Friday, June 24, 2011

Finding Your Flexibility

Okay, I've been thinking a lot about flexibility lately. Not in the like, the physical sense, because I haven't been able to pass the flexibility test since I was nine years old.

No, today is dedicated to a state of being flexible.

I think I'm flexible in certain areas of my life. In teaching, I'm extremely flexible. You need your class to make a table of contents and your class is waiting at the door? No problem. Wait, there's an assembly, and it started 10 minutes ago? No problem.

Teachers are nothing if not flexible.

I think I'm flexible in my parenting strategies. You want to take that trash out in 14 minutes? No problem. (But if you don't take it out in 14 minutes, I own your xBox.) You don't want to eat what I made for dinner? No problem. (Hey, I make dinner sometimes.) Make yourself a sandwich.

I guess I just didn't really realize how much flexibility is required in publishing a book.

I looked up some quotes, because I really like quotes.
"Be firm on principle but flexible on method."
~Zig Ziglar


I like this because often we read about how we should be writing, or how many words a day it takes to become an author. I'm here to say that I don't follow hardly any of them. Sometimes I read a book a day. Sometimes I go a whole month without reading. Sometimes I write 10 words a day. Sometimes 2000. Sometimes 0. My method is not yours, and yours is not mine, but we can all be working toward the same things.

"Be clear about your goal but be flexible about the process of achieving it."
~Brian Tracy


I really like this too. Do you know your goal? If so, allow some flexibility into your journey. Because authors have to be flexible. You might have to change something in your novel you're not thrilled about. You might have to wait longer than you'd like for your book to come out. You might have no control over the cover image, or the release date, or anything really, except the words of your story.

I think flexibility is the key. And those found in possession of it can open the door labeled "Not Freaking Out" and find a squishy couch to sit on inside. With cupcakes.

So, how's your flexibility?

33 comments:

Trisha Wolfe said...

I'm extremely flexible. So much it probably scares most writers. I try to think outside the box, especially in today's industry. I think as long as I accomplish my overall goal, I'm willing to bend in odd angles to get there. Great post! Love these quotes.

Theresa Milstein said...

I love both those quotes. I think our philosophies about reading and writing are pretty similar.

Last weekend, I received edit suggestions from the editor for the upcoming Fangtales anthology. I wound up removing at her suggestion because she said teens wouldn't use it. But in my heart, I know they would. My own kids use words editors have said kids don't use. I guess if I'd made a persuasive argument she might've kept it. But I took it out to be flexible.

It made me think that we only have so much control over our words.

Speaking of flexible, my query, which I thought was pretty solid, has had an overhaul thanks to you last night. : ) I'm sooo flexible!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm as flexible as Gumby! (But anatomically correct, thank you.)

Miranda Hardy said...

I like to think I am flexible. I'm flexible with my children, not too pushy, but I wonder how I'd handle changes in my story. I would probably succumb to major changes, since industry professionals have more experience, but it may bother me slightly.

Carrie said...

I've never been able to pass a physical flexibility test either. But I feel fairly flexible in certain areas of my life but I know there are other areas I have to work on being more flexible. Good post.

Laura Pauling said...

I have self made deadlines but I know when to be flexible. Esp. with parenting. My kids don't work well with drawing a line in the sand. :)

Matthew MacNish said...

Zig Zigler? What an awesome name.

Jen Daiker said...

I loved this!!! I've learned recently that there is no answer for just one writer. It is your own personal journey every time. What works best for you is what you should go with.

I still feel guilty about not regularly commenting on people's blogs. It kills me to not be a part of everything but something has to give and my writing time is more important.

I suppose that's flexibility. Too bad my job wasn't more flexible ;)

Natalie Aguirre said...

I agree that flexibility is the key, especially for those of us with another job too. I tend to read all the time at night instead of watch TV but I can't always write every day and I couldn't keep a goal of a certain number of words a day.

And I can relate to your parenting style. I'm like you.

E. Arroyo said...

I goes back to what you can control and what you can't. Balance. I have to be flexible or I'll be in total chaos all the time. I have enough grays. Great post.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I think I'm flexible about most things. But those things I'm not flexible about are like diamond. And sometimes I don't even know what they are until someone tries to get me to bend on them. Like, say, my morning coffee. I will have coffee in the morning, or people will pay! ;o)

Laura Marcella said...

I love quotes too! I really like the second one. I think it's important to remember that nothing ever goes exactly as planned, so being flexible is vital for sanity!

Christine Fonseca said...

I've definitely had to learn to be flexible in this biz

melissa said...

I go a little crazy without a routine, but I'm learning to be more flexible when life throws me something unexpected. It's hard, but I'm definitely enjoying life a little more without such a regimented schedule.

Donna K. Weaver said...

"allow some flexibility in your journey." Love that statement, Elana.

Michelle Merrill said...

Oh, I'm flexible. I have to be. Four small kids and a writing obsession. It's give and take. I've seen a lot of posts about balance lately and I think the key to balance is flexibility.

LittleWomen21 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicole Zoltack said...

I'm definitely flexible. So flexible that I'm going to break my YA novel into two and make it MG, because the theme better fits MG than YA. Not gonna be an easy task, but I think it will be worth it once done.

storyqueen said...

Oh, I want to find the door of Not Freaking Out with the squishy couch inside!

Favorite image of the week!!

Shelley

Gina Blechman said...

Nice post. I was just thinking yesterday, now that I'm editing my manuscript, that when you are in the rough draft stage, it's really easy to have word count goals, and that tends to work well. When you're editing, sometimes the most productive thing you can be doing is staring into space for an hour and thinking "what the heck is going on and what do I need to do to make this work?" Which can mean a LOT of flexibility when figuring out how much progress you're making. Still workin it out. My, my, my...

<3 Gina Blechman

Shallee said...

I had to learn this lesson this month. I'm having my own little NaNo right now, and I was being so nazi about my word counts, that I was trying to force things. I ended up sacrificing a bit of story to the goal. Luckily, I realized it and smacked myself in time to fix things.

Because the truth is, some days I just don't have 2,000 words in me. And that's okay! Some days i've got 4,000. :)

Cynthia Lee said...

I sorda set goals for myself. I recently increased my daily word count requirement to between 750-1000 words a day.

If I come anywhere near those numbers - I'm satisfied. I seldom kick myself for a low daily word count; I'm happy that I wrote anything at all.

So, yeah, I agree with you about flexibility.

Melanie Stanford said...

Great post. I've had to be flexible this month since I set a goal for myself to finish my 2nd book by July 1st but then I spent the first few weeks of June re-editing my first book and re-working my query. So I'm going to have to push that date back since I've only got days left now. So this post was a nice reminder to me not to stress out about it because sometimes things change.

Leslie Rose said...

Amen to teacher flexibility. I heard once that teacher's make nearly 2000 decisions in the course of a school day. If we don't flex - we snap. I think if you are too rigid in your writer life you're sucking the fun out of it.

Carol Riggs said...

I think I'm pretty flexible, but it's still ouchy to axe those fave parts of a novel! ;o) Good point though--writers need to be flexible in certain things.

Meredith said...

Writing definitely teaches you flexibility! Especially once you realize how long it takes to write a book. And then how long it takes to write a good book. You learn a whole lot of patience.

Angie said...

Flexibility is good. I'm working on it. 'Cause I want a seat on that squishy couch. *hugs*

Krispy said...

There is so much WIN in this post. Keep the goal in mind, but don't freak out if little things go haywire on the way there. Flexibility saves a lot of sanity, I think.

Jemi Fraser said...

Cupcakes? I'm in!

Seriously I'm very flexible - you're right - as a teacher we have to be!! it's pretty hard to upset my apple cart most days :)

Jessie Humphries said...

I have never been able to do the splits...even after years of dance. I think it might be symbolic;).

Melinda Williams said...

Great advice! Love your blog. It's so helpful and pretty too! :)

LynNerd said...

I can relate to this post. Plans don't turn out like I plan. It pays to be flexible.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Absolutely - being flexible is a necessity. Reality keeps making certain demands of me (stupid reality) so, if I have to stay up late to get the writing done for the day, so be it. If I have to write while in a hammock, so be it.

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