How’s it going?
I hope you’re having a fabulous week and are looking forward to work and everything else life has to offer. But I’ve got a question for you, and for being brave, I’ll let you in on my biggest writing secret. Okay, apparently I’ve had a bit of caffeine today and the characters in my head said it was a good idea to tell you my biggest writing secret. So here we are. We’ll see if they’re right.
Here’s my question:
Are you prioritizing your writing life?
I’ve thought about that a lot lately because I have had so many conversations recently with writers…and yes, we all have things that pop up occasionally, but I mean are you prioritizing this to the extent you want to?
I have a list you can get here: Writer’s Daily Planner DarWrites 2017, and on that list I try to do three things consistently every day: exercise, write my journal pages, and write [Thank you, Julia Cameron!]. Does it happen every day? Sometimes. Okay, most of the time, but there are a few days where I wish I had more time to write…mostly when I end up doing a billion errands or going on job interviews all day and when I get home late the dogs need walking and playing…
Do you ever feel that way?
It’s times like that when I remember this literature thing is not a simple hiking trip – it’s a long-haul, around-the-world journey. By that I mean that we’re in it for the duration – little things add up over time. Several writers have said so…and even more have done so. The literary history backs this truth. Do we all wish we had specific hours to write in a day? Of course! But there’s another way, a sneakier way, to write.
Blocks of time.
If you’re a long-term DarWrites buddy, you know I’m a fan of the Pomodoro technique [UCSD has details here]. It’s a mini sprint, kind of like a NaNoWriMo word war. The idea for both is to take a small amount of time, a challenge, and go. I’ve gotten many of my works finished this way…including this one.
How does it work?
I gave myself 20 minutes to write a 1000-word blog entry about writers, time, and the writing journey.
With that in mind, here are three tips that I use to focus.
Tip 1: One thing in front of you at a time. Clear everything – and I mean every work in progress – to the side. Only have on your desk (or wherever you are) one thing – the notes from your current project. Everything else, including the boxes for the novel-in-progress, go to the side…I highly recommend having a bookshelf nearby to put stuff on – it’s great for overflow.
Tip 2: Outline briefly.
Wait – what?!
Yeah, this seat-of-the-pantser has crossed to the dark side…when I really need to focus, I’ve learned that I need to have at a minimum a 3×5 card with a list on it. I’m going to add a pic of my current Daily List so you can see it, but it’s really simple: one card with the 3 most important things for you to do today. #1 of course, is writing. Oh, I just looked at my card and saw I have five things for the day on it – and that’s okay because things change all the time. One recommendation is to only put the SMART goals on it you know you can do in one day – break the big projects into chunks and list them. Please keep it at 5 or under – my experience is that if you go over five, you’re going to get bogged down in the list and there is no room for spontaneity.
I got away from this essential and easy thing. I used 3×5 cards a lot while studying science classes and as flash cards, but I keep seeing it pop up again and again as a strategy – and was again reminded of the benefits of outlining at Goddard by Darrah Cloud [Thanks, Darrah!]. It’s a great tool that can be used in many scenarios – from daily lists to outlining. Go for it and try something that used to work for you, or learn a new way of doing things!
Tip 3: B.I.T.C.H.O.K.T.A.M. [Bum in chair, hands on keyboard, typing away madly]. I’ve seen this statement in several places…and keep coming back to the theory.
I think if you’re working on something and it’s important enough to be the #1 thing you’re doing that day, you need to focus like Captain America focusing on how to destroy the Red Skull.
By this, I mean put everything else aside – no matter what it is – grab a cup of tea/coffee/caffeine and sit in your chair [or on the floor or wherever it is you sit or stand] and write. This is the hardest part. The mind always goes to the dishes, the dogs, the family, and everything else. When you sit down for writing time, make sure the only thing on your plate during that time is writing.
Simple tips? Yes, but they’ve encouraged me and I hope they help you.
Now for something totally different and slightly crazy. I challenged myself to something huge.
I mean really big. It’s going to take a lifetime to accomplish it.
I’m going to write 100 books.
That’s right, 100 books. In my life. If I go over that, great. If I hit 50 and decide to call it quits, I’m going to open that “Open When” letter over there that was created just for that particular scenario. I will do my best not to tap out. What I will do is write about what I love.
I’m really excited about this – and I’m not going to restrict myself to a particular genre – I want to write 100 books that focus on my favorite topics – and I hope that you’ll stick with me for this journey. If you want, create your own challenge – and tell me about it here!
With that in mind, I’m going to add a section to this website titled The 100 Books Project and we’ll see what happens.
Right now, my list looks like this:
- Zombie Slayer
- Forbidden Timeline
- Poetry from the Heart
- Ghost Book 1
- 1,001 Plots to Get You Started
- Ghost Book 2
- Ghost Book 3
- Writing as Brianna Flannigan: The Pink Book of Romance
Okay, I wasn’t going to say what I said in #8, but it’s out there. I’m rolling with it. I have two alter egos – and Brianna Flannigan is my romance penname. I loved that book…and the guys in it are really awesome.
Agh! I just told one of my biggest writer secrets. Okay, I’m drinking more of this Rockstar. And now you can see what you can accomplish in 1,000 words – and even surprise yourself.
Go, writer, and write.
Like this? Check out the first two editions here: