Friday, February 11, 2011

Are You an Overcommitted Writer?

Who is the overcommitted writer? This will give you some idea of who this person is:

* This writer will have no less than 10 ideas racing around in his/her head begging to be written, but no time to write any of them down

* This writer spends no less than 8 hours a day on the computer

* This writer's family eats lots of fast food or TV dinners, especially when a deadline is involved

* The housework piles up until this writer can't take it anymore and spends an entire day cleaning out of sheer frustration

* When this writer is lucky, he/she gets more than 5 hours of sleep each night

* This writer is the person who volunteers for every project that comes across her desk or Inbox

Doesn't this writer sound hopeless? A lost cause, right? Well, not exactly.

The trick to not getting overcommitted is to learn how to say "no." It's not a dirty word, but a lot of people--especially women--find that tiny word so difficult to say.

Saying "no" does not mean you are a bad person, self-centered, or ungiving. It simply means you realize your body and mind can only do so much with the time you have. If you're constantly running around with little or no time to relax and enjoy life, then your physical and mental health will suffer.

But how do you say "no" and not feel like a bad person? Honestly, I'm still trying to figure that one out. I have read lots of articles about ways to say "no" and tips on how to get to the point where you can say "no" comfortably, but I'm not there yet. Writer Donna Birk has this great article I found at, which talks about the stages of learning to say "no." I'm in Stage 2, but I still have a lot of work to do.

I plan to make my writing a priority in 2011. Now that my first book is out, I want to keep moving forward with my career. I have one project almost ready to submit to a publisher, a halfway completed WIP, and 30 new picture book ideas to work on thanks to Picture Book Idea Month. Learning to say "no" is going to be crucial to reaching my goals this year.

How about you? Do you have a hard time saying "no?" What goals have you set for your writing for 2011? Is learning to say "no" going to be important to reaching your goals? Do you have tips to share on how to make saying "no" easier?


Angela said...

Great new blog, Cheryl! Unfortunately I fit nearly all of your bullet points! Most of my ideas now are for fiction projects, which I haven't started. I am simply tapped out on blog ideas, because I do it everyday, all day, and simply cannot stomach brainstorming any more.

I find I put too much pressure on myself to do everything. After a previous review blog I worked on shut down, I felt like I needed to keep up the momentum - and keep those publishing contacts. It hasn't been easy to launch a new blog. I've been inundated with books to review, pressure myself to have a VBT slot per day and the perfect design - which, of course, isn't happening because the template I bought upgraded and it isn't that easy to upgrade yourself.

What I really want to do is focus on fiction. Period. I have so many ideas, I cannot keep them straight, and I'm struggling to define my protagonists, so they are unique among the plethora of heros in the paranormal genre. I have a terrific idea for a YA series, but I need some advice from YA authors and those who have done tribute-type stories.

This is way TMI. I guess what' I'm trying to say is that I have trouble saying NO to myself more than others. That self-pressure hurts in a lot of areas. Add to that the unsettle household I have right now due to the job market and that just stinks for fiction. I think, too, I just don't want to start a project, put all that work into it, then drop it if I get a new job, or because my home life gets to be a bigger burden.

NancyCL said...

Great article. Sometimes it is hard to say "no" and easy to feel overwhelmed! :-(

Cheryl said...

Hi Angela,

I understand where you're coming from. There are days I wonder if I'll ever be able to accomplish anything. Work takes up so much of my time. Plus there's a side business Ii'm trying to launch, the girls' activities, and curently I'm running romance novel events at two blogs. By the way, did I mention this is like the 6th blog I have going? LOL!

Here's some advice that might help:

1) Take a morning and write down what you want to accomplish with your writing.

2) Then write a separate list of all the things that prevent you from writing each day.

3) Review that second list to see what you can cut out or reduce. A new blog launch takes time, and reviewing books is a huge commitment. Take it from the girl with the 100 book TBR pile and counting. When you launched Authors & Appetizers, I thought it was just going to be a guest blogging place. Have you changed your mind on that or are you reviewing somewhere else?

I've stopped taking new book review requests for the time being. I need to concentrate on the books I have and make more time for writing.

I'm no help on the paranormal front or the YA front, but I'll see what I can find out for you. Feel free to email me some details.


Mayra Calvani said...

Great blog and great post. I facebooked it and tweeted it. :-)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for spreading the word, Mayra.

Yes, Nancy, you're right it's not easy to say "no." Feeling overwhelmed comes much easier. But we also have to decide how bad we want our writing careers; how important our writing is to us. There is always going to be a reason why we can't write or can't do what we need to do. At some point, the excuses need to stop and the butt needs to go in the chair, the Internet needs to be ignored, and we get down to business.

I spent the past month and a half networking, and my writing has truly suffered. I was going to hold another blogging event at my blogs in March. Instead, I am going to focus that time on writing. If I want to move forward, I need to make it happen.

Thanks for stopping by ladies.