Monday, March 15, 2010

 

The March 15 Blog That Probably Shows Up On March 16

Time. It seems like I never have enough hours in the day. I'm sure many of you feel the same way. Luckily, I have the opportunity to freelance full time. I tried to juggle freelancing with a full-time teaching position, but the results were less than spectacular. I was lucky if I queried five or six publications a year. Now, I query five or six a week!

It's exciting, yes, but sometimes it still feels like I'm running the marathon, trying to fit as many writing opportunities into the day as I possibly can.

In theory, you should have received this e-mail diatribe on March 15. In actuality, it will "probably" end up with a March 16 date, depending where you reside. Is that a problem? Not necessarily. But, for me, the woman-writer-perfectionist, it is a problem.

Basically, I overscheduled myself today. As writers, it's probably happened to all of us at some point. We think we can squeeze in one more interview and get those notes transcribed before we begin dinner preparations. Or we focus on completing the page of fiction or a line of a poem before we fold the laundry.

Sometimes, in the rush for manufacturing as much writing as possible, we forget to breathe. Sometimes, we forget to realize that we may miss a deadline and actually learn from it.

For me, writing is a 24/7/365 career. I'm constantly assessing situations and considering story angles. Does it mean I'm planted in front of my computer 24/7? No. I take a daily breaks, and sometimes, family duty requires an extended break.

I choose to write as much as I possibly can. Occasionally, I overextend myself or I don't take into account how a gloomy day (we haven't had a full day of sunshine in three months and we had 90 days with temperatures below 30) affects my productivity.

Writers need to find a balance between time and projects. Since I've been freelancing, I've discovered that balance exists some days, but other times, the writing table is tilted in favor of putting pen to paper, filling it with exciting words and phrases. I may begin at 7 AM. I may sleep in until 9 and start by 10. I may work two hours, take a break, make lunch, hang out with my husband, and return to the office at 9 PM and write until the early morning hours.

Bottom line: find a balance between obligations - both personal and professional. Make time work in your favor.

My husband's asleep now, and I have moved my laptop back to the confines of the office, where I won't hear the drone of his snoring. You see, before I lay me down to sleep tonight, I have another story that's brewing, and I'm afraid if I don't take time to get those thoughts on the computer hard drive, my brain's hard drive may forget the material by morning. That's something I'm not willing to lose.

Do I worry that I'm not getting enough sleep? Sometimes, yes.

But a power nap tomorrow afternoon will revitalize my energy and guide me toward the keyboard, where I make magic happen.

By LuAnn Schindler
Visit LuAnn's Writing on the Wall at http://luannschindler.com or follow LuAnn on Twitter - @luannschindler

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Friday, January 02, 2009

 

Oops, I Did It Again!

by LuAnn Schindler

So...imagine my surprise when I check Google calendar this evening at 7-something and see that I am The Muffin's blogger today. Oops! When I checked Google calendar last week, it wouldn't load in my browser, and I figured I would check it later. Combine that with the hectic holidays and guess what, the surprise is on me. It happens. I'm only human.

Do you find yourself doing the same thing when it comes time to write? Do daily tasks and life's hurdles stand between you and scheduled writing time? It happens to me all the time, but I schedule office hours and for the 99 percent of the time, I stick to it. It isn't always easy, especially since my husband works on his family's dairy farm, I substitute teach (I start a six-week stint on January 5), I coach competitive speech (at the high school I taught at for five years before I got married...and it is 60 miles from our house), and we strive to find "our" time.

The important thing is that no matter how busy you find yourself, you must make time to write. This is especially true if you depend on writing to help pay the bills! Five minute spurts will become my normal routine in just a few days, but with careful planning and a supportive husband, I will still meet my deadlines.

And now, I'm off to open presents with my grandson and two of my daughters. They just arrived for our holiday celebration, and tomorrow brings the final festivities for this holiday season.

I need the break! And then, back to writing.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

 

Tiny Chunks of Time

At this time of year, your calendar is probably booked with extra chores. So where does that leave your writing life?

Don't worry! You can keep it alive and kicking by using the nooks and crannies of your day. "Even tiny chunks of time, reclaimed, can add up to the hours necessary to write," says David Fryxell, author of How to Write Fast (While Writing Well).

Here are a few inspiring examples from his book:

*The French Chancellor D'Aguesseau, it's said, once noticed that his wife was habitually ten minutes late coming down to dinner. He decided to make use of those ten minutes (3,650 minutes a year, or more than sixty hours). We he waited for dinner, D'Aguesseau wrote a three-volume book, which became a bestseller when it was published in 1668.

*Anthony Trollope spent most of his life working as a postal clerk, but he would get up at five o'clock each morning and write 3,000 words in the three hours before beginning with the mail. If Trollope finished penning a novel before it was time to go to work—and he finished nearly fifty books this way—he'd simply begin another.

*More recently, the British crime novelist Michael Gilbert managed to craft twenty-three books during his daily fifty-minute commute to his "real job" as a solicitor.


Your situation may be different from the men in these examples, but I'll bet you can find a way to adjust one of the scenarios to fit your life. Grabbing small parts of your day, whether ten minutes or an hour, can be enough time to make good things happen with your writing.

--Marcia Peterson

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Friday, July 11, 2008

 

Are You Setting Yourself Up To Procrastinate?

Although written to help those with academic writing goals, such as dissertations, theses, and publishing, the ideas in this article apply to the rest of us too. Read on to find out an easy and painless way to increase your writing output. I related to many of the excuses, but I'll try it if you will!

--MP



"How can I stop procrastinating?"

This is by far the most frequent question that I get from graduate students and professors. As a dissertation and tenure coach, I’ve come to realize that everyone in academia, whether writing a dissertation, completing an article, or doing research, struggles with procrastination. Why is this so prevalent in such a well-educated, intelligent population?

You've Got the Wrong Attitude

Your belief system is what may be standing in the way. Most academics cling to the belief that they must set aside large chunks of time, do a lot of preparation, and be in the proper frame of mind to be able to write.

What this means is that when you finally sit down to write, it's going to be an unpleasant marathon. You have placed such importance on this writing session that you feel anxiety about it living up to your expectations. And you know it's going to be difficult. After all, there are thorny issues you haven't addressed, articles you haven't read or reread, and a lack of coherence to your thinking. You need to solve those problems. And if you don't do it now you'll be quite disappointed in yourself.

How unpleasant! And how counterproductive!

What Should You Believe Instead? Or "Oh, The Irony!"

Research by Robert Boyce actually shows that first and second-year professors who participated in a study on writing productivity were able to turn out more publishable pages in a year by

• Writing 30 minutes a day
• Only writing on workdays
• Shoehorning that writing into small gaps in their busy schedules

The difficult part, it turns out, was convincing these professors to try this low-key method in the first place. Ironically, they all insisted that the only way to get real work done was to do it in the marathon way that I described above.

The second irony was that when Boyce actually measured the amount that they were writing per week (before the intervention,) it was less than 30 minutes per week! This was much less than their retrospective reports of how much time they had been spending writing.

The third irony was that those who most adhered to the idea that you must write in large doses were the least productive.

The fourth irony was that although these professors considered writing a private activity, they did best when they were accountable to someone for maintaining their 30-minute writing habit.

Do It Already!


So what's stopping you from learning from these professors and writing a small amount each day?

Here are typical excuses:

• It's just not rewarding writing in small amounts. I feel like I've gotten nothing accomplished.
• I have a big issue to work out. It will take more time than 30 minutes.
• I feel guilty if I don't work more each time.
• I'll never complete my dissertation/paper/research project at that pace.
• I've waited until it's too late and I can't afford the luxury of that small amount of time per day.
• It just doesn't feel right.
• I've got more time than that, I should be putting all my time to good use.
• It's so overwhelming that I don't know where to start, and by the time I figure it out my 30 minutes will be up.

My answer to those responses? Bull! Except for the emergency deadline, there is no reason not to try this technique. Give it time to see if it works for you. If you're like every other academic I've worked with, you will resist the idea. I suggest that the more resistant you are, the more problem you've probably had with procrastination in the past.

An Action Plan

Try it for a week. Select a time each day, preferably not the evening unless you're a night owl, and write for 30 minutes, without email, reading or other distractions. Don't listen to the voices in your head saying you "should be getting more done," or "you should be writing more than this." I'll bet at the end of the week you'll be pleasantly surprised at your output, and pleased with the increasing ease with which you can sit down to write. You’ll start to see progress on your dissertation or article and maybe come to believe that you will finish one day.

Furthermore, don't forget about being accountable to someone. Let someone else know that you're going to be doing daily writing. Perhaps you can find a writing buddy, or someone in your dissertation group. Or join one of my coaching groups – our listservs allow for lots of accountability during the week! My membership site, CafeAcademia.com (stay tuned,) will have a place for finding writing buddies.

Don't forget, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. Start setting yourself up for success starting right now!

© Gina Hiatt, PhD. Gina is a dissertation and tenure coach. She helps academics, from grad students wondering about their dissertation topic to faculty members who want to maintain a high level of research and writing, to reach their goals more quickly and less painfully. Get Gina's free assessments & ezine at http://www.academicladder.com

source: www.Isnare.com

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

 

Time to Write...on Facebook

by Jill Earl

Since joining Facebook last month, I’ve been working my way through the creative writing groups on there. Thanks to the handy "Creative Writing Groups on Facebook" list, I’ve been amazed at what I’ve found so far. With the goal to help people locate book sites, author pages, writing programs, presses, magazines, writers’ groups, workshop communities and more, you’re sure to find a group--or two--or more to your liking.

A couple of weeks ago, I found the "Time to Write" group. Not a critique or workshop group to share works-in-progress, their aim is to write for a designated amount of time of your choosing. You can do it in a group, by yourself, at home, in your favorite cafe, whatever. It’s all up to you. It really can’t get simpler than that.

I joined and marked Saturday, May 17 on my calendar. And wrote. Not as long as I would’ve liked, but I did something.

The next two "Time to Write" events are scheduled for June 21 and July 19. They’re on my calendar too. Surf over to: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8693557218

If you want to scope out the Facebook creative writing groups for yourself, go to: http://groups.to/creative_writing_on_facebook

You’re bound to find something to your liking.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

 

Finding Time to Write

A number one complaint I hear from my writing friends is, "I don't have enough time to write." I wrote an earlier post about the ABC's of writing--Apply Butt to Chair. This time, I have a couple suggestions on finding time to write, and these may seem strange at first. But please, read on, and maybe even try one.

FIND YOUR BEST TIME OF DAY
Are you a morning glory or night owl? Do your creative juices flow with the rays of the sun or the glow of the stars? If you can figure this out, you could produce more quality work and probably more words per minute. The Internet is full of quizzes on finding your right time of day as well as articles with research on honoring your internal clock. Just go to any search engine, type in “morning person,” and check out a few of the sites.

Writer Lou Turner prefers to write at night because it’s quiet. “I live in a house with two sons, one husband, one grandson during the week, two male dogs, and one male cat. And none of them can find the kitchen or laundry rooms by themselves. When they go to bed, I turn off MTV, the golf channel and rock station, put my ceiling fan on low, open the window a crack so I can hear the fountain outside, and I write.”

Night writing doesn’t work for everyone. Writer Amy Harke-Moore says, “At night, a brain fog sets in.” When working on a deadline, she has written at all times of the day and found the morning to be her favorite.

Everyone is different. Taking the time to figure out when you are the freshest and when your creative juices are flowing can produce more quantity and quality in your writing.

EXERCISE
What does the E-word have to do with writing? Believe me, sometimes I wonder the same thing.
In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wellness, authors Patricia Smith and Muriel MacFarlane tell us, “Working out can improve mental vigor, reaction time, acuity, math skills, creativity, and imagination.” Scientists have conducted studies on the connection between individuals who exercise and their response time to mental challenges or their improved scores on intellectual tests. With a healthy flow of blood and oxygen, the brain is protected and works better.

I have to admit when I exercise, I have more energy in all aspects of my life. If I have more energy for everything, that means I have more for my family and friends and job, but most importantly—my writing.

Exercise has a fringe benefit, too. It gives you time to think about those parts of your story, article, or poem that are driving you crazy. During a set of jumping jacks, you can rescue your hero from the villain. While racing around the track, you may create the perfect title for the love poem you polished off the night before. Cycling down a forest trail allows time to discover another spin on a nonfiction article about spider webs. Besides more energy and time to work out plot points, the fat will fall off, muscles will tighten, and you can eat more chocolate whenever you get writer’s block.



**A portion of this post originally appeared in Beginnings Magazine, Summer/Fall 2004

by Margo Dill
www.margodill.com

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