Writing When You’re Busy

Most of us will reach a point in our lives when we feel like we’re too busy to write. Whether it’s a challenging job, parenting, or other life events, it’s going to happen. So how do you squeeze it in? I’d like to hear from you. Here are things I do to make time.

Outlining on My Phone

I’m a plotter, at least in the sense I write an outline before I write the actual story. I don’t have to have all the details ready yet, but I like to get a bare bones idea of the story before I really flesh it out. And it is writing. You’ve got to get those ideas out sometime.

Now I don’t always write on my phone. I prefer the ease of the keyboard vs. swiping ad infinitum. But sometimes you don’t have time to sit down and type. I do find myself waiting, especially in our pandemic world. Maybe it’s waiting for a pick up, or the flu shot, or a really long shopping line. So why not make the most of the time and get a few ideas down? That’s one of the many reasons I love Google Docs. You can sync up what you’re doing from anywhere. That way you can continue your idea at home, on your computer if you like. Or perhaps you’d like a long soak in the tub? Keep going on your phone (just be careful not to let it take a plunge, lol).

I don’t think I’d get as much writing done if I didn’t employ this method, because I also…

Editing on My Phone

Already have a story written? Time to polish that bad boy up. And no better way to do it than… you guess it, your phone, haha! Seriously though, I’ve heard many editors say it’s good to change up the way your story looks to edit it. What they meant was font change or print out. But I think that can apply to your phone, too, because the page spacing will be different. I’ve caught many errors that way.

And editing still counts as writing.

Setting Aside A Specific Time

Setting a goal of ten minutes a day or even 30 minutes on Wednesdays is another way to make the time. You can get a lot more written in ten minutes a day than you think. And ten minutes a day is more than 0 minutes a day. So is 30 minutes on Wednesdays. My husband is an exercise science major and he always touts the “better than zero” plan for exercise, which is even exercising 5 minutes is better than zero.

I think the same can apply to writing. Maybe you can only get that one line out today. That’s still one line more than zero. It would be nice if we could all take the time off to write the great American novel. Even many published authors will tell you they still have to keep a day job, which means time is limited. So do “better than zero.” I’m honestly saying this to myself as much as anybody.

What Do You Think?

What are your thoughts on making time for writing? Have you got any tips or tricks? Let me know in the comments.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

Finally Checking In

Okay, here I am. Whew. I did some things though, so be proud.

  1. Blog Again. A post. Yeppers.
  2. Edit my MG Novel. A few changes, but there will be more since I submitted it to my writer’s group.
  3. Enter at least 2 writing contests. No progress here either.
  4. Regularly attend my writer’s group. I almost forgot. We were watching Squid Game when my phone reminded me. Whew!
  5. Bonus Goal: Write the sequel to my MG fantasy during NaNoWriMo. At least it’s still October, right?

An itty bitty baby does keep you busier than you think. Remember in college when you had all the time in the world somehow? I feel like I did. I could play Diablo until the wee hours of the morning and still have enough time to get my homework done. Ah, Diablo. The good old days. Ah, video games. The good old days.

What are you missing about your good old days? Are you hitting your goals? Let me know!

Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

For the Sake of Story

Back in November for NaNoWriMo, I put together a sequel for SHADE. (And I won myself a discount on Scrivener. Holla!)

Anyway, I had used most of October to meticulously plan out the novel which is what made it really easy for me to write. Once I have my idea outlined, it’s more or less a paint-by-number, though I do leave room for my muse to take me in other directions should it choose.

December came and looking over my nice little rough draft I realized something that I would fight against for months. Book 2 seemed more and more to be me trying to cram two books worth of story into one.

ALL THE THOUGHTS RUNNING THROUGH MY HEAD AT THIS REALIZATION:

But the plot twists!

Another murky middle to deal with?

Splitting a book in half is too hard!

But then all those other moments get pushed to Book 3!

Can I really make this split work?

What about the children? Is anyone thinking of the children for goodness’s sake?

Thankfully, I’ve faced these hard moments before. When it came to Book 1, after a writing conference in New York I knew I had to make substantial changes, not unlike the changes I’m probably going to make now.

DON’T FEAR THE REVAMP

For some of you rewrites are not any kind of problem. It may be your curse. But for some of you the idea of having to majorly revamp your book scares you like Reevers scare Captain Mal.

For the sake of story, suck it up, and do it anyway.

How do you know if you need to revamp the story? The easiest way to find out is beta readers. And some of the best ways to find beta readers is going to writer’s conferences and networking. Your fellow writers will appreciate a beta read themselves, so offer to exchange chapters or even full novels, get feedback and see what’s working and what isn’t.

Another way is right here on the WordPress community. We’ve got some of the best people on here who have loads of experience who can help.

Hopefully it doesn’t come as news to you that golden ink doesn’t drip from your pen—or keyboard. Think of it as getting the translation of the story in your head right. I’ve often noticed while some things in my stories change substantially, the essence tends to remain the same.

And I’ve probably said this before, but revamping or splitting books can often bring about creative discoveries you might not have stumbled upon otherwise. I created a character from a book split I doubt would have come to me any other way—and he’s one of my faves.

If you really want a story that’s going to be significantly impactful to your readers, it’s going to take some work, and often that work will be uncomfortable and hard. But you owe it to your readers and to your craft to present only the best possible.

It is my own personal goal to make every book I write better than the previous. My hope is that my skill will continue to grow and be illustrated in my writing as it goes forward.

What do you do for the sake of story? Have you had to make substantial edits or changes to a book that you didn’t want to make at first? What are your personal goals for your craft?

Make It Word Count

If you’re an aspiring author like me, eventually two words are going to cross your path if they haven’t already: word count.

If you’re really new to this biz, you may still be telling people about how many pages your book is. And that probably works better for friends and family. But all that agents, editors, and publishers want to hear about is word count.

Why? Because you might be writing in Courier, Times New Roman, Squiggly Wiggly (please don’t), but the one thing that stays uniform across the board is word count. How many words have you crammed into that Word Document that is your novel? But more importantly, how many should you have crammed in there?

As is with a lot of things in the writing world, the answer is it depends. It depends on your genre, your age range, and whether or not you’re JK Rowling or Plain Tryingtagetpublished Jane. But is there any kind of guide for how many words a novel should be?

According to Writer’s Digest, this is a typical guide for novel lengths:

Adult: Commercial & Literary ~80,000-89,000 (for you newbies, if you have it double-spaced with Times New Roman, this will be around 300 pgs, depending on your formatting)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy ~100,000-115,000 although lean toward the short end of that figure

Middle Grade ~20,000-50,000 depending on age range

YA (they say the most flexible of ranges) 55,000 – 69,999 although the trend is getting closer to the top of the 80Ks for the max. Again this depends on genre, story, etc.

Picture Books ~500-600

BUT WHAT ABOUT (INSERT BOOK TITLE)? IT WAS WAY LONGER/SHORTER!

The thing is you can’t use other authors to argue the length of your book because 99% of the time your arguments are invalid. Especially if the author in questions is 1) super famous, or 2) wrote something a long, long time ago. When you’re a household name, you can write a 160,000 word book because odds are your name is the money-maker the publishing world sees (although for your reader’s sake, please don’t).

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A Short, But Helpful Post

Okay peeps, I’m still doing some San Fran recovery and getting back onto a blogging schedule, etc. But I won’t leave you without something useful. So here is that something.

It’s called Word to Pages. Why is that so interesting? So glad you asked. Have a contest you’re eying, but not a good guesser at how many words equals how many pages in your world? Well, look no further than Words to Pages.

You can select single, 1.5, double-spaced and the font and the size and it will give you an approximation of how many pages that is.

Now it isn’t perfect. Especially for those of you dialogue happy or short sentence/short paragraph writers. But it at least gives you a ballpark estimate of what to expect. If you tend to have a lot of paragraphs, I’d probably take Word to Pages‘ estimate and go a little lower.

Now you have a helpful tool at your disposal.