet of the writing of it. I loved the time she wound up involved in solving a murder mystery when she stumbled on a Jessica Fletcher fan club whose members had read all her books. Here I am, signing a book for Nancy who was kind enough to attend my novel’s book launch last year.
- Time for business. Yes, Jessica met with her editors and publishers, but she also had to stay on top of her investments. She was one of the authors who actually made a living writing her novels! No doubt she also had someone to take care of tax matters.
- Time to pray. Imagine my surprise at catching an episode in which Jessica prayed. You know the routine, Against a pressing deadline, we get stuck. There she sat at her typewriter, frustrated. Suddenly she folded her hands in prayer and looked heavenward. Yes, even Jessica had to pray to make progress with her WIP. I like to think that she, too, knew the importance of prayer to succeed in writing well.
And there you have it … the last of the “14 Tips.” I hope you enjoyed them. The truth is: fictional author or not, we all have to face similar challenges in our writing lives.
What biggest challenge as a novelist have you faced and, hopefully, overcome?