Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Five: Five Ways to Maximize Writing Time

Okay, so last week I nagged you into writing more to finish that WIP in time for National. Since I'm currently on deadline, I know the pressure to write a lot in a short time can become paralyzing. But it doesn't have to. Here are five ways you can maximize the amount of writing time you have in a day to get the most out of your head and into your WIP!

1. Shut out the world with headphones. If you love music when you write (like me), invest in a cheapie MP3 player or create a music library on your computer, plug in your headphones and shut out the world. If you prefer total silence, invest in a set of real cushioned headphones and use them to shut out the world. Wearing headphones gives you an added benefit: wearing them will signal your family that you're "in the zone" and must not be interrupted except for bleeding that can't be staunched and fires that can't be contained.

2. Use downtown wisely: got a few minutes while the pasta is boiling? Write a paragraph! Taking (or giving the kids) a bath? Write while the tub is filling!

3. A lot of cell phones and electronic gadgets have recorders. Run dialogue while stuck in traffic and record it for inclusion in your WIP later.

4. DVR your favorite television show, set a timer and write non-stop for the amount of time you'd normally watch that program.

5. Find a quiet place for you and your laptop: a park, a diner, a coffee place. Clear a spot and write.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mid-Week Rude Awakening: Writing...Is It In You?

Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. - Arnold H. Glasow

I love this quote. So few writers dare to set themselves on fire. They bounce from story to story, emitting sparks here and there, but they avoid the flames. To truly succeed in any venture, you have to be willing to overcome your failures, thrive after rejection, finish what you start, and never give up on yourself. Where does this task begin? With the first word, the first sentence, the first paragraph, the first chapter. And it continues all the way to the last chapter, the last paragraph, the last sentence, the last word.

Too many writers start and stall. These are the ones who might have finished one or two stories, maybe even published them, but now they're suffering from ADD. After writing a few chapters...ooh! A shiny new idea catches their eye. And of course, this idea has to be researched immediately. So the ADD writer scraps whatever (s)he's currently working on for the better story just out of reach on the horizon. Again, (s)he'll write a few chapters and ...ooh! A new idea! It's a vicious cycle that never ends and only results in readers forgetting your name (if they ever knew it to begin with) and moving on to other authors, authors who continue to complete stories and sell them.

Writing is hard. Yeah, sure, authors will tell you how great it is to go to work in pajamas, to work anywhere, to get paid to create stories. Sounds glamorous, right? Wanna know where to sign up? Well, hold on there, sweetheart.

Because with the glamour comes some ugliness. Be prepared to give up some of your personal life, along with some personal funds. Promotion takes time, money, courage, and dedication. So does the actual writing. It's not always easy to take an idea from a great scene to a completed great story. Authors experience days and weeks when their creativity stagnates and they can't write a word. But still they must struggle on. Readers don't care about your writer's block, your topsy-turvy personal life, or the dog who ate your manuscript. All they care about is, "When is your next story coming out? And why can't you write as fast as they can read?"

Sure I get to write in my bathrobe--for an hour in the morning before I go to work, or in the middle of the night when an idea that won't leave me alone wakes me up. (And then I still have to crawl to work in the morning, regardless of how many sleep hours I've lost to midnight typing.) Yes, I can work anywhere. And I do: at family get-togethers, in the bathroom, at school functions, while stuck in traffic, while on vacation.

And there's no guarantee you'll ever see a dime from your stories. Those million dollar contracts you hear about? For the unknown author, they are as rare as lottery winners, which is why you hear about the big ones. Most authors--probably even most of the authors on your auto-buy list--barely make enough money to pay their writing expenses. Most authors these days have day jobs, or a working spouse who can afford a stay-at-home writer.

So, before you embark on this journey, ask yourself: " it in you?" If the answer is yes, don't go halfway, creating little sparks. Set yourself on fire!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Five: Five Fun Facts About Friday the 13th

Duck and cover! Today's Friday the 13th! (So far, for me, the day's pretty fantastic so I'm planning to buy a lottery ticket.) In honor of this auspicious day, I thought I'd share a few fun facts. Check out for more of these little goodies.

1. On Friday the 13th of October in 1307, King Philip IV of France rounded up hundreds of monks for torturing to get them to confess to heresy.
2. Tupac Shakur was shot and killed on Friday the 13th.
3. Bad guys with 13 letters in their names: Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson
4. Today is the only Friday the 13th in 2011, but 2012 will have three of them.
5. In France, socialites called quatorziens volunteer to be the 14th guest at social occasions so hosts don't wind up with an unlucky number of guests.

Good luck today!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Five: Five Ways to Finish That WIP

Want to get that manuscript finished before RWA National or another conference so you can pitch it to an agent or editor? Come closer, I'll tell you the secret in five easy steps.

1. Turn off the television and write.
2. Exit out of your email and write.
3. Get off Facebook/Twitter and write.
4. Get out of bed one hour earlier or go to bed one hour later and write.
5. That's it, kids. Just write!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mid-Week Rude Awakening: Blowing Deadlines Can Be Lethal

I think the term deadline has "dead" in it for a reason. That four-letter word commands attention. And writers shouldn't blow a deadline. Ever. Yeah, sure, life gets in the way sometimes. But really, stop and think about this. What's getting in the way? If it's a freak accident that has left you with no way to use your fingers? Okay, you get a free pass. Ditto, the sudden illness or death either to you or a family member. Anything else is a lame excuse. Your daughter has Girl Scouts? Tough luck. Your husband's away and you're the sole support of the kids? Tough luck. You recently acquired a new pet that requires lots of training? Tough luck.

I say, "Tough luck" because those aren't time-sucking emergencies. Really. They're just not. If you've got time to Tweet, or post on Facebook, or watch Dancing With the Stars with those "life got in the way" moments, you could have been writing. Being a successful writer takes more than just a great idea for a story or two. You're not even a successful writer because you've published a story or two.

A successful writer is devoted to the craft.
A successful writer would rather write than do just about anything else.
A successful writer makes realistic goals and reaches them.
A successful writer is not distracted by new ideas, the latest gossip on the Web, or American Idol.
A successful writer guards her reputation as an author by remaining professional at all times.
A successful writer treats her writing as a responsibility and a passion.

Now if you'll excuse me...I'm on deadline.