Changing Times

Changing Times

Hello! Remember me? Probably not, and I wouldn’t blame you!

Things have been a little manic recently, and I’m not just talking about Covid-19. (I do hope everyone is safe and well.)

Some of you may recall that for the past three years I’ve been working three days a week in an employed capacity, for the Diocese of Hereford, offering grant advice to churches looking for funding (mainly for building projects). It’s been an amazing time, and I’ve learned a lot (I’m sure some of it will appear in a book somewhere along the line). But, for the past six months, I’ve been struggling to keep on top of my writing business. (Hence why these posts have been few and far between.)

After spending many years developing editorial contacts, you can’t just say to your customers, “Do you mind going away for the next 12 months (or whenever), please, and then can we pick up where we left off?” It just doesn’t work like that.

So after doing a day’s employed work, I was coming home and spending the evening catching up with business emails, and trying to get some editing done, with the aim of keeping the remaining four days a week clear for getting the bulk of my writing done. That wasn’t leaving much time for other things like … well, life!

And in addition to my regular writing commitments, I’ve also been fortunate enough to secure several new commissions. It’s a wonderful position to be in, but I have, literally, been running out of time.

So, a few weeks ago, I handed in my resignation at the Diocese and have just gone back to full-time self-employment. (Top tip – this is not a wise move during a pandemic when the Government announces support to self-employed people who’ve earned the majority of their income from self-employment.)

The plan was to spend the next few weeks concentrating on the immediate commissions, and then get my head down and get the second novel written (so my agent can offer publishers two books, as she works hard at trying to secure a publisher).

But a lot of that has gone out of the window. Many of the commissions are British travel pieces … and now we’re on lockdown, there’s not much out there to go, see and do, even if the Government allowed us to. Thankfully, I spent most of the week before the lockdown getting out and about taking photos and doing the research, so I have some commissions I can still meet at the moment.

Browsing some social media (I’ve not been doing much on social media recently, because I haven’t had the time!) I see that some people are saying the lockdown must be fantastic time for writers. Well, possibly. But, just because we are in an enforced lockdown doesn’t mean that we MUST write. These are unsettling times. For some writers, they cannot work in those conditions. (And some writers used to working at home on their own, and now having to try and work with other family members working from home too – in some cases from the other end of the dining table.)

There’s also the other matter of coping with day-to-day life, such as it is. I’m now the household shopper (and who knows how much longer that will take over the coming weeks), as well as shopping for my immediate, elderly neighbours. (I’m hoping they don’t all want toilet rolls on the same day!)

When it comes to the business of writing, we can only do what we can at the moment. It’s difficult making plans, because we don’t know what’s coming down the line with further restrictions. It’s a worrying time for everyone, and the ultimate goal is to stay safe.

If you find some time to write, then great. Today, it is gloriously sunny here – that always helps with mood, and most writers operate better when they’re in a good mood. But don’t beat yourself up if the words won’t flow. 

I know many writers are keeping diaries/journals, particularly during this difficult time. That, in itself is writing. You might not feel it’s part of your business, and your diary may not generate a business income now, but … who knows? Perhaps at some point in the future, when you’re looking back through it, a comment you write today will spark an idea.

And as writers, it is not just writing that makes us writers. We’re readers, too. I’m busy catching up on a lot of reading at the moment. It’s wonderful.

Think about research. Many businesses are offering some amazing opportunities, which can help us with research. Many museums and galleries are offering free virtual tours – suddenly that research trip to the museum in Spain you’ve been saving up for can now be done from the comfort of your own home!

I’ve done a couple of free courses, offered via some of the facebook groups I belong to. One to check out is the The Indie Author Mindset. And many companies are increasing the number of free online tutorials. I’ve learned a lot recently about the photo processing software that I use, thanks to some new, extra hour-long tutorials the software company has released.

So, don’t put too much pressure on yourself to generate words. Your writing business is more than the words you type. Nobody knows what’s round the next corner (apart from the fact that most British weather forecasts are predicting snow and wintry showers on Sunday … when the clocks go forward for British Summer Time!).

So stay safe, everyone.

Good luck.

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