Y E A R N I N G S
(To learn, to earn, to reach your goal)
March 1, 2022
Volume I, Issue 2
Copyright 1999 Tracy Cooper-Posey
This issue's contents:
1. FOOD FOR THOUGHT: How to get ideas for romances
2. SPOT CHECK: Mini exercise to flex your writing muscle
3. WOW! ... REALLY? Incredible fiction facts
4. INTERESTING LINKS Weird and wonderful websites.
5. FIRST RITES A celebration of successes.
6. FEEDBACK AND SUGGESTIONS Your say.
I often hear the cry "But I don't have time to write!" For this issue we look at some of the choices and ideas you can try to free up more time to work towards your goals, AND to make that time count when you find it.
FINDING TIME TO WRITE, and USING IT!
Parent, or not; worker, or not; spouse, or not; published, or not. It doesn't make any difference what elements go into building up your life -- you're busy, no matter who you are. The bad news is that futurists predict life is only going to become busier. Where on earth are you supposed to find time to write?
Here's a solution, and some tips.
Writing, just like everything else in your life, is something you *choose* to do.
Can't find time to write? Then have a look at everything else you have chosen to commit to in the past that is affecting your life right now.
Most people have a day job that puts food on the table. Yes, you can't get out of that committment, but depending on your circumstances, you may be able to decrease the time it demands, thus freeing up time to write. Some of the adjustments you could make are quite large scale: Change to part time hours, or find a part time job, and learn to live with the lower income. Stop working overtime. At your next salary review, instead of accepting a raise, ask for a day off per week or fortnight in lieu. Use that day for writing. Smaller changes include: Stop working through your lunch hour. Finish your work day at 5.00pm as you're supposed to. Write in your lunch hour rather than heading for the lunchbar with your coworkers. Then there's extra tips: Head to work half-an-hour or an hour earlier and use that quiet hour before the office starts up to get a few pages written, or stay behind for an extra hour, but use that time for *writing*.
With careful organisation, you can free up anything from an hour to several hours per day, which you can devote to writing.
You can apply the same thought and adjustments to any commitment in your life that you genuinely cannot get rid of. But that's for *genuine* commitments.
Do you sit on several committees, volunteer at community centres, work at your kids' schools, coach a little league team? Are these comitments more important to you than writing? For that is the key to freeing up time to write -- prioritising your commitments, and off-loading those that rank at the bottom.
As much as I'd like to assure you that you can have it all, I'm afraid there's no such thing as a free lunch. To find time to write, you will have to give up something else. That something else should be whatever you rank as of less importance to you than writing.
You've probably heard all the other things you can do to free up time elsewhere: Give up on watching television, having a social life, and almost all reading (except for market research), your favorite hobbies, and eight hours sleep a night. Depending on how short on spare time you are, then it may very well come to giving up on some of these things.
Only you can decide how important writing is to you -- or how important you want it to be.
Once you have found time to write, the next step is to use it wisely.
Here's some more tips:
* As much as possible, try to consolidate your spare time into one single time period. Uninterrupted periods are often more productive.
* Or you can spread the spare time across the day, in as large a segment each as you can manage.
* Figure out if you're a night owl or a morning lark, and try to have a major writing session in that best creative time. If that means writing from midnight to 3.00am and getting up at 10.00am, and you have the lifestyle that will fit around it, do it!
* Don't do anything else but *writing* in that writing time. Leave marketing and submission stuff, critiquing and other writing-related activities for your less mentally alert periods, or for tackling in spare moments.
* Learn to compose straight onto the keyboard.
* Learn to edit on the screen. (This saves more time than you'd believe.)
* If you plan to cut back on sleep, do it in two weeks x 15 minute increments. You'll barely notice the changes. Most physically fit people can survive happily on five or six hours sleep.
* Write at the same time every day.
* Write *every* day. Make up for lost time if you have a sick day. Treat writing time as working time. Your family will soon pick up this attitude from you, and treat your writing time with the same respect.
* Plot your novels before writing the first draft. Plotting may take an extra week or two, but it will save you months of back-tracking, re-writing and extensive cutting and pasting when you're editing. Having written novels both ways, I'm now a firm believer in plotting before you write, especially for its time-saving benefits.
* Aim for a number of pages per day, rather than a period of time per day. That way, you are actually producing work, rather than staring at the screen hoping for inspiration.
Here's some more articles on the same subject:
Time and the Writer
Finding Time to Write
Maximise your productivity. Churn those pages out!
1. For a week, two weeks, or a month, write every day if possible.
2. Keep a diary of each writing session: The time you wrote, how many pages you wrote, how you felt about the session (did you have to strain to begin, or did it just flow?). Did you suffer any interruptions?
3. When you have a "good" session, keep track of the minitiae: Were you playing music? What sort? Were the blinds closed? Open? The door open? Shut? What were you wearing? Did you prepare a drink or snack before you began? Did you do a light edit of previous work to ease yourself in? Or did you jump straight in? Had you left your work out on the desk or did you have to open files to pick up where you left off? Did you check email first? Or did you manage to resist temptation? Did you disconnect from the Internet while you were writing? How did you handle any interruptions? What did you do to divert interruptions if you didn't have any. What were you thinking when you sat down to write? What was your mood? Your attitude? Take note of all these minor points, and as much as possible, the next time you sit down to write, recreate the atmosphere and actions you took during that successful writing session. The thoughts and attitudes you held in your mind on that occassion you can use as a mantra for settling your mind into a writing mood.
4. For editing sessions, you may have to repeat the exercise to determine what works best when you are in editing mode.
5. Continue to keep a work log of your writing sessions, which includes your page count for each session, and any comments that can guide your writing sessions in the future.
WOW! ... REALLY?
Georges Simenon, the French author of the Inspector Maigret novels, had his own unique time management method.
When he was ready to begin a new novel, he would have a medical check-up, and be pronounced as fit. Then he would hire a hotel room, lock himself in it, and write. He would countenance no interruptions, and the only communication emerging from the room was requests for room service. For six days he remained in the room, and on the seventh he would emerge with a completed novel.
The Australian Romance Writers Association.
(Their Annual Conference gives you the excuse you've been looking for to head overseas.)
ALEX catalogue of electronic texts.
Lots of public domain literature, classics, all downloadable.
Freelance Writers' Internet FAQ
Lori Foster, who writes for Harlequin Temptation, wrote:
"I started writing when I was sick and confined to bed. My sister brought me over a bunch of romances, which (I'm ashamed to admit) I scorned. But desparation, and the wonderful covers (yes, I LOVE the covers) had me peeking inside. Within a paragraph, I was hooked, and I became an enormous romance fan. It was after reading Catherine Coulter's NIGHT FIRE that I decided I wanted to write also. I love all her writing, and her wit and the way she identifies characters by characterization, rather than tags. I know her characters better than I know some of my neighbors. :-)
"But I was a closet writer, writing my first book long hand, for my own entertainment, with now idea how or where to send a manuscript, no guidelines, no addresses. I thought authors probably dropped from heaven or something. And I told very few people, because to me, the chances of ever getting published were slim to none, and slim was out of town. But eventually a few people found out, despite my discretion.
"Then a friend told me about a conference that was being held in Ohio for romance writers. I went, discovered all these other truly wonderful, creative, talented people (actually, they were my first peer group.) They gave me useful information on publishing houses and editors. Ten manuscripts later (I taught myself to write by writing), I sold to Harlequin Temtpation. It took forever to sell that first book, even thought I knew it was ready to be bought. The editor who'd been working with me quit, and then it took them a little over six months to hire someone to replace her. When they did, the new editor wanted her own set of revisions. Which I did, then waited another four months before finally getting the good word.
"Now I've sold six books to Temptation and one to Desire. I recently received a three book contract from Temtpation for future sales. I LOVE writing. It's something I could never leave behind, a part of me. I write becaue I can, so that even if I never sold another book, I'd still be putting words to paper becaues they're there in my mind. The people I create are as real as I can make them, and that's a huge rush."
FEEDBACK AND SUGGESTIONS
Is there anything you would like to see in this newsletter? Do you have an inspirational story regarding romance writing that you'd like to share?
Email me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas and suggestions.
Keep any stories to 250 words, and cut and paste it into the body of your email.
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The editor is Tracy Cooper-Posey, who can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can visit the website at http://www.sashaproductions.com