Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Feed the Starving Artist

I am a starving artist.

I mean that literally, because I am visiting my family's house on a personal writing retreat. Only I have food allergies and didn't think to pack food (the whole packing thing was a mess, since I managed to pack a dozen skirts and only two shirts *sigh*). And despite what a great time I'm having here, and the vast amount of writing I've gotten done, my stomach is constantly grumbling.

Which makes me think: What ways are we "starving artists" in our own lives? Seriously, as a writer we have to ingest certain things in order to maintain healthy writing. So here's a quiz. Go through and count up your points to see if you are a starving artist!

[1] How often do I read?
a.) I read 2+ books a week
b.) I read 1 book a week
c.) I read 1 book a month
d.) I only read a book because my brother bribes me with a crisp $5 bill

[2] What types of books do I read?
a.) I read books in or near my genre to keep up to date on what's trending in the market
b.) I read books in my age range, even if they aren't necessarily in my genre
c.) I read, but rarely in my genre or age range

[3] While I read...
a.) If the book is good, I evaluate how the author did it so I can learn
b.) I rarely ever read good books, I think about what I would do to avoid the same mistakes
c.) I forcibly turn off my internal editor and just enjoy the books I read
d.) I poke myself with a fork in the leg

[4] Critiques
a.) I have a critique group or multiple critique partners (who write both in the genre and in other genres)
b.) I have a couple of critique partners and we exchange our writing every now and then
c.) I only have a bunch of beta readers
d.) I don't let anyone read my writing. Ever. In fact, my last novel I buried in a hole in my backyard next to my dead cat.

[5] I keep up-to-date on the writing community by...
a.) reading Publisher's Weekly / SCBWI announcements
b.) reading agent or editor blog or following said people on twitter
c.) local writer's gossip
d.) taunting editors and agents on twitter until I become the latest news in the writing community

[6] If I choose to read blogs, I look at...
a.) agents and editors blogs (along with any of the following)
b.) published authors (along with any of the following)
c.) unpublished authors
d.) friends or family only. And then, only out of guilt because I know they'll bug me if I don't.

[7] When it comes to writing conferences...
a.) I try to attend at least one a year, and more if I can afford it
b.) While I can't make it to conferences, I've done a few local day workshops
c.) I don't make it to conferences or workshops, but I do some networking at local events such as book signings or blog parties
d.) I restrain myself from stalking the editors in the bathroom. Instead, I posted my first page in every stall.

a.) +5 points
b.) +4 points
c.) +2 points
d.) -2 points

So how do you score? 

35 points: You are perfectly nourished -- go you!

32 - 34 points: You are a healthy individual, and though not quite perfect, you have a grasp on what you need to ingest in order to spew out good writing.

20 - 31 points: You my friend are in need of better nutrients. Maybe look at one or two things you can do that will give you better nourishment so you don't become a starving artist!

19 and under: You are not only a starving artist, but you are anorexic to the writing world. Look at answers A or B so you can get some meat on those bones!

Yeah, I know this quiz was pretty easy. But what I wanted was for you to be able to evaluate yourself based on your own goals and where you spend your time. While these are all nourishing to the writer's diet, I feel that the time spent on these activities shouldn't take away from your writing time. And for all those concerned readers, I am on my way out to the store right now to grab some food for my tummy.

So how did you score?? Or where can you improve??


  1. Great quiz, Chersti! I most need to work more reading into my life. I used to read a book a week, and that was some of my most productive writing time. Right now I feel like I don't have time to read because it will take away from time I could spend writing. Of course so does commenting on this blog, and here I am doing it! I think I'll go find that copy of "Ranger's Apprentice" I bought my son for his birthday and dig in.

  2. What a fun quiz. I just need about ten more hours in a day and I'll be doing great. :) Either that, or my kids need to learn how to function on their own. LOL.

  3. I avoid quizzes. It's better for my self-esteem. Also, how did you know I buried the cat in the backyard?


    Love the quiz! And I'm not perfectly nourished, but I'm getting better as I go.

  4. Awesome, guys! And I like how Susan pointed out that while a writer might not be perfectly nourished right now, said writer can get better as time goes on. I've found in my life (even week by week) that sometimes I have more time for other writerly things outside my writing. And then other times, I'm so overcrowded with everything else in my life and I just need to spend any second I get on my actual writing.

  5. Thanks, Chersti, it's good to know where I'm only snacking. It's too bad the portions I'm starving in don't take off real weight.

  6. Does it count that I have links to editor and agent blogs on my toolbar, even if I never look at them?


What be on yer mind?