Writing is your chosen profession and you need to make it fun. Flip on the stereo, dress up your writing space, do anything to bring out your creativity and keep you planted in your chair for hours on end.
Read your calendar to determine when you’ll have blocks of time to write. I need blocks of time, hours, or I get confused. I can’t work well with ten minutes here or thirty minutes there unless I’m editing. For me short spells are good for editing, otherwise I lose my critical eye. Write your schedule on the calendar, in red. You’ll feel more committed and will spot in an instant when you can work.
Maybe you have a full time job. It’s not so easy then. Author Judy Powell used to eat her lunch in her car, just to get away from her desk, and write. She had a kitchen timer set for her return time and was never late.
Judy’s habit may not work for you. If that’s the case then set your writing time, at least an hour, in the morning before you head out. Only do it if you’re a morning person otherwise you’ll have wasted an hour’s sleep. Maybe evenings are your creative time but you’re too tired and hungry after work. Eat a light dinner, clean up, and grab a short nap. Better yet skip the nap, it’ll only add unwanted pounds.
Look, everyone has a real life with doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, family, friends, and lovers. You don’t want to aggravate or alienate, but you do have to put your career in prospective. Some things just have to wait. As an FYI, so can house cleaning and most laundry. In regard to friends, they can probably live without you for two weeks. Explain what you’re doing and why. Inform them you and your phone are out of commission for two weeks, unless they die. You love them dearly, but you must be selfish and think of yourself. Spread out your socializing until after the fourth week of dedicated writing. If they are your friends they’ll understand. If they don’t…
Appointments, groceries, cooking, family, and lovers are another matter. Let’s discuss them individually.
Appointments - Either schedule them as far apart as possible or cram them into one day. Remember, you have the ability to grant yourself blocks of time to write.
Groceries – Stock up! Write a concise list and do one giant splurge. Yes, you may blow the budget but it will even up down the road when you don’t have to do an emergency run for toilet paper.
Cooking – Easy, either buy frozen ready made food, fresh with a far out expiration date, or cook up a storm during your first week, and freeze the extras.
Family – If you have children at home you’re time is going to be occupied with a gazillion things. All you can do is make a serious attempt to carve out blocks of time around their schedules. It’s okay if you take longer than ten weeks to get your novel written. You have the ability to grant yourself that permission. Use it. If your children have moved out, tell them to get a life and leave yours alone for two weeks unless there is a grave situation. Make that a grave situation in your opinion – not theirs.
Lovers – Not so easy. It’s important to keep them included in your life and not make them feel like they’re a bother. Studly’s cool on this. When we’re watching TV, I have my work on hard copy and do what’s necessary. This way we’re together during the evening and I can ask a question at halftime or intermission. Sometimes, he’ll bring up a short subject. Neither of us gets into anything deep, those topics are reserved for dinner. Not only are we together, but we’re each doing what we enjoy. A huge Thank You to my Brazen Hussy pals for their insight on this area.
Now to the real fun.
Have your notebook with the outline and characterization list at hand. Remember you’ve written in the daily log section how many words you wanted to write? Go for it.
Turn on your computer, block out the world, and type. Don’t think about spelling, grammar, paragraphs, or anything else, just think about your novel. Consider this the outline your freshman English teacher would have hated. Pound it out. Let your words flow. Later, you’ll concern yourself with editing. Commit three weeks strictly for writing. You’ll be surprised at how much more you accomplish in laying down your story when you kill your Internal Editor.
If you get stumped or tired, get up and walk around, grab a bottle of water, or a snack. Do not sit there and stare at your monitor. Maybe you need music, a break, exercise, and unless you want to turn into Waddling Wilma you’d better exercise. On a 9-5 job you’d have two breaks and a lunch time. Do the same with you’re writing. Hello! It’s your job.
And since it’s your job, you will know and must adhere to quitting time. If you don’t, you’ll burn out. Nothing worse than a writer with nothing left to write.
1. Keep pen and paper scattered throughout the house and car to write down those ideas/phrases popping in your head.
2. Revitalize your creativity by reading outside your genre, walking, a movie, or my all time favorite – eavesdropping at a restaurant.
3. Sit outside, anywhere, and commune with nature and your higher being. It may not be a bad idea to thank him/her for your success.
As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re not comfortable posting a comment here or prefer to talk privately, email me. I’m happy to spend time with you.
I'll be back Monday with Donna Del Oro and her latest release, The Delphi Bloodline. Until then...