This looks like an editor face…right? No? More naughty librarian? I'll take it.
Yes, as you can see from this magnificent blog, I'm a veritable font of writing wisdom. And one way I dispense that advice, when I'm not folding it into fortune-cookie form or replying to mailbox questions is to give it directly to folks about the writing that they show me.
I did a freelance gig this afternoon, and made that my writing for the day. It means there won't be a regular post, but I'll post tomorrow what would have gone up today.
It also means that YOU TOO can partake of my direct help.
I am not very good at proofreading (and rubbish at copy), but I am really good at content and development, and I can even do a little of the line/substantive editing as long as no one is expecting much help with grammar.
I do ask for what I'm worth (both given the industry average and the fact that I am already a working writer and any job is probably taking away from my writing time): $60/hr for easy jobs and up to $85/hr if I'm being asked to drop everything right away or am being given a soul crushing job.
Yesterday I had an appointment with my Hematologist/Oncologist, and I was pretty messed up for most of the day. THEY called me after a routine blood test, and I've learned over the last year that when a specialist reaches out to a patient, it's not quite the same as a run-of-the-mill referral. I was trying to stay positive and not entirely able to shake the feeling that I was going to get bad news.
Turns out, I’m okay.
My PCP doesn’t quite know what “normal” is for me on a couple of values, so she got worried at my white blood counts and platelets, but they weren’t low enough to worry my hematologist. One (white blood cell count) was probably low because I was recovering from covid. The other (platelets) is just…it's just something I have to live with. I have an enlarged liver and spleen and they don't know why—but it's not getting worse, so it's just a THING™. I will have to be careful if I get a bad cut or have internal bleeding.
And apparently I'll have a lifetime of doctors who will initially think my numbers are scary and want to send me to a specialist.
Weekly Schedule Adjustments-
This week I'm probably not going to be blogging much. I will try to get a "Best of" post up since I need to catch up on those, but the majority of my writing is going to be behind the scenes. My Patrons are outrageously overdue for newsletters and early access posts and such, and since they keep the lights on and the bills paid around here, that's where my effort is going until I'm all caught up.
It's been a long recovery from cancer and surgery, and a lot of people have kept right on with support even while I struggled to get up a couple of posts a week. Those folks are going to get the lion's share of my effort for a while.
Behind the Scenes-
Most of this week's writing is going to be going on behind the scenes for our Patrons.. Expect the Newsletter and The Inside Scoop, and if I'm doing as well as I hope I'm doing, an Early Access post as well.
While most of you just click the link I put on social media when you see that something I have written interests you, there actually IS an update schedule here, and as we enter a new phase of Covid, and I am mostly (but not FULLY) recovered from cancer and surgery, we are implementing perhaps the biggest, most significant update schedule change in the history of this blog.
Note: In addition to everything below, which will set up the schedule I am trying to achieve, I am still mentally and emotionally recovering fully from cancer and surgery. I'm doing the best I can, and sometimes that's coming up a little short.
I made a major change at the end of 2019. For my ongoing mental health and for my other long-term writing projects (fiction and some compilation e-books of our best articles). I am putting the days of seven posts a week and 70-hour weeks in the rear-view for good, and moving into a more quality > quantity phase of the blog.
Yippee ki yay! Writing About Writing consists primarily of one guy who takes care of a couple of kids, tries to keep up with some domestic stuff, is writing a novel, posts on another blog, posts a LOT on his Facebook wall, and sometimes does really wacky shit like try to play a D&D game with friends or get laid or something.
He's also a working writer, though, so he better stop making a bunch of excuses and make with the clackity clack.
This is the schedule we will generally make an effort to keep. I say "make an effort," but I have to be honest about four things.
I have written posts from my bed with 102°-fever or from coffee shops out of state while on vacation or during hospital visits to people with cancer, so it is very likely that no matter what happens, you will still get more than a couple of posts a week, and I really really really do mean MAKE AN EFFORT.
I am absolutely balls at keeping on top of WHAT gets updated on WHICH days, and I am likely to start Tetris-ing the posts for the week if I SNEEZE too hard.
I am still working through the full effects of the global pandemic, including the massive, unrelenting, fully permeated burnout that comes from 18 months of 70-hour weeks. (At least one more vacation in the next month or two is badly needed, and after that I'm going to take them on a more reasonable schedule than I did for the first decade of this blog.)
I have mostly—BUT NOT FULLY—recovered from stage two colon cancer and the resection surgery to remove a tumor.
Thanks to my patrons, I have been able to quit part-time teaching, pet sitting*, and cut back on the amount of nannying I do as a side gig to focus more and more on writing. If you would like to help us write more and better updates, even a dollar a month helps me budget.
*I still have a couple of close, super-easy clients, so you might see me post about this stuff, but I don't run all over the Bay Area anymore.
Facebook Writing and Social Justice Bard
Most of my major writing ends up on this blog, but some of my more throwaway thoughts don't. If you particularly enjoyed our Social Justice Bard posts, I still have many bees in my bonnet.
I invite you to follow my Public Facebook Page (you can friend it if you send me a message, but it might be better if you follow it for a while first––unfiltered me is not everyone's cup of tea). I post somewhat more "political and partisan thoughts" there (rather than just social ISSUES) and also often post "proto-versions" of what later become full blog posts (if you're interested in seeing how those things develop). [There's also personal updates and nerdery there.]
I also have another blog called NOT Writing About Writing that I periodically update (once or more a week pre-covid, but now it's a couple of times a month in wild fits and starts), write personal updates, and post political thoughts that don't really tie into writing but that also aren't really short enough for Facebook. Everything I ever write for any medium (and reruns of my best stuff) gets cross-posted to that Public Facebook Page, so join me there if you want to see everything I write.
Facebook Page Maintenance
Running my Facebook Page of over a 1.1 million followers as well as maintaining all the OTHER various social media (which is essential to the fact that I get to be a working writer) is basically a part-time job in and of itself. It just happens to be spread out so that the work happens in five-minute increments throughout the day, pretty much hourly, almost any time I'm not asleep.
Mostly I've just done this AND my writing and not really acknowledged the ways in which the aggregate of all these five minutes here and there impact a weekly writing schedule.
Prepare for More of the W.A.W Meta Plot
Just a quick note: if you've been around for a while (or have dug through a lot of the first-year articles), you may have noticed that we have sort of a running plot and bizarre cast of characters here at Writing About Writing. We're going to be getting back into these kinds of posts.
There is a shame spiral that I get into when I feel like I'm not updating enough, or significantly enough, and I feel like the meta plot posts are "too fluffy" and too fun. So I am more likely to try to push myself to post something significant. (Which is ironic because I'm then more likely to not make it and have to push back the post altogether.)
However my readers have CONSISTENTLY and UNSWERVINGLY said that they like these types of posts and that they make the experience of me writing an ongoing blog more cohesive instead of just being the occasional article they want to see. So I'm really really really going to try to shut off that part of my brain that is insisting that my meta plot posts are phoning it in, and post them more often.
THE UPDATE SCHEDULE
BEHIND THE SCENES (and an accountability post)
While I would love to get a blog up on every day that I'm clacking away in front of a computer, I also have a significant "behind the scenes" obligation to the folks who keep the lights on around here that takes time and energy. Ironically, if I give these kinds of rewards some dedicated time, I'm not only going to be better about doing them, but also about the blogging itself—they both have a way of distracting me from the other as I get overwhelmed and sit in front of my computer, unable to move in either direction because I feel like I'm letting down the other.
However, I consistently have parts of this job that don't involve dropping a forward-facing blog.
Once a month I cannibalize a day of blogging to write my Patrons a newsletter, and now that the pandemic is mostly winding out of the Shelter In Place phase, four times a year, I'm going to need to write TWO newsletters.
I absolutely need to spend a day or two every month just doing admin stuff for Writing About Writing (like catching up on emails, cleaning up menus, and the like), or it gets SO far behind, SO quickly. As it is, I sort of imagine we're going to take a year to "dig out" of the stuff I just put up.
My Patreon tiers are perpetually in need of their rewards. Whether it's an early-access post or just a selfie from one of my hikes, I need to attend more consistently to the folks who are devoting their financial resources to my ability to be a working writer.
Also, I have a couple of other writing projects that require my time and attention.
From time to time when we are having a VERY busy week and need a second day to clear out the admin issues so that they don't back up, you might see the easier of the two admin posts go up on a Tuesday, but mostly I'll be working hard in the background.
You WILL see an accountability post on most Mondays. I'm going to restart posting progress on other projects, and I will let everyone know what I'm working on behind the scenes. But it will be more of a bullet point memo than a post.
While technically no "off" day is truly off (even the weekends) as I take my own advice and write every day, having Tuesdays off from the responsibility of posting an official blog represents all the hours I work on other jobs. I have spent far too long beating myself up because they don't "count." Not only will taking time off to acknowledge these things be better for my mental health and "overworked" meter, but they will allow me to attend to both them and my writing without feeling like I'm neglecting the other and getting overwhelmed because I'm not spinning all the plates perfectly.
So after much garment rending and self-reflection, and some deep thoughts about how much I will take on if I let myself, I have decided to take a three days off free and clear. (Although, as I mentioned, I'm always writing—this is more about the obligation of getting a post up than whether or not I actually "write every day" like the advice I give.)
Of course, I would give any human being on earth the same advice and would tell them they were being too hard on themselves if they didn't take it, so this is absolutely a case of thinking basic self care doesn't count for me. However I have two work factors that impact my writing schedule:
Childcare side gig (7-10 hours a week)
Facebook Maintenance (10-12 hours a week)
I mean that should probably be two or three days off by the number of hours, but obviously, I'm not going to take THAT much time each week. I'll stick to one day (Tuesdays) and try not to feel too guilty about it.
We need (at least) one dedicated day a week to kind of take care of what I call "jazz hands," although it might be better described as "admin-ish stuff that HAS to get done at some point." It's not necessarily Total Fluff™, but it usually isn't exactly a new article either.
The review of the best posts we did in the month prior takes up a post. Often we have some kind of announcement or meta news about what's going on or coming up. You might also see a single entry for the long-forgotten character lists or an update to one of the menus (along the top of the page).
Wednesdays will typically be the days that get cannibalized for Patron newsletters, fiction, or anything else that needs my priority attention.
Thursday We have a number of "types" of posts that are just a little lighter fare. Everything from SHORT Mailbox questions to our aforementioned meta plot posts to personal updates. Not necessarily admin or "jazz hands" but probably a little less "chewy/crunchy" than Friday posts.
Fridays, for the most part, will be The Big Post™ of the week. If you're here for the hard-hitting writing advice (with the occasional examination of how language and narrative play into broader social issues), Friday is the day to tune in. Longer Mailboxes, full craft, process, and sometimes even style articles.
I used to write posts for NOT Writing About Writing and either drop them on my usual days off or post on both WAW and NWAW on the same day. I'm no longer going to be doing this. If I drop something on NWAW, I'll put a notice up on WAW that that is the writing for the day.
The Two-Post Commitment
Some weeks aren't going to go down like clockwork, and they might be front- or back-loaded with side gigs or other commitments. My writing career is also starting to open up occasional opportunities of interest like conventions, speaking engagements, interviews, or podcasts. On the advice of my doctor, I'm trying to be better about the (literally) health-shattering 60–70-hour weeks I was working, and I'm working to whittle that number down a lot closer to 40. That's a needle to thread when you are your own boss and you know that people will lower your income if they don't feel like they're getting enough of the content they want. I can't promise every week will go down as smoothly as three posts like end-of-the-week clockwork, but I will try really hard to get three posts up each week, and I can just about promise that I will at least do two. They might just be posted off schedule––landing on a Saturday or Sunday, for example—but barring illness, injury, or fabulously unforeseen circumstances (which I must now admit would absolutely include cancer and/or surgery), I will try hard to hit three and at least do two. The Return of the Monthly Dedicated Novel Writing Time Increase
You may have noticed that any effort to take blogging time to give to my novel was COMPLETELY on pause during the early parts of the pandemic (and then went on pause again as I recovered from cancer/surgery). But now it is back. The hardest thing I've tried doing as a blogger is keeping my fiction at a high level of priority. It's SO easy to just write a blog, call it a day, and go put my feet up. And blogging is what I'm getting paid for, so it's even easier.
But...as much as I've surprised even myself by discovering how much I fucking love blogging, I do want to write fiction too. Finding time as much time for both is impossible, so I have to borrow from Peter to pay Cliché. While I am getting traction out of writing an hour or so of fiction first (so that then I still have to do the blogging in order to do "a day's work"), there may still be times where the needs of fiction completely take priority over blogging.
I'm firmly in the "Write Every Day" camp. But how much I write, what I write, and what I'm impassioned to write can sometimes still be a creative ebb and flow of being at my Muse's whim.
I'm also going to try something new and interesting. Each month I'm going to take an ADDITIONAL, cumulative day off to sequester myself and work on my book (as well as possibly other fiction). This isn't the only time I'll be working on my book, but I'll be diverting my blogging time towards it as well. I'll start with one day in September, and then two in October, and three in November and four in December. I'll reevaluate how things feel to my patrons at four extra days off each month—at that point I would either be updating only twice a week (if I spread the days out) or taking a full week off every month (if I took them all at once). It might depend on how close I am to finishing or a draft or something.
Hopefully, I'll have something to show for these days off by the time Patrons might begin complaining that I'm not updating enough, but I hope that the transparency and gradualness both help in that regard.
I've learned that I need some regular time off to keep my energy levels and output high when I AM working. Expect me to take a few days to a week off every quarter (three months) or so. Trust me, you might get a few less posts, but it'll keep the ones that go up much fresher.
You know that two weeks that starts a few days before Christmas and kind of goes until the third or the fourth of January? Yeah, I don't work that. It's busy enough. I can barely figure out what day it is most of the time. I'm rubbish. Don't ask me to get posts up.
I'm adding something that I basically realized today (I first wrote this on 3/5/2020). I'm going to take a break in our "regularly scheduled program" during election weeks. Midterms, primaries, obviously the presidential ones. I just need to acknowledge that the writing that happens will be on other blogs (like NWAW) and in other places (like my Facebook page) and that unless I am backing someone polling at 90 points, it's very, very, VERY likely I'm going to have at LEAST one day where I need to go back to bed into a pillow fort with ice cream.
There MIGHT occasionally be a fourth or even fifth (?) post in a week. Usually this will happen when I need to cover some ground on "blog business." (Like when I revise an old article so much that it deserves a fresh post, update a menu, write a new answer for our F.A.Q., or otherwise do something that needs to get done, but doesn't fit into our usual posting schedule). In this case, you might see an extra post pop up from time to time on the weekend or two in one day. Fiction will also usually go up independently of our regular schedule. It's less likely to happen these days, while I'm really struggling to get back to the old posting frequency, but it used to happen a lot.
I'm writing this blog in real time, so there will be problems with updates in real time. I still watch kids for seven to twelve hours a week. Plus my host body occasionally succumbs to these pesky Earth illnesses and requires dental and medical maintenance to serve me well. And every once in a couple of blue moons I even just take a damn day off with no preplanning. So those three posts might not always happen like clockwork or may involve going off the rails of my usual updates. Until my Patreon pays ALL the bills, my reality is that I sometimes have to prioritize paid gigs.
I maintain a Facebook page for this blog that has over a million followers. From time to time a post I put up may intersect with a social issue, or just tick some people off, and then all the dillholes come out to play, and I have to spend a day basically babysitting the comments. I don't love it, but it has to be done or the bigots will chase off the people who I actually WANT to be there.
This flexible update schedule should also cut down on the thing where I'm apologizing to absolutely fucking nobody that it's Thursday and I've yet to put so much as a taco video up. (MMMMM tacos.) I know that some people are annoyed by how often I apologize, and the rest don't really care. But this also settles my own inner overachiever. As long as I get in all the entries that week, my readers (who have literally never said anything in six years about my update schedule) and myself can give me a break.
I invoke the Anything Can Happen™ real world excuse. In ordinary times, I usually have a couple of "emergency blogs" tucked away, but after surgery, I chewed through them as fast as I could tuck them away. So any bump in the road hits the blog update schedule in real time. Health complications might crop up suddenly and have me needing to do a sudden, unexpected several-hour shift or even an overnight...or maybe even more. Trust me, I'm going to feel ten times worse about missing a post than all of my readers combined.
Admin Long-weekends at least once a month will still be a thing, but instead of "we might have an admin long weekend this month," I'm going to assume we WILL have them, and maybe we might have a POST. Since I'm not working Tuesdays and this would normally fall under the purview of a Monday "Behind the Scenes" post, I will take the first Wednesday of each month off.
Also......folks, if you like what I do, support your "local" artist. (In this case "local" means more independent, amateur, and two-bit than literally down the street.) The pandemic is not yet over, there's still a long phase of transition to work through, and I'm not in a financial position to completely give up my childcare side gig or pay someone to take over the admin of my Facebook page (both major time sinks that pull from my writing hours, but cannot be avoided without losing income that I don't yet have to spare).
If you want to help me focus on writing (without all the side gigs), yeet a few dollars into that "tip jar" at the top left, or even better yet sign up to be a monthly patron through Patreon. (You'll also get in on the back-channel discussions about posting schedules, big changes, and upcoming projects.) I have bills to pay like any other starving artist, and though my schedule is a lot better than it was three years ago, even a dollar a month (just $12 a year) will go a long way.
Note: Hi there, Mr. Elephant. I guess we should address you.
So....yeah. I ABSOLUTELY KNOW that there is a pretty loud contingent of "Who Cares!" from the other side of the Internet, and I'll give you all a nod if this isn't your cup of tea. It's cool. You do you. Posts such as this one are not my least popular kinds of posts (that honor is reserved for meta posts about why there's no regular post…for some reason), but on the other hand, not every post can't be the barnburners of me replying to social justice hate mail. However, I'm not going to stop posting my update schedule…every single time I adjust it.
One of our mission statements is to keep "The Process" transparent and give you updates in real time, so there will always be an occasional hat tip to the meta. I want people to understand that writers struggle with their own productivity, schedules, and discipline. We are constantly dissatisfied with how much we're writing (or not) and trying to redefine ourselves, fiddle with the knobs, and find that perfect air/fuel mixture of writing vs. all the other parts of our lives. I want folks to see that someone who is making a paycheck doesn't have all the answers. I want them to see how their work/life balance matters, and how easy it is to fall into working TOO much or not enough, and either one causes problems. I want them to see that a successful blog doesn't require nine updates a week (and, in fact, that's too many). And I want them to see how artists are constantly struggling to get it just right because we are at once human with our ambition and drive, but also human with our INCESSANT need to eat and have shelter. We don't just eat rainbows and shit brilliant prose. Even if a follower or fan never uses my own update schedule or productivity demands on myself as a formula for their own success, let it be a comfort realizing how flawed and human working writers can be.
I want you to see how messy and non-magical it all is.
~massive fan behind a metal grate starts spinning, slowly at first and then faster and faster~
~hallway ceiling begins to light up with florescent lights from front to back~
~P.A. crackles and squeaks with feedback~
"Test test. Is this thing on?
"Hello everyone. This is Cedrick. As you know, we have experienced some difficulties in the last year. But it's time to get back to work. Please report to the admin office for your new posting schedules and to pick up your Dunkin Donuts coupon books—no, there will be no other compensation package at this time—do not forget that a velociraptor with an accu-eye laser blaster on on its head is making its home on the fourth floor, and that Grendel is serving sloppy Joes every friday in the cafeteria."
For a long time earlier this year I couldn't have written even with the free time. I mean, I never went on hiatus (even though I now know that I should have). I was able to write a little. I wrote every day like I advise others to, but it was never much and my own brain would rebel against trying to work on most things. I couldn't focus. My anxiety was off the chart. I got a few things up, managed a big article about guns, and failed to meet my own ambitions to get back into it so many times that it started to be a cliché.
Then, sometime in the summer, I started to be able to write again. My concentration came back a little more every day. Articles started going up. Every week was better than the last. I was able to start doing the writing, but the schedule of childcare was a little bananapants. There were kids most days, and often they needed to be driven back and forth from camps.
August 11th, the kids went back to school. Thursday and Friday, I kind of just let the new reality sink in. Mondays are still going to be a regular day off. But now it's time to get to work. I have the ability. And I have the time. And for the first time almost in a year, I have both at the same time.
So…Writing About Writing is back.
Expect a ramp up this week. I have a massive backlog of admin-type posts (best of FB and such) to start putting up. Those will go up first. And a few things need to be updated for the new school year like the posting schedule. Articles should start showing up by Friday, with some NWAW offerings this weekend, and then by next week, we'll really be trying to make up for some lost time.
I missed you all. I missed this job. I was anxious every minute I that was crowdfunded and not producing content. But mostly I missed writing. I missed the long hours. I missed the weird interactions. I missed that connection with my own thoughts.