Sending in the Flying Monkeys—Get Your @$$ to Work!

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Via meme on Pinterest

So many people say the same thing. “If I could only find the time…” Thing is, time isn’t down in the couch cushions hanging out with loose change, the TV remotes and stale Cherrios. Time isn’t hiding. Time is everywhere.

And THAT folks is the problem.

Time is everywhere and all around and so we tend to waste it. People who are successful have the same amount of time. Difference is? They use it better.

Monday, I gave Ten Ways to Go Pro and I happened to mention the writing sprints we do on W.A.N.A.Tribe (a Ning I created for writers). But, because I didn’t want to derail the point of Monday’s post, I didn’t exactly explain what precisely we DO on W.A.N.A.Tribe.

I created W.A.N.A.Tribe so that writers all over the world could connect and share and network. There are all kinds of tribes to join or even start. Even if a tribe hasn’t been particularly active, hop in and type something and it springs to life like a jar of sea monkeys 😀 .

Have questions about self-publishing? There is a tribe for that. Need feedback on romance? There is a tribe for that.

But the real strength of W.A.N.A.Tribe has been in our daily ritual of meeting and working together in the Main Room IM field at W.A.N.ATribe. They began as sprints for NaNoWriMo. In the beginning, the sprints were sheerly for word count and they were 30 minutes long. But, that was during NaNoWriMo and word count is the ONLY thing that matters in November.

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Thanksgiving? You mean Day They Announce the NaNo Winners Day?

But the hard truth all writers face is that word count and “writing” is only a small part of what we do. At W.A.N.A.Tribe, the sprinters and I realized that about a week into December…namely because we all had 50K or more that was probably a mess.

Welcome to The Blackout

So I created what we call BLACKOUTS. Tequila is optional.

We meet in the morning and chat for a couple minutes and then I set a timer for 40 minutes and we all go dark until I call TIME.

Then we have to report back what we accomplished. This can be word count, pages edited, or pages of research read. Report back that you almost finished a marketing plan, you emptied your e-mail and answered all business e-mail.

But the Blackout is still very different. Writers are people and we are people who do not own a cloning machine…

…but our laundry and dishes do.

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We use Blackouts for those things too.

I know I generally start writing at 4:30 a.m. I’m an early bird. Always have been. How my parents didn’t murder me as a child is still a mystery. I remember my mother forbidding me to get out of bed until the birds were awake. The second I heard one chirp! I was up and laying waste to the Cheerios waiting for the colored bars on the T.V. to change to Captain Kangaroo.

Yes, I am that old.


I do check in when I’m at my desk, so any super early birds? If y’all need to do a Blackout that does not involve losing consciousness back in your warm bed? I am there to help. This is to help those writers I KNOW cannot yet leave the day job, but who need that extra push in the morning.

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Since many times I have already been writing 2-3 hours by the time the Blackouts “officially” start (9:00 AM CST)? I usually use them for other things, including housework.

As I also mentioned last post, I consume an insane amount of audiobooks, but I do this while I do chores. While my body is getting out of the chair to move around? My brain gets a break from creating and switch to absorbing/refilling. Right now I am on my third book of the week—The Everything Store and The Age of Amazon.

Last week it was The 10X Rule (for the third time) and If You’re Not First, You’re Last and then finally, How to Win at the Sport of Business by Mark Cuban.

I did 75 loads of laundry while learning…a lot. There are all kinds of things I dread doing, but add in peer pressure?

Anyway, when I do a Blackout, my report back may look something like this:

Sorted all the laundry, got the washer and dryer going, folded two loads, listened to three chapters of a book while I did the dishes and then finally I emptied my e-mail.

I get WAY more accomplished when I have to focus. No more goofing off on Facebook, farting around on Twitter, or losing sense of time and place talking on the phone to my mom. I KNOW I am going to have at least ONE person I am going to have to face and if I just jacked around? Yeah…

Additionally I’ve noticed this type of activity attracts and keeps the hard-chargers. You want to be around authors who will push you to a higher level? Be around Maria Grace when she reports that over the Blackout, she wrote 1,400 words, started a newsletter, edited three chapters and cured cancer.

Trust me, your bar goes WAY higher.

Love you Spooky!

***We nicknamed her that because she gets so much done, well…it’s spooky.

Thus, in a Blackout, we get the energy and fun competition of a workplace environment, and there is the promise of a tad bit of chit-chat in between…by folks who WILL send in the flying monkeys if you don’t work your @$$ off.

A huge part of being successful as a writer is the ability to be self-disciplined and self-directed. Sure, I do fairly well at that on my own, but have been known to…SQUIRREL!

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Wanna ride bikes? Play Barbies? I have a cat.

Where was I?

Oh, yes. Blackouts have really helped me maintain balance, focus and generate crazy productivity. Most of us actually can get far more accomplished than we realize, we just need to hustle. I have used Blackouts to do writing and then switched and used them for spring cleaning. I’ve even used them for a power nap. If I say I am going to rest for the next 40, I better do it (not clean up Hot Wheels in the living room).

If you join our group? Trust me. People are going to start asking questions if we don’t show. Meaning my attendance is usually pretty good unless I have appointments that have taken me out of my office.

I generally don’t do Blackouts in the evenings because I have jujitsu….or have blacked out literally from working all day. But any of you crazy cats who wanna give it a spin? We welcome you to join us!

What are your thoughts? Like me, are you decent do you suck at being self-disciplined but accountability makes it way easier? Do you feel you produce more with focus? Do you think you waste too much time? Are you struggling to get traction?

What are your thoughts?

Before we go, I’d like to mention again the new class I am offering!

How and WHY are we using FREE!?

Making Money with FREE! As a bonus for this class, my friend Jack Patterson who’s so far sold over 150,000 books to come and teach us how to ROCK the newsletter. Sign up before March 7th for $20 off. This is in excess of two hours of training and the recording (as always) comes with purchase.

Anyway, I really DO love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of MARCH, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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    • Donna Fasano on March 2, 2016 at 12:56 pm
    • Reply

    I can’t tell you how much I needed this today! I have 2 scenes to write in order to finish my WIP… and I’m dragging my heels. Well, I read the title of your blog and I’m getting to work. Now. I’ll come back later to read your blog. 🙂 Thanks for the kick in the a$$.

    1. Say Donna once you get done with that swift kick in the a$$ could you please share? In dire need…lol

  1. WANA is awesome!

  2. This morning I felt like I woke up and my life was a total black out, car was towed, missed work, wife wanted to know what was going on and at the time I didn’t know myself, 6 year old was demanding why I haven’t left for work yet, supervisor told me my leave was on the other side of don’t call me any more unless your dead and I still have client projects and writing to do for later…after I find out what happened to my car. Long story longer I found my car, daughter still wanted to know why I wasn’t at work, wife was still confused after I told her and borrowed her car leaving her stranded in the house as I try and focus on my writing and client projects at Starbucks. I’m sad that your scheduled blackouts are for times I’m at work, but if any are scheduled for the weekend please let me know. But I will find a way to try out my own blackouts because I still need to focus when life just ain’t having it.

    1. OMG! I hope your day improves! ((HUGS)) Actually why I am doing this blog is I hope you guys will mingle in the Main Room and do them yourselves. All you need is two or more people and a timer. I try to po in throughout the day and evenings. It is just not guaranteed.

  3. Excellent post! At the moment, I’m taking a break from editing The Vi-Purrs, which is scheduled for debut in a couple weeks + have a load of laundry in the dryer and one more in the washer … now to chase a few dust bunnies, before I put my reading glasses back on. Have a great day!

  4. I want to be spooky. Fine, it’s time I engage WANA.

    Well done mama.

  5. I just got accepted to wana last night. I’m going to explore some after work and see how to get an evening blackout going for those of us who think getting up at 8 is too early 🙂

  6. I have to confess. I have good days and not so good in getting off social media and into getting stuff done. Last week I got behind doing other things because I read Rise of the Machines. Great book, highly recommend it. Who was the author again? Oh, it was you, Kristen Lamb!

  7. I joined W.A.N.A some time ago, and then lost track of it. Clearly I need to stop getting distracted by The Good Wife and focus! Those two short stories won’t sell themselves I guess…
    Thank you for the kick in the @ss

    1. Criminal Minds is my vice right now. I got hooked in January and have binge-watched up to Season 7 Episode 3.

      Maybe today (3 March) I’ll give Blackouts a try. I’m 3 days behind my daily word count goals. :-/

  8. My mornings are reserved for my workouts because that’s the only time I can get THAT done. LOL Evenings are hell because I’m exhausted from the day job or have to work late. Some days I can write in the evenings, some days I’m not able to, but weekends are working out for me for now.

  9. Procrastination is the worst. I’ll get on a roll with getting things done, then discover “I need to recharge” and inevitably the recharging takes way longer than it should. Guilt kicks in. Then, hey, visitors! And before you know it, another day is gone.

    Combine that with the feeling that the scene just doesn’t work if it isn’t showing up in technicolor in my imagination, and it’s a recipe for writer’s block. Or wanna-be-writer’s block.

    I need a kick in the pants this month. January was awesome… holiday distractions were over, and I could just work… so productive! February… not so much. My goal is to finish this WIP by July (editing and everything), so I seriously need to get back on the ball. Anybody else find February to just be a miserable month? It’s like the worst doldrums of winter, and spring seems so far away. So glad that’s over. LOL

  10. So good I have to share it! Thanks, Kristen!

  11. Blackouts sound great! Unfortunately 9am CST is 4am the next day hereabouts, and I am definitely not an early bird! I shall have to look into the options.
    I do keep a daily record of what I worked on in a small diary, and then at the end of the year crunch the numbers and post the awful truth online. But I think some accountability with a shorter turning circle would do me good.

  12. I love the idea of blackouts! I’d be accountable to someone other than myself. 🙂

  13. WANA sounds awesome!

  14. Like all of the other commenters, I have a mixed bag of results. Sometimes life gets in the way, or wait, I’m futzing around with other commitments. Only wrote new words 14 of the 29 days in February.

    Still, I’m formatting my most recent book to release in the next few days, have planned a 10 day marketing blitz for said book and still need to create those newsletters/meme cards/emails, am planning two major area events (book festival and fair), set up my newsletter to have a gift reward for signing up, have several personal appearances scheduled, hosting my bunco group TOMORROW and still need to clean the house, and yes, I still need to get those new words written. Oh, and as of now, I have to get my flash fiction written for my Friday blog post.

    Focus. Yep! I need to do that consistently. I’m circling warily around your Wana Blackout! Did I mention the rose bushes still need to be pruned back?

  15. I think I need WANA. No – I *know* I need WANA. Will it work for me in the UK? Because of timings?

    1. There are LOTS of WANAs in Europe. If nothing else our morning time works for most UK peeps.

  16. If you want to start early – meet the UK writers! 9am CST is 3pm in the afternoon for us. I’m looking forward to getting started.

  17. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  18. 9am CST is 3pm in the UK so this sounds perfect for me – I can even help out if you want to start early. Brilliant!

  19. Great post! And great points about time. One problem is that our modern world has changed how we function. We used to wake early and work hard all morning and day and then go into reflection time down to when we would sleep. Nowadays, we stay up late and even work at night. So the balance is out of whack. So we have to be even more mindful of when to do tasks.

    Our will is like a muscle. We have ton of will power early but lose it later. So that is when you know you will slack off. There is time. Especially the time when you are watching television. We all watch the commercials which are 3 minutes plus of nonsense. Perfect time to do something else. Or just skip the unimportant fillers for something more important.

    Thanks for the insightful post!

  20. Thank you so much for the encouragement! I’ve been in an editing rut for months now and you nudged me out of it. Thank you for all you do for the writing community!

  21. Early is best for me too, but 4:30? C’mon, I didn’t even know we HAVE one of those in the morning…

  22. Blackouts… a great idea….I set a timer and work till it rings… but having to report to someone else adds another level of accountability…

  23. This is definitely something that I needed to hear, and right on time! I’ve literally been stuck in a rut since remodeling, moving out of state and selling our home. Then we downsized into a two-bedroom apartment from a 4 bed/3ba tri-level home, and I swear it’s just been down hill ever since.

    I’ve never had writer’s block before, although I’m only on my third book…which was supposed to be given to my editor last month (yes, I’m that far behind!). But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that, like your post says, I’ve totally been keeping the change in the couch company. Sigh.
    I NEED Blackouts! I NEED WANA!
    Thank you so much for this post, knowing it happens to others doesn’t make me feel as bad.

  24. There should be another name for Murphy’s law specifically for writers, because whenever I get serious about it . . . need I say more! But that’s changing n.o.w.

  25. I’m joining very soon! I would have joined from today but I actually have a commission to go review an event! So obviously I have to attend the event. Who has a time turner for me to be two places at once?!

    1. I saw you in there. I would join but I have to take Sundays off or I’d be in a coma. We will be there tomorrow. So glad you are with us!

  26. It’s a neat idea, especially since I’m either programming, researching or storyboarding – when I can get myself motivate:(.

  27. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    An excellent blog post, written by Kristen Lamb, about “Management”… manage time, possibilities, plans, housework, writing, work, sports, relaxation – and writing again. Thank you Kristen!

    • Ann on March 7, 2016 at 9:51 pm
    • Reply


    This post was wonderful! How do we join Blackouts? I will do whatever it takes to get this book done.

    Thank you!

    1. Just join WANATribe and meet us in the IM Main Room field. Two people and a timer and you’re good to go 😉 . Mornings so far have been the strongest namely because I am there and lead them. I can’t do evenings because I am a morning person and I am pretty dead in the evenings, so I do jujitsu instead. Look forward to seeing you there!

  28. I am really enjoying your emails on Pov! I can’t figure out how to join sprints or blackout….or even how to send a message on the website. What can I do to get linked up? All I have done is joined and looked at groups and blogs and posts. Thanks Kathleen >

    1. If you are already a member of WANATribe then we meet in the Main Room (the IM box at the bottom of your screen) every morning. Just hop in.

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