The Time Lie

Excerpted from The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

“If I had a year off, I’d write a novel.” Maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn’t. Often the greased slide to writer’s block is a huge batch of time earmarked: “Now write.” Making writing a big deal tends to make writing difficult. Keeping writing casual tends to keep it possible. Nowhere is this more true than around the issue of time.

The myth that we must have “time”—more time—in order to create is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have. If we are forever yearning for “more,” we are forever discounting what is offered.

Just at the moment I have out-of-town guests coming in, a meal to cook, horses to feed, and my dogs would really like a good long walk. I may or may not get to the “long” part of the walk, but I will get to everything else—right after I write. Years as a single mother, a full-time teacher, and a full-time fiction writer taught me to grab for time to write instead of wait for time. Grabbing is what I am doing right now. Grabbing works.

For most of us, the seductive and unstated part of “if I had enough time” is the unstated sentence “to hear myself think.” In other words, we imagine that if we had time we would quiet our more shallow selves and listen to a deeper flow of inspiration. Again, this is a myth that lets us off the hook—if I wait for enough time to listen, I don’t have to listen now, I don’t have to take responsibility for being available to what is trying to bubble up today.

The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that [books] require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a [book] is born—without the luxury of time.

Lawyer Scott Turow wrote his riveting novel Presumed Innocent on his daily commuter train. My student Maureen has managed nine full-length screenplays while raising an infant son and juggling a design career. Michael, another student, wrote an entire book in his “spare” moments the year that he got his master’s degree. All of them did it by making time to write rather than waiting to “find” time.

If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run. As a shrewd woman once told me, “The busiest and most important man can always find time for you if he’s in love with you and, if he can’t, then he is not in love.” When we love our writing, we find time for it.

The trick to finding writing time, then, is to write from love and not with an eye to product. Don’t write something perfect; just write. Don’t try to write the whole megillah; just start the whole megillah. Yes, it is daunting to think of finding time to write an entire novel, but it is not so daunting to think of finding time to write a paragraph, even a sentence. And paragraphs, made of sentences, are what [books] are really made of.

The obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection. We want enough time to write perfectly. We want to write with a net under ourselves, a net that says we are not fools spending our time doing something that might not pay off.

The lies we tell ourselves about writing and time are all connected to envy, to the fairy tale notions that there are others whose lives are simpler, better funded, more conducive to writing than our own.

The trick to finding writing time is to make writing time in the life you’ve already got. That’s where you’ve got leverage. Stop imagining some other life is a “real” writer’s life. Key West sunsets do not make a writer’s life. Trust funds do not fund the flow of ideas. All lives are writers’ lives because all of us are writers.


The Time Lie

Excerpted from The Right to Write by Julia Cameron

“If I had a year off, I’d write a novel.” Maybe you would. Maybe you wouldn’t. Often the greased slide to writer’s block is a huge batch of time earmarked: “Now write.” Making writing a big deal tends to make writing difficult. Keeping writing casual tends to keep it possible. Nowhere is this more true than around the issue of time.

The myth that we must have “time”—more time—in order to create is a myth that keeps us from using the time we do have. If we are forever yearning for “more,” we are forever discounting what is offered.

Just at the moment I have out-of-town guests coming in, a meal to cook, horses to feed, and my dogs would really like a good long walk. I may or may not get to the “long” part of the walk, but I will get to everything else—right after I write. Years as a single mother, a full-time teacher, and a full-time fiction writer taught me to grab for time to write instead of wait for time. Grabbing is what I am doing right now. Grabbing works.

For most of us, the seductive and unstated part of “if I had enough time” is the unstated sentence “to hear myself think.” In other words, we imagine that if we had time we would quiet our more shallow selves and listen to a deeper flow of inspiration. Again, this is a myth that lets us off the hook—if I wait for enough time to listen, I don’t have to listen now, I don’t have to take responsibility for being available to what is trying to bubble up today.

The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that [books] require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a [book] is born—without the luxury of time.

Lawyer Scott Turow wrote his riveting novel Presumed Innocent on his daily commuter train. My student Maureen has managed nine full-length screenplays while raising an infant son and juggling a design career. Michael, another student, wrote an entire book in his “spare” moments the year that he got his master’s degree. All of them did it by making time to write rather than waiting to “find” time.

If we learn to write from the sheer love of writing, there is always enough time, but time must be stolen like a quick kiss between lovers on the run. As a shrewd woman once told me, “The busiest and most important man can always find time for you if he’s in love with you and, if he can’t, then he is not in love.” When we love our writing, we find time for it.

The trick to finding writing time, then, is to write from love and not with an eye to product. Don’t write something perfect; just write. Don’t try to write the whole megillah; just start the whole megillah. Yes, it is daunting to think of finding time to write an entire novel, but it is not so daunting to think of finding time to write a paragraph, even a sentence. And paragraphs, made of sentences, are what [books] are really made of.

The obsession with time is really an obsession with perfection. We want enough time to write perfectly. We want to write with a net under ourselves, a net that says we are not fools spending our time doing something that might not pay off.

The lies we tell ourselves about writing and time are all connected to envy, to the fairy tale notions that there are others whose lives are simpler, better funded, more conducive to writing than our own.

The trick to finding writing time is to make writing time in the life you’ve already got. That’s where you’ve got leverage. Stop imagining some other life is a “real” writer’s life. Key West sunsets do not make a writer’s life. Trust funds do not fund the flow of ideas. All lives are writers’ lives because all of us are writers.


5 Tricks for Getting Discovered as an Author

by Charlie Sunday

Maybe you’re working on your first book, or you’ve recently been published. You want to write full-time in the future, but you’re not sure how to make this dream a reality. Ongoing marketing is the key to making a living as an author. These tips will help you create a workable marketing strategy for your writing projects. Visit the Authors Guild of Tennessee to learn about high-quality literature and find essential resources for writers.  

Manage Your Marketing Budget

 Yes, self-promotion is important for authors - but you have lots of other expenses to cover for your business, so you don’t want to stretch your marketing budget too far. To avoid this pitfall, you should choose accounting software that will help you stay on track with your financial goals.  

Setting Up Your Business

 Creating an official business for your work as an author can help you come across as professional, organized, and serious. While you don’t technically have to register an LLC for yourself, it can be helpful - plus, you’ll earn some tax breaks with this status! Author Media recommends establishing your LLC six months to a year before publishing your first book if possible.  

Present at Local Open Mics

If you want to become successful as an author, you need to connect with your audience. There’s no better way to do this than by appearing at public readings frequently. You may want to look into registering for open mic events at local libraries, nearby writing centers or universities, coffee shops, or small theaters. Institutions like this often host local and visiting writers. This is a great way to challenge your stage fright and gain confidence in your work.  

Start a Blog

What if you have several months before your book becomes available for purchase? Or what if your book is on the shelves, but it will be quite some time before you release another? How can you stay relevant in the public eye during a lull? Blogging could be the answer! By setting up a blog, you can continue growing your audience and reach more potential readers. If you’re interested in blogging, Become a Writer Today recommends covering topics like lessons you’ve learned as an author, solutions to problems your readers might have, your own creative process, and writing tips for other authors.

Promote Yourself on Social Media

By marketing your books on social media, you’ll be able to get in touch with other writers, keep an eye on developing trends in your genre and publishing niche, network with new agents, editors, and graphic designers, and blow off steam when you’re dealing with writer’s block. You might want to share details about upcoming events on Facebook or advertise your new book on Twitter.

If you want to reach a wider audience and build excitement for your book, one of the most effective ways to do this is through memes. Memes are highly shareable, and they can help to generate buzz around your book. If you can create a catchy meme that features your book cover or a memorable quote from your book, you're likely to see it shared widely on social media. This editor tool lets you create an eye-catching meme that you can customize..

However, if you do want to reap the benefits of social media marketing, it’s important not to allow yourself to get distracted by these platforms. Spending too much time on social media can cut into your writing time, so make sure to give yourself limits..

Making a sustainable living as an author isn’t easy - but with the right approach to marketing, it’s definitely possible. No matter what kinds of books you write, you can find a passionate audience by putting effort into self-promotion. With these tips, you’ll have no problem cultivating a buzz about your upcoming books!.

Photo via Pexels

How to Leverage Key Leadership Skills to Transition into New Career Opportunities

by Charlie Sunday

Leadership skills are a critical part of career development. If you’ve spent part of your career building your leadership skills it may be time to leverage them to take advantage of new opportunities - especially in new sectors poised for post-pandemic growth. Want to learn how you can do so? Authors Guild of Tennessee breaks it down below.

Core Leadership Skills to Leverage in Any Industry

To begin with, you need to have some core competencies to thrive in any business sector. These include:
  • Relationship building: When you know how to build good relationships, you will see employee engagement, performance, and respect increase.
  • Agility and adaptability: The business environment is constantly changing - thus influential leaders must be able to work outside their comfort zone and constantly pivot.
  • Innovation: Push your boundaries when it comes to creativity, as this will prime you for different industries.

Sectors to Explore

Once you’re confident in your leadership skills, it will be time to explore new business sectors. Here are some that are expected to grow post-pandemic:
  • Online education: This sector has experienced a boom and could be an excellent option for authors, writers, or those with prior experience in teaching.
  • Healthcare: The public health industry needs front-line workers, solutions, and specialists.
  • E-commerce: There is a surging demand for e-commerce solutions like dropshipping.

Making The Big Transition

After identifying your crucial sector, you’re ready for the big career transition!
  • Seek training: Seeking education or training opportunities could significantly improve your career prospects - for example, if you’re transitioning to healthcare, choose among medical coding courses available online.
  • Admin tasks: Completing simple administrative tasks like forming an LLC and finding an HR management agency can help you find new opportunities in your transition.
  • Prioritize problem-solving: Don’t forget your leadership capabilities after getting hired! Keep using your skill set to provide value by problem-solving.
Ready to put your leadership skills to good use? Your capabilities are in high demand across many booming business sectors, so be sure to take advantage of all these opportunities today!

Hopeful Entrepreneurs Should Take These Steps to Start a Writing Career

Starting a writing business is a big step, but it can also be an empowering one, and people everywhere are branching out to set something up just for themselves. Whether you want to focus on writing books, blogs or magazine articles, or get into the editing side of things, there are a few things you’ll need to consider. Which type of business makes the most sense for your needs right now? What kind of business structure will you need? How much funding will you require? Before you start feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to remember that there are many tools available that will help you through the process. The Authors Guild of Tennessee offers resources that are invaluable to new wordsmithing entrepreneurs, especially as you start thinking about your marketing strategy and how to navigate social media. Here are a few pointers on which decisions you’ll need to make and how to ensure they’re the right ones.

Research your options

Some business ideas are easier to get off the ground than others, so it’s important to do a little research and think about which ones make the most sense for your skillset. Many wordsmiths find it easiest to start with what they know, so think about your hobbies and training. Will you still enjoy the activity if it becomes a business? How much competition will you be facing? Do you have the right certifications to become a knowledgeable business owner who makes customers feel they’re in the right hands? Also, think about how much time you want to put into the business in the beginning; you might decide to work as a freelancer at first so you can dip your toes in the water and make sure it’s right for you.

Find the perfect name

Once you’ve figured out which business path meets your needs best, it’s time to think about the details. It can take some time to come up with the perfect name, but keep in mind that you can also have a DBA, or doing-business-as, name. This means you’ll have options if you decide to start selling different products or services down the line, or if you’re unable to secure your business name as a website domain. Do your homework to make sure the name you want isn’t already taken and consider how you’ll spell it as well as how it will look on a logo and within your branding. Don’t forget to think about possible acronyms; even if you don’t use one, it will be a nasty surprise to find out your business name can be shortened to something inappropriate! Usually, when it comes to business names, the simpler the better. This is especially true when coming up with your logo, which often includes the name of your enterprise. When creating your company logo design, get inspired by checking into some of the free online resources, many of which have templates you can use to generate an eye-catching and professional-looking logo.

Check out your competition, find some funding

Market research is about more than just your competition; LivePlan notes that it informs your business plan, which defines your ideas and provides a guide for you to work from for the first year. Not only that, it gives lenders and potential investors a detailed map of your business so they can see exactly how much funding you need and what it will be spent on. Once you have your ideas and name nailed down, be thorough as you conduct your research, focusing on your target customer and your goals for the first year of business. Don’t forget that private loans are just one option; Bench points out that you can also look for local and federal grant opportunities that are specific to your field.

Trust your instincts

Professional writers often doubt themselves or suffer from a drop in confidence after a setback but trusting your instincts will go a long way toward helping you get through the most challenging parts of starting a business, whether that’s finding funding or creating a marketing strategy. Look for a business mentor who can help you boost your self-confidence as you start making important decisions. Starting a writing business takes a lot of dedication and patience but starting with a good plan will help you get through it with ease. Utilize as many online resources and tools as possible, especially as you start building your daily operations. Photo via Pixabay

How to Start Being a Freelance Writer

by Charley Sunday

Do you want a job that’s location-independent, fully flexible, and can grow with you? Writing is among the most long-standing freelance professions and the demand for self-employed writers isn’t going anywhere. One of the best parts of being a freelance writer is that you can do it part- or full-time and flex your hours to accommodate other responsibilities. It’s a cushy side gig for a college student, a great job to float you after graduation, and a skill to fall back on during career and life transitions. Strong writing skills are important, but you don’t need to be a published author to make a career in writing. Most freelance writers work in marketing, public relations, technical writing, and other professions where good grammar and the ability to write clearly go a long way.

What Do You Need to Become a Freelance Writer?

You don’t need special qualifications to start writing, but there are some things to know before becoming a freelancer:
  1. Freelance businesses are typically inexpensive, but you may need to buy office equipment and software, set up a website, pay incorporation fees, and cover other startup expenses.
  2. Look into business loans and grants if you need extra financing, but understand what’s required for a successful application. Search within your industry to find grants you’re eligible for and prepare a strong proposal to make your case. In addition to national grants, you can find grants specific to states.
  3. If you’re doing a lot of freelance work, you may want to incorporate. Incorporating protects you legally but you’ll have to file separate business and personal taxes.
  4. Every freelancer needs a system for recording income and expenses, tracking receipts, and invoicing clients. A software-as-a-service product like QuickBooks Online, Xero, or FreshBooks is an affordable alternative to enterprise-level software for freelancers.
  5. You can create customized invoices by using an online invoice generator. Choose from a variety of templates and then add your own terms, color scheme, and images.

How to Build Your Freelance Writing Resume

You’re confident in your writing skills, but how can you convince prospective clients? A freelance writer’s resume should emphasize skills, subject areas, and accomplishments. Think about what’s relevant to the client’s niche and show how your experience applies. Include links to your website and a portfolio with writing samples. You can use mock pieces if you don’t have professional writing experience. Is your writing resume looking a bit bare? Beef up your skills with online courses in topics like:
  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis.
  • Editing and proofreading.
  • Interviewing
  • Project management.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media marketing.
  • Storytelling

Where to Find Freelance Writing Jobs

As you grow as a freelance writer, you’ll develop a network and brand that draws clients to you. In the meantime, how can you find work? Some freelancers write on spec. This refers to writing a piece and pitching it to publications. It can be a good fit for small outlets and niche publications, but the downside is there’s no guarantee you’ll get paid. You can also try pitching ideas to gauge interest before starting work on a piece. A lot of freelancers find work using online marketplaces. Some of the best websites to find freelance jobs online include:
  • Freelancer.com
  • Jobspresso
  • Upwork.com
  • Flexjobs
  • Indeed
  • Writers Work
  • LinkedIn
Use a professional headshot in your freelancer profile and write a summary that hooks prospective clients. Don’t stop there. Networking and marketing are necessary to maximize visibility as a freelancer and attract more clients. Learn where your audience frequents online and get in front of their eyes with useful content, infographics, and how-tos designed to pique interest in your business. Writing is one of those skills that’s always good to have in your pocket. Whether you want part-time work that fits your college schedule, a temporary gig while you search for the right career or a flexible full-time job, there are opportunities in freelance writing. Use this information to find your niche and start earning a living as a professional writer. Visit the Authors Guild of Tennessee for unique stories that celebrate Tennessee’s rich literary tradition!

A Tax Resource Guide for Freelancers and Contract Employees

by Charlie Sunday

If you’re a writer or another professional working on a freelance or contract basis, you can't count on your employer to withhold the requisite taxes, social security contributions, and other deductions from your paycheck. It's up to you to keep track of your financial obligations. This resource guide covers some more useful tips and tools you can use to manage taxes as a freelancer or contract worker.

Keep Your Paperwork Organized

You'll thank yourself for your organizational prowess when tax filing season rolls around.
  • Establish a set system for where and how you will store and label your tax-relevant documents, like invoices and expense notes.
  • Keep hard copies of your tax-relevant paperwork in fire-proof filing cabinets.
  • Make note of quarterly and annual tax filing deadlines and write them into your calendar. Set yourself digital reminders if needed.

Invest in Useful Tools to Stay On Top of Your Business FInances

 Cutting-edge tech can help streamline your tax burden.
  • Use an app to scan your expenses and invoices, digitizing them.
  • Try cloud storage solutions to back up your tax paperwork and related documents.
  • Consider getting accounting software for freelancers.
  • Use phone apps to help keep track of your expenses.

 Find Ways to Reduce Your Tax Bill

Different from tax evasion, so-called "tax avoidance" allows you to legally reduce your taxable income and taxes.
  • Register your business as a formal legal entity, like a Tennessee LLC, making it easier to claim tax write-offs.
  • Familiarize yourself with the deductions you may be able to claim as a freelancer or contract worker.
  • Recognize the common signs that you could use support with your tax work—such as getting audited.
  • Find a professional CPA who specializes in tax-reduction strategies to help you save.
Getting a handle on your taxes as a writer or another professional working as a freelancer or contract employee can be daunting at first. However, there are many handy resources available to help. If you're feeling overwhelmed, a professional CPA can be useful. Visit Authors Guild of Tennessee for stories that reflect the present-day culture or history of East Tennessee.