Are you making time?

In all our deeds the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure, according to Malcolm X.

In 2014:

  • My YA novel Lockdown will be released in the spring. Before that happens, a press kit and a book launch must be organized.
  • My epic Australian novel is shaping up and should be moved to submission-ready status.
  • The Young Writers Club remains stronger than ever and still demands lots of time and preparation.
  • I have a handful of short stories to polish.
  • This writing blog and the earthquake blog must be maintained.
  • A rough draft of a new YA novel needs a month or more of work.

Word count: 370                                                                              Reading time: 1-2 minutes

Behind the scenes there are major changes going on in my personal life that wake me early every morning and occupy me until I drop into bed, late every night.

How easy it would be, in the midst of all this busyness, to think, “I’ll find time to write something new tomorrow.” Time is a slippery thing: one unproductive day becomes seven. A week drifts into a month. Experience warns me that if I let things slide, soon I won’t have created anything new in recent memory.

This year I will make time (because no one finds it) for all the competing priorities. Otherwise starting a new project, or even advancing a half-finished one, seems as feasible as scaling Mt. Everest. To avoid this pitfall, I will shake myself and remember that the only way to get things done is to quit talking about them and just do them.

A goal without a date is just a dream said Milton H. Erickson. So, before the days disappear like cherry blossoms in spring, I’m going to set deadlines and try to avoid the whooshing sound as they fly past. (with thanks to Douglas Adams). I don’t want 2014’s goals to end up as unrealized dreams. I have a calendar. I have dates for each goal. I really, really intend to stick with it. Unless, of course, there is another cute dog or cat video on YouTube…..

What are you doing this year to master the gift of time? Have you recorded your writing goals? Are they broken into small increments that aren’t overwhelming?

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Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Wanduhr in Deutschland. Es ist 15:00 Uhr.

What are your bare necessities?

The hardest part of writing is writing,” said the legendary Nora Ephron. To me, the hardest thing about writing is getting started.

Word count: 303                       Reading time: 1-2 minutes

When I finally get down to work, the walls recede, the rat stops gnawing the door, and I forget everything but the characters in front of me. Why is it so difficult to get out of the starting gate? Are there physical things that draw a person to the desk? Over the past week, I made a list of things that seemed essential to writing on different days:

  • a cup of green tea
  • a mug of strong coffee
  • a glass of wine
  • none of the above – water only, please
  • a tidy desk
  • a desk heaped with notes and reference material
  • a free writing warm-up
  • jumping right in
  • a good pen and a friendly notebook
  • a laptop
  • sunshine
  • rain
  • reading a couple of poems aloud, listening to the diction, tripping out on the images, enjoying the poet’s playfulness
  • reading no poetry
  • a quiet corner
  • music
  • complete silence
  • incense
  • open windows and fresh air

So the list revealed nothing more than the lack of a magic formula. In the end, the main thing that gets me working is a looming deadline, usually a self-imposed one. Without it I could and would avoid the pain and the joy forever. After all: writing is 90% procrastination, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write. ~ Paul Rudnick

What makes you get started? Do you have a favourite spot that gets your story spinning? Or do you like variety, somewhere new every time? Do you have routines or physical comforts that that entice you to work?