One Writer’s Journey

August 2, 2017


Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:17 am
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Starting today, I am re-instituting an old policy.  I am going offline to work.

Because so much of my whammock-2239788_1920.jpgriting involves research, I generally have a search engine open. This means that Facebook is also open.  My computer lets me know when someone contact me via Facebook.  It let’s me know when I have an e-mail.  Not to be left out, my phone also gets in on the act.

That ends today.

This weekend, we made a run down to the lake.  I didn’t really intend to work but I was going to get caught up on e-mail.  Ping, ping, ping, ping.

But since I wasn’t working, I only had my phone.  I left my laptop at the house.  My phone would connect to the wifi but it wasn’t giving me all of my e-mail.  “You have 100 but I’m going to give you 27 new ones and then 40 marked unread that are allegedly from May.”

I turned my phone off.  Same thing.

I disconnected from the wifi.  Still goofy.

So instead of reading e-mail, I went to the range with the boys.  We drove to the next town to visit a sporting goods store.  I ate BBQ and really good Mexican food.  I stared at the sky.  I watched humming birds.  I started crocheting a bat (the flying kind). I didn’t even read.

It was awesome.  I felt so relaxed.

And when I got home it was all still there.  Sure some of it was two days old but no one seems to have suffered any ill effects.  Three days after getting home, I am still trying to get caught up.

But that’s okay.  I feel a lot more relaxed.

So today, as you read this, I’m typing away, working on a picture book draft for critique tonight.  This is draft 3 and it is going much smoother than 1 or 2.  In part, I think this is because I know where the story is going.

But I’m not discounting the fact that I’m offline.  If you need me, you’ll just have to wait until my lunch break.



July 6, 2017

Writing Time: How Much Time Are You Actually Writing?

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 4:54 am
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I had to laugh last night when I saw this graphic.  What do I do when I’m supposed to be writing?

I’d love to say that 100% of my writing time is spent writing but that’s not true.  If I have a great deal of unstructured time, I can find all kinds of things to do that aren’t writing.

I water plants.  Fold laundry.  Redecorate the corner table in the dining room.  Hang a new picture.  You get the picture.

Of course these are also the kinds of things that I do when I need to recharge.  So if you live with me it can be hard to tell.  Is she recharging?  Does she need to do something other than write?  Or should she put her butt in her chair and write?

So not my current problem.  Oh, no.  My current problem involves my son’s summer job.

He’s a life guard.  This is his first real job.  By real job, I mean that he doesn’t get to set his own hours and he had to pay for a background check.  It hasn’t been easy but I generally manage, often with gritted teeth, to let him adult.  But the rule at work is NO PHONES.  He deals with this by not even getting it out when he’s on break.  That’s cool.  Most of us spend way too much time phone in hand anyway.

The problem has become the moms who know that I’m at my desk when the teens are at work.  Don’t know when your kid gets off?  Message Sue.  Afraid the pool might close due to lightning but picking up your child is “impossible?”  Hey!  Sue’s at her desk.

I also get phone calls from the church secretary when she needs information but can’t find the person she needs to talk to.  Why?  Because she can find me.

My dad not answering his phone?  Yeah, you should just call Sue.

Because of this, I leave my phone in my purse.  Facebook pings at me but the speakers are turned off.

Sometimes you have to put up a fight to get your writing time.  But that’s cool.  After all, you are a writer. Aren’t you?


January 9, 2017

Ten Minutes a Day: When You Don’t Have Time to Write

ten-minutesIt may seem like a strange thing to hear a full-time writer say but it is truly embarrassing just how often I don’t have time to write.  At least I don’t have time to write something new. I’d been 50% of the way through my scene outline for Iron Mountain since early December.  But it all came to a halt when I landed the contract with Redline.  Gotta finish that paying work.

But I couldn’t find time to squeeze it in after I met that deadline.  I had Christmas to prepare!   And then New Years.  And the boys were home.  I’d get my blog posts done.  I’d get a tweet put up.  My two daily Spanish lessons on Duolingo?  Check.  I’d even spend 5 minutes picking up in my office.  But actually working on something new?

Nope.  There just wasn’t enough time in my work day.

Fortunately my writing buddies Cindy and Kris reminded me how a third friend works in a new project.  She works on it ten minutes a day.  Unless she is in the final crunch on a contracted book, she works on that new project for 10 minutes.  She might be doing research.  Or creating an outline.  Or working on chapter 1.  She might also be sending out queries to agents, preparing a pitch for an editor or getting ready to travel.  No matters.  She fits in that new project for 10 minutes a day.

Ten minutes a day.  That’s how long I spend on Duolingo and that’s not how I make my living.  Certainly I could find 10 minutes (20 minutes total) for two new projects — Iron Mountain (YA science fiction) and a new nonfiction project that involves a cave.

And you know what?  Once I decided that it was possible and that I was going to do it — no excuses — I’ve managed to do it for most of a week.  I’m almost 3/4 of the way through my scene outline now and I’ve done a chunk of the research on my new nonfiction.  I even shook loose two experts that I don’t even need yet.

Ten minutes a day.  It may not seem like much but its moving my projects forward.  It can work for you too.


July 28, 2016

Finding Time to Write

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:29 am
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Wombats, Wombat, Shield, Note, SignIs your writing a priority?  I always say yes but I’m not sure that that has been true this past month.

My dad has been in the hospital twice.  He’s now in rehab.  We’re looking for new housing for him.  And I had to get my son registered for high school.  It seems like no one will do anything without contacting me first.  And an hour of every morning is spent with my Dad.

“You need to write in the morning,” said my husband.

“But Dad . . .”

“But deadline. Go seem him after dinner.  Because I said so.”

So with this very strong suggestion I planned to come home from yoga and shut myself in the office for 90 minutes to draft a chapter.  That’s it.  Ninety minutes.  But the moment I walked in the front door, the phone was ringing.  “This is where your dad lives, we want you to send this text and work this out . . .”  There followed 4 phone calls and no less than 25 texts.  Yes, I found the information and told the last person in the chain where to find it.


I’m not sure why I’m the one who has to do it.  In fact, they’re being paid to do it. I’m just acting as the messenger.  So I finally announced that I was going on radio silence.  Anyone else who calls will be told by a dining room full of teens that I’m in Australia herding wombats.  I posted it on Facebook.  Then phone rang.

“Mom isn’t taking calls.”

“But we were just texting…”

“She’s in Australia…” said one.

“. . . herding wombats,” yelled the rest.

Five teens, one Facebook post about Australia, and a spot of time and I’ve finally drafted my chapter.  Sometimes making your writing a priority is really difficult.  But you need to do it.  Don’t take a page out of my book and wait to get permission from your spouse.  Post something on Facebook.  Put all of the phones, including your cell, in another room.  And, if you need, I’ll loan you one of the teens.  They love relaying messages about herding and wombats and wack-a-doodle writers.


May 31, 2016

Social Media: The Down Side

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:47 am
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wwwSocial  Media for Writers.

How to Use Social Media.

Social Media, the Author’s Way.

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be someone telling me how important social media is for me as a writer.  They’re willing to tell me how and why and just how little time it will take.  And I have to admit that I’d bought into it.  I blog — obviously.  I’m on Facebook.  And I recently joined Twitter.

Maybe it’s because I added one thing and then another, but I never realized just how time-consuming it could be.  But last weekend we were out of town.  Yes, where we were staying had wi-fi.  I should have been able to get on, but our particular room was one of a block that gets iffy reception, especially when the place is booked solid and every room has a device or two linked in.

I knew I was going to have some time to myself and I had looked ahead at my deadlines so I had my laptop with me.  I had already drafted the next three chapters of the NASA book but this was a really rough draft created before the present outline with our editor and publisher.  Needless to say, I lot had changed.  Instead of trying to find a place I could get on and check my e-mail or Facebook, I popped open my laptop and got to work.  Ninety minutes later, I had a draft of Chapter 5.  Sure, there were a couple of blanks that I could only fill in once I could Google but I had a solid draft.  The next morning, I had an hour to myself and before everyone got back I had drafted Chapter 6. Again, there were blanks but still.

Two chapters drafted in a couple of hours.  Yes, I had bit and pieces already written, but I think a lot of what I accomplished was thanks to the fact that I could check e-mail.  I could pop over to Facebook.  No one could IM me.  That’s a big one for me.  If it pings, I have to look to see if it is something I need to read immediately.

I’m going to try an experiment this week.  School  is out, people are home, swim season has started.  My writing time is at a premium.  I’m going to write for several hours this week after closing down my internet connection.  I have a feeling it will be time well spent.


May 6, 2016

Deadlines Dead Ahead: Don’t Forget to take a break and recharge

air plants 2As you read this, I am most likely at the doctor’s office with my Dad.  That was the plan long before I had three deadlines on the calendar (picture book, nonfiction chapter, nonfiction outline).  To put it mildly, days like this are interesting.

Some people deal with these kinds of days by putting their butt in the desk chair and not getting up until they’re done.  Yeah, I’m not really one of those people.  The picture book and the chapter were largely done.  That just meant fine tuning them.  The outline was rough and by rough I mean frightening.  I’d work for a half hour or so but then I’d need a break because I had a problem that I had to consider.


As you may already know, I like to make things.  I like to work with my hands and have something at the end of it.  Earlier this week, I got a package with 18 air plants.  That’s more than they were supposed to send so I wasn’t really ready for them.  My solution was to hang the plants in wine glasses.

That means that my work day looks something like this —

8:30 – 9:00 rewrite 3 spreads.

9:00 – 9:10 cut the string for a holder

9:10 – 9:45 finish rewriting the picture book

9:45 – 10:00 start tying knots and stringing beads

10:00 – 10:30 outline two chapters and so on

This might not the best way for you to work.  Maybe your a butt in chair kind of person, but I’ve learned that butt in chair doesn’t work for me.  If I know I’m going to be there for 90 minutes, I can afford to goof off.  I know, I know.  Self-defeating.  But if I’m only in the chair for 20 or 30 minutes, I better get my butt in gear.

And those breaks?  I get to do something that helps me recharge my creative batteries.  In the long run, I’m much more productive when I take the time to creatively goof off.  What works best for you?


June 1, 2015

Writing Time: Working Writing into My Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:43 am

writing timeHow hard is it for you to fit writing in your average day?

Because it is what I do for a living, I’m spoiled.  At least during the school year, I manage to write almost every day, Monday through Friday.

That said, in the summer, I don’t do quite as well.  My son doesn’t have his license yet and he’s a swimmer.  That means five days a week, I’m driving him to the pool and home again.  And then there are the meets.  And high school swim camp.

Yes, I still find time to write, but it isn’t nearly as easy as it is during the school year.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret.  If you act like writing time is nice but not essential, finding time to write is going to be a real challenge.  It doesn’t matter if you work full time, have a family, or are retired, other things will fill your day.

I’ve actually noticed that the more open my day is the harder it can be to get to my writing.  After all, I’ve got scads of free time. I’ll get to it! If, on the other hand, I have to get it done NOW because later I have to go up to school, attend a meeting or whatever, then I get it done.

What about you?  Is writing essential?  Do you make it a priority?  Or is it a nice hobby, something you enjoy but not quite essential?  There is no single right answer — it all depends on what you want to get out of your writing time.  Check out my post today at the Muffin for a bit on how what I write changes to fit my new schedule.


December 1, 2014

Finding time to write . . . when things don’t go as planned

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:33 am
Tags: , ,

lifeIt doesn’t matter how carefully you plan out your writing schedule.  Some days just don’t go as planned.

That’s what happened to me last Friday.  I was supposed to be doing a hard copy rewrite of my Pearl Harbor book.  In fact, I’d gotten three chapters done and had six more to go.  That’s when the phone rang.  Dad was on the way to the hospital.  You know how it is.  Even when you’re 90% certain it is something manageable (he has COPD), you still end up sitting in the ER for 3 and a half hours.

Sitting there while he dozed and my sister read, I discovered that it is almost impossible to concentrate in an emergency room.  If all the monitors and alarms would just keep up a constant tempo, you’d be fine, but then its time for his blood pressure and a new alarm goes off and then . . . why is that monitor mooing?  Oh, its the pump doo dad for the blood pressure cuff.

Eventually I did manage to rewrite just over a chapter but I think I’d have done better if I had managed to mine the situation for writing ideas.  A trip to the hospital is ripe for personal essays, what the take with you when and even humor.  Seriously.  The monitor mooed.

What unexpected events derail your writing plans?  You might end up baby sitting or dog sitting or having to pick someone up from the airport.  You may not be doing what you planned to do, but don’t just fuss and fume.  Open your eyes and observe and come away from the experience with something to write about.

For a more traditional how to write during the holiday piece, check out Saturday’s blog post at the Muffin.



July 7, 2014

Time Management

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:39 am
Tags: , ,

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 teamTime 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.


June 27, 2014

Writing Time: A humorous video about finding time to write

Filed under: Uncategorized — suebe @ 1:13 am
Tags: , ,

A little levity.  Here for your viewing, and listening, pleasure is Erin Murphy’s Dog (author Deborah Underwood and other authors as back-up-singers) along with editor Arthur Levine performing “Sorry for the Delay.”

This is as funny as it is because authors, agents and editors use these and similar excuses.  The reality is that if you want to make writing your career, you need to quit making excuses and WRITE.

You have things to do around the house?  That’s nice.  If you want to be a writer, write.

You have a day job?  An evening job?  A weekend job?  That’s nice.  If you want to be a writer, write.

You’re in school?  You have a family?  It’s a day with a Y in it?  That’s nice.  If you want to be a writer, write.

It’s the only way you will actually be a writer.


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