Monday, April 25, 2011

MAKE versus FIND

I've neglecting posting earlier-why? Because like the subject of this month-Time to Write-I didn't follow my own cardinal rule in that regard.
And it is thus...

You DO NOT find the time to write-you have to MAKE the time to write.

I used to write for my own enjoyment (still do) but I put no effort into finishing anything on schedule for anyone else to read and enjoy. If I happened to show a friend something it was just the luck of the draw-I had something nearby. I also only wrote when I felt like it-it was not a MAKE situation it was a WHATEVER situation.

But a WHATEVER situation will not get you published.

You have to MAKE the time and MAKE it happen. When I decided that I wanted to be published, I made the choice to make the time.

NOW as a published author, I am painfully aware of deadlines I must meet. I can't tell you how many projects I have turned in at minutes to midnight-OR even cut back door deals with editors to give me a couple extra days-my upcoming short "The Dig" in the IN SITU anthology for instance.

But my point still stands-the time isn't just going to magically appear-something is always gonna come up-you have to make it happen-even if it is asking an editor to give you a little more time.

And by the by-that doesn't always work either-maybe 50% so far. And I suspect I have been blessed in that department.

How else do you make the time? Everyone is different-but I suggest cutting out whatever is less important to you-crap TV is a good place to star.

So in conclusion-MAKE quality time to write-because that is the only way you are ever gonna get it done.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The write time

I've never one to pass up a good pun. . . or a bad one for that matter. Sometimes they're actually pretty funny. Most of the time, I just embarrass my kids. It's what Dad's do best.

However, that isn't the subject of this blog. It's about finding time to write.

On the subject of time, my wife once made the observation that as kids, like when you are 4, it seems  like it takes forever for Christmas to come. And when you are older, it seems like you just took down the decorations when it's time to put them back up again.


Well, it's simple math, really.  When you're 4, a year is 1/4th of your life. When you are 40, a year is a much smaller fraction (do I really have to type 1/40th? Well, I guess I did). The point being, the older you get, the more time seems to speed by.

It took me a good five years to write The Hidden Sun. It took about four years for me to write The Waxing Moon. My goal for my third book? One year. Like anything, you get better at it. But that's not enough.

You need to make it a priority.

There are any number of things fighting for your time. Work, kids, spouse, church, sleep (what's that?) school, friends, entertainment, girlfriend or boyfriend (hopefully not if you have a spouse) and so on.

So, what do I do? Granted, this is what works for me. It may or may not work for you. After I get the original spark for an idea for a story (which is a whole other blog), I'll daydream about it. During lunch, as I'm falling asleep, while I'm taking a shower, or when my wife is talking to me (I'm kidding about the last one. . . or am I?) Quick side note: there is a great book about a father who had triplets. It's called, "I sleep at red lights". It's basically the same concept.

Before I even start to put words to paper, I'll have a general idea of the characters, the scene and what is going to happen.

And then the magic begins.

As I'm writing, the characters and setting help the story come alive. Things generally follow what I thought about, but I leave enough wiggle room that things can unfold as they saw fit. It's hard to describe it more than that.

In order to let this magic happen, I go to my man cave (hence why I'm proud to be part of this blog) where I can work in the quiet without distractions. To get in the mood, I'll often listen to music before I write that helps set the tone. Example: Mont St. Michel by Mike Oldfield is great music to set the mood to write about medieval times.

This usually happens after the kids go to bed, or on a day off from work when the kids are in school. (See a trend here? Family first! It's about priorities!)

In the end, it is really finding a time when you can write and not be disturbed. Sometimes the magic isn't there when I've set time to write. Sometimes the magic is there, but I have too many hands on my time. Regardless, as with anything in life, when you make it a priority, amazing things can, and do, happen.  

Monday, April 4, 2011

Finding the Right Time to Write

I can’t keep track of how many times people have said to me “I would love to write, but I just don’t have the time” or tell me that they’ve been working on their work in progress for the better part of the last decade.
It’s true.  Life is busy.  I’m busy and I’m sure most published authors are.  I also wrote my first published book while going to school full time and working full time.  I think people would be better to say that “they don’t have a lot of time to write.” It’s really matter of making the best of the time that you have.  Here’s what I can say: 

1.       Set an optimal time to write: choose a time to write that best reflects your best time of day so that you can get the most out of your limited time.  If you are a morning person, this can mean getting up just a little earlier to make your goal.  If you’re an evening person, instead of watching a TV show, write a few hundred words. 

2.       Set achievable goals and keep track of them: I find that a word count goal can be a lot of fun.  Set a big one for your project (60K, 80K, 100K…) and then figure out home many you want to shoot for in an average day.  I personally like to shoot for 1,000, but that doesn’t always happen.  Don’t get discouraged if you get behind.  Just pick yourself up and shoot for the current day’s goal. 

3.       Always had something to write with:  I always have paper and pencil.  Barring that, I can write things on my iPod.  When you are waiting for a few moments in line somewhere, jot down a paragraph.  I have frequent choir practices and once I’m all settled in, if I have a few minutes, I take a second to write something.  I’ve written entire stories this way. 

The biggest thing to remember is that a slow, but steady effort can be much more effective that infrequent bouts of zealous writing.  If you are serious about writing, you need to make it a habit, something you just do every day. 

What sorts of things do you do to make time for writing? 

Also this week:
Win some great books, including “The Canticle Kingdom”:
Preorder my next novel “The Last Archangel” for a great price: