Tuesday, December 13, 2016

7 Tips to Keep Your Career on Track over the Holidays By Marie Wells Coutu

Travel is essential to the business of being an author, whether attending conferences, doing research, or speaking at events in other parts of the country.
Marie Wells Coutu

And now that we’re in the middle of the busy Christmas season, many of us are traveling or visiting with family and friends. Since this season, as well as summer vacations, wreak havoc with my own writing schedule, I asked some multi-published authors how they keep their careers on track during such times.

Here are some of their tips:

  1. Plan ahead. “If I have a vacation coming up,” says Christy Award winner, Beth K. Vogt, “I try to do everything I can to make it a vacation. So I work hard to meet my deadlines -- guest posts, my regularly scheduled blog posts, etc. -- and leave my writing obligations at home so I can concentrate on my family -- and relaxing and having fun -- while on vacation.” Multi-published author Cara Putman adds, “If you want to take a true break from writing, the word count [in advance] will have to go up to compensate.”
  2. Decide on what you “must” do during the trip and what can wait until you’re home again. Deborah Raney, best-selling author of more than 30 novels, says, “My main goal when I travel is simply to not get behind on e-mail. That goes a long way toward helping me catch up quickly when I get back home. But if I’m on deadline, whether I’m traveling or not, I will need to write.”
  3. Write while someone else drives. Or don’t. “Ken enjoys driving and I can get so much writing done on the trip each way if I put my headphones on,” Deb Raney says. But Beth Vogt has found that writing in the car is “just not comfortable for me. But I do like to brainstorm in the car with my husband.” And Cynthia Ruchti, who has won awards for both fiction and nonfiction, takes a mixed approach: “Only under a tight deadline would I write while my husband is driving, since it feels like turning my attention away from him, even though it is work. On a cross-country trip, I would write. But if it's just a couple of hours on the road, we use that time to talk and take in the scenery...and watch for hazards!”
  4. Always have a notebook with you to capture ideas and inspiration that will hit while you travel, advises Cara Putman.
  5. Use “neutral” time while traveling, such as during a flight or while waiting for one. Cynthia Ruchti says, “I write while waiting in airports or if grabbing a meal alone at the airport. I try to either write, ponder, or edit while in flight, but the tight conditions don't always allow that. Sometimes brainstorming with a pen and notebook is more productive in-flight.” Deb Raney, on the other hand, rarely writes during a flight. “If I’m flying, I don’t usually write on the plane unless it’s a longer flight and I have a row to myself. But I often choose a flight with a long layover because I love writing in airports. It’s great people-watching, wonderful white noise, and few interruptions.” Beth Vogt agrees. “I definitely can tune out and write in airports. TIP: Invest in a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones.”
  6. Travel with books, says Cara Putman. “Reading is as much a part of writing. Pick up that book by an author you've wanted to try and see what you like. What worked? What didn't?”
  7. Minimize your actual writing time, especially if you’re traveling with or visiting family. That’s one tip all of these authors agree on. “It's easy to let writing assignments take precedence over everything else,” Cynthia Ruchti confesses. “But if they do, then relationships suffer, my health suffers, or I just plain miss out on the wonder around me while my focus is on my computer screen.” But sometimes deadlines mean there’s no other choice. Beth Vogt finds that an immoveable deadline often falls during a family vacation or during Christmas or spring break. “What I do then is juggle. I let my family know that I'm going to have to write during the holidays or vacation, but that I will also mark of time (or days) for fun. Sometimes I get up extra early or stay up late and write when family is sleeping.” Cara Putman agrees: “If you need to write while you're traveling, think about what will be least disruptive to the trip. Do you need to do it at night or should you [write] first thing in the morning. Capture the moments so you can still enjoy the trip.”
Hopefully, these tips from successful authors will help you maintain your writing momentum while not interfering too much with your vacation and family time.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

About the Author
Marie Wells Coutu’s newest novel, The Secret Heart, will be released in February 2017 from Write Integrity Press. Follow Marie on Amazon.com to be notified when it becomes available. The Secret Heart, loosely based on the lives of Bathsheba and David, is the third book in the Mended Vessels series. Books in the series are contemporary re-imaginings of the stories of biblical women, including Esther and the woman at the well. 

Her debut novel, For Such a Moment, won the Books of Hope Contest. Thirsting for More, the second book in the series was a finalist in the 2016 Selah Awards Contest and a semi-finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards sponsored by Florida Writers Association. You can find more about Marie and her novels on her Facebook page (Author Marie Wells Coutu), at her website (MarieWellsCoutu.com), or follow her on Twitter (@mwcoutu). 
Marie retired after 15 years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and she and her husband now divide their time between Florida and Iowa.

The Secret Heart
by Marie Wells Coutu
 The Secret Heart

Beautiful Shawna Moore married Hunter Wilson, the governor of Tennessee, after a whirlwind romance, only six weeks following her first husband’s death in Iraq. Now, she wonders if the governor loved her at all or only hoped to avoid a scandal.

An investigative reporter—and friend of Shawna’s—is asking questions. If he discovers the truth about Shawna’s baby, Hunter’s chances for reelection could be ruined. But keeping the secret is destroying their marriage. Will Shawna convince Hunter to choose his family and drop out of politics, or will he continue to put his career first?

The Secret Heart will be available for pre-order in mid-January. For a sneak peek, download the first chapter here.