Tag Archives: a writer’s life

Talkin’ Turkey

turkeyOr How to Carve Out Time for Writing When You Have a Day Job!

Oh, and it’s not JUST writing your novel! Building a social media platform and blogging gobbles up time as well!

So in the honor of Thanksgiving, this blog is dedicated to the many thankful ways this mom-teacher-author makes time for writing.

Writing a novel is a big enough task to swallow, but blogging and tweeting and social media-ing ( yep, I made the word a verb ) means biting off more than you can chew and often having to spit out those chores that are burning yummy writing time.

Here’s my recipe.

 Prep time before work
  • Send out a tweet or 2 while eating bowl of oatmeal
  • post latest blog on Facebook groups ( Monday is a BIG day–make sure to use the #MondayBlogs hashtag)
  • look at last words I wrote of work-in-progress so next scene can marinate while commuting
  • tweet while standing in line at Starbucks
  • note any ideas/keywords/phrases after car is parked
Preheating the creative oven during work
  • tweet or check tweets while walking to bathroom or during passing period
  • any flashes of brilliance are stored in one of my idea vaults ( See Idea Vaults )
Stuffing in the social media data during lunch
  • check Facebook and Twitter
  • read blogs or articles
  • check email
  • save links or forward links to read at home
Basting those priorities while driving home and while running errands ( bank, grocery store, dry cleaners)
  • deciding the best use of my time for the next few hours

Carving those juicy hours. I have only about 3 hours before the brain shuts down and the eyes glaze over, therefore I maximize whatever the brain is capable of.

  • Sizzling hot brain: Excels at plotting, outlining, and writing first drafts. Dinner isn’t happening! Neither is laundry nor any other household task. The phone goes unanswered. I respond with hand signals. ( See Hand Signals for Writers.) This is PRIME time.
  • Room temperature brain: Handles re-writes, editing, and blogging. Making dinner, throwing in a load of laundry, talking to kiddos and hubby,  paying a bill–these don’t require creative intensity. Interruptions are OK, and the family gets dinner.
  • Refrigerator Brain: Capable of tweeting, liking, and commenting on various social media platforms. Cold brain is also good for pinning photos on Pinterest, reading blogs/articles, researching, annotating, reading, and trashing spam. This is my “down time.”

Those three hours during the weekday are deliciously precious. I don’t watch TV; however, I will watch something on Netflix while on the treadmill.

The Smorgasbord Weekend
  •  This is the time I get the most accomplished and when the most progress is made on a manuscript. I work from morning until my vision gets blurry because without the 1 &1/2 hr commute, the 200+ student questions, and 5 am wake time the ol’ sizzling brain stays hot.

Why it’s gravy: I love writing and enjoy the entire process so it’s not work—it’s a joy.

Writer’s Hierarchy of Needs

Psychologist Abraham Maslow is best known for his theory about human motivation, aka the hierarchy of needs. He believed that basic needs must be fulfilled before an individual can progress to higher levels. For example, an individual cannot realize their self-potential ( the highest level ) if the basic necessities of food and shelter are not met.

Sounds reasonable, right?

Anyone who’s ever taken a Psychology 101 class is familiar with the conceptualized pyramid denoting the levels.

Well, it struck me that writers have a hierarchy of needs of their own that must be satisfied  before they can hope to achieve creative greatness.

Writers hierarchy of needs

 

Physical needs: Writers don’t need much–our minds are full enough. However, coffee to awaken the Muse, snacks for feeding the Muse, a computer ( or notebook and pen in a crunch ) and the happy hormones found in chocolate are writing staples.

 

Safety: Internet connections help us research and connect with friends. With a flash drive or Cloud we rest easy knowing our masterpiece is safe from virtual viruses. Any writer losing their work or revisions to a computer crash remembers the agony of their genius vanishing like dust in the wind. ( cue “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas )

Love & Belonging: We might be solitary folk, happy retreating into our creative cave, yet we need the fellowship of FaceBook , Instagram, Google +, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We seek validation not only from other writers but from reviewers, readers, and  friends. There is safety in numbers, in belonging to groups where the written word reigns supreme and reading is revered!

Esteem: We are fragile sorts, our egos crushed daily by plot flaws, meager word count, and scenes refusing to flow. So thus we turn away from the story, casting our attentions to the Likes, Tweets, ReTweets, and hits on our social media. Sadly, they validate us, at least for the moment. And when our confidence is lifted by enough Likes and RT’s we venture back into our novel.

Self-Actualization: Having attained our needs we are now eager to plunge into the story. We conjure the Muses and force them to do our bidding. Words flow from our brain, pass the heart, and course through our fingertips. Reality vanishes and we are happy, our Zen restored.

 So should you experience the horrors of writer’s block, fear not!
It’s not you!
Your Pyramid of Writer’s Needs is not being met! 

 

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’ & Rx for Writer’s Block

Dog Days of Writing

bradley at computerHas your writing gone to the dogs? Are you in need of some insPAWration?

There are days whendoggone it—writers feel like they’re workin’ like a dog with nothing to show for it.

 

 

IN THE DOG HOUSE

  • Is your manuscript on a genre leash?
  • Are you chewing on the bones of a plot devoid of meat?
  • Does the manuscript need to be groomed and the adverbs trimmed?
  • Does the diction needs a good brushing with tone?
  • Does the manuscript need a dose of Frontline weak verb repellent?
  • Are you trying to breath life into an old dog manuscript instead of romping away with a new one?
  • Dog-tired with editing?
  • Growling at a plot snafu?

bradley readingBEST IN SHOW

  • Feeling like you have a dog’s chance of getting an agent?
  • Not getting any ” hot diggity dog” replies after sending all those queries?
  • Feel like you’re barking at the moon when you send those queries?
  • Are you showing a dogged determination to have your query and ms be the pick of the slush litter?
  • Are you barking up the wrong agent tree?
  • Are you sniffing around for the best way to build your author platform?

AT THE DOG PARK

  • Do you have a bone of contention with someone in your critique group?
  • Are you still licking your wounds over a beta reader’s comments?
  • Did you join a writing group expecting belly rubs and “atta boys” only to play fetch with another pup’s manuscript?
  • Feeling a breed apart from all the authors and wanna-be’s?

THE POUND

  • Suspicious of writers making up shaggy dog stories about their successes?
  • Feeling meaner than a junk yard dog after being bitten by a troller?
  • Are you inadvertently biting the hand that feeds you with posts and tweets that insult your readers ( or potential readers) ?
  • Is your tail between your legs after a social media gaffe?
  • Are you guilty of begging for Facebook likes and Twitter retweets?

Howl if you must, but it’s time to put on the dog, play “Who Let the Dogs Out” and let loose the dogs of writing!

A bark of thanks goes to my daughter for sending photos of her very cooperative poodle!

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’ and Rock Your Writing

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One-liners for Writers

one-linersIconic movie lines. Everybody knows them. We all quote them. And as writer’s we understand the value of a great one-liner. Famous movie lines also come in handy during  the course of a  writer’s day.

Here’s a few of my favorites, served with a side of snarky-sassy commentary.

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” ( Gone With The Wind )
  • All purpose response to anything that stops you from writing, be it a discouraging remark from a ‘friend’ to a disheartening blog post about the realities of publishing.
Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” ( Wizard of Oz )
  • A sentiment expressed by many wanna-be authors after listening to an agent panel discuss the publishing biz.
Go ahead, make my day.” ( Dirty Harry )
  • Feeling ( on the QT ) when you’ve discovered you have a troller blowing up your twitter feed.
May the Force be with you.” ( Star Wars )
  • My wish to newbies heading to their first pitch session.
“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” ( Network )
  • Shout directed to a paragraph or sentence that refuses to be written correctly.
“You can’t handle the truth!” ( A Few Good Men )
  • I might be wrong about this, but I think literary agents would like to say this to Does-My-Novel-Suck inquiring newbies.
“There’s no crying in baseball!” ( A League of Their Own )
  • Good to say to the mirror after receiving a rejection.
“You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” ( Jaws )
  • Response to folks who ask if their Once In A Blue Moon blog will build their writer platform.
Hasta la vista, baby.” ( Terminator )
  • Best spoken after hitting the SEND button on your unsolicited emailed query.
I’ll be back.” ( Terminator )
  • Directed at manuscript at the end of the day.
Badges?  We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinking badges.” ( The Treasure of the Sierra Madre )
  • Perfect reply when your writer’s conference name tag is left in the hotel room and you need to get into the auditorium to hear the keynote speaker.
“Houston, we have a problem.” ( Apollo 13 )
  • Good for anytime you’re trying to figure out a new writing program or new social media platform.
“I feel the need—the need for speed!” ( Top Gun )
  • Thoughts of many a writer trying to juggle all their social media accounts.
“Snap out of it!” ( Moonstruck )
  • Spoken by family or friends when a writer is in the zone.
“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!” ( The Wizard of Oz )
  • Addressed to the adverbs still hiding in your manuscript.
“Nobody puts Baby in a corner.” ( Dirty Dancing )
  • Expressed after scheduling a free ebook giveaway.
“I’m the king of the world!” ( Titanic )
  • Spoken upon landing an agent and/or publishing deal.

What favorite movie line do YOU use?

Related Links: Readin’ & Writin’

 

Writer’s Hand Signals


l.z. marie typingWhen writers are on a roll—watch out! We don’t like to stop for fear of losing our train of thought, especially if we’re having one of those days when we can’t type fast enough! You know what I’m talking about! The entire scene is THERE—the dialog, mood, imagery—the words flowing from your brain, through your heart, and into your fingertips—the story bursting with—WHAM!
“Hon, where’s my jacket?”
“Mom, what’s for dinner?”

Your Rocket of Creativity just did a nosedive into the Ocean of Interruptions.

Been there, have you?

Without being aware it was happening, I developed hand signals to communicate with my family when I was ‘in the zone.’ And without realizing it, they began interpreting and translating those hand signals. It’s working rather well. Everybody’s happy and mom doesn’t have to lose her train of thought mid…um…uh… sentence.

Mom’s Hand Signals

1. Hand out in cupped position: I smell food or hear the crinkling of snack food wrapping being opened. Give me some.
Family’s interpretation: Will we ever get another home cooked meal again?

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2. One finger held up: Give me one minute and I’ll answer your question.
Family’s interpretation: Mom’s “one minute” is like a pro basketball minute—mom is incommunicado for about 30 minutes.

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3. Two fingers held up: Give me two minutes before I answer your question.
Family’s interpretation: Mom is in the zone with a scene, don’t bug her for at least an hour. Note: UK readers will need to substitute another sign here.

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4. Hand holding wallet. I’m too busy to go to the grocery store. Buy whatever food or personal grooming supplies you need.
Family’s interpretation: Carl’s Junior, anyone?

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5. Hand holding card. Get me Starbucks.
Family’s interpretation: Can I have everyone’s Starbucks order? Mom’s buying.

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6. Hand palm-side out. Stop talking to me, I’m not listening.
Family’s interpretation: Why can’t we have a normal mom?

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7. Index finger pointed to left. Make sure the dog has food and water.
Family’s interpretation: Mom can’t remember if she fed the dog.

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8. Back of hand. Bye. I love you. Drive safe. Have a good round of golf.
Family’s interpretation. Do you think mom heard anything we said?
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9. No photo needed. Flipping the bird. Note: I do not have young children.
Family’s interpretation. Mom heard our smart ass remark.

 

See any hand signals you can integrate into your writing life?

Related Links:  Rock Your WritingSymbolism & more symbols;
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