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Liddy's Favorite Quote
"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we
counted our spoons."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Liddy Midnight weaves spells with her words. Don't miss her!"
~ Maggie Shayne
A frequent topic of discussion when writers gather is the
scarcity of time.
Not just time to write, but time to do everything, from laundry to
plotting. The hectic pace of life continues to accelerate. Or is it just
our imaginations? I don’t think so. We accumulate things as we go
through life: friends, families, pets, commitments, stuff. These things
require maintenance, which equals time. Finding time for ourselves means
we have to establish priorities, and perhaps shed some of the stuff
Either that, or work harder, or smarter. I don’t know about you, but I
like having stuff, and I don’t like to work harder. That leaves working
Finding time means making time. It will not spontaneously pop up in your
schedule, with the notation, “2-5 pm, write whatever you please.” You
can count on an emergency dentist visit to do that, but not the two
chapters you wanted to get done this month. Those you have to fight for.
I haven’t yet won the war, but I’m waging a good battle. My weapons are
lists, schedules, organization, and commitment.
One is to write it on your calendar ahead of time, far ahead of time, so
that you don’t schedule anything else for that slot. Even if you manage
to safeguard only a third of the time you try to block out, you’re that
much ahead of the game. Tip: if you call it something else, your family
is more likely to respect it when writing their commitments on your
calendar. “Alice’s family reunion,” although it doesn’t sound terribly
important, will get more consideration than, “Finish chapter five.” It
may raise some questions about why your husband wasn’t included in the
invitation, but you’re more likely to wind up with the time free for
writing that pivotal scene for Alice.
Another way to wring time out of your schedule is to use some techniques
taught by personal development gurus.
“If you read a lie often enough, you’ll believe it.” This refers to the
power of affirmations. Have you written a goal statement for this year?
If not, now’s the time to do it. It can be as simple as, “In 2000 I will
finish my work in progress,” or as complex as, “In 2000, I will write
three hours a day, finish two books, secure representation by XXXX (fill
in your dream agent’s name), sell three books, and vacation in western
Canada to research my next Silhouette Desire.” Read this aloud morning
and evening. Hang it by your computer, stick it on your mirror, post it
anywhere you’ll see it often. Carry a laminated copy of it with you, and
pull it out when you’re stuck in traffic, in line at the grocery store,
or waiting anywhere. After a while, you’ll believe it, and both
consciously and unconsciously work toward those goals.
Make sure your goals are realistic.The writer who makes the second of
these goal statements, knowing that she or he works two jobs, has three
children and barely enough time to catch five hours’ sleep a night, may
be setting up a failure scenario. Set reasonable goals, just a stretch
beyond what you want. Review your goals quarterly, and scale back if
you’re consistently falling short or push forward if you’re doing better
than you expected. You want to encourage yourself, not labor against
overwhelming odds. Making the commitment, aloud and often, helps
everything fall into place. Yes, you will still have those emergency
dental visits, but you’ll find you can carve out the time you need.
“Recording and reporting progress increases productivity.” This really
makes a difference. If you keep track of your progress and report it to
other people, you’ll find yourself inclined to fire up the computer for
a half hour of writing while you wait to go pick up your daughter after
her scuba diving lesson, when you might otherwise have browsed your TBR
pile or sorted laundry. Sort laundry when you need to develop a plot
complication for chapter nine. Better yet, let your daughter do it while
you teach your husband (or your son!) to make dinner.
Participate in every on-line writing marathon that you can. Don’t worry
about writing less than someone else. Concentrate on writing more than
you did last week, or last month, or last year. Periodic writing
blitzes, like those held by the writers in Compuserve’s Romance Forum,
are a fabulous opportunity to blurt out your story. Once you have it on
the screen, you can clean it up. Until you’ve written it, well, you
haven’t written it!
Don’t Do It Alone: Enlist your family’s help. After all, when you’re up
for a Career Achievement award, when royalty checks with lots of
wonderful digits are rolling in, when you’ve reached the top of every
bestseller list there is, aren’t you going to spend some of that lovely
money on them? That argument may not work, so try this one: You all live
in the house, so you all should contribute to the running of it.
Schedules are wonderful, in terms of everyone knowing what to expect. A
weekly dinner schedule, listing what menus will be served when, posted
in the kitchen, gives the shopper in the family a jumpstart on the list,
and the cook a road map. I stuck a small white board on the freezer
door, where I keep a running list of available snacks and a growing
grocery list. Everyone is expected to erase what they’ve eaten the last
of from the snack list and write it on the store list. I don’t have to
rifle the cupboards as much to see what’s missing, and I get fewer
complaints about there being ‘nothing to eat.’ These are the kinds of
tricks you can do to make your family work for you. Spend a little time
analyzing the areas in which your family can help, and get them started.
Tip: Don’t make the mistake, when divvying up household chores, of
giving yourself all the ones that have to be done regularly. Food
preparation and laundry are essential to life, so spread them around.
Whatever combination of these you choose, give it a try! Change your
life, and give your writing career a boost.
Here’s another truth from the personal development gurus: “If you keep
doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been
Copyright 2004 Liddy Midnight