I had a wonderful time writing Finger Lickin’ Dead, which launched June 7th. I love Lulu, my main character, and loved plotting out the mystery and laying clues—I just had a whole lot of fun.
That’s the reason we writers love to write—it’s fun for us. But what’s not fun sometimes is trying to find time to squeeze in some writing.
Writers want to write. And the biggest thing holding us back is usually the clock. We’re so busy with our jobs, our school, our children, our obligations, that the idea of transferring our story to the page seems like a tremendous obstacle.
I think a change in mindset can really help. I feel like I’m running ragged some days, as I shuttle/herd my children around, but I know that every day I can move my story forward at least a little.
Here’s my tips for keeping your momentum, even on the busiest days:
Take 2 minutes to plan what you want to write the next day. No, not an outline…just a note. This can just be a grocery list type of note: finish scene with Joan telling Bruce that she had an alibi, write description of the protagonist’s kitchen, etc. If you know exactly what you need to write, you won’t waste valuable time trying to figure out where you left off.
Keep your goals attainable. What’s a reachable goal for one person, might not be reachable for someone else. If you set reasonable goals, then you’re setting yourself up for success instead of failure. Years ago, when I had a toddler in the house, I started out with a 15 minute goal each day, which put me at about a page a day. In less than a year, I had a completed first draft. Slow and steady wins the race!
Keep yourself open to writing during your day. This has the added bonus of making your day more interesting, too. If you consciously tell yourself that you’re shopping for ideas, character names, character traits, etc., you’ll be amazed at all the inspiration that comes your way.
Try not to edit yourself. Now I do know some writers who edit as they go and absolutely couldn’t write any other way…but for most of us, editing as we write a first draft can really mess up our progress. I use a different side of my brain when I edit than when I create. Plus, when I notice all the typical first-draft mistakes I’ve made, it tends to make me insecure about my story. I tell myself that everything can be fixed later. If there’s something that I know I need to fix later, I make a note to myself in the manuscript’s margins (Word’s Track Changes is good for that.)
Here’s one of my favorite tips: celebrate your small successes. Why reward yourself only after finishing the book? Treat yourself to some chocolate or a great cup of coffee to celebrate a well-written metaphor, a nice turn of phrase, a plot twist…or just opening up your Word program that day.
I know that squeezing in writing time is a challenge for most of us—and I’d love to hear how you do it. How do you fit writing into your day?
Elizabeth S. Craig writes as Riley Adams. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011, and at Writer’s Knowledge Base.
Follow her on twitter: @elizabethscraig