February's Inspirational Quote

"One Hour at a Time"
~ Laurie Wallmark.

Dear Laurie,
You might not recall saying this and perhaps I won't remember the specifics but you are our inspiration for the rest of February and maybe even March.

You and I were on the phone and talking about how hard it is to write a novel and as usual I was whining and feeling sorry for my long-a$$ journey. And you told me about how you were working and how busy you were so you wrote your novel one hour at a time. Astounded I said, "You wrote your novel one hour at a time?" And you said, "Yup." And I thought, "Wow... ... ..."

Often times we think we need - or I think I need - huge chunks of time set aside so I can write. Do you do that too? What if we gave ourselves one hour of each day? If it turns into two, well then fine, but if not, at least you still had your One Hour at a Time. So that is the motto of the month, thanks to ours truly, Laurie Wallmark.

We love you, Laurie!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Habits and Taxes

Today I wanted to post about two kind of disjointed topics, and yet, can be connected if you squint and tilt your head to the left...

First habits... I read this article recently about habits and willpower. The study said that people are unsuccessful in changing their ways, even those facing death, when they try to change their ways alone and based on sheer willpower. And I started to think about my own life... trying to lose those stubborn 10 – 15 pounds... I was never successful at this. Except for one time when I joined a gym with a very pushy friend who wouldn't take no for an answer. Well, sure enough when I went back to reading, the article said, real success in change comes from seeing someone you admire make that same change and you think, "If she can do it, then so can I."

And then I thought about my writing... and about HCCWG... And I thought, yes, this is why it is successful! See, about a year ago, I constantly complained that there wasn't enough time to write, that I didn't have enough energy, that I didn't have enough stick-to-it-ness. And yet I said I wanted to be a writer. But I barely put in the consistent time. Then I met my friend - you might all know her - Leeza. Anyone who knows Leeza, knows she is full of energy! She gets so much done. When tou are with her, you can't help but catch it when. She really inspired me to dig deeper, to make a commitment once and for all, no excuses.

So, then, as you all know, I started the Hunterdon County Children's Writer's Group, where I've made such special connections and friendships. And suddenly, BAM! I'm writing every day (unless I have a "percolation period" - I will never call it a writer's block again - too negative a connotation).

But the astonishing thing was once I surrounded myself with writers, I truly became a writer. I write every day. I read every day. I have a job where I am paid to write. It is incredible! The study is true. If you want to change a habit, surround yourself with people who are living the way you want to live, and before you know it, you will barely remember your old and tired ways.

Now what about taxes... Well, incase you have been living under a rock - It's tax time boys and girls and our government can be very kind to us artists. So, if you haven't spoken to your tax guy (or gal) about legitimate write-offs, maybe you should! As writers, we are allowed to claim a loss until we get published! I did not know that until today. I mean I knew we could claim a loss for a couple years, but not until we get published. Personally, I don't claim a loss because I am paid as a freelancer (not much, but... it's not a loss).

You can also write off dues to professional organizations, like SCBWI, and any workshops or conferences you attend. The purchase of The Writers and Illustrators Market, postage for submissions. Paper. Ink. Office supplies... I even learned today, if you need daycare or childcare because of your writer/artist ways, you can write a portion of that off too. You needed a new printer, computer... write-off.

But be careful.

Find a tax accountant who really knows the law for us creative folks. Don't do anything shady and save, save, save those receipts. You can NEVER be too careful. Every little bit helps when you are in a profession where you may never see a substantial paycheck.

And here's how habits can tie in to this topic... you should make it a habit of collecting your business receipts and reporting miles to workshops, etc. I have a folder I keep on my desk labeled 2008 Expenses. Every time I need to purchase something writing related, it goes right in the folder. Then before I meet my wonderful tax guy, I total them all up and put them on an excel spread sheet (Yes, Laurie, an excel sheet. I said it!).

It doesn't take much to organize your expenses this way, but the benefits can be huge. So habits and taxes can go a long way.

Sheri ks, ks


Patricia said...

I s-o-o-o-o agree with you. While I am a pretty focused person, I never, ever would have reached the level of commitment I now have about writing if if weren't for the HCCWG. I owe you a great deal. I spend a good portion of my day either writing, reading about writing, percolating (as you put it), or critiquing.

Regarding taxes, I'll have to start saving my receipts. Thanks for the heads-up, but ... most of all, thank you for your support.

Sheri said...

(blush) Seriously, when other members thank me for HCCWG, I feel I really can't accept the credit 100%. I had NO IDEA what I was about to create when that article came out. If I had, I might have been too scared! It is really the coming together of a group of people with a common goal that is truly responsible for creating this magic. So, I thank all of you!