I’m not even going to ask if you are busy – this being the holiday season and all. It doesn’t help that this year, in addition to the regular holiday stuff, there are supply chain issues, shortages, and COVID.
If you aren’t finding time to write, most people would understand. After all . . . busyness.
But I’m going to be honest with you. I’m not most people. I’m a writer. And if you want to see your work in press, you need to call yourself a writer in December and throughout the rest of the year. Here is why.
Recently I blogged about the power of calling yourself a writer. You can read that post here on the Muffin. One of my regular readers wrote to me about her own experience in calling herself a writer.
She was at a writing event. Throughout the day, participants met with various groups of fellow writers. At each meeting, they were to introduce themselves. “Hello. My name is Sue and I’m a writer.” She explained that after doing this for a day, she felt a shift in her attitude.
She wasn’t someone who wanted to be a writer. She was a writer.
Once you think of yourself as a writer, your attitude toward your writing will also change. It will become a priority.
This matter because most of us find time for the things we prioritize. Now, don’t argue. I see some of you building up to a real snit.
The closet you really want to clean out but haven’t cleaned out in three years? The baseboard that needs painting? The baby book you’ve been meaning to fill in for your high school senior? Dare I say this? It may sound good to call them priorities but they aren’t. And that’s okay. We’ve each got the same number of hours in every day and I’d much rather see you writing than cleaning.
Call yourself a writer and writing becomes essential. Writers, after all, write.
About two weeks ago, I blogged about not being able to find time to work on two new projects — a novel called Iron Mountain and a nonfiction picture book about a cave. Since then, I’ve worked on these projects 10 minutes per day, Monday through Friday. Has that little amount of time been worth my while?
For the cave book, I’ve read 7 or 8 sources and have 8 pages of notes. I have two or three more sources on hand and a friend just told me about an applicable NPR broadcast. I don’t have quite enough material to start writing but I am very close. The manuscript is starting to take shape in my mind and has already changed a bit from what I had originally imagined.
What about the novel? This post went up on Friday, but I wrote it on Wednesday. At that point I had 1700 words of text. Yes, it is rough but that’s 1700 words more than I had just fiddling around and complaining about not working. I’ve roughed out almost a complete first chapter.
No it isn’t following my outline but it is definitely taking on a life of its own. As soon as I finish roughing chapter 1, I’m going to make an outline of the pivotal points in the story. What do I consider pivotal points? My character’s call to action, the climax, the darkest moment and various points where the antagonists actions change things up. I’m 98% certain that these points are still solid and I want to review them before I get much farther into the story. I also need to do another Character sketch since this character now makes an appearance in Chapter 1. He is definitely going to have a much bigger part than I originally conceived.
Ten minutes a day. It doesn’t sound like much but I have two new projects steadily gaining ground in just two weeks. Kind of makes you wonder where I’ll be in another two weeks, doesn’t it?
With Thanksgiving behind us we are heading hard and fast into the holiday season. Decorating. Shopping. Events and more. How does a writer find the time to write?
For some of us it isn’t entirely a choice. This is how I keep the lights on. I like electricity and water and all the other utilities and food is amazing too. Since none of this is free, I have to work. In the past three days I have agreed to write another series book for Red Line. It isn’t nearly as long as the majority of the books that I’ve written for them so I suspect that it will be due before Christmas. I also just received a rewrite request from e-future in Korea for the early reader that I sent them. I write to pay the bills and I also write because I have editors who want my work, but even if you are still trying to break in you should keep writing too. Here are a few tips.
- Decide to write. I know it sounds goofy but step 1 really is making the decision to do it. And thinking “I’ll write if I can find the time” is not what I mean. Decide that you will write. Set specific goals.
- Be realistic. This is a busy time of year so be realistic about what you can get done. You may not be able to draft a chapter but what about a page or two?
- Train your family. It may not be easy but if someone interrupts you, send them on their merry way. Seriously. My son learned early on that he could come get me “if it is on fire, has stopped breathing or is bleeding.” Of course that means he didn’t come get me when he knocked the mirror off the wall but no system is perfect.
- Do the holiday thing. Don’t pass over the holiday fun. After you’ve given yourself time to write, celebrate. You need to recharge your creative batteries!
Now that I’ve met my writing goal, you’ll have to excuse me. There is Thanksgiving dessert with my name on it.
Some days writing time is easier to come by than others.
This week is one of the easy weeks. My son is at camp so I don’t have the normal swim team duties — driving, laundry and feeding of the teen boy.
Next week I will be back to swim team Mom which means that I will once again have to work my writing in around other people’s activities. Here are 4 tips on how to do this.
Set a time to write. Hoping that you will find time to write doesn’t often work. You need to plan a time to write. Maybe you can write while they are listening to the story at the library. Maybe you can write while they are swimming laps or taking a nap. Pick a time and schedule it.
Make a plan. It doesn’t matter if you have 15 minutes or 60, you need to go into it with a plan. Will you write a blog post or a chapter? Maybe you’re going to outline your article.
Write. You’ve set a time and made a plan. Now do it. Actually sit down and write. Don’t check Facebook. Don’t text your best friend. What do you do if you can’t avoid the alure of social media? If that’s the case, then you need to . . .
Go offline. If you can’t resist the tempation of checking your e-mail or Facebook or the weather, you need to work old school. Leave your phone and your tablet in the bedroom. Sit in the dining room with a pad of paper and a pen. Now write.
Are you one of those people who needs a plan or a program to get going? Then check out my post on the Pomodoro Technique over on the Muffin.
Finding time to write can be tricky. That’s why it makes me nuts when someone tells me how lucky I am that I get to write. No, that’s not how it works. I choose to write. This can be especially hard to do when everyone else is home. Not that I write all the time, but still.
When everyone is home for the holidays, it can be tricky. I need some writing time, because writing time is quiet time. I’m not having to make small talk and interact with people. If you’re an introvert, you get it. If you’re an extrovert, you’re not going to get it so just smile and nod.
Here are a few things that I can do that make it easier to squeeze a little writing time into my day:
- Announce my plans. I’ve given up on sneaking off to write because that’s like hiding a treat from a dog. Finding you is a challenge. Instead, let them know “I am going to write for 20 minutes.”
- Shut the door. I don’t normally close my office door. The study is right over the furnace and the room tends to get warm. But when everyone is home, I put on a tank top and shut the door.
- Fire when I see the whites of their eyes. You laugh, but I have resorted to this. Unless they come bearing gifts of chocolate, or warnings that they’ve set the house on fire, that door had better stay closed. He who opens it will be shot with a Nerf dart. Oddly enough, some people do not take this well and go off in a huff.
- Interact. When I finish writing, I make a point of interacting with them. Because after you’ve all interacted for a while, the introverts will want to go their way and will gladly let you do the same…
For more on writing during December, and how it is like baking Christmas cookies, check out my blog post for today on the Muffin.
If you are reading my blog, you probably want to be a writer. This should mean that you are also writing. If not, what’s stopping you?
I meet many new or wanna-be writers. I write for a living and when they learn this, they always tell me how lucky I am. Then they tell me why they don’t have time . . . money . . . space to write. Basically, something is in their way and because of it they cannot write. They need to watch this video.
Now, tell me again. What is standing in your way?
Yesterday I wrote about how driven I am to set writing goals for myself. When I discuss things like this, I’m amazed at how many people get all dewy eyed. “I wish I could write every day.”
For these people, I have a question. Why can’t you?
Now, I’m not completely clueless. Some people cannot write every day. I have one writing buddy who requires uninterrupted time. If she has to run the kids here and there that say, she’s too distracted to write. But give her a nice chunk of time and she’s very productive.
She knows this so she plans for it.
Me? I write in fits and starts. I write hard and fast (up to 3 new pages in 30 minutes) but it also means that once I do this, I’m toast. Sometimes I can do it three times a day, but I have to recharge between times. This may have to do with the fact that I wrote with a toddler at home. I didn’t have uninterrupted stretches of time.
It could also be that I have the attention span of a ground squirrel.
I know other people who can sit and write for hours and hours at a stretch. I suspect these are the most productive writers but I don’t know any of them well enough to pry.
How do you write? Figure it out and then find a way to work it into your life. You may be someone who writes daily. You may be someone who writes once a week. Figure it out.
And then write.
To paraphrase Yoda, “There is no wish, there is only write.”
That’s what is going to make you a writer.