The Top Ten Tips for Writers That Have Day Jobs

Where do I find the time, is probably the number one question I get as a writer, full-time employee, and mom. These are some great tips for anyone who wants to write but isn’t quite ready (or able) to make the leap to full-time. Thanks, Don for putting this all together (and yes, I want to hear more about this marketing resource of yours).

Author Don Massenzio

Top ten text with shadow, word

Someday I would love to be a full-time writer, but for right now, I have a 50-60 hour a week day job that requires my attention so that annoyances like bills, mortgage payments, and insurance can be provided for. I’ve written and published ten books in the past five years while satisfying the demands of my day job. People always ask me how I do this, so here are some tips to help others that might be in this same predicament. I will expand on each of these within this post:

  1. Think about your writing during every minute that you have available
  2. Maximize your idle time
  3. Travel and free time
  4. Use your daily experiences to help you
  5. Claim your non-work time
  6. Sleep less
  7. Work on multiple writing projects simultaneously
  8. Outsource your marketing/advertising
  9. Automate your social media campaign
  10. Don’t give up

I hope this list is helpful. There may be other…

View original post 1,534 more words

Advertisements

Making the Best of the Heat of the Moment

making the best of the heat of the moment - www.alliepottswrites.comDo you ever have those moments … the ones that make you realize everything you’ve done over the past several weeks if not months was preparing you for this one specific day or hour?

I had one of those moments recently.

To properly tell you about it though, I need to go back to this summer. We’d invited another family over and decided after the sun began to set, we’d send the kids upstairs where they could watch a movie while the adults continued to chat downstairs.

I escorted the kids to the top of the stairs where I walked into an invisible wall of sauna-like heat. It quickly became apparent that our heater had taken it upon itself to rise up and rebel against the shackles of its thermostatic-overlord’s imposed peace treaty and instead do battle against its arch-nemesis the air conditioning unit. When I’d walked into the fray, both climatic titans had been doing battle for some time, however, the AC was now in a state of retreat.

We shut the unit off and opened all the windows, hoping beyond hope that the artificially heated air could find its way to the greater outside. It was too much to hope for. The ninety-degree temperatures lasted much of the night, and well into the following morning.

We called an HVAC repairman who let us know that a wire had gone bad. A few moments later the AC was once again running as it should. I thought peace had returned. I was wrong.

Fall decided to cut its time with us short this year, hopping over to winter before the leaves could even finish changing their colors. My husband grumbled and moaned about it but after listening to the children and I complain about the chill he begrudgingly went to turn on the heat. Only the heat didn’t come on.

View this post on Instagram

How is it already November?

A post shared by Allie Potts (@alliepottswrites) on

A day passed. Warmer than the last. Then another day. The chill returned. After a few more days of the atmospheric roller coaster, I asked my husband when he’d scheduled the follow-up appointment with the repair service. I learned he hadn’t. Then it grew colder.

My doorbell rang, sending Her Royal Highness into a frenzy. It was the same technician as the one who’d serviced the unit in the summer (who was deathly afraid of dogs – which of course meant HRH wouldn’t leave him alone). He told me it had to be the thermostat. I questioned that as I’d noted the thermostat wasn’t getting power so thought there had to be another problem.

Then he told me it could be the control board on the furnace or maybe still the wiring. He could fix it, he said, but it would be a two-man job and so he’d have to come back another day – which could be a while as they were rather backed up at the moment with other job orders.

I reluctantly agreed and found a sweater. What other choice did I have?

The downside of working from home is the fact that you don’t have the benefit of escaping to another location when things like this happen. While my kids got to thaw at school during the day and my husband was able to work up a sweat running his business, I, on the other hand, spent the next several days trying to write while I huddled next to an ancient space heater.

The weekend arrived. We’d agreed to go camping with the kids’ scout troop back when we thought we’d still be experiencing a Fall this year. It was in the sixties when we arrived at the site and set up our tent. The sun began to set as the troop built up a fire. The temperature dropped. And dropped. And dropped some more.

It was cold enough to allow me to see my breath inside my tent as I burrowed deeper and deeper into my sleeping bag and still the night grew colder. The temperature inside my home, unpleasant as it was, was nothing compared to this. What had we been thinking, agreeing to go camping in mid-November?

But we survived the night and returned home with memories of s’mores, camp songs, and a new pack of dental floss (an award from a campout game), so it wasn’t all bad.

The house was still chilly when we returned home – but it was far better in comparison to what we’d just “slept” through. The technician came back – this time with help. Unfortunately, even with help, the overall the system was still broken. I soldiered on. After all, I’d been through worse.

That is not to say I gave up and accepted my lot. Instead, we called another service who actually managed to correct the problem, though it cost a little of the extra money I would have rather spent on Christmas gifts. However, ten minutes later, I heard the magical whirl of a fan coming back online as heat descended from the ceiling vent. It was glorious.

When I stood around the campfire that night, I’d joked with the other campers that our heat situation had helped acclimate my body to the cold – as if all the days of shivering by my computer were leading up to this moment. However, the hours that followed, proved me wrong. This story doesn’t end with me being able to grit my teeth and deal with larger adversity thanks to a series of trials leading up to this grand event.

No, instead, what I’ve realized is it’s not enough to deal with and work through unpleasant surprises. You also have to be able to keep yourself from settling for less, when it truly matters, even if that sometimes means starting over. I’ve done it before, I’ll do it again, and each time it has gotten a little less scary. And that’s a thought that may just keep me warm for many more days to come. (Though finally having a working HVAC system sure helps too.)

Happy Anniversary and the Difference a Year or Five Makes

“There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

Sadly neither of those days is today. However, I did receive a message informing me that yet another year has come and gone since I started down this whole blogging thing. I decided to celebrate by reflecting on my original goals and how life (and what I post about) has changed since then.

Happy Anniversary - what a difference a year or five makes - www.alliepottswrites.com

quotes provided by http://www.brainyquote.com

When I originally started out, my intent was to establish a platform in support of my novel, An Uncertain Faith, which is a women’s fiction / cozy mystery mashup (and its sequel is now officially out as well). As it was my first attempt at publishing a book, I knew I was in no position to proclaim myself an expert on either the writing or publishing process, but at the same time, I didn’t want to come across as someone who was simply winging it without a plan by sharing ALL the things I didn’t know.

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt” – various sources, but often attributed to Mark Twain

In the end, I thought the better strategy was to rule out writing as a focus as many other authors tend to do. However, I still liked the idea of sharing tips or tricks, or weekly takeaways I’d picked up along the way, which, over time, proved to mostly center on the lessons I was learning from my kids. Some were sweet lessons, while others were more akin to the following:

“Never have more children than you have car windows.” – Erma Bombeck

This strategy worked for me, though family anecdotes rarely go viral, and when they do, it is usually for the worst sort of things. Nonetheless, the content itself was easy enough to generate. All I had to do was look out my window or down the hall. My weekly posts became a sort of happiness journal – a reminder of all the things I was grateful for, and all the reasons I had to celebrate.

At some point, without intending it, this blog had stopped being a way to promote my books and my writing to a general audience but instead evolved into a way to promote myself to the internal me. I guess that is the magic of writing. You never really know what the end result will be until you first start trying.

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” – E.L. Doctorow

However, my kids started to grow up. They started to read. Even worse, they started having lives and personalities of their own. Unfortunately, a nagging thought began to take hold in the back of my brain: I’m their mom, and they’re still my kids, but was that really enough to give me the right to share their stories (beyond the basic funny thing they’ve said) with the general public, even if I am doing my best to protect things like their faces or their names?

For a time, I thought so, but now I’m not quite so sure.

“Always be nice to those younger than you, because they are the ones who will be writing about you.” – Cyril Connolly

And so, I’ve found myself scaling their stories back, though they remain ever at the forefront of my mind. At the same time, I’ve grown older evolved too. I’ve moved on from that earlier version of me, the one who didn’t know how much she needed the weekly written reminders of the small joys as much, if not more than, public acknowledgment of the major accomplishments.

I say this because I was able to keep a promise to myself. I took a risk and made a change. I’m now working full-time in the world of online publishing, which in some ways is completely new for me, but in other ways strangely reminiscent of the world of consumer tech, sales, and project management I left behind. Overall, it has been a positive experience, but if I thought I didn’t know a lot about publishing back then… well let’s just say:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

As a result, I’m continuing to give myself permission to mix things up from the way I’ve done them before. Therefore, while this post may have been prompted by a celebration of my blogging longevity, I’ve decided to relax my self-imposed rules for the balance of the year if not a few weeks longer. It’s not a hiatus per se, as I’m going to still try to post as I am inspired, but if life takes precedence over the written word some weeks, so be it.

However, I am also considering posting on a different day or at a different hour, testing, and refining until I find the combination that works within my new normal. (I may also ask my boys to sign a waiver allowing their mother to post with their permission). Who knows what changes life may bring in the coming year? I sure don’t, and that’s okay. Thus far, not having all the answers has worked out for me far better than I could have ever imagined.

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

I know this small decision might cause additional ripples of change in my future, however, I’m not worried. Because, while I might love consistency and know too well the benefits of having a set schedule can bring, of all the things I’ve learned over the years, appreciating the value of the small things (both the good and the bad) as much as the big things, is the one lesson this blog has taught me how to do best.

As Seen on The Spectacled Bean – On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can Agree

This week was election day in the US, which means we hopefully will get more than at least four-hour break before the commercials start playing for the next one, but I’m not optimistic on that front. However, while there are a lot of things Americans are disagreeing about at the moment, not all hope is lost.

Another Ally has written a great post over at The Spectacled Bean, featuring seven things that can bring us together and just had to share. You can check out her post by clicking on the following link: On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can Agree

Nikki Kan’t Quit – Rocky Row Flash Fiction

The following is a scene featuring a supporting character from the world of An Uncertain Confidence, a Rocky Row Novel.


Nikki Kan't Quit - www.alliepottswrites.comNikki Kant drummed her fingers on her desk’s cheap veneer while she listened to the city liaison ramble on her voicemail. The desk was one of those cheap particle board models you order over the internet and assemble yourself and had a tendency to wobble if her daily paperwork and personal clutter wasn’t placed on its surface just right. The vibration from her finger’s impact sent a pen rolling off its edge. She didn’t bother to pick it up.

The liaison’s voice increased in volume, becoming more clipped by the second as he worked himself into a rage. Apparently, helping a friend was the sort of thing that was frowned upon in the eyes of the city. She’d heard enough. Returning the out-dated handset to its cradle, she pulled out a desk drawer. Her fingers paused over the accordion folder that hid her secret stash of dark chocolate covered caramel seasoned with sea salt. I’m going to need this. She pulled out the accordion folder out as well as a second file folder.

The drawer stuck when she tried to shove it close. Nikki tried again. The drawer remained firmly in its position. Figures, she thought. Folders in hand, Nikki walked over to her boss’ office. By the look of his expression through the glass window, he was off to a similar morning. She tapped on the door with her knuckle before letting herself in without waiting for him to wave.

“Chief.”

“Do you realize I’ve had five reporters call me already?” He glanced at the clock hanging on the wall over her head. “It’s not even nine.” His desk phone rang. The chief frowned. “I’m guessing that’s another one now. Do you want to explain what you were thinking?”

“Not particularly, no. It shouldn’t matter. I was off duty.”

“Off duty or not, what you do reflects on this department. I hope you understand how serious this situation is.”

“I don’t, actually. All I did was go for a run.”

“That’s not all you did and you and I both know it.”

Nikki shrugged.

The chief stood and placed his hands on his desk. “You’re on your way to a suspension pending a full investigation into your behavior over the last few weeks – you understand that, don’t you.”

“That won’t be necessary, sir,” said Nikki separating the accordion holding her stash from the second folder containing a single sheet of paper.

The chief’s eyebrow shot up. “You’re quitting?” He sat back in his chair. It creaked under his weight. “I have to admit, I’m a little disappointed. I thought it would take more to break you.”

Nikki snorted. She opened the thin folder and pulled out its contents. “I’m anything but broken,” she said placing the resignation letter on his desk. “I suggest you read it.” She tucked the accordion folder under her arm. She wasn’t going to need reinforcements after all. Finally going through with her decision after drafting the letter days ago felt better than eating a dozen chocolate bars.

The chief stared at the piece of paper. “This changes nothing,” he said.

“Oh, I’m pretty sure it changes everything.” She removed the badge from her breast and placed it on the desk next to her resignation letter.

“You walk out that door, and you’re on your own. I won’t be able to protect you anymore.”

Nikki smiled. “I survived three tours. I think I can manage.”

A brief knock on the door announced their meeting. Rangle poked his head in. “Chief, I just heard-” He noticed Nikki’s presence then his gaze moved to the chief’s desk. He couldn’t have missed the badge nor the sheet of paper. “I knew it,” he said. “I pegged you as a quitter your first day.”

“I’m not surprised,” said Nikki. “You’ve always been a terrible detective.”

Rangle’s face took on a shade of puce. He turned to the chief. “So, as I was saying, I just heard that we got a lead on that bomb threat last week.”

“It’s a distraction,” said Nikki. “If either of you had only listened–”

“That’s enough, Ms. Kant.” The chief slammed his palm down on the desk. “You’ve made your decision.” He nodded at her resignation letter. “Now, how about you get out of my office so the rest of us can do the job you’re walking away from.”

I’m not walking away from anything, she thought. She turned on her heel and opened the office door. I’m just not following your rules anymore. She closed the door with a bang. A few of the other officers lingering nearby glanced her way at the sound, but no one stopped her as she made her way past the main desk and out the door. Nikki smiled. It was just as well. They wouldn’t have been able to stop her now, even if they’d tried.