Sunday, March 16, 2008

Habits and Taxes

I think this post got buried, so I wanted to post it again because I think it has a lot of useful and important information. So here it is...

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 my writing group... 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 Leeza. Anyone who knows her knows she is full of energy! She gets so much done you can't help but catch it when you are with her. She really inspired me to dig deeper, to make a commitment once and for all, no excuses.

Then I started the Hunterdon County Children's Writer's Group, where I've made such special connections and friendships. And suddenly, BAM! I am writing every day (unless I have a "percolation period" I will never call it a writer's block again - too negative a connotation). 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. 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 Writer's Market, or other such necessary books, 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.

This is where habits tie in... you should make it a habit of collecting your business receipts and reporting miles. 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 the tax guy, I total them all up and put them on an excel spread sheet.

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


Rachel said...

This is a great post. Very true!

Sheri said...

Thanks Rachel.

ChristineEldin said...

I skipped the part about taxes (heh heh!) But the first part resonates with me. I've been trying to get myself on more of a schedule for months. I don't know what it is.....(sigh), but I agree about surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals. Thanks for such good advice!!

Sheri said...

I hate to repeat a post, but I felt it got buried. Some writers write alone. Maybe at some point that will work for me. But for now, I need a mirror, and to be mirrored. For some reason, it promotes growth.

I heard a Nobel Prize winner say that he sets writing time aside every day - the same time every day and even if he only writes one word, or no words, that that time is meant for writing and writing only. NO other distractions. That is what I have to work on. I have my writing time every day, but am distracted by email, blogs, the telephone, laundry, dishes, my stomach!

danette said...

Must remember to deduct my new office chair!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous