Five-Minute Writing Tip
Maybe it's just spring or the extra daylight, but this time of year seems to me to be more of a time for planning and reflection than New Year's Day.
Lately I've longed for the good old days, before social media demanded so much of my time. "Demanded" may not be the right word, but social media is akin to sugar "demanding" we consume too much of it. I like to think we still have a choice. There's no question that for a writer who wants to promote her books, social media is a must: announcements on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Google+, help spread that word about a new release or an event we're attending. Social media introduces us to folks who can help us promote and connect with readers.
I've been struggling with spending too much time "connecting" online. So, I started a new writing practice. I even wrote it as a motto on each day of my desk calendar: Write First, Write More.
WFWM means I begin my day writing and clock my time throughout the day. Sending and answering emails comes second and social-media comes last. The only exception is if I'm hosting an author on my blog site that day. If so, I immediately send her the link and share it on social media, but that doesn't take more than fifteen minutes. On days that I have only a couple of hours to write and socialize, I make sure writing takes up at least fifty percent of that time.
After I first started categorizing my computer time and realized that I spent most of it on writing projects, it helped alleviate guilt over spending too much time online. In other words, it put things in an encouraging perspective.
You might think it's all about balancing your time. But I like to think of it as an imbalance with the scales tilted toward writing - which makes me feel good about what I do.
Five-Minute Writing Tip
Keep Some Cash in Your Pocket
Since it's April, let's talk taxes. I know it's a painful topic. I'd rather clean the toilet than prepare tax information to send to my accountant. So I'll get the bad news over first. It's no surprise that if you earn money from your writing, you owe taxes on it. But did you know you also owe a self-employment tax? If you're in the 15% tax bracket and you get paid a $2,500 advance on your new book, you owe $375 in income tax. If that isn't bad enough, you also owe a self-employment tax of 15.3%, which is $382.50. That means after you pay taxes on your advance, you're left with $1742.50. (Unless you've earned more than $127,000, for which there's only a 2.9% self-employment tax-wow, I only need to sell about 125,000 more books to qualify!)
The good news is you can soften the income-tax hit by deducting some expenses, resulting in a bit more cash in your pocket.
Here are some of the more obvious deductions:
For example, Wisconsin has attempted to decrease the refuse in landfills by not charging parents sales tax if they buy cloth diapers for their babies. Disposable diapers are subject to sales taxes. And if you donate a dead deer to the poor in South Carolina, you get a $50 deduction from your state income taxes.
If you live in Hawaii and have an exceptional tree in your yard, you might be eligible for a $3,000 property-tax deduction.
If you're in a deli or restaurant in New York City and order a bagel, uncut, untoasted, and without a schmear, you don't have to pay the 8.75 sales tax. But if you want your bagel sliced, toasted, and schmeared, you're taxed.
Neutering your cats and dogs in Durham County, North Carolina will save you $65.00 per pet on your personal property tax. Pet owners in this county are required to list their pets as personal property when filing their taxes. If Fido or Fluffy are still fertile, your tax is $75.00 per pet; if they've been fixed, it's only $10.00.
Texans are allowed to buy boots, hats, and belts tax-free (buckles are taxed, however). This seems reasonable, especially since some Texans tend to be penny-pinching (me), heat-packing (not me) dudes. I just wish I'd known that when I bought my red cowboy boots at Macy's in Washington State. I'll admit they were on sale for only $15, but that's not the point; 9.6 % saved on $15 still counts as money in my pocket.
But no matter which state you live in, your federal tax deductions are the same.