March 19, 2012

Musings

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Let’s get something straight: I might not be the best choice to talk about time management.

As I sat preparing the remarks about time management I was supposed to deliver — less than 12 hours before I was set to deliver them — I certainly felt like a fraud.

Then I remembered there’s a lot on my plate. I work 40-plus hours a week at the day job, spend quality time with the Boyfriend, run a growing weight-loss blog and have just started working out regularly again, thanks to my entry in an online bootcamp class.

Despite all that, I still manage to write for one to two hours most days of the week. In the past year, I’ve not only done some pretty heavy revising on two manuscripts, but also written first drafts of two more. I also attended my first RWA Nationals, took on the vice presidency of my local RWA chapter and edited/laid out six issues of the chapter newsletter.

What’s the secret, you ask?

Not so fast. First, a look at the things that keep me (and others) from writing:

  • Commitments to work/family/friends. I admit, I have it easier than writers with children/spouses who expect dinner on the table at a certain time.  If I decide not to stop writing to cook a meal, the only one I’m hurting is myself.
  • Procrastination. Self explanatory, right?
  • Social media time-sucks. Twitter and Facebook, I’m looking at you. Pinterest too. It’s all too easy to fritter away an hour — or more — pinning, tweeting or reading all my friends’ status updates.

Let’s tackle the last one first. Author Jody Hedlund recently wrote a blog post on three ways to keep social media from taking over your writing time.

The other two can be managed by making writing a priority.

Yes, it’s hard to juggle writing with all the other responsibilities of day-to-day life. But if you’re going to be a writer, you have to make time to write. It’s non-negotiable.

I’ve gotten pretty good at making time to write. In fact, I’m so good at it that other things — like my talk on time management — fall by the wayside. 😉

What are your tips for effective time management?

 

March 13, 2012

Musings

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If it weren’t such a cliche, I’d ask where the heck the year has gone. It seems impossible that March is already upon us — and not just March, but mid-March. What happened to January and February?

Lost to a haze of working, working out, reading, tweeting, writing and rewriting, I suppose. With the help of the Rubies and their Winter Writing Festival, and my critique partner, I’ve been busy pummeling Brad and Erin’s story into submission shape. It’s getting closer … I just hope it gets there soon.

The only thing I haven’t been doing is blogging (here, anyway. My weight-loss blog is flourishing. I joined Romance Biggest Winner 2 and am taking part in an online boot camp, both of which provide plenty of fodder for posts over there.)

In about two weeks, Golden Heart calls will be made. Will I get one? I kind of doubt it, since neither of my entries has done well in other contests this year. I’m not counting myself out yet, but I won’t be surprised if the phone doesn’t ring.

No matter what happens on March 25, I’m firmly committed to querying, submitting and writing my not-so-little heart out. 2012 is going to be a great year.

February 20, 2012

Musings

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There’s no shortage of reading material on the ol’ information superhighway. Here are a few of the links I’m loving right now:

— I wish I’d seen Nathan Bransford’s post on the art of being unsentimental about your characters months ago. Might have saved me from having to muse about being too nice. Then again, maybe not. My characters do have flaws (and I think they’re fatal-ish) … I just don’t want to make them miserable.

— From Writer’s Relief, via the Huffington Post: Proof that you’re never too old to start writing. Their slide show on “late blooming authors” includes one of my childhood favorites (Laura Ingalls Wilder).

— I stumbled on a link to Jane Friedman’s 2 Ways to Make the Most of Goodreads. Someday, I hope to be able to use the tips. Until then, I’ll try to post more detailed reviews of the books I enjoy.

— From Roni Loren comes a post on the 3 Core Components of a Blockbuster Blog. Since one of  my goals for this year is to grow my blog, I read this one with interest. I loved her take on the reasons people read blogs — to be informed or inspired, to be entertained and to connect — and will strive to ensure future posts do one (or more) of the three.

February 13, 2012

Musings, OSNB

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No doubt about it, writing is hard.

First off, it’s not easy to make the time to sit down in front of the computer. Life — in the form of work commitments and family time — so often gets in the way. Yet we do it week in and week out. Why? Because we love what we do, hard or not.

Getting the characters in your head to behave on paper can be even more of a challenge. My characters, at least, have a penchant for doing exactly what they want instead of what I’d like them to do. I implore, beg, plead and sometimes resort to trickery and still they take off in their own, often unexpected direction.

But the hardest part of writing, by far, is revising.

I know, I know. Plotters will argue that having a road map before writing would eliminate the need for so much rewriting. That may well be true. Alas, I am a pantster through and through. More than half the time, I start scenes with no clear idea where they’re going. They begin as a way to work in a particular line of dialogue or funny situation.

That’s how I wrote my first manuscript — and is no doubt why it’s giving me fits in this, its fourth revision. As I go back in to beef up the “scandal at the hero’s school” conflict (completely nonexistent in the first draft), I’m finding entire scenes that no longer have a point and will have to be excised. Good scenes … funny scenes … but they just don’t fit.

You know what they say: If it does not fit, you must —

Wait a minute. How’d OJ’s lawyer get in here?

But seriously, folks: A scene that doesn’t work anymore simply must go. On Saturday, while sitting at a table in Starbucks, I ended up hacking two scenes — about 2,000 words total. Hence the “ye-ouch” in the title of this post.

It’s painful — really and truly grueling, to strip moments I love from my story … to “kill the darlings,” as it were.

But if it strengthens the story and leads to a publishing contract, I’ll get over the hurt. (Don’t tell Brad and Erin, my hero and heroine, I said this, but it’s even kind of fun to torture them a little bit.)