Taking Stock of A Writing Career

Monday, February 10, 2014
WINTER! (Lone Elk County Park, MO)*
I recently had a mid-writer crisis. (Kind of like a mid-life crisis). I was invited to speak at an event with some rather well-known and popular St. Louis children's authors at the beautiful public library in downtown St. Louis in the dead of winter. The night we were supposed to speak and sign books to our adoring fans, the schools were closed and the temps were under 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Needless to say, there were more authors than audience members, but for me, that turned out to be a positive thing.

We changed the format and sat around in a circle, discussing our careers, our current projects, our brand, our agents--wait, wait, no agent for me, no current book under contract--I don't have a brand either. And as I sat there listening and discussing, a question kept plaguing me: Margo, what are you doing? What are you doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING????

I took stock of how I spend the very limited time that I have to work each day (since I must also sleep and raise my family), and I soon realized (before I even got my mittens on and my scarf around my neck that night) that I needed to reassess my goals, how I spend my work time, and what I wanted from my career. On the drive home from the library, I did just that. It turns out that when writers who live in your same city and are at events with you,fulfilling their career goals, and you are not--it's very motivating. (Okay, a little depressing at first, but soon enough, motivation kicks in.)

So, now I have to make some changes. I have to write some difficult e-mails to quit some jobs and turn down some opportunities that just don't fit with what I want--which is to be a full-time children's author, writing instructor, and editor--with an emphasis on the author part. I want an agent. I want books under contract. I want readers to impatiently wait for another one of my books to come out.

I have to re-do my blog and website. I have to find new ways to engage readers and promote myself while also sharing the wonderful work of fellow authors that I love.

It's a few weeks after that career-changing night, and I still have that passion to get my career going stirring in my belly. I have typed up my goals, shared them with my writing group, and posted them on the refrigerator. I have made notes in my calendar about when each one has to be finished.

I'm excited about what's ahead, and I know with a refocus and new purpose, my career is going to go places. But it's still hard to look back and miss some of those activities/jobs that no longer fit with what I want out of my writing career.

How about you? Have you ever had to make decisions like these? Share with us! 

*Photo above by Joe Kopp; find out more at Joe Kopp Art: http://www.joekoppart.com

Margo Dill is excited to announce her second novel, a young adult light paranormal,Caught Between Two Curses, will be out in March 2014 from Rocking Horse Publishing. She teaches writing classes for WOW! in children's and YA novels and short fiction, and novel writing in general for all ages of readers. To find out more, go to http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html


Sioux Roslawski said...

I used to blog 3 times a week or so. Then I found out that posting that often took away from "real" writing. Now, I post once or twice a week...sometimes even less if I'm in the middle of some heavy-duty writing.

I'm sorry I missed that writing event--I saw it in the paper too late--but I'm glad you were able to make the small crowd work for you. (I'm a firm believer that we learn more from our failures than our successes.)

Good luck.

Karen Wojcik Berner said...

Last year, I went through the same thing--trying to figure out what fits in with my writing goals and what is superfluous. It helps to do that every once in awhile to ensure you're on track.

Glad that appearance was helpful for you Margo. Good luck with your work.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing, Margo. You have no idea how relevant this is to me. I feel like you were in my head. I've been evaluating pretty much every aspect of my writing life and making plans about *where to go from here.*

Thank you for the motivating, affirming post, and best of luck in your refreshed direction!

Anonymous said...

Neil Gaiman spoke about a goal being at the top of the mountain, and anything not moving you forward would keep you from reaching your goal. He said he gave up lucrative jobs that were fine--but would have moved him sideways, not forward. And I admit, sometimes, I take the sideways jobs or get sidetracked by other people's goals.

Gosh, it's hard, Margo, but being aware of what you need to do is the first step, right?

Onwards and upwards, sister! ;-)

Audrey said...

What a great post Margo! I too think that you are hiding inside my head. I know what I need to do, I just need to do it.

Kathy Kottaras said...

It sounds like it was a shocking moment, but how exciting for you to set new goals!


Elizabeth McBride said...

Margo - I'm thinking the same things. I have been so busy meeting goals that were slightly askew of mine, that I have now dropped good programs and good opportunities because I finally realized they were not good for me and for the kind of work I need to be doing right now to be moving my work forward. I was keeping myself very busy, but writing for purposes that were not my first purposes. For our efforts to get off the ground, there must be something under them to propel them forward. Unfocused busyness does not propel, it dissipates energy.

Margo Dill said...

Thank you for taking the time to read this post and for all of your encouraging comments. I am so lucky to have an amazing group of supportive women writers here at WOW! It is so hard to change! But we do have to stay focused and figure out what is working for our careers and personal lives and what isn't. Good luck to each of you, and I'll keep you all posted on how it goes for me!

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