Rachel Thompson

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kathleen Shoop – Writing As A Career

Writing As A Career

by Kathleen Shoop

When I first began to treat writing as one of my jobs I squeezed writing into every nook and cranny I could. At that point, my children were infants or toddlers and my world was extremely small—it was easy to ignore the bigger world and use the time my mother would come babysit to write. It was easy for me to forgo lunch dates with friends and manicures because I worked part-time and was laser focused on writing and what it could do to enrich my life. Aside from the thrill I got from creating worlds and telling stories I hoped were funny or moving, I really needed writing to be my next career. My children had been born premature and I was shortly thereafter diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis—these two conditions meant that when I wasn’t working, I was home with the kids alone (my husband traveled for work) a lot.

When I got three or four hours to myself—thanks, Mom!—I would exercise (part of my treatment plan for MS), write feverishly, and dash through the grocery store. I was incredibly productive and the result was I wrote about 6 books in three years—using just the nooks and crannies in my life. Now things are different—I’ve adjusted to MS and weekly injections, my children are out and about like every other healthy kid and I have even more stuff to accomplish than before.

I now have to work harder to focus on actual writing. Between getting all the things the kids need for school, after school/evening activities, and all the days off and half days they have, I don’t have that much more time to write even though they’re older. I never would have believed that was possible but it is!

So, now my days go like this: I try to wake up before the kids so I can have a few quiet moments to myself before we start the mad dash to have breakfast, get dressed, gather instruments, signed papers, backpacks, art projects, lunch money and neighbors who carpool with us. If all goes well and the kids are settled in school, I take an hour to walk at the track. This helps keep me healthy and it’s where I do much of my plot/character/dialogue work—my mind wanders as I walk, effortlessly creating scenes or ramping up the ones I’ve already written. It’s an amazing form of meditative work that is very closely tied to other types of meditation I do and very tied into the repetitive walking movement. Luckily I have a track to walk around so I don’t have to worry about tripping over cracks.

Next I get my coffee and settle into write/check the social networks, marketing, PR stuff and whatever book production issues have cropped up over night. Mostly, I need to focus on the writing. I used to be a pro at that, now I’m pulled into marketing and PR, etc. and I work harder to focus on writing. The meditative writing I do is invaluable in helping me to stay in the writing and keep out of the social networking stuff.

It really helps me to assign myself deadlines—oh, and more coffee! I love deadlines. I assign them to myself all the time. When writing a first draft, I give myself the standard NanoWrimo, approximately 1700 words a day, deadline. When revising, I give myself page/section deadlines. Once I decide when I’m going to release a book on a certain date and I have all the marketing, PR, and book production elements underway, I act as though Random House chose the date and is holding me to it. Maybe this should be softened up a bit as I can make myself nuts once things start to go awry (book production always does in one way or another), but for me, I just need to get the project done once I pick a launch date! I am fortunate to be able to shape my days to fit my writing and appreciate that even when I feel like I’m not getting enough done.

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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG15

More details about the author & the book

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