Thursday, November 10, 2011


by Margaret Birth

I don’t think I’m at all unusual among the writers I know to have so many interests other than writing. As a matter of fact, I suspect that busy writers with multiple hobbies are more the norm than the exception—we’re curious and self-motivated by nature. I have one writer-friend who shows dogs, another who writes cookbooks in addition to fiction, several who are also actors—and I spend hours every week on genealogy. Like a lot of writers, I also stay very busy caring for my family—and love every minute of it.

But what of my writing? I love that too.

Over the years, I’ve developed several strategies and attitudes that I’ve found help to keep my work pace steady but in balance with the rest of my life:

● Accept that there are times in life when writing goes more slowly than at other times. Years ago, my writing went slo-o-owly when I wrote or typed with a baby on my lap. Pain from fibromyalgia can slow me down. Simply because work pace slows doesn’t mean that it stops completely. If you think you’d rather not write at all if you can’t keep up a certain creative pace…then you’ll get less writing done in the long run than you will if you persevere at whatever pace.

● Remember that all you need to do to be a writer is…write. You don’t need to write a book. This struck me anew, recently, when working on a submission to a publisher that wanted to see a list of my previously published works. I gave specific examples from my most recent, but also listed a tally, which included: 13 short stories, 21 fictional confession stories, 99 nonfiction articles, 113 poems, and 4 comic books. So far, there’s nary a book among my publications—but yep, I am most definitely a published writer. Also, as you publish smaller pieces, you can build a reading audience that will follow you wherever your career leads.

● Learn to embrace interruptions to your writing. They can become a blessing in disguise: if you have to stop writing while you’re in the middle of a scene or a chapter, the next time you’re able to write you’ll already be in the midst of creative momentum. I’ve actually come to prefer stopping my writing in the middle of things, because I get re-engaged in my project so quickly whenever I return to it.

● Juggle multiple writing projects simultaneously. This works on much the same principle as embracing interruptions. Instead of stopping your writing when you run out of steam working on one particular project, just move on to another. I like to work on a combination of short and long projects. You can feel encouraged as you continue to work on longer projects when you see smaller publications happen along the way. Also, different genres of writing use different elements of creativity—this can stretch your skills as a writer, as techniques that work well in one genre may enhance your writing in another. Yes, “The End” comes more slowly than it does when you work on one project alone—but you may find that you accomplish more writing when you look at your collective efforts over a certain period of time.

● Realize that writing can be a fulfilling part-time endeavor. You don’t need to devote full-time workdays to writing in order to be a legitimate writer, or a productive one. If you write steadily for only an hour or two at a time, but do so every day, plenty of words will get written—trust me. As a matter of fact, you may be surprised to see how much you can accomplish in how little time when you view your writing as a special treat, to savor and to honor with the best work you’re able to do in the time you have to do it.

You can make time to write…. ♥

Margaret Birth is a Christian writer who has been widely published in short fiction, short nonfiction, and poetry, both in the U.S. and abroad; in addition to working as a freelance writer, she's spent over a decade freelancing for multiple publishers as a manuscript reader, proofreader, and copy editor.

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