Are You Having Fun Yet?

January 10, 2006 | It's All About Writing

Writing is your chosen job and you need to make it fun. Flip on the stereo, dress up your writing space, do anything to bring out your creativity and keep you planted in your chair for hours on end.

Weeks Two & Three

Read your calendar to determine when you’ll have blocks of time to write. I need blocks of time, hours, or I get confused. I can’t work well with ten minutes here or thirty minutes there unless I’m editing. For me short spells are good for editing, otherwise I lose my critical eye. Write your schedule on the calendar, in red. You’ll feel more committed and will spot in an instant when you can work.

Maybe you have a fulltime job. It’s not so easy then. Author Judy Powell used to eat her lunch in her car, just to get away from her desk, and write. She had a kitchen timer set for her return time and was never late.

Judy’s habit may not work for you. If that’s the case then set your writing time, at least an hour, in the morning before you head out. Only do it if you’re a morning person otherwise you’ll have wasted an hour’s sleep. Maybe evenings are your creative time but you’re too tired and hungry after work. Eat a light dinner, clean up, and grab a short nap. Better yet skip the nap it’ll only add unwanted pounds.

Look, everyone has a real life with doctor appointments, grocery shopping, cooking, family, friends, and lovers. You don’t want to aggravate or alienate but you do have to put your career in prospective. Some things just have to wait. As an FYI, so can house cleaning and most laundry. So as far as friends go, they can probably live without you for two weeks. Explain what you’re doing and why. Inform them you and your phone are out of commission for two weeks, unless they die. You love them dearly but you must be selfish and think of yourself. Spread out your socializing until week four. If they are your friends they’ll understand. If they don’t….

Appointments, groceries, cooking, family, and lovers are another matter. Let’s discuss them individually.

Appointments – Either schedule them as far apart as possible or cram them into one day. You have the ability to grant yourself blocks of time to write.

Groceries – Stock up! Write a concise list and do one giant splurge. Yes, you may blow the budget but it will even up down the road when you don’t have to do an emergency run for toilet paper.

Cooking – Easy, either buy frozen ready made food, fresh with a far out expiration date, or cook up a storm during Week One, and freeze the extras.

Family – If you have children at home you’re time is going to be occupied with a gazillion things. All you can do is make a serious attempt to carve out blocks of time around their schedules. It’s okay if you take longer then the ten weeks to get your novel written. You have the ability to grant yourself that permission. If your children have moved out, tell them to get a life and leave yours alone for two weeks unless there is a grave situation.

Lovers – Not so easy. It’s important to keep them included in your life and not make them feel like they’re a bother. Studly’s cool on this. When we’re watching TV, I have my work on hard copy and do what’s necessary. This way we’re together during the evening and I can ask a question at halftime or he’ll bring up a short subject. Neither of us gets into anything deep, those topics are reserved for dinner. Not only are we together but we’re each doing what we enjoy. A huge Thank You to my Brazen Vixen pals for their insight on this area.

Now to the real fun.

Have your notebook with the outline and characterization list at hand. Remember you’ve written in the daily log section how many words you wanted to write? Go for it.

Turn on your computer, block out the world, and type. Don’t think about spelling, grammar, paragraphs, or anything else, just think about your novel. Consider this the outline your freshman English teacher would have hated. Pound it out. Let your words flow. Week four you’ll concern yourself with editing. Weeks two and three are strictly for writing. You’ll be surprised at how much more you accomplish in laying down your story when you kill your Internal Editor.

If you get stumped or tired, get up and walk around, grab a bottle of water, or a snack. Do not sit there and stare at your monitor. Maybe you need music, a break, exercise, and unless you want to turn into Waddling Wilma you’d better exercise. On a 9-5 job you’d have two breaks and a lunch time. Do the same with you’re writing. Hello! It’s your job.

And since it’s your job you will know and must adhere to quitting time. If you don’t, burn out. Nothing worse than a writer with nothing left to write.

Extra tips;

1. Keep pen and paper scattered throughout the house and car to write down those ideas/phrase
popping in your head.
2. Revitalize your creativity by reading outside your genre, walking, a movie, or my all time favorite –
eavesdropping at a restaurant.
3. Sit outside, anywhere, and commune with nature and your higher being. It may not be a bad idea to
thank him/her for your success.

Tomorrow we’re advancing into Week Four and editing.

Until then, Happy Writing,

Add A Comment

5 Responses to “Are You Having Fun Yet?”

  1. Lauren Says:

    Hi Sloane,

    For days when I’ve carved out a chunk of time for writing, I’ve found a kitchen timer very helpful in keeping me on task when I’m writing the first draft–the draft where my Internal Editor is supposed to be silent! My IE seems to be so loud all the time that the only way I’m able to shut it up is to turn the timer on for 15 minutes and just write. I find my IE can be silenced for 15 minute intervals. When the timer goes off, I take a 5 minute break and then I turn the timer on again for another 15 minutes of writing. I find I can get about 2 hours of total writing time this way before my IE muscles back in and, this time, won’t be silenced. When that happens, I do other non-writing things that must be done such as household chores. When I’ve finished, or come to a stopping point, then I can go back to my writing and repeat the 15 minute process.

    I have a lot of hope with this method because it seems like my IE is gradually, slowly, learning that it’s supposed to be silent during the first draft process. It doesn’t obey very well without the 15 minute timer, but it seems as if the light is dawning for it. By the way, I call my IE an ‘it’ because I can’t tell if it’s female or male. 😀

    Thanks for sharing your system with us. I like knowing what other writers do.

  2. Yasmine Says:

    I have followed Sloane’s writing in chunks of time. I have the luxury to do so right now. I made up a January calendar in the form of a spreadsheet, blocked off appointments and tennis and made three, three hour writing periods. I’m a night writer, but I’m training myself to at least write for two hours during the day. Just me and the dog Skye. I don’t do number of words for a day. If you buy a calendar, try buying a cute one with a picture you like on the front. Sloane’s got one. I’ve got Dilbert, and it is strickly for writing. I write what I worked on, where I left off, how many words total and where I will pick up the next day. I do have a big 11×14 Planner Pad, an idea I got from Chicago North RWA. That big calendar is for all the family and writing appointments, things to do that must be done on a daily, weekly basis. I have to write it down, so far, because I hadn’t written some appointments down, I almost missed Market Day, the easy way to feed the family, and forgot to give my daughter her ticket to the vip suite for a Bulls game. She was able to get in. I also have the big sticky notes. I use those for when I run short errands and stick it to the dashboard. Very colorful and I don’t forget the cereal or one stupid item from the store that will make me have to go out again. Like Sloane, I hit Wal Mart and stock up on all the paper and food stuff my family likes. Cheaper and I only go once a month. Cleaning? What’s that?

  3. Sloane Says:

    See how easy it is to develope your schedules! Lauren and Yasmine, you’ve hit on wonderful ways to stick to your writing and thank you for sharing.

    I’m off to buy a timer and sticky pads!!

  4. Lauren Says:

    That’s a good idea to have a calendar devoted to only writing, Yasmine. And, Sloane, Walmart carries the timer I use. It has three separate timers on it and can be set for different times. Sounds confusing, I know, but you’ll recognize it when you see it. They’re stocked in the kitchen items isle.

    This is so cool sharing writing tips! 🙂

  5. Sloane Says:

    Thanks for the tip, Lauren. Three timers in one? Seems like a good idea for writing and preparing Christmas dinner.

    It is cool to share what we’ve all learned. We can always learn from someone else.