Friday, August 17, 2012

Pacing Yourself

Many thanks to Misha for allowing me to guest post about challenges I face in maintaining a proper pace. I’m honored to be featured here on My First Novel.

The challenge of maintaining a steady pace is as important in your approach to writing as it is in your writing itself. So why do we so often agonize over literary pacing yet lose focus on the proper pacing of our work, and in our lives in general?

I’m a full-time working mother with an active website, pursuing an agent to represent my manuscript of humor essays. I’m working on my next WIP, blogging, critiquing other writers and trying to strengthen my public platform. All in my “spare” time.

That means if my kids need clean clothes, they know to check the basket on top of the dryer rather than their dresser. My kitchen floor isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be, and in my yard, the phrase “A Secret Garden” implies the weeds are currently winning the battle for horticultural supremacy.

Any Olympic sprinter can attest to the importance of maintaining a sustainable pace. And they know it isn’t enough to just run without also focusing on weight training, a healthy diet and proper equipment.

In many ways, writing poses comparable challenges. A well-written book is not sufficient to take home the gold. We need to join critique groups and attend writers’ conferences to improve our skills, stay in touch with trends and meet other writers. We need to be accessible to potential readers via our blogs and websites. We need to build a public platform on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to market our book.

I’m willing to make sacrifices to steal more time to write because writing is my passion, but I don’t forget that first and foremost, writing is a business. My MBA helps me plan and manage my writing aspirations in relation to the challenges the rest of my life throws my way as a busy working mother.

Would a sound businessperson open three stores at once? Of course not. Why would an aspiring author try to write a manuscript, maintain a blog, join Twitter and start a Facebook page all at the same time? These are all important things, but the successful writer balances these challenges in stages without losing focus on crossing the finish line. What good does a strong platform and topnotch marketing potential do if the book is never finished?

Do I wish I started my “business plan” sooner? Absolutely. But isn’t that the equivalent of saying an Olympic gold medalist should’ve started sprinting at six months of age? I may have lost some time, but I’ve found my rhythm and I’m in it for the long haul now.

I have many roads yet to travel on my journey to becoming a published author, but I know one thing with certainty. The more I write, the more I write. Or, in other words: the more I do something besides writing, the less I write.

The challenge of proper pacing for me has become less about finding time to write and more about making time to do everything else that still demands my attention. The key to achieving this balance is knowing what I can handle and learning to let go of less important things.

You can rise to the challenge and find your rhythm, too. Set your pace. Today’s a great day to start.


Cindy Dwyer is currently seeking representation for her manuscript My Roots Are Showing. These narrative nonfiction humor essays explore the quirks of her family and portray her acceptance of the fact that she is turning into her parents. The only thing left to do is to prepare her husband for the inevitable.

You can follow Cindy on her website or on Twitter @CindyDwyerWords.


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  2. I echo Cindy's thoughts about whether a sound businessperson will open three stores at once. No. But we writers are trying to juggle too many balls in the air.

    Good luck to Cindy..hope she gets her agent soon.

    1. Thanks, Rachna. I read once that it's not necessarily the most talented writers who get published, just the most determined.

      I try to stay determined!

  3. Good point. It's amazing when I remember writing comes first, I get so much more done. Although, I the more Ihave to do the more I seem to get accomplished.

    1. You are so right, Beth. I work much more efficiently under pressure and time constraints.

  4. Great advice Cindy and thanks for introducing me to Misha. Hey Misha, nice to meet you!

    1. Thanks for coming over to check out her site, Holly! Misha has some great posts.

  5. Yes, life is a balancing act without throwing in time for writing. Cindy, I'm glad you have found your rhythm and good luck finding an agent. :)

  6. Thanks, finding the balance can be quite tricky!


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