- 50 Tension Techniques
- About Kristi Holl
- De-Stressing the Writing Life
- More Writer’s First Aid
- Time Management for Writers book list
- Writing Mysteries for Young People
- I’ve Moved! Come Join Me!
- How to Take Charge of Your Writing Life
- Three Reasons Your Writing Life Isn’t Working–and What To Do
- What’s Hindering You?
- Putting Your Writing First by Using Accountability
- Internet-Based ADD: Do You Have It?
- Habits: Anchors for the Writer’s Life
- What Fear is Holding You Back?
- Advanced Fiction Writing Blog
- Books and Writing
- Chip MacGregor.com
- Christian Writer’s Den
- CRITIQUES by Kristi
- Editorial Anonymous
- Institute of Children’s Literature
- Kristi’s Website
- Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent
- Sharing with Writers and Readers
- So You Want to Be Published
- The Working Writer’s Coach
- The Writing Life
- Writing Fiction Right
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- Artist's Way
- book marketing
- book releases
- career planning
- Christian writing
- critique groups
- Editors and Predators
- emotional balance
- figures of speech
- finding time
- finish line
- getting started
- Julia Cameron
- learning disability
- making money
- More Writer's First Aid
- New Year's resolutions
- novel writing
- picture books
- psychology of writing
- rough draft
- social networking
- time management
- toxic behavior
- Walking on Alligators
- word count
- work in progress
- Writer Beware
- writer homes
- Writer Magazine
- Writer's Digest
- Writer's First Aid
- writers block
- writers magazines
- writing advice
- writing anxiety
- writing books
- writing challenges
- writing classes
- writing coach
- writing conferences
- writing contests
- writing course
- writing habits
- writing information
- writing inspiration
- writing life
- writing more
- writing mysteries
- Writing Mysteries for Young People
- writing output
- writing phases
- writing process
- writing schedule
- writing space
May 9, 2012
About every two years, I get a wake-up call when some form of exhaustion sets in. Without noticing, I have fudged on bedtimes, let boundaries be way too flexible, or simply taken on more than I should have.
Time to Re-Group
Then I have to sit down and play the game called ”Where’d My Time Go?” Usually I find that other people’s expectations have taken over my writing time. Nearly always I was at fault. I offered to do something I didn’t really have time for, or said “No problem!” when I should have said, “Sorry, I just can’t.”
My schedule is under control again, but I’d like to step out of this cycle once and for all. The best way I’ve found to save my writing time is to set policies. Remember, you’re the boss in your office! You have the authority to set whatever policies you need.
After you’ve spotted some of your weakest areas, develop policies to cover future requests. For some reason, stating that you have a “policy” about certain things carries more weight with people. Very few people argue when you have a “policy.”
Target the areas where you have the most trouble setting–and enforcing–boundaries. It might have to do with overtime on your day job, expectations from the neighbors, or any organization where you volunteer.
Some “company policies” might include:
- I have a policy about home business parties. I don’t attend them, and I don’t give them.
- I have a policy of not returning phone calls until the noon hour.
- I have a policy that says I don’t make doctors’ or dental appointments until after 3 p.m.
- I have a policy that includes no drop-in baby-sitting. I need a minimum of 48 hours notice.
- My policy states that I don’t commit to any event more than (X) months away. (Fill in your personal limit.)
- I choose to help with one party each year at my child’s school. That’s my class contribution, so what party would you like me to help with?
- My policy states that I charge $5 for each ten minutes that parents are late picking up their kids from my day care.
Sometimes our commitments get out of hand because we want to do such an excellent job everywhere. So learn to under-promise, and later you can over-deliver if you have extra time.
For example, instead of volunteering to help at school the entire day, say you can come and read for one hour. If it turns out that you have extra time when the day rolls around, you can use the time to write or you can “over-deliver” on your promise and stay two hours. You’ll earn a reputation as someone who delivers even more than promised—and yet you’ll have saved time for yourself.
Time Credit Cards
Some of us (I’m guilty!) promise to do things months and months in advance when our calendars are still pristine white. Then six months later, when the event rolls around, our calendars are more jammed than we had anticipated; we regret that we ever agreed to that event or favor that really isn’t that important.
Too often we commit future time that we believe we’ll have, only to be caught up short later (like a credit card junkie who charges now and is just sure he’ll have the cash to pay it off later.)
Stop charging your time ahead! Cut up your time credit cards. Pay off whatever “time debt” you’ve accumulated at this point, but don’t charge anymore.
If people want you to commit to some volunteer thing more than a month away, simply say, “I have a policy that I don’t commit to things so far ahead. If you want to call me back in (X) months, I will be able to give you an answer then.” At that point, you’ll have a realistic idea of what your month’s schedule looks like.
If you are pressed for an answer (“I need to know now!”), then regretfully tell people that the answer will have to be “no.” (Given that choice, people will usually wait.)
E-mail, Social Networking, and Web Surfing
Limit your Internet time to two periods per day, before and after your writing. Keep it short. Answer crucial e-mail, but skip all the forwarded jokes and poignant stories till later. Unsubscribe from all but the best two or three e-newsletters you receive. Delete the junk without reading it. Check the social networking sites you use for marketing, and then close down. According to current workplace statistics, conquering e-mail/surfing/Facebook addiction can save you a full two or three hours per day.
Assignment: Where is your time going? Do you know? Keep track for a few weeks and be sure. Then begin to implement whatever policies you need in order to safeguard your time.
Write your company policies down and review them daily. As you use these policies, they will become second nature. Just remember that nature abhors a vacuum. Be ready to fill your new-found time with activities that can further your writing career.
***Speaking of furthering your writing career, in response to several emails, I’ve updated my critique service page. I am now reserving spots for July, August, and September. Just FYI!
September 30, 2011
A couple weeks ago I encouraged you to get ready for NaNoWriMo–the writing group that produces a book in November. I hope you have an idea for it now.
I also encouraged you to spend October getting organized so that you have the best chance of succeeding. To me, success includes having a really good rough draft done at the end of November (as opposed to 50,000 words which you throw out later.)
I Hate to Outline!
If you hate outlines, maybe you don’t understand the various kinds–and their purposes. If so, read these two articles and you may well change your mind:
“The #1 Reason You Haven’t Written the Book You Want to Write” talks about misconceptions around outlining a book–plus all the benefits. (I never sold the two books I wrote without an outline. I’ve sold 95% of the books I wrote where I used an outline, even if it wasn’t very detailed.)
“Outlining a Novel Step-by-Step” is a practical guide to this process. It can feel overwhelming when you start.
I Have No Time!
If you need help organizing your hectic life so that you can write, here’s another good article with practical advice for very busy people: “Organizing Schedules So You Can Find More Time to Write.” Although my kids are grown and married, I coordinate around babysitting grandbabies, going to a grandson’s soccer games, overnights, and my husband’s changing work schedule. Every season brings different changes, and we writers need to go with this flow as well if we expect to write through all the seasons of our lives.
I hope you have time this weekend to read those articles. Whether you are getting ready for NaNoWriMo or not, they’re full of valuable information. Make it a terrific weekend, everyone!
May 9, 2011
All writers are looking for time-saving strategies and tips to increase their productivity. With school getting out in a month, many writers need to streamline both their writing life and personal life. If this is YOU, you’re in luck!
If you have June’s The Writer magazine, read Kelly James-Enger’s article called “10 ways to work more efficiently.” And for some free articles on this subject…
Other Writer articles online filled with tips to improve your efficiency–and give you more time to write–include:
- “5 ways to juggle your writing, your job and family responsibilities” by Shirley Jump
- “A matter of time” by Guy Stewart
- “Setting up a productive work space” by Sharon Miller Cindrich
- “Quiet! Writer in the house” by Connie Heckert (my writer friend from Iowa!)
- “Writing on the Fly” by Sandra Hurtes
Reading these articles should give you several ideas to try. I found a couple I intend to put to work immediately!
August 9, 2010
Time pressure and interruptions–they’re always with us. Right? To a certain extent, yes.
I have several appointments coming up that will take three hours out of several different days and a couple of favors I didn’t have the nerve to say “no” to. I was bemoaning the chunk of work time that would be deducted from my 40-hour work week.
How would I get my writing done?
Then I realized that my husband hasn’t missed an hour of work in months, yet he keeps his doctors’ appointments and other special commitments. He does what I need to do myself–he makes up for lost time. Usually he works days. If he has a morning doctor’s appointment, he switches shifts, goes to his appointment, and works 3-11.
Yes, he gets less sleep that night. Yes, he’s a bit tired the next day, but he just goes to bed earlier. He doesn’t moan and groan about time pressure, he doesn’t miss any work, and he takes care of important appointments.
Keeping Office Hours
I need to follow his example in that area. If I’m going to say “yes” to a favor or a long phone call with a friend, I need to “clock out” of the office for that time, and then make it up in the evening. Or, better yet, I need to get up earlier that day and log in the extra writing time before my appointments.
If I diligently make up the writing every time I quit work for some reason, I bet I will get better at saying “no” to some requests. In fact, I can almost guarantee it! While my husband works late to make up for important things (eye exams, yearly physicals, occasional volunteer projects), he doesn’t switch shifts and work late for every little thing someone might want him to do. And I can’t ever recall a time he was stressed about finding enough hours to get his work done.
Home Office Hours
Yes, it’s easier if you work at an office with a boss. None of your friends or family members expect things from you during the day when you work outside the home. So your only option is learning to say “no.” I’ve been working in my home office (mostly full-time) for thirty years. People still half-assume that since I’m at home, I’m not really working.
So, as usual, it comes down to this. *I* need to take my writing schedule seriously before anyone else will. It’s not about convincing the people in my life that I’m serious about my writing. It’s about convincing me.
Once I do that, I suspect the schedule will fall into place.
August 2, 2010
You meet an editor or agent in an elevator or the banquet line. They turn to you and ask, “What’s your book about? Why are you the person to write it?”
Which One Is You?
Do you give a confident 30-second talk summarizing your book’s main points and why you’re the only one who could do the project justice?
Do you say, “You know, that’s a good question. I’m a lousy writer! Who do I think I am anyway, masquerading as a writer? It’s a dumb book idea.”
Of course you don’t spout that second example!
And yet, many writers do that very thing to themselves every day. That evil little voice in your head or over your shoulder whispers, “That’s a stupid idea” or “That’s been done before–and a lot better” or “You’re never going to finish that story.” And like agreeable little twits, we nod and tell ourselves, “This is a dumb idea. I’m never going to finish this. This concept was done last year–and a whole lot better!”
Then, discouraged for another day, we head for the ice cream.
Pitch It to Yourself!
The name “elevator pitch” means a short speech you have ready for that opportune moment when you can market yourself or your book idea to someone that might buy it. Every day–even many times a day–you need to pitch your writing project and yourself TO YOURSELF.
How are you going to sell your story idea to yourself? What elevator pitch can you give to yourself when you’re surprised, not by an agent or editor in the elevator, but by your own nagging questions?
- When “voice in the head” says, “This is just too hard!”
- You say, “I have done many hard things in my life. I can do one more difficult thing.”
- When “voice in the head” says, “There’s too much going on in your life for you to write now”
- You say, “Writing is at the top of my To-Do list because it’s important!”
- When “voice in the head” says, “Editors and agents scare me!”
- You say, “Even when I feel anxious, I can act like a professional.”
- When “voice in the head” says, “I can’t write because I can’t tolerate rejections”
- You say, “NOT writing is the only rejection that matters. It’s a rejection of my dreams. I can write a little each day.”
Write Your Own Now
Take a few moments today and write at least three elevator pitches of your own, counter-acting the voice in your head. Write the pitches on cards and tape them to your computer. When the “voice” badgers you the next time, read one of your cards OUT LOUD. Several times.
And if you’re feeling very brave, add an elevator pitch in the comments section (up to three pitches) that you can begin pitching to yourself today!
July 30, 2010
Over the weekend, I hope you’ll have time to check out some very helpful and thought-provoking blogs I read this week.
Kick back, relax, and enjoy these gems!
Gems of Wisdom
**Agent Wendy Lawton wrote a series called “Career Killers.” Full of wise advice! One post is on speed writing. Other “career killers” included impatience, playing “around the edges,” sloppiness, and skipping the apprenticeship. If you avoid these mistakes in your career, you’ll be miles ahead of the average writer.
**Are you trying to combine babies with bylines? Try “Writing Between Diapers: Tips for Writer Moms” for some practical tips.
**Is your writing journey out of whack because you have unrealistic expections? See literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s post “Managing Expections.”
**Critique groups are great, but you–the writer–must be your own best–and toughest–editor. See Victoria Strauss on “The Importance of Self-Editing.”
**We’re told to set goals and be specific about what success means to us. Do you have trouble with that? You might find clarity with motivational speaker Craig Harper’s “Goals and Anti-Goals.”
**And finish with Joe Konrath’s pithy statements in “A Writer’s Serenity Prayer.” You may want to print them out and tape them to your computer!
Share a Gem!
What have you read lately–online or off–that you felt was particularly insightful or helpful or thought-provoking? I’d love to have you share a link of your own!