The Jigsaw Puzzle of a Writing Life

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

For each of us, the writing life is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. You try different pieces to see which ones will fit. You have to experiment to find the right combination for you and your writing. One of the online groups where I participate was talking about critique groups this week. Just like your writing, you have to experiment with critique groups to find the right fit for you—the right people with similar worldviews, the right mixture of people and whether it is in person or online or a little of both. Nothing is clear cut and nothing works for every writer. Instead like putting together a puzzle, you have to experiment and try different things to see which ones will work for you.
I suspect your schedule for the day is similar to my schedule—mostly blank unless I'm at a conference or event where my schedule is generally filled with meetings and activity. As an editor, I email people and schedule phone meetings. I also make phone calls to follow-up with authors and others but the bulk of my schedule is blank. My day is filled with a variety of activities.
This past week I had returned from a writer's conference where I met with many writers about their books. I spent a great deal of time, putting their information into my computer (to make it easy to access) then writing them emails and asking to submit their manuscript. While I encouraged them to send it when we were face to face and I gave them my business card, the email reinforces that I actually want them to send me their material. From doing this work for several years, I understand not every submission will be a good fit for Morgan James. There are many reasons this fit isn't the right one—but I know for certain they can't get into the consideration process if they don't submit their material.  I have had some good exchanges from these emails and expect more material will arrive in the days ahead from my follow-up work.
Also I had a zoom call with a journalist in the United Kingdom asking questions about my writing life. This interview was recorded then posted this week on a private group. Sometimes I will pitch a particular podcast or radio station to get this interview. Other times they will approach me and we will schedule the session. The majorty of the time I pitch myself to get these types of opportunities. When they happen, I ask for the recording then save this recording on my own website. Then I can promote the interview over and over on my social media and know the interview is not going to disappear.
I have several regular guest blogging assignments. I schedule reminders on my phone to help me to meet the deadlines for each one, which has a slightly different audience and focus. In this process, I will often recycle or slightly rewrite an older article so it can be done in a shorter amount of time than creating it from scratch. 

While each of my days are filled with different activities, there is a balance between immediate deadlines and long-term deadlines. I continue to write books for other people as well as promote my own work. As I've mentioned in these entries, there is always more work to be done. A particualr project will be completed but there are other tasks that need to be done.
I use tools like Hootsuite to schedule my social media posts and respond to those posts. Your consistent effort is an important part of the process. Throughout today I will be emailing and calling people as well as writing on different projects. These actions are all part of the jigsaw puzzle of my writing life. What steps are you taking? Let me know in the comments below.