Monday, August 31, 2015

Embrace Your Creative Spirit and Tune Out the Naysayers #Writing #Amwriting

Monday Motivation
(caution, there is swearing today because I'm all fired up)
I often lurk in writers' groups. Sometimes I comment, occasionally I'll post an interesting article, but lately I'm cringing. Why? Because I see other 'authors'--some who have yet to publish--telling others to limit themselves either by changing their memoir into a novel "because they're not famous enough for anyone to care about a true story" or watering down the sex scenes to "make it more accessible to the more conservative folks."

Fuck these people. Don't listen to this kind of advice.

If you want to write a memoir, do it because you're compelled to do so. I wrote a memoir about surviving my husband's suicide and parenting small children through trauma. Guess what? I wasn't famous at the time. I was scared to death, though, to put my life on display. Why did I do it? Because I never wanted another young widow to feel so isolated and alone during the darkest time of her life. So I wrote it. I had never been so scared to publish anything in my life--and I'd been a professional writer for years! Not only was it well received, I have heard from people all over the world about the impact it made on their lives. If I had listened to all the naysayers in my life--and believe me there were plenty--I would have been too afraid to put myself out there.

As for watering down anything you're writing for the sake of someone else, I plead with you to do the opposite.

Creativity is a precious gift that we must honor for ourselves and for the sanctity of our profession. As a creative professional, you have only one obligation when writing your story--to stay true to your vision. Period. That's it.

I've been told by relatives that my romantic thrillers (mainstream) are "too dirty" to read and they "wonder" what I'm thinking while writing them. I usually laugh out of sheer shock because it seems like an absurd thing to say, but I never let this into my head while writing. (Thank goodness they don't know my pen name, that's all I can say.)

I urge you to keep the critics out of your mind while sitting at the keyboard. Write the story that's in your heart, make it the best it can be, choose your writing groups wisely, work with an editor who respects your vision, and put it out into the world to honor your personal truth.

Not everyone can write a story from beginning to end. It's a special ability to create. Sure, a lot of people have "ideas" that they love to share with those of us in the industry, but actually being brave enough to create is a whole other beast. If you're one of the courageous ones who opens their hearts to the world, yes, there will be naysayers in your midst. Ignore them. Tell them not to read your work because there's a fan base out there for all of us. (I encourage my relatives to stop stalking me if they're so concerned about my illicit ways...they stalk anyway.) 

Guard your creative energy wisely. When you're alone at the keyboard, there is only one thing that matters: your story. If you have doubts about it and choose to go to an online writers' group for advice, be careful. I hate to say this, but some will try to deter you because of their own fears. Don't make their self-doubt yours. You must have an independent mind where you are open to feedback but not attached to it. If something resonates with you, understand why--is it giving you an excuse to quit, which is what you were looking for in the first place?

Your story might not be something I like, but that doesn't make it wrong. The same goes for your mother or your brother or your cousin or the neighbor down the street--who the hell cares? Be true to your creative spirit, write well, read books to hone your craft, stay focused on your story, surround yourself with at least a few like-minded people (they do exist, trust me) and tune out anyone who tries to deter you.

You have a gift. No one can tell your story the way you can. Hold your head high.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Don't Underestimate the Power of 3-D #Writing

What am I talking about? What is 3-D writing? It's the ability of bringing a scene so vividly to life that the reader forgets that they're reading and actually sees the setting. This means adding smell, sight, touch, intuition, and maybe even taste into your descriptions.

Think about the first things you notice when you walk into a new place--the scents, the lighting, the 'vibe', the people. Are you capturing those things in your own work? If so, are you using power words or are you writing something lame like "it smelled weird" or "it felt off." Those are weak so I hope you're amping it up to something like "the smell of wet dogs barely concealed the scent of rotten eggs." As a writer, you want to stimulate a reaction in your reader. This needs to be your goal with every scene.

As a writing exercise, I'd like you to look at this picture below and write one or two paragraphs describing it or the scene you believe it depicts. Use the senses. Make your words come alive. I'd love it if you'd share your results in the comments below. Don't worry. I'm not here to judge. Writing is fun, remember? As this blog progresses, I'm going to do similar 3-D writing exercises.

So...look at the photograph, imagine the place, and bring it to life. No lame sentences allowed! Show me, make me feel it, challenge yourself.


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Staying True to You #MondayMotivation #AmWriting


The publishing business is hard to navigate, especially in the beginning. Some may try to tell you to be more of this or less of that and you may be tempted to listen because you want so desperately to find your niche.

I understand. I've been there.

I once believed anyone who I felt had more knowledge than me, only later to find out they were doing this writing thing as a hobby whereas I've always done it as a career. Perhaps they spoke with more authority or simply at a louder decibel. Honestly, I don't think I trusted myself enough to stand my ground because, like a lot of writers, I let self-doubt undermine me for awhile.

As I waded through the muck, I tried things that didn't resonate with my soul because I wanted so desperately to get more exposure or "not fall behind." I made a fatal mistake--I compared myself to the perceived success of others.

The key word there is perceived. Writers are simultaneously competitive, driven, and creative while being plagued with self-doubt, insecurities, and sometimes loneliness in this solo profession. As a result, we tend to gravitate to anyone who seems like they have their shit together. Let's be honest, though--we're all the same, no matter what level of professional success we've achieved.

I speak the truth. The most successful of authors have days when they want to toss the computer out the window, quit to work as a bartender on a beach somewhere (that's my personal favorite), or never write again. It's our nature--some of us hide it better than others.

So why compromise who you are to be like so-and-so when we are essentially the same? Yes, we have different goals. Yes, we are in different stages of our careers. So what? We need to honor where we are on our own path rather than trying to race to catch up to so-and-so. We must be true to our own journeys as creators.

It took me awhile to come to this revelation, but I'm relieved to have finally come full circle. I have recently disconnected from anything and everything that isn't serving the highest purpose for my career. Anything that resonated as wrong for me is now gone. Writers groups that were bogged down with negative thinkers or unpaid obligations that wasted my time without giving me the connections I'd hoped for have been cast aside.

There comes a time to reevaluate your career and lose the dead weight. Anything that isn't moving you forward is essentially holding you back.

Think about why you started writing. Don't just say something random or cliched about it being your calling. I want you to get real with yourself. Did you always see yourself scraping by or did you want to go for the glory?

There's no shame in admitting the latter, by the way.

Ask yourself if the activities you're doing today--if the people you've aligned yourself with--are propelling you forward or keeping you stuck.

Are the writers' groups you're involved with encouraging a sharing of ideas or have they become bogged down with the "my way or the highway" mentality of the leadership?

Are you seeking new connections on a weekly basis or have you become complacent when it comes to networking?

Are you actively staying educated on the changing dynamics of the industry by reading blogs or online trade magazines? Let me give you a tip: you need to do this. What's golden today may be outdated tomorrow.

Are the so-called experts in your inner circle deserving of the title? Know who you're taking advice from--even me (my bio is to the right)--before you believe it to be so.

Do you have an editor/writing buddy/beta reader trying to get you to change your style to be more or less? Always keep an open mind because some feedback is crucial, but at the end of the day you need to be proud of your work. After all, your name is on it. What do you want that to stand for a year from now? Ten years from now?

Do you feel good about what you're writing? Do you feel happy when you think about the projects ahead? If not, why? What can you change? You're a writer! Isn't this your dream?

Ultimately, you are the author of your own career. Now is the time to reassess how it's going. There is no harm in choosing new writers groups or disconnecting from peers who bring you down. I ask you to remember the dream you had when you first set out on this journey--are you in line with that today? If not, it's very easy to make a course correction.

Don't wait. Be true to yourself today. Honor that dream you had and eliminate anything that doesn't resonate with your heart.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.


Friday, August 21, 2015

Cut Open a Vein #AmWriting #WritingAdvice


Like the title? No, I'm not advocating suicide.

To write well in any genre, we need to delve into the power of surrender. Cut open the vein, bleed, feel the pain flowing from yourself and into your story. Do not censor yourself. Do not worry about your mother's feelings (or anyone else's for that matter). Do not concern yourself with going "too far"...because in writing there is no such thing.

If you feel as if you're heart is exposed and pulsating for the world to see, then you are doing it right. If you're crying, then you're doing it right. If you're laughing out loud, you're doing it right.

Do you understand? You must be so connected with your writing that your emotions are raw--whether it be laughter, tears, fear, or angst, if the writer doesn't feel it, neither will the reader.

It's human instinct to try to pull back when we reach a certain threshold--but you're not an ordinary human, you're a writer. You go where others are afraid to tread. You're an adventurer of the dark side of human nature. You're the explorer of what makes people tick. When you reach that threshold where your inner critic warns "be careful" or "hold back", you must push through to get to the nitty gritty of your story.

The pain doesn't stop there. After you've poured yourself into the story, you must be ruthless in the editing of it. Do you know when you've truly nailed an emotional scene? If, in your revisions, you the author is once again laughing or crying or feeling the pain and you only vaguely recall writing it, then you know you have nailed it. Good for you! There's no greater joy for an author than to re-read your words and think, "wow, that was raw and amazing and I can't believe I wrote that!"

Bleed, I say. Push yourself. Ignore the ideas of "too far" or "too raw" or "too deep." You'll be a better writer for it in the long run.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Getting Organized to Spur Creativity #MondayMotivation #AmWriting

It may seem counterintuitive for the creative professional to benefit from organization. It simply doesn't fit the image of the burnt out writer with the manic look in his eye fumbling about for his manuscript only to overturn a pile of others that scatter across the floor.

Yes, it's true that most of us who work from home--not all--don't get out of pajamas until noon or ever. That's fine as long as your comfortable. No one really cares. I've been known to do a web call by pulling a dress on over my yoga pants--they only see the top, right? What we're talking about today is your workspace and your time.


  1. First up on the things to organize in your life is your editorial calendar. If you don't have one, do this right away. I use a regular wall calendar because I like the big square spaces, but use whatever you like best. If you have a blog, take the time today to plan out topics for the next month or more. Mine is scheduled for the rest of this year (and I have five blogs). Also on the calendar, right down any pending deadlines. Color code these if you wish so it's easy to scan to find what you're looking for. Don't neglect works-in-progress--give yourself a deadline for that first draft. An editorial calendar keeps you in check with what needs to be done, gives you a gauge to see if you're on track, and also makes it easier to plan your daily life. When you're not thinking of content ideas or struggling to meet deadlines that seem to have 'snuck up on you', your mind is free to create. 
  2. If you're working from a desktop, clear it of anything that can be filed away. We creative types have our own idea of what is important, so evaluate what you need there and what you don't. A clear workspace means fewer distractions. 
  3. Schedule personal time during the day--use an alarm if needed. Balance is key to keeping you from burning out and fueling that creative fire. Every four hours or so, give yourself a break. It doesn't need to be long, but it definitely needs to be done. When you take time to walk outside, make yourself lunch, play with the dog, or simply sit in peace, you return to the project with a fresh mind. 
  4. Utilize automated programs like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to eliminate some of the day-to-day social media used to market your brand. These take a few hours to set up on the front end, but you'll save yourself hours a day once you're all set up. No, this isn't cheating. You can still check-in when you have time to be social, but you need to manage your time effectively. It's more important for you to be working on the next best thing than tweeting constantly. 
  5. Limit networking with various professional groups to an hour a day maximum. As freelancers, we can get lonely working alone at home, even though we are grateful for the break from commuting. The idea of chatting it up with a 'friend' you made in that networking group for hours may feel like a good idea, but don't let the casual atmosphere of being at home in your pajamas distract you from the concept of 'professional contact.' Keep it short, to the point, and refocus on your agenda for that day. There's nothing like drama to sap your creative energy--maintain those boundaries. 
  6. Set work hours and adhere to them. Remember that you're the boss of your career--your success or failure rests solely on your shoulders. During your scheduled hours, you're at work and no one has the right to call you unless it's an emergency, show up at your door expecting you to help them with their personal problems, or anything else. I have gone so far as to make a sign that I hang on my front door that says, "Working in Home Office, Do Not Disturb." Yes, I take my work hours that seriously and so should you to give yourself a set routine. People like to think that those who work from home aren't really working--it's something I don't understand but have definitely experienced. It's necessary to say, "I'm working and can't go until 4PM (or whenever)" to let people know that you take yourself and your career seriously enough to have an established set of working hours. This also gives you balance--if you have said you only work 10-6, then it's the perfect excuse to shut the computer down and end your work day. 
Creativity actually loves routine. When you sit down at the same time every day, your mind automatically knows it's time to focus. Do you like music when you work or a candle or complete quiet or a cup of coffee within reach? Instill this into your routine before you sit down. 

The important thing to remember is that organization isn't a dirty word for the creative professional. We have a lot going on in our brains--ideas bursting about at random intervals. We can better nurture those ideas if we have a foundation established that supports our daily routines. 

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Friday, August 14, 2015

You've Published Your Book--Now What? #amwriting #bookmarketing

When my first novel was released, I felt a combination of joy...and terror.  Even though I had a publisher, I knew that, as a first time novelist, a lot of the promotion fell on me. Despite being in the business as an editor and freelance journalist, I had no idea how to build a platform--or even what that meant. I had seen too many movies where first time novelists are lavished with book tours and huge marketing budgets from their publishers. Um...not reality at all.

Faced with a limited budget, other works in progress, a family to raise solo and a lot of misguided beliefs about 'promotion', I wasn't sure where to begin. I'm not a salesperson, I'm a writer. I'm an editor. I didn't want to come off as some pushy, "read my book NOW" type.   How could I possibly get the word out there?
Photo courtesy of National Lampoon
Well, now I have sixteen novels under my belt and I'm much more relaxed. I've learned quite a bit despite the steep learning curve and "tossed to the sharks" vibe. I've also had to let go of those misgivings I had about 'selling'. After all, I put a lot of time, effort, love and passion into my work, why not get paid for it like other professions? Silly, writer. Believe it or not, it took me awhile to let that idea go.

In no particular order, here are some things I've learned about book promotion:
  • Blog tours were my first introduction to book promotion. My first publisher, Siren-Bookstrand, had an author group where authors offered to host each other. From there, I developed my own author blog and began hosting authors every Monday. I've learned that, especially in this business, what goes around comes around. Be nice to other authors, help them and they'll help you (there are some jerks who don't reciprocate, but it is what it is--just don't be one of them). Blog tours give you a chance to do an interview, write an original guest post and/or feature an excerpt of your novel. There are also book promotors who set up virtual book tours for a minimal fee, but do your due diligence and make sure they have the reach they claim to have. For every legitimate book promoter, there are several others who don't do much at all. 
  • Speaking of a blog...do you have one? If not, get one. You may think that as an author you'll be too busy writing the next novel, which is true, but you cannot afford to not blog. Readers want content. Write about yourself, your love of hiking, your favorite recipes, short stories or poems--it really doesn't matter as long as it is fresh and interesting. Professional bloggers (not authors) do this for a living, which means you can even make money from your blog if you treat it with as much attention as you do your books. What I mean by that is to be professional, keep in mind that you are creating an image, and don't skimp on the grammar. 
  • Develop an author fan page on Facebook. By setting up a specific page for my author persona, I didn't feel like I was slamming my book down friends' and family's throats. My author fan page gives me free reign to talk about my blog, other writers, post reviews, and basically do as I please. Also, unlike personal profiles, fan pages don't have a limit on the number of likes. As a newbie, this may seem like it's not a big deal, but once you hit the 5000 friend limit on your personal profile because fans have joined, you'll feel the pain of starting over. Also, as your fan base grows, you'll be happy to have the separation between a public and personal persona. 
  • Twitter is my favorite social media outlet. Yeah, I'm surprised, too. When I first became involved with Twitter, I thought it was the stupidest thing imaginable. However, I've met so many connections there. I've gotten ideas from authors with a lot more experience than myself.  I've received offers to appear on blogs and virtual book festivals. But there is a trick to Twitter--you need to be social, not just some auto-bot who's tweeting links to your book all of the time.  Retweet, reply, give out useful information and, yes, sell your novel--but mix it up. Keep your conversations balanced. After all, it's called social media for a reason--so be social.  The benefits have been through the roof for me.  
  • Instagram does work for authors. In this visual realm, you may think Instagram isn't the place for a blog post or an author. You're wrong. As long as you add images to your posts, have your website in your bio, you can add it to Instagram. Right now I'm mainly posting pictures of my dogs there, but there are a lot of dog lovers on Instagram! People are multi-dimensional and we live in a visual world. Make it fun!
  • Pinterest! See above--it works. Whether you're posting your book covers or promotional graphics or simply a cool lawn ornament you found, create appropriate boards and pin away. People gravitate to you. Make it clear in your bio who you are and always link back to your author website. 
  • LinkedIn. Post an interesting blog post, update your bio to include new releases, join author groups to network. 
  • Reviews from professional book bloggers. Now, here I had an advantage because my publisher sent my ARCs to reviewers on my behalf and sent me a list of others for me to handle. I wasn't passive about it, I followed through. As time passed, I discovered other book bloggers via Twitter and my connections through the blog tours. Why are reviews from professional book bloggers better than reader reviews? Well, I probably shouldn't use the word 'better', but they do lend more credibility to the review. Savvy readers will look at glowing reader reviews and wonder if you simply have a team of loyal friends who came through for you; whereas, professional reviews always state that they are 'pros' and will gladly copy their review on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Goodreads for you. Don't be afraid to ask for a review! Also--be choosy about who you're letting review your book. Look through their past reviews of books similar to yours and see what their style is.  t's your name on the cover so it's okay to say no to a review, too.  
  • Giveaways are a great way to get your name out there. Use these sparingly, but don't dismiss them because of the term "giveaway." I say to use them sparingly because I've discovered through trial and error that readers don't always value things they receive for free and, if they followed your page simply for a win, they may quickly unfollow once the contest is over. Be choosy, in other words, about how you go about this. When I first started, I gave away Amazon gift cards, Victoria's Secret gift cards, gift baskets, you name it and I thought I had the perfect idea...none of it led to loyal readership. As for giving away books themselves, some writers swear by it, but I value the time I've put into all of this and don't do it unless it's from my backlist. As a new author, though, you may not have that luxury so I warn you to think twice before sacrificing a profit for so-called exposure (that sometimes backfires--I've seen it happen to too many people). 
  • Google Plus. Yes, I'm aware that Google is transitioning into Alphabet, but I will continue to utilize Google Plus for my blog posts. It creates more buzz on the internet when your post directly to the site and gives you higher visibility with the search engine. Most blog posts have a button where you can simply click on it to share to Google. Do it! 
  • Creating a book trailer on YouTube. When I first heard about this, I had no idea what it was.  Yeah, the name is self-explanatory, but in my frenzied newly published mind I didn't put the dots together. Then, thanks to another author who took pity on me, I figured it out. YouTube actually has an entire section of book trailers so take a look. I bought pictures from iStockphoto that depicted my novel's story, pieced them together in iMovie and put them to music. It's fun.  There are many stock photo sites out there--make sure you actually buy your pictures so you aren't infringing on anyone's copyright. Aside from iMovie, there are sites like Animoto and others that help you create a book trailer. No, you don't have to be from Hollywood to do this so don't rush to pay for someone's help. Look around, experiment, and trust your inherent creativity. After all, who knows your story better than you do? There is nominal cost involved in creating this, but it goes a long way in helping your marketing efforts.  
  • Become involved with author organizations like World Literary Cafe, Authors Promoting Authors, Sexy Romance Readers/Writers, etcetera. Most of these organizations are all about helping authors unite, network and cross-promote. Word of caution: don't follow blindly. 
  • Interact with your readers! You can do this by attending reader conventions for book signings, arranging your own signings with local libraries or book stores, conducting Facebook parties where you talk about your book and give away "door prizes", be active on your author Facebook page, or have a twitter chat party where you instruct everyone ahead of time to use a special hashtag so you can interact with them live. 
Okay, you're wondering how much time all of this takes, right? I spend about 90 minutes a day on marketing, mainly checking Twitter, my author website and Facebook fan page. If you think that sounds like a lot of time, then I need to remind you that no one cares about your work more than you do. You need to make an investment in marketing. There are many talented authors out there in the world--where do you fit amongst them? The world doesn't come knocking on your door--you need to go after it. With social media expanding in new and exciting ways every day, the possibilities are remarkable. 

If you have any ideas that I failed to mention, please share them in the comments below. We're all in this together. Write on!  




 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Step Away from the Keyboard and Take a Hike! #amwriting #MondayBlogs

Monday Motivation
Deadline looming? Did so-and-so just publish another novel so you're feeling the pressure to produce? Did you realize that the year is almost over and you haven't reached half of your editorial goals this year? Are you so sick of yourself that you keep deleting every word you write and are rethinking that corporate job?

So what? Take a break. Go outside, toss the ball to your dog, breathe in the air, observe people in the park, turn off your cell phone, go to a movie, stare at clouds, meet a friend for dinner, and simply exist in the world for awhile.

You cannot create well if you're unbalanced. Being a writer is more than telling stories, working the craft, editing for pace, and revising for clarity. For me, being a writer is about living life, meeting people, developing relationships and breaking free of my comfort zone--which, to be honest, is what I call "my cave" located in the downstairs of my house. I won't develop much as a person if I stay hidden away in my cave chained to the computer--more than that, eventually, my stories will fall flat. So will yours.

I make it a point to get out of the house despite the deadline looming on the horizon. I recognized my out-of-balance lifestyle about six months ago when I had a health scare and had pushed myself to the absolute limit. Despite being exhausted and ill, I refused to stop working. Perhaps it is the curse of the self-employed or the seriously deranged, I don't know. I kept pushing myself. I wanted to have novel fourteen out by the end of the year and only had a few weeks left to do it. I had wrapped up my projects for my editing clients and pushed myself to work around the clock to 'do it all." I collapsed. Literally. My body simply hit the reset button that I'd been unwilling to acknowledge for months.

Upon some hardcore reflection, I realized that all I did was write, edit, parent, sleep, repeat every day.  All work and no play not only make Amber a dull and exhausted chic, they make writers boring as hell.

To avoid the rut, I've started taking road trips, with or without the kids, to places I've never been before. The latest adventure led me to Santa Fe, NM and SW Colorado for five days. I said no to the computer, loaded up a cooler, grabbed a map (yep, the old-fashioned kind because I wasn't sure about GPS down there), some snacks, the kids and off we went into the unknown.  Boy...not only did I open my mind as a person, I ended up with a notebook full of story ideas.

I've also started attending cultural functions that cost a bit more ticket-wise, but have repaid me with food for the mind and soul.

I go for walks, let my mind relax from social media chatter, and concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other while enjoying the neighborhood.

I force myself--yes, I said 'force'--to exercise to reconnect with my body instead of constantly dwelling in my head.

As a writer, I need to look up from the keyboard and immerse myself in the life going on around me. I write about multi-dimentional characters leading lives in a vivid world. To do that successfully, I feel it's imperative to live a full life myself.

Working from home is a blessing, I know. I'm grateful that I make my living as a writer and editor with freedom from a daily commute and a boss breathing down my neck. It's easy, though, to get trapped in a routine of pajama pants, tweets, edits, writing projects, diet soda, and hours that pass without notice. I simply need to give myself permission to hit "save" and "shut down" in order to embrace what's happening beyond my cave so that I'm a better, more well-rounded writer...and person.

How balanced is your day? If you need to, schedule in your walk or your personal time and seriously take it. Don't think, "oh, it's not important" and keep writing through that hour or so. Time away from the keyboard will make the time spent on it that much more productive.

Write On!
Amber Lea Easton
professional editor and bestselling author
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com