No whining, just doing

I just read a great post on Elana Johnson‘s blog: Stop the Violins. In honor of this bumper sticker Elana saw, she is vowing to stop whining.

I think this is awesome, and I vow to do the same. For the past week, I’ve been caught up with lots of other projects — including my never-ending attempt to sort out our taxes (uggh) — and haven’t been writing. And because of that, I can feel the frustration building within me. I whine to myself and my dog and my husband and the walls and anything else that will listen (all right, the walls aren’t listening, but they’re there) about how much stuff I have to do, but it’s not getting me any closer to writing. It’s just feeding my frustration.

So today I’m stopping. No More Whining! Stop the Violins!

Today I’m going to turn around my thinking, and instead of looking at how much stuff I have to do and how far away I am from being finished and back to writing, I’m going to look at how much I’ve done and how my writing time is getting closer and closer.

Aaaahhh! I feel better already. It’s amazing how changing the way you think can change your circumstances.

From now on, no whining, just doing.

Now, I must get back to doing those taxes.

How do you overcome all the things that get in the way of your writing? How do you stop your frustrations?

Write On!

Making writing a priority

I’ve talked about this before, but I just read a post by literary agent Rachelle Gardner and thought that this is something worth repeating.

Rachelle answered a reader’s question about tips on time management by saying that prioritizing her work is the best way she knows of getting through the day. She also talks about the things she DOESN’T do so she has time to do her work. Here’s a quote:

I’ve dispensed with a lot of non-necessary things in life… things I’d like to do if I could! But the path I’ve chosen means I’ve had to let go of some things. For example: I don’t scrapbook. I don’t knit. I don’t separate the whites from the colors… don’t clip coupons… don’t grow a garden… don’t make jam… don’t bake my own bread… don’t go to PTA meetings… don’t make my kids’ Halloween costumes… don’t homeschool… don’t remember everyone’s birthday… don’t run marathons… don’t go for manicures or pedicures… don’t watch Oprah. I don’t even vacuum or dust (I delegate those tasks).

A writer friend of mine has been struggling with finding time to write. She’s a single mother of three with a demanding job, and she’s trying to also live out her love of writing and fulfill her dream of getting her work published. She writes beautifully, and I have no doubt that if she preserveres, she will get her dream. But sometimes her schedule is so hectic, she doesn’t write for a few weeks or months, and she misses it. Of course, her addiction to TMZ doesn’t help either.

For us writers, writing is not something we think about sometimes and would maybe like to do if we have time — it’s something we have to do, something that pulls on our mind, begs us to pay attention. It’s a desire, a need. And when we’re not writing, we don’t feel entirely whole. We know that something is missing.

Rachelle’s quote reminded me that to make time to write — not find time, make time — is imperative. It’s the best thing we can do for us as people as well as for our dreams. Because we’re happier writing. And to make time to write, we often have to forego other things.

Like Rachelle, there are lots of things I don’t do that I would love time to do: I don’t do puzzles … knit … learn to play a musical intrument … get my hair cut as often as I should … keep the garden as nice as I would like … finish decorating my house … get my nails done … chat with friends … And ditto on everybody’s birthdays (sorry to my friends and families — know you’re in my thoughts).

 This might sound selfish, and it is to a point. But it’s something I have to do right now, and my hope is that one day, I might be able to just have writing as my job, cutting out one of the tasks during the day. We’ll see.

My point is, if writing is important to you, make the time. I get up early in the morning so I can work on my novel before the sun comes up. Find your time and be selfish about that time. Make the time for your family and friends, you need that too, but look at your life and see what you can cut out or cut down on so you can use that time to write — then be selfish about those minutes or hours. They’re yours. Use them well.

Write On!

Finding time or making time

I’m still planning to write up a more detailed account of the SCBWI Houston Editor’s Day on Saturday, so think of this as a primer.

Finding time to write seemed to be a theme for the writers at the conference, fitting in our novels/picture books/whatever between our day-jobs and families. A number of writers I talked to said they hadn’t written for a while because they were finding it hard to find the time.

My answer to that was, “I’ve been there, but I’ve found a solution:  Don’t try to find the time — Make the time.”

Long before I finished my novel, I would write for a couple days, maybe a couple weeks, then get busy and not touch it for months. Then when I got back to, always because the drive to write was so strong it pulled me back, it took a while again to figure out where I had left off and what the characters were doing. I blame this for a lot of my early structural problems with the story, which took me months to fix.

But one day, I realized that finding time to write wasn’t getting me anywhere. If I was truly dedicated to finishing my novel and writing becoming a permanent part of my life, I had to MAKE the time, not wait around for my schedule to free up. (It never will.)

Once I made that commitment to make the time to write, writing became a permanent fixture in my schedule. For me, I set my clock to 5am and get up as soon as possible after it goes off (I have a love/hate relationship with the snooze button). Then I write until my husband gets up around 7:30 and we go to the gym. This is my writing time, and I’m very protective of it. I won’t open my emails, won’t open my iGoogle and look at blog posts — no matter how much I’m tempted. I won’t reply to instant messages that pop up. That time is for my writing. I have set it aside. I have MADE it. So I write. (Of course, I have my off days, and often stare bleary eyed at the screen for 45 minutes before my hands even touch the keys, but I’m still there.)

I don’t get as much done as I would like in those mornings. Remember my goal of six chapters a week for my current revision? I was a chapter short last week and am at only about 2.5 chapters so far this week, and it’s Thursday.

But, making that commitment, making that time, allowed me to finish my novel. Maybe I would have finished it if I was still finding the time, but it probably wouldn’t have been for a lot, lot longer. Also, when you make the time, it’s a state of mind, saying to yourself that writing is important to you, so important that it gets a regular slot in your schedule. You wouldn’t miss an appointment for work, so don’t miss your own appointments for your writing. Even if they’re not paying your way yet, they’re just as important, for your psyche (writers need to write, and if you’re a writer, you know what I mean) and for your future.

On Monday, as I chatted on the phone with my mother telling her about the conference, I told her about my finding time/making time conversations. At the end, she said, “You’ve inspired me. I’m going to start getting up early and making time for the gym.”

I hope my “make the time” pep  talk helped my friends at the conference, and I hope this helps you.

How do you make the time to write?

Write On!

Two days off

The title of this post is misleading. Two days off might sound like a good thing: two days off work, maybe. But, no. Unfortunately, I mean two days off of my writing, and the reason is two too late nights and I overslept both yesterday and today so didn’t get any writing done. I’m once again behind on my unofficial participation in National Novel Writing Month, which for most people ended Nov. 30. I vowed to do 30 days, and I still have four to go — of course, they were supposed to be 30 consecutive days, but oh well. Maybe next November I can do it for real. Either way, I will DEFINITELY be getting up early tomorrow and writing. I’m realizing that if I don’t get up early, there’s no way I’ll fit writing in during the day.

On another note, a friend from my critique group found me on JacketFlap today, which was exciting. On her profile, I found her blog and thought I’d share it with you. Sarah Joiner’s blog The Journey has the tag line Traveling the rocky road to publication. Sounds like something we all can relate to.

How’s your writing going? Hopefull better than mine!

Write On!