Saturday, April 19, 2014

Q = Quit Making Excuses


If you want to write, write. 

We make time for the things we think are important. If you’re not making time for it, then it’s not important enough to make its way to the top of the list.

Think about it: when someone dies, people drop what they’re doing for the funeral. Nobody waits to die until it’s convenient, or good traveling weather for family. And yet, people manage to make it to funerals more often than not. This is because that event is of the utmost importance.

If you really want—need—to write, then make the time. Five minutes a day, if that’s all you have. Jot ideas down in a little notebook. Take your laptop to the bathroom. Call your home phone while you’re walking and leave yourself a message with a story idea. One of the authors I work with, Stephen Fender, travels 2.5 hours to work. Each way. He drives, rides a ferry, and then drives some more. While he’s on the ferry, he writes. Chaos is undoubtedly going on all around him, but he writes, because it’s a good chunk of time he can use. If five hours of each of your weekdays was spent commuting, you’d make the most of your hands-free time, too.


One author on Goodreads said he’d typed most of a manuscript on his iPhone while riding the city bus each day to and from work. Many moms—like my Coffee Chat buddy, S.K. Anthony—write in the wee hours of the night after children are asleep. Thirty minutes for lunch? Write for fifteen and eat for fifteen. It can work if you want it to work!

60 comments:

  1. It all depends on how much you want/need to write. If I go too long without writing I feel depressed. Like you said there is always time, we just have to get to work. Awesome post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I get that way with singing even more than writing. If I go too long without singing something, somewhere, I notice my mood sinking.

      When I need to write, there's not much that will stop me, even if it's just scribbling ideas in a Word doc that no one will ever see...kind of like 99% of what I write.

      Delete
  2. I totally agree...one can always find time to write, if it's really what they want to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Five minutes at a time, if that's all you have. Every sentence is one step closer to a finished product.

      Delete
  3. It's amazing how much writing can be done in those snippets of time. Even a list of ideas helps for when you have more connected time. You hit the nail on the head with this one, Lynda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Lee! I'm a huge list-maker. Even if things don't get checked off, I always feel like I've accomplished something just in the writing of the list itself.

      Delete
  4. Amen, you said it! If you really want to write, you WILL find the time. In the middle of this Challenge insanity, I've still managed to complete a short story that's due next month.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's incredible, Alex. This month IS insanity, but somehow I've managed to shower daily, still feed my family, and fit in the rest of life around it all.

      Good for you that your short story is now completed!

      Delete
  5. I was going to write a really long comment about this post but I had to feed my cat.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NO! You tell that cat he has to wait. Important things need to be done here.

      Delete
  6. It can work if you want it to work...writing in the wee hours sure gives a person an interesting personality when having to deal with people though. Yawns But yes, we make the time if we really want to. Nicely put!

    Also, sort of off topic but not really, 'cause you brought it up: If people did wait to die for when its more convenient for everyone else, it would be greatly appreciated. No one likes a selfish person, and really? It benefits them more than anyone, anyway. That's all carry on living...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course you would see the logic in dying when convenient. Truly, you'd get a lot more people coming to your funeral if you checked ahead of time to make sure they were free that weekend...not that you'd know it...

      Delete
    2. Is this a thing now? If so I plan my funeral for August 6, 2133. I hope to see you all there :)

      Delete
    3. As luck would have it, I'm free that day. I've blocked it off and you can consider this my RSVP.

      Delete
    4. But I was planning to have a signing...Oh, all right! I'll rearrange my schedule. I do have 100+ years to work the signing around your funeral. Poetic that it should be on your birthday...

      Delete
    5. I'll put it on my calender. Hopefully I won't be on the other side of the galaxy then.

      Delete
    6. See what a little preplanning will do? We'll all be there! Don't you feel better about it now?

      Delete
    7. Yes and don't worry there will be cake.

      Delete
  7. So true! I recently couldn't write at all; the ability to stack words in a coherent sequence had abandoned me, and I had a doozy of an excuse to just let it go. But almost every day I had my material out in front of me, steeping myself in it, feeling surrounded by my own created worlds, and it eventually came back. So yes, I couldn't agree more. If you want to write, write. If is isn't coming today, jot down ideas, outline a future story, draw the floor plan of your murder scene, do something that advances your goal, but DO SOMETHING! ... And don't forget to proofread.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you had the right idea, Jack. Steep yourself in it. Don't avoid it, thus making it even harder to go back.

      Lol, proofreading...I saw your first comment...I'm right there with you on those.

      Delete
  8. Haha, you definitely picked a different word than "Question" for your letter Q, I'll give you that.

    The advice about using your free time during transit is spot-on, too. I've told people similar things when they say "I don't have time to read." Well, do they have a phone or mp3? Why not listen to audiobooks instead of a Kesha song for the millionth time? Normally the only response is a guilty face, but at least then I'm spared the whining about "Not having enough time to read." Yeesh; how can someone be a writer if they don't read?

    I must give kudos to your friend, though. Not just writing, but writing on a *ferry.* It has to be miserable. I couldn't do it: I can't read while in a car, so add seasickness and noise to that and writing is a one-way ticket to barf-ville. I don't know how anyone could manage it. That's some serious dedication!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We listen to audiobooks when we're driving longer distances. I love them and have been able to make time for some classics that way.

      As far as Stephen goes, I'm guessing he's extra skilled at tuning things out by now...I'd probably find myself typing overheard conversations without realizing it, and my story would make no sense at all. And I, like you, might just be puking on my laptop, depending on conditions.

      Delete
  9. Great post, and so true. It's hard to find time to write sometimes, but if you need to -- if you really, really want to -- you'll find the time. Even if it means sleeping doesn't happen.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm willing to forgo sleep for the things I really want to do. That's the first thing to go, in fact, if I'm focused.

      Delete
  10. If you want to be a writer, then you will make the time! I have three kids and I strive to write everyday:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are people who have two jobs, extra people living in their houses, no kids eight kids, farm animals, whatever. If you want to bad enough, you will. Good for you, Jennifer, that you aim for writing every day!

      Delete
  11. Seconded! I spent 15 minutes while waiting at the doctors office with a tablet in hand. 650 words later... If you love it, you'll sneak it into the cracks.

    True Heroes from A to Z

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great way to spend the time while waiting at the doctor's office! I get lots done in those places, too. I used to bring blank notecards with me to write to friends I wanted to catch up with.

      Delete
  12. It's definitely about priorities and making the BEST use of your time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Priorities. It all boils down to that. Either it's at the top of the list or it's not.

      Delete
  13. Greetings human, Lynda,

    You make some notable points, my human friend. If the passion for writing is truly there, then there are no excuses, only more reasons to find those moments to write. In fact, those times when chaos is the theme, I note them down and incorporate them in my writing. Or, if I'm out and about and a thought comes into my doggy head and I don't have pen and paper at paw, I talk into the recorder on my mobile phone.

    Have a peaceful Easter and thank you for this pawsting.

    Pawsitive wishes,

    Penny, the friendly host of the Alphabark Challenge! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penny, you've got the right idea. Use whatever is handy to get those ideas in place!

      I wish you and Gary a blessed Easter as well.

      Delete
  14. Good point! If you really want to write, you'll make time to do it. (I'll have to do the late-at-night thing if I'm going to write every day.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I were a betting person, I would wager that most of the mamas out there are late-night writers.

      Delete
  15. I've been reading some of the posts I've missed, not wanting to miss any of your advice, which is worthwhile.
    I procrastinate all the time, Lynda, at least since my husband retired. The world revolves around him. At least he believes it does. I'm going to lock myself in the bathroom - good advice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To the Bat Cave, Fanny! Or the bathroom. Whatever works for you to allow you that time.

      I'm a wonderfully skilled procrastinator, which is amazing in some ways because I don't miss any deadlines. But I long to be one of those people who budgets her time evenly all the time. I can do it for short periods but not sustain it.

      You're not alone with the retirement thing...when my dad retired, my mom swore she would not retire until another year had passed, because she said she would end up being his slave if he didn't have a year to figure out how to do things on his own. :)

      Delete
  16. I know this post is about making the time to write, but I have to say, 2.5 hour commute? UGH! That's got to be a well paying job or a job he loves.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll have to see if we can get Stephen to chime in on this one. I'm going to guess he really loves it.

      Delete
    2. It's both well paying, and highly enjoyable. That being said, I'd rather just write all day.

      Delete
  17. It's tough, but I do it because that's what I love to do. Because of the long commute, I don't want to take away from time at home that I should be spending with my wife. I really have to squeeze the time to write in there somewhere, and sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't...especially if everyone on the ferry is being ridiculously loud.

    I mean, really, if you see someone (on a bus, a plane, a ferry, wherever) using their laptop, treat them like they are writing a novel and give them some space. Don't plop down right next to them and start the worlds loudest phone conversation with your plumber or the buddy you just saw at work.

    LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now I have an almost uncontrollable urge to sit next to someone who's obviously working, and start to talk...to them, to myself, to a stranger...

      Maybe I'll get some plumbing tips, too, if I sit next to the right person.

      Delete
    2. The thing to do with people who talk loudly on their cell phone is to join in the conversation. I do that all the time, but for some reason nobody wants to sit next to me anymore.

      I also insert myself in other loud conversations, when two girlfriends are loudly complaining about surfing the crimson wave, I will just stand next to them and talk about anal warts.

      It's all about being social, people! Why facebook when you can book in someone's face right here and now?

      Delete
  18. Well, that pretty much sums it up! I get crabby if I can't find the time to write. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhhhh...you're one of those people who needs a *reason* to be crabby...I've heard of your type.

      Delete
  19. You are 100% correct. you make time for what you feel is important. Like putting silly responses on your blog. I make time for that. Now I am making time to learn the secrets of copy-writing. If you love to write, there will always be time to write.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But this just shows you have the *right* priorities, being here and all that.

      And you may tell me—anytime, anywhere—that I am 100% correct. Obviously you're wise as well as a good prioritizer.

      Delete
    2. Oh and BTW I can't wait for coffee chat to resume

      Delete
  20. It really is a question of mind over matter. What you think you become.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, I probably would have become a chocolate bar long ago...

      It is true, though, that if you set no goals, you will reach no goals.

      Delete
  21. Hmmm. I agree to a point. But it's not worth making yourself sick over by putting pressure on yourself to write every spare second or stay up to the wee hours. I'm not physically able to do that. And when people tell me I just don't want it enough because I don't go to those extremes, it really gets my back up. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ava, you bring up a good point. There are excuses, and there are genuine reasons. The trick is to not allow the excuses to win, while allowing yourself some leeway when the reasons pop up to interfere. Some people are boosted by the push, while the same push might someone else miserable.

      Only you know where your own limits are.

      Delete
  22. It's amazing how you can eke time out if you think creatively. It's important to think about it in between times too, so you have an idea what to write when you do get the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thinking about it in between times would certainly help to streamline the process, Nick!

      Delete
  23. Such a great point and well writen post!
    Shawn from over at Laughing at Life 2

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Shawn! I've been enjoying your posts as well. I was going to say, "your phobias," but that sounded strange...even to my ears. :)

      Delete
  24. This is literally my biggest motivation. I see writers who write several books a year with the same challenges or more that I face. One writer in my RWA book has a system down and is dedicated to her writing. Even when her son was in the hospital for an extended time, she organized her time and wrote by his bedside. The complications slowed her down, but not much. She said, if you want to be a professional writer, you make the time, you don't make excuses.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Hope you are enjoying the A to Z challenge! Here’s my A to Z Post on Memorable Characters

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am always amazed at the conditions under which some people are able to write. I tend to prioritize not what should be done first, but what I'll enjoy doing the most. As a result, the blog posts might get done but the vacuuming will not.

      Delete
  25. I take my iPad with bluetooth keyboard everywhere. And my earphones, so I can listen to soothing jazz while I plan my next murder.

    At the rowdy hockey club where my wife was chatting with her team mates and my 3-year old daughter was running around, I 'finished' the main story line of my standalone noir In Pocket, about a nomadic heroin-addicted pickpocket who gets drawn into a potentially fatal situation by a scheming woman. And you don't know who the scheming woman is until you reach the end of the book.

    If you want to beta read the final draft, Lynda, you better follow my blog. And sign up when I post my beta reader request.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So have you conditioned yourself (a la A Clockwork Orange) to think murderous thoughts whenever you hear jazz?

      I do follow your blog, Martyn, and have for . . . oh, ages . . . or at least the past couple months, anyway. I would thoroughly enjoy beta reading your final draft if the timing works out when you post your request. I'll even put on some soothing jazz to get myself in the mood.

      Delete
    2. I find I write detailed homicide best when the music flows soothingly. Like humming under your breath as you dissect a corpse (you know what I mean). If I put Rage Against The Machine on while I'm carving meat I end up with blood all over the slaughterhouse...

      Delete

I love comments, and will always answer them, partly because I like having the last word and partly because I just like getting to know the people who read my blog.