Finding time has always been a challenge. While the modern world keeps promising to help us with this ‘finding time’ thing…it’s ALL LIES.
We have dreams and deadlines and most of us have grown fond of clean clothes. Also, our family is all needy and whiny and says things like, “Mommy, why is there no food?” “Daddy, why won’t the lights turn on?” “Honey, why are there people living in our basement?”
Can you say, “high maintenance?”
OKAY, so tips…
First, a ‘Mea Culpa‘
I know my posts have been long. Mea culpa. Between the ghostwriting project and being ill, I was lucky to be able to blog at all. One to four times a month was about all I could do. Aaaand, I was afraid of y’all missing out on something important.
Now that I’ve gotten back to a schedule, I’m going to do my best to shorten these suckers up when I can. And thank you guys for being here. I appreciate y’all SO MUCH and I do value your time.
So how do we do this ‘finding time’ thing? It isn’t like time is lurking between the couch cushions like the remote, pet hair, and petrified cereal, sooo….
1. Accept There is No Such Thing as ‘Finding Time‘
If we want to excel at ‘finding time’ we need to accept that we have yet to figure out how to manipulate the space-time continuum to our advantage. Laundry and dishes have, but they’ve thus far refused to share their technology.
***Much like socks and Tupperware lids refuse to share teleportation technology.
In all seriousness, the simple act of accepting time is all around and only moving forward and faster as we age, can go a long way. If we keep believing in the ‘finding time’ myth, time will evade us easier than Sasquatch and Nessie’s love child.
This is when we suck it up and accept we need to MAKE TiME.
This is doable. If I told y’all tomorrow I could and would pay $10 MILLION to anyone who finished NaNoWriMo? I am betting we’d have the highest ‘winning’ rate in the history of NaNoWriMo.
***For anyone who doesn’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Want to Murder Your Family for Interrupting You Month. Wait, my bad. No, it is National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.
2. Perfect is the Enemy of the Finished
I just mentioned the space-time continuum. If you’re any kind of a science nerd, you’ve probably heard there’s this concept referred to as ‘folding space.’ If it really IS possible to fold the fabric of space-time, then I’m pretty sure space-time is The Fitted Sheet from Hell.
Sometimes, we just have to wad that sucker up, do our best and sally forth.
‘Finding Time’ is an imperfect activity at best. Most writers also work a full-time job, are parents, partners and are responsible for a TON of things that are not writing.
Me? If the house isn’t clean enough to have guests, all the laundry washed and put away and the yard mowed? I struggle with apoplexy sitting down to write….even though writing has been MY JOB for around 20 years.
I am not where I want to be, but not where I used to be.
Make a habit of carving out a particular time to WRITE. Even if it’s only a couple of pages, and even if you’re so behind on laundry your kids are wearing their swim suits to church.
Writing time is sacrosanct. I use a timer, and set it for a minimum of 45 minutes. Whatever I can do in that small chunk of time?
Well, can’t edit what I never put on the page.
For anyone interested, I pay for a NING (a private ‘social media’ group called W.A.N.A.Tribe) .Think of W.A.N.A.Tribe—W.A.N.A. stands for ‘We Are Not Alone’—more as a ‘digital office’ you share with fellow writers. We offer accountability and—since I am benevolent dictator—ads, politics, drama, distractions and spam are strictly forbidden.
We have very literally been doing writing sprints for almost seven years. Five days a week, every week, all year, and often all day, we are in the chat sprinting, writing, laughing, encouraging, so feel free to join us.
Back to a ‘page’…
The industry standard for a ‘page’ is 250 words. We are writers, and we can write 250 words a day. Do that every weekday and, within a few months, you’ll have a finished book. Granted, it will be a short book, but it will be something. Something is better than nothing.
And, odds are, once you get going, if you keep moving forward, you’ll probably do more than ONE page.
3. ‘Finding Time’ is Related to Proper Preparation
I get it. Many writers love being pantsers (writing by the seat of your pants). To be blunt, though? This method of writing— especially if you don’t understand story structure deep within the marrow of your bones—can be problematic. It is easy to get off course, lose the tension/conflict, and end up having to do a gazillion revisions.
I’m in no way suggesting you change your personality or style…just maybe modify it a bit to help you finish.
Even doing something as simple as writing out a log-line can do WONDERS. With a log-line, we know what our story is ABOUT. If we can scribble in some main plot points? Even better.
***Keep in mind these ‘main points’ serve as general guideposts. They’re not set in concrete.
Doing just this little extra bit helps you remember the entire GOAL of your story and, since you ‘know’ the major benchmarks, it’s easier to make better use of limited time.
Here is a great example of a log-line, the oldie but goodie, Romancing the Stone.
A fraidy cat romance author must travel to South America and team up with a shady ex pat in order to rescue her sister from jewel thieves before the crooks kill her sister.
We can almost SEE all the plot points and BONUS! We know the ending. Author thwarts thieves and rescues sister (with help of shady ex pat because it is a romance).
See? No detailed outline needed and SO MUCH easier to stay on track.
***Check out the post I hyperlinked or sign up for my upcoming workshop if you need help mastering this skill. We work on YOUR log-line until it is good to go.
4. ‘Finding Time’ and Research
One way we writers LOVE to goof off, yet still claim we are ‘writing’ is….research. If you know you’re going to write a book and get down the log-line at least (and scribble down some main plot points that CAN change), then you know what to research.
Set aside a limited block of time and read up.
Save any useful websites. Bookmark them, save in Excel, a file, or a video using coded jazz hands. Don’t care. The idea is to simply be familiar with the subject ahead of time and to have proper documents easily accessible.
Since there is NO way to know all the information we’ll need, if you hit a spot and don’t know? Just keep writing. If we take the above example, Romancing the Stone, and imagine this as our book? Then we might want want to describe the jungle. Fine. In another color, write insert cool jungle details here later…then move on.
Tell the story, FIRST. Then, flesh out the story once the first draft is finished.
5. ‘Finding Time’ Means SALLY FORTH!
This is similar to the tip above. Brain farts happen. Maybe you know your ending, but you hit a wall somewhere in Act 2. It happens. If, however, you know what is likely to happen next, simply type, in an other color, something super cool happens in here…then sally forth.
Keep moving forward.
Deep down, you know your story. Let your subconscious chew on the trouble. Very often it will come up with crazy twists and turns you never would have found by giving yourself an aneurism trying to manhandle the story forward.
Too many writers (and I have been guilty) get scope-locked on perfection. We go back and edit and revise and tweak the heart and soul right out of the story. As I have said before, there has never been a runaway hit/international best-selling HALF of a PERFECT book.
***That and there is no such thing as ‘a perfect book.’
To do this writing thing professionally, we have GOT to become finishers. We cannot revise what isn’t on the page.
And, for those who claim they cannot possibly do a log-line or plot points or continue forth without perfection? If y’all are finishing books then just keep on keeping on. Dean Koontz writes FIVE pages a day and never revises.
But…um…he’s Dean Koontz.
This advice is for the rest of us mere mortals. Trust me, every time I ignore my own advice? I end up writing myself into a corner, held hostage by plot bunnies. So, I hope at least some of these tips help y’all out. The more books we finish, the better writers we become.
***Yes, I remember we were going to address podcasting. That’s later in the week, so stay tuned!
I LOVE hearing from you!
Do these tips help? Can you think of any to add? What has worked for you? What do you still struggle with?
To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, 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, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
AND REMEMBER to treat yourself to a class! I don’t reveal all my best intel on my blogs ;).
Practice Your Pitch: Master the Log-Line 10/14/21
Register HERE and use Pitch10 for $10 off if register by 10/1/21
Bring on the Binge: How to Plot & Write a Series 9/30/21
Register HERE and use Binge 20 for $20 off until 9/21/21
The Edge: How to Write Mystery, Suspense & Thriller 10/21/21
Register HERE and use Thrill10 for $10 off if you register by 10/14/21
Really enjoy your blog. Hope you have continued good health.
I am doing much better. I’d been telling my doctors for ages I probably had Hashimoto’s and that they didn’t have me on enough thyroid. Went to a specialist and new lease on life. Crazy difference with the right medication. Thank you! I love hearing feedback because I do work hard on this blog.
Why apologize for long blog? Nobody apologizes for dishing up a fatter slice of cake.
I always struggle with knowing where the boundary is between “just keep trucking on regardless” and “really, your life is chaotic and kind of traumatic right now and it’s ok to miss some days.”
True. Usually the long ones I think would lose cohesion if I broke them up. I will still be long, just because the short blogs aren’t good for presenting information y’all haven’t heard over and over and aren’t anything new. What (I feel) makes the same ‘tips’ new is giving examples and such and that’s what makes up a lot of work count.
I strongly agree with #2. It’s funny how even if we’ve been writing a long time, sometimes the writing it perfect bug gets us. I’m currently trying to outline a story, but I feel like I have to have it right out of the box. I’m constantly reminding myself you won’t get anything done if you want it perfect the first time. Putting something down on paper makes it so much easier to get going. And that writing momentum is nice once it gets going!