Finding Time to Write

Today’s post is going to be short, because I’m sick #notfun. But it is a valid excuse to read and watch all my favorite movies.

But on a happy note, this Louisiana girl got snow yesterday……. six inches in fact! And yes, I was in it, no I should not have been.  😊

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So of course, when it’s snowing and cold outside, you make seafood gumbo. Yum.

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On with today’s post.

Finding time to write can be hard, especially when you’re in high-school, college and/or have a job.  For most, but not all writers, writing is not a full-time job.

So, among our busy schedules (especially in this busy Christmas season) how can we find time to do what we love most?

 

Set a time every day to commit to write

It only takes 3 weeks to build a habit. Pick a time of the day that works best for you. Are a morning person? Write when you wake up. Are you a night owl? Write at night. Set an alarm to write at that time and stick to it. Life gets in the way, and sometimes you won’t be able to write, just make sure you try to get back on schedule the next day. 

 

Use your time wisely

This is something I was told growing up, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found how true it is. Cut out any pointless actives and use that time to write. Going on Pinterest relaxes me and I enjoy it. But that time could be better used writing the story of my heart. I’m not bashing free time. We all have those times we just need to clear our mind and, as they say, “stop and smell the roses,”  but Pinterest can quickly suck you in and you spend more time on there then you meant too.  Cut out any time you spend on pointless things and use that time to write.

 

Clean Your Desk

A messy desk can steer you away from your writing space…. I’ve experienced this myself. Clutter, clutters the mind. Cleaning your desk daily is something that will aid you in order to make time to write. When your desk is clean, it’ll be peaceful and relaxing, allowing your mind to churn out the words.

 

 

So how about you? How do you make time in your day to write?

Have any of you gotten snow?!

3 Reasons You Should Make a Timeline

I love timelines; I love seeing what was going on in other parts of the world during the Spanish Armada, the War of the Roses, etc.   These devices help me put historical events in perspective, to see how those events and the people involved in them connect to one another.

But for some strange reason beyond my comprehension or understanding, I did not make a timeline for my first novel, The Princess and the Pirate. I just sat down at my computer every day and wrote. I had a general idea in my head what I wanted to happen when and I just went with it.

Now that I have finished the book, I can tell that editing is going to be a nightmare, because the  events do not line up at all.

So before I started writing Ashes Like Frost, I began making a timeline, which over Thanksgiving I cleaned up and tightened.  Let me just say, it’s been a lifesaver. 

Timelines don’t have to be horizontal lines. They can be charts, an actual calendar page, a list, or single pages for whole days.  Or just use what works for you. There are many reasons why you should make a timeline, but these stood out to me.

 

  1. It can help you keep your facts straight

Having the timeline of your story in one place lets you see the bigger picture (literally). I ended up filling out a calendar, writing down what I wanted to happen on each day.

I can’t claim the inspiration for this. J. K. Rowling did it herself (pictured below), making a chart with her days, and what she wanted to happen on that day.

I look at my timeline every time I sit down to write, refreshing my memory for what comes next.

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2. It can help you see plot holes

I have a lot of plot holes in The Princess and the Pirate, which makes me really wish I had made a timeline at the start.

Lining out your events before you begin can help you see any holes that exist and clean them up. This will save you lots of pain when editing rolls around.

 

3. It keeps your plot happening in a realistic manner

When I began filling in my timeline for Ashes Like Frost,  I realized that the inciting incident happened two weeks before my story actually started. Whoops. So I moved things around, bringing the competition that starts my story closer to the incident. Now things move faster, and the first domino is knocked over and the rest start falling. Fast.

 

Writing is hard work, and also fulfilling. Take the time to make your timeline (ha! see what I did there?) awesome.

 

Do you make a timeline?

How do you timeline?

Do you love it or hate it?

Let’s chat in the comments!

 

 

Writing Distractions and How to Overcome Them

 

Distractions may be the number one thing that prevents us from writing. Anything from family, messes, pets, or neighbors can take our minds away from our project. And for me, once my train of thought is derailed, it’s hard for me to get back on track.

So how can we eliminate distractions?

One big distraction is social media. Do you go on the Internet every ten minutes to see if someone liked your post?  Write in a notebook instead of your computer. It’ll be hard, yes, and I’ll be the first to say I still struggle with this. But in the end, you’ll build discipline and a habit; and one day, you may find yourself typing on your computer without giving Facebook a thought. 

A distraction for me is Pinterest. I log in to find that one picture and thirty minutes later find myself looking up pictures of baby squirrels. One way I battled this was making these pictures on Snapfish.  All I have to do is quickly glance at them to find the inspiration I need for my WIP. 

 

 

Does a messy desk distract you? Clean it up first. I know your fingertips are just itching to touch those keys, but doing this simple step can literally help clear your mind and lets you enter into your story world without distractions. 

Create your space. You are a unique person, and your space won’t look like anyone else’s. Do you have a favorite candle? Light it when you sit down to write.  Do you have some small knick-knack that calms you? Have it on your desk. For me, that’s my cat paperweight. It brings back fond memories of Winter Workshop.

Play music. Movie soundtracks are amazing to help you relax and block out the noises of your home. Playing your favorite music can help create a relaxing atmosphere. 

Are you one of those neighbors who tends to people-watch out of your window? Keep the blinds closed or move. I live in the country off a highway, so when I find myself counting cars going by, I move to my bed or our living room.

Need a snack or drink? Have something by you on your desk so you can refresh yourself without leaving.

Feed your animal friends. One distraction for me is my cat, Rey. She bites my toes when she’s hungry, so I always make sure to feed her before I start writing!

And one tried and true way is to enter your writing with God. Do this first.  Pray for Him to help you write distraction free.

 

What distracts you from your writing?

How do you try to overcome it?

 

 

 

 

Guest Post // Outlining is Good, Even if You Hate It

Today, I’m happy to have my friend Hope on the blog, talking about outlining. Is it something you like,  or you hate? I only recently became a lover of outlining myself,  and I loved reading Hope’s thoughts on the subject. 

                                                         

Outline gets a bad rap sometimes. There are writers who just want to write and feel the story flow out. They don’t want to take the time to outline a story before getting to work. Now, to be fair, there are a few authors I’ve heard of who will sit down and write whole trilogies without knowing the end. But normally, I am an advocate of outlining.

For starters, outlining means less going back and rewriting later on when something changes halfway through your story. Secondly, how are you to get to the end if you don’t know where you are going? Outlining doesn’t mean you have every single detail figured out. It does mean you know the end of your arcs and where your character is trying to go and if he gets there. Having an outline doesn’t give you the excuse of abandoning project after project halfway through because you don’t know where they are going. Once you know, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get there.

On to outlining. There are two things to realize from the beginning.

Firstly, like writing, outlining can be done many ways. While I can show you how I outline, that doesn’t mean you need you need to do it the exact way I do it. Secondly, an outline is a guideline. No matter how detailed you get while outlining your book, it’s likely things will change as you write. New characters appear, a scene flows better from a different pov, a character decides he wants to fight instead of simply dying. That’s fine. Go with it. An outline can change. It’s a map to help you get to the end, but the path (or even the destination) might change depending on what you discover along the way.

So how does one outline? For me, it came naturally. I just always have outlined. I like lists and having everything planned out. But there is a basic structure I follow.

Figure out the main points of your plot first. What is your characteristic scene and inciting incident? What are your first, second, and third plot points and where does everyone end up? Match these with your character and theme arcs. This, for me, will be very rough and sometimes only a paragraph or two. Something along the lines of: X wants to start war; kills Y; makes it seem like Z is responsible. Z has to work with enemy to figure out truth; ends up giving life to save enemy. That’s a very basic, rough outline—one someone not writing the story would have a hard time following. I don’t worry about grammar; I don’t even worry about names sometimes, so long as I know the main characters, the plot points, and the end.

Then I go more in depth. Who are these characters? Why does X want to start the war? How does Z work with the enemy? Some of this is backstory, which I like to know so I know where everyone is coming from, even if what happened 10 years ago doesn’t appear in the story. Other parts fill out sections of the beginning and middle.

Once you figure out where everyone is coming from, you can better figure out how to make them go where you want. What sort of things can they do and will they do? This is where you figure out the main details. How does X kill Y? How does this start a chain reaction? What happens next? Depending on the length of the work, I’ll do this in one or two or sometimes even three stages, each one getting more detailed than the last.

Eventually I’ll split my story into chapters, even if I don’t always stick with the chapter organization later on. By the time I have a chapter outlined, it will look something like this: X poisons apple and slips it into Z’s basket. Z out in market. Gives apple to Y as gift. Conversation that builds in backstory. Z leaves and is almost gone when he hears uproar and turns back to find Y dead and a bite out of apple. I still figure out conversation and such as I write, but I have the basics in place.

The most important thing to remember is that outlines will change as you write them and that it’s fine for them to change. But once you have an outline, you know where you are going and you’re able to point the whole story toward a single goal. This means less revising and frustration later and will be a prompt to keep you moving because you can see how you are approaching the end instead of drowning in a muddled mess you can’t make sense of. Do the hard part of planning before you start writing. You’ll be grateful for it later on.

 

Thanks for stopping by, Hope!

 

 

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Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated author. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, playing with inspirational photos, blogging, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She is the author of Legends of Light is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about her at https://authorhopeann.com/

Finding My Lost Joy

 

 

I had mentioned before that this November was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo. But seven days into it, I’m here to say that I am withdrawing.

Now, I’m not one to want to quit something. Giving up is like an annoying fly. I have to keep trying and trying because it just won’t me leave me alone.

But the fact of the matter is, I’m losing the joy I had for my WIP (before November) Ashes Like Frost.

I loved that story. The characters were real, solid. I was studying archaic culture, remembering things, adding cool things to my book. If you were a fly on the wall, you would have heard me giggling with happiness.

And then NaNo came, and I decided to do both of my WIPs at the same time. After all, how hard could it be? This YA idea was a sweet story, easy to write. I could easily work on both of my projects. And day one was awesome, I worked in both, made amazing progress. 

Since then I have not. I sat at my desk, staring at my computer screen, the words for neither novel coming and I wanted to cry at the blinking cursor. Wanted to cry at work.

And then I started thinking about the 2017 Winter Workshop, Joy Makers, and what I learned.

 

~ God introduces Himself to us through creativity and we should enter our writing with God.

~ The biggest joy maker is God and He is ALWAYS there. From Him I have a joy of writing and a huge passion for stories.

~ To write even when the writing is bad, because that is my joy maker.  When you think your writing isn’t good enough, you lose your passion and love for it—the joy of writing is sucked right out of writing.

~ My passion for writing should not become a burden—that doesn’t come from God.  My writing is something God gave me and  the more I enjoy it—the more I find God and get closer to Him.

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

 

The sessions were almost a year ago, but I could hear everything fresh in my ears.

It Started When You Saw Me is a story I want to tell, but now is not that time. God gave me this Ashes Like Frost story, and I’m slowly losing my passion and joy for it. And that is something that I don’t want to happen.

This is not the season to tell the YA story, and I don’t want to continue writing something that is not coming from God, but me just wanting to complete a challenge.

A day may come when I do and complete NaNoWriNo, but it is not this day. This day I fight for the story that God gave me to tell, because I hold it dear, and because He gave it to me to tell in this dark world.

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