Courage to Create, Evernote, Jeff Goins, Kristen Lamb, Ollin Morales, Time Management for writers, Time to write, Writing

Three Tips to Find Time to Write

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                                                       How do you eat an elephant?

                                                   One bite at a time.~Anonymous

At this angle the pachyderm is going to get larger as he comes closer. So much so that you may give up your lifelong dream of riding the largest land mammal on earth. It’s too scary to deal with him all at once, but you really want to climb on board and take the ride of your life. It’s the romp you’ve envisioned for years, riding up high on that majestic African elephant. 

He seems tame enough, until he gets up close and personal. That’s when you see the enormity of the situation. It’s a huge undertaking to trust that beast and have faith that you’ll muster up your courage and take that ride. The closer he gets, the more you run various scenarios through your head. What if the animal balks, what if I fall, what if he doesn’t like me? 

It’s the same thing with writing. One hundred and one excuses run through our minds when we hit a hard spot in writing our novel. 

      “I don’t have time to write…my job…my kids…you don’t know my husband/wife…the dog…” 

You may have said or thought about all of these and have your own personal favorites. I  know I do. And with most excuses, there maybe a kernel of truth underneath the statements. Maybe many kernels-enough to pop yourself some popcorn. Been there, said that.

But before you go looking for a bowl I’d like you to take ten minutes (2 television commercials) to read some great posts on this very topic. 

At Courage to Create you’ll find wisdom from the Tao Te Ching: Live your life expecting that every new challenge will be difficult. Or as Ollin, a first time novelist, puts it:   

               I will stop asking that writing be easy. Instead I will simply ask that the writing get done.

Kristen Lamb’s post Stress Less, Write More talked about this very topic today. 

      Often we DO have time, we just lack focus. We don’t have a time management problem we have a values conflict.

In her characteristic style, her statement is a mouthful of writing wisdom in a couple of sentences.

Another favorite blogger of mine, Jeff Goins, tweeted an archived post today that lends itself well on the subject of finding time to write. Well, actually it’s about capturing ideas using the free application Evernote, an online note taking tool that Jeff refers to as his ‘external brain.’ To me, it’s like capturing time, putting it in a bottle and releasing it when necessary. 

Look, the Evernote’s logo is an elephant. Must be a sign. If you don’t know about this application, just follow Jeff’s simple directions. If you need more information, you can head over to the Evernote website to view and hear how diary farmers, students, small businesses, and memory impaired people (like me) are using the application

So, three tips on finding time to write the words we want to read.Promise yourself you’ll forego one sitcom or news program a day. Pledge an ‘unplug’ day. That’s right, no Tweets, FB, blogging, or pinning for 24 hours. Use that one to three hours to get your butt in the chair and write. 

You can do this. Your reading audience is waiting. It’s time to sit and deliver.

Okay, enough said. Remember, take it one bite at a time. Oh, and please pass the salsa. 

What writing pledge will you make for yourself?


Encouragement, Holly Lisle, Jeff Goins, Joe Konrath, Kristen Lamb, Rachelle Gardner, WANA, Writing

Open Your Medicine Cabinet to Write

I’m sure you’ve heard the often quoted  proverb by Lao-Tzu: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” But what you may not have heard so often is the translation that results from the original Chinese quote:
                                             “The journey of a thousand miles begins beneath one’s feet.”  

Before the first step is the desire to move. All of that ‘would, could, should, if, want to, maybe,” ( insert a favorite stopper phrase) doesn’t do squat but leave our feet planted into the ground. Sure we make a little dust while we shuffle our feet to the litany of ‘if’s’ but when we look at our position, we’re are still in the same place. Sometimes we must find the desire to move and shake off the constant buzz of our family/work life.

The quote is analogous to writing. Oh, yes, how we want to write a novel, get an agent, get published, see our story enjoyed by thousands millions. But none of it will happen if we do the ‘woulda, coulda’ mambo instead of making ourselves sit in front of the blank page/screen and write. And do the same thing the next day, and the next, until we are finished with a first draft. And then guess what? We do it all again during rewriting/revision.
                                     “It is perfectly okay to write garbage-as long as you edit brilliantly.”~Molnair.
Writing is not for the faint of heart or for those who don’t want to fail. Writing until we get into print is for those who show up, fail, keep learning, rewrite, and move forward. I feel a ‘Hoo-Rah,” coming on.

But some days our cheering section of zero or one isn’t enough. There are times when we need some external encouragement, someone who has been there, to commiserate with us for one minute and then shove our behinds into the chair again. 

The problem is that we often don’t know when we’ll have one of those “I can’t do it anymore,” writing days. Something that works for me is preparation. I’ve assembled a personal medicine cabinet of writers and blogs filled with encouragement to face the stagnation and move forward. 
Some of my favorites are: 

When facing anxiety go to Writer’s First Aid for several posts on whatever ails you.

Some invigorating advice about persistently writing comes from JA Konrath’s post “Writing Matters,” and Holly Lisle’s blog on “Live to Write Another Day.” 

Someone who often says that writing is a lonely business and has built a community of writers is Kristen Lamb: We Are Not Alone. She introduced me to Twitter and the WANA concept. 

For optimism and insight there are few more encouraging blogs than Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner’s encouragement section. 

And to remind oneself of why we write is the ever inspirational Jeff Goins

Last but not least, just different, is visiting my Pinterest boards. I don’t have to read, just gaze  at the photos until I feel my fingers jumpstart.

There are more blogs I could mention, but you get the idea. 

What do you have in your own writer’s medicine cabinet? I’m looking for a humor pill (blog) to fill another spot. Suggestions are welcomed. 

Debs and Errol, First drafts, Inky Girl, Kristen Lamb, NaNoWriMo, Plot Whisperer

NaNoWriMo: It’s Over

It does feel pretty good. The challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days was worth the tinglings of carpel tunnel and bruised fingers. My goal was to stop myself from continually self-editing and just write. Follow an idea and see it to its end point. Do what I said I was going to do. Finishing the challenge was like finally losing those 15 pounds I’m always saying I’m going to lose, and actually losing it.

I have to tell you that it was an exercise in freedom. How? I had the freedom to write without thinking whether I made sense or not, whether someone in my critique group would judge me, whether my characters emoted properly, whether I used a comma correctly or not. I had the freedom to just write. Now the lack of  freedom was totally self imposed. I had been a writer who took three strokes forward one back, four strokes forward  two back until I exhausted myself with the keyboard cha-cha.

The NaNoWriMo freed me from my self imposed writer’s cell. Everyone started on the same day and everyone had the same rules: write 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s it. Along the way I learned that I didn’t have to have a detailed outline before I started or I could and make my writing life easier. But I did have a germ of an idea and I kept going until the idea lead to another one and linked to another and so on.

When I felt stuck I read blogs written by Kristen Lamb for inspiration and re-read the Plot Whisper for advice on plotting. I listened to Debs and Errol’s music extravaganza’s dedicated to NaNoWriMo writers. I discovered Inky Girl comics and read how others dealt with the stuck times and the ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ whining. And I kept on writing without backtracking and editing myself.

Thirty days later I have 50, 501 words and 202 pages of a Young Adult novel. It’s 80% finished and I’ll keep on keeping on for the next seven days until I complete the story. After that I need to find a new group, maybe a JaNoReMo (January Novel Revision Month) so I can work through revisions. If not, I know what my New Year’s Resolution will be.

Anne Lamott, Kristen Lamb, NaNoWriMo, Shelly Lowenkopf, Storyfix, Writing

NaNoWriMo: Story Structure

To avoid a twelve car pile up, I am approaching my NNWM project with a semblance of organization.  Before I organize I need to review the fundamentals, stored away in a big purse somewhere, and see if I have most of the things I need to get my NNWM party started.

Okay, so in the giant purse I need to find the idea, the characters, the story/plot, setting, and theme. Right now I’m vague on the idea, but I have a couple of them germinating and I think I’ll have a female teenager as the main character. So I tossed those to the side and found “story/plot.” Now I’m waffling. I think I need to review those items.

For assistance I took a look at some of my favorite  blogs and found some good advice just in case someone out there in the blogasphere is going to the NNWM party.

Mark Twain said that the first rule of writing was “that a tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.” Pretty loosey-goosey for the great American writer but the quote is indisputable. Between “accomplish something and arrive somewhere” can be a vast wasteland or a lush path of unforgettable story. To help us stay away from the wasteland and into the greenery I’ll share the following:

Kristen Lamb author and editor is sharing her wealth of knowledge about story structure. She reminds us that learning narrative structure is a basic building block to writing a good novel. And the most basic of the basics of the building blocks are cause and effect. We have a beginning, middle, and end of a novel and each has to have cause and effect, strung together to form scenes or chapters. Ms. Lamb has devoted several posts to structure.

Over at Larry Brooks‘s Storyfix (an award winning blog for writers), is his two minute exercise for understanding story structure. Pretty interesting way to learn especially if you are a visual learner. He says story structure is storytelling. No structure, no story, no sales. Pretty cut and dry.

 Shelly Lowenkopf says, in his book The Fiction Lovers Companion, that story is a bundle of information bits about characters, strategically deployed to produce a series of on-going emotional responses culminating in a emotional payoff. He also says a whole lot of other good stuff but I’ll end with a frequent comment of his: “no conflict, no story.”

And Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird, one of my favorite books on writing, created a mnemonic device to help writers remember how to write story/plots that work: Action, Background, Conflict, Development, and End.

But enough about story structure and plot. It’s time to relax and think about the idea some more before I grab my purse and head out to the party.