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Posts Tagged ‘time’

A tool is something that aids our process.

I think TIME can be one of our greatest tools in the writing trade. Everyone has it. Everyone uses it. It’s how we use it that makes the difference between success and failure.clock

  1. Time to Plan

Preparing ourselves to write is a wise place to start, otherwise our progress (or not) might reflect Stephen Leacock’s Lord Ronald (from Gertrude the Governess) who “rode madly off in all directions.” What is our goal? How do we plan to achieve that goal (break it down into manageable pieces)? You’ve heard this before, but it’s worth repeating.

  1. Time to Think

As writers, we need time to imagine, explore our thoughts, mull over ideas. This is the brainstorming process, or mind-mapping, or whatever we choose to call it. Some writers think about a story for years, then sit down and write it. Some of us have the initial ideas or characters or setting in our minds, but the story only comes into its own once the words hit the page. Whether we think in silence or on paper or screen, we need time to analyze our imaginings. Schedule it.

  1. Time to Write

Whether this is point three or four for you, it’s still an important aspect of our trade. I need something to organize before I can set it to rights. I need to figure out what kind of story I’m writing, and that often only comes once the fingers start tapping keys. If you’d rather organize first, outlining everything down to the chapter, go for it. But eventually, we have to commit this to the characters’ viewpoints and show the story through them.

  1. Time to Organize

There are many methods of organizing our stories. Here are a few I’ve tried:

* Storyboard – buy a science project board for a couple of dollars. It’s already folded into three parts (Acts I, II, III) and works very well for visual writers who need to see the process. Outline your story, broken into acts, with turning points at the end of each act.

* Index Cards – outline each scene in a few words on an index card. You may include the Goal, Conflict, Outcome questions as part of this exercise. Once all scenes are represented on cards, lay them out on a very long table and arrange them the way they make the most sense. You may also use a different color card for each main character so you can see if there’s a proper balance of points of view.

* Sticky Notes – these can be used on the storyboard using different colors for different characters or storylines.

* Spreadsheets – if you have a mind that loves order and charts, use this form to set out scenes, characters, settings, synopses, etc. You can also employ colors for various areas.

NOTE: There are times when all our best-laid plans go awry. Edie Melson writes a helpful post on Novel Rocket that speaks to this: http://www.novelrocket.com/2015/02/writing-through-chaos.html Well worth reading.

There are charts available so you can record and plan every waking hour, down to fifteen-minute segments. If you’re a driven person, try it. If you’re not, save yourself the stress and allow for more latitude. (I use a couple hours each morning for social media and learning. In the afternoon I work on novel drafts or edits and blogs.) However we use our time, we must remember to live. As author Allen Arnold writes, we can be the biggest threat to our novel if we don’t take time to live a little.

 

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photoWhere did the summer go? July, for me, was wonderfully busy with houseguests and family visits, gardening and yard work, summer projects and remembering to relax with my grandkids. But August snuck in on the heels of July and sped off in the direction of autumn. Without warning. As usual.

As I enter the autumn of my life, I realize how much faster time seems to clip by. Time does not stop or even slow for good intentions. So this post is meant to spur all of us on to tackle those plans and dreams still on our bucket lists.

Actually, I don’t have a bucket list. Not being much of a risk-taker, I prefer to avoid flirting with intense discomfort, terror, injury or death. Rather, I make a comprehensive list of things I wish to accomplish in the areas of my interest and expertise. Sure, some of the items on the list force me to stretch and grow, but they are reasonable and attainable. I don’t want to hang-glide (Karen and Katherine can do that) or go deep sea diving (like Deanna and Paul) or float down the Amazon River (Dennis and Liana sent pictures). I’ll read about those experiences and marvel at the photos, thank you very much.

If you are a risk-taker, intent on living life on the edge, then go for it and more power to you, but whatever you want to do, plan for it now, because we don’t even know which season of life we’ll end with.

Some areas into which I plan to push myself, in no particular order, are:

— to learn more about social media and use it for promotional purposes

— to learn more about self-publishing and try it

— to write more books and articles for publication in many forms

— to take time for my family and friends

— to maintain good health, insofar as I am able

The days grow short, as demonstrated by the angst of August. Time to revisit our game plans, review and tweak the steps to our goals, research details and questions. Psalm 103:15-16 (NIV) says, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more…”

Seems to me we’d better make the most of the time we’ve been given. All the best to you as you do so.

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