Writer’s Wisdom 27

Writer’s Time Management and Discipline

If you write for a living,  you know how important it is to keep a schedule.  No matter how you get paid:  by the contract, assignments, upfront, or any other method, time truly becomes money.  As a freelancer, you know that if you don’t put the time, you don’t get the dough.  Any minute wasted is a penny wasted, or a contract.

It is very tempting to wake up late, lolling, have a late breakfast and watch a little TV, turning on your PC and checking out your social networking sites, going into forums, and surfing the net – you get the idea.  By the time you are done playing, you feel the need to check your email again, and again; suddenly realizing that it is time for lunch.  Time flies, you think to yourself (I’m no saint here either).  It is mid afternoon and you are staring at a piece of blank paper or at a blank screen.  You end up feeling guilty, and there goes your inspiration.

If you are serious about earning money while freelancing, then the above picture tells you why it is so important to keep a schedule.  When I started working out of my home, I made up a sign that read:  Working hours from 8-6, please come back later, after 6.00 pm, except for UPS, USPS, Fed EX, and other deliveries.  Thank you.  For me, it was necessary to do this.  I woke up early, got dressed like I was going to a full-time outside job, and kept a working schedule.  That is what works for me.  You have to find your own system, and follow it.

If you listen to some interviews of Best Selling Authors, they mention that they keep a schedule, rise early, and writing is first on the to do list.  Learning to manage your priorities as a freelance writer is of the essence.

Once you become disciplined at this –  and I think this is the hard part – your workday will flow, and you won’t waste precious generating income time.  Also, family members and friends, should be made aware that just because you happen to be home, it does not mean that they can drop by at any time.  This you have to do very subtle, because feelings can be hurt easily.

Sometimes, signs are better than spoken words.

Writer’s Wisdom 26

Scheduling Your Writing Time

Scheduling your time to write is as important as going to work everyday, that is, if you are a serious writer.  If this is how you earn your money, then with more reason.  If you wait for inspiration, your Muse may keep you waiting for an entire day (or days), and you’ll be left without a single written word.

When you set aside a block of time for writing, your brain will start recognizing that period for what it is – writing time.  There are times when inspiration will visit you outside the scheduled time, and by all means, answer your Muse’s call.  But we are not talking here about those instances, we are talking about being disciplined with your writing.  Whatever length of time you have available, will depend on your daily schedule.  Even when you have a hectic pace of life and crazy working hours, if you manage to block even 10 minutes of writing everyday, it will help you hone your writing skills.

 But what if you can’t think of something to write about?  Sit down to write anyway, and start writing anything that comes to mind.  One word will follow the next one, and before you realize it, you will have a paragraph, a page or a couple of sentences on something.  This could become material for future writings, ideas on a theme, or a story might develop from it.

On writing, you don’t know when your next story is going to come from.  Sometimes, it is from a dream; other times, an article you read or a painting you saw. Or maybe, from the chicken scratches left at your scheduled writing time.

Happy writing!

Writer’s Wisdom 25

James Patterson

Today’s spot is dedicated to James Patterson– a genius writer.  With 47 New York Times best selling titles, and more than 170 million books sold worldwide, he seems to be unstoppable and would hold the title of Muse’s King, if there was such.  Is #1 on the New York Times adult fiction and children’s chapter books best seller lists. 

His method is something out of this world.  He is known to have over 15 books going on at the same time, while working on them simultaneously.  Sometimes, doing up to 10 drafts.  He co-authors, and has mention in some interviews that he keeps a file with over three thousand ideas for books.   His outlines are 30-40 pages long; according to him, to keep him organized.  He is a writing machine! 

But not only, is he a writing machine, he is a reading machine too.  He reads 150 books a year.  James Patterson can be called the Madonna of writing; he keeps reinventing himself – and because of that, he is a target for much criticism. 

Despite his huge success as a writer, he keeps a down to earth approach, and  does not take himself to seriously; seems lay back.  He is a family man first, a writer second – although, he is well known as a prolific author. 

He is called America’s #1 Storyteller, and I happen to agree. 


Writer’s Wisdom 24

How do you write?

Best selling author Nora Roberts shared her method to writing in an interview with Borders.

Quote:  “Well, first: There ain’t no muse. If you sit around and wait to channel the muse, you can sit around and wait a long time.” 

She believes that writing is hard work; she works really hard to make her writing “as fluid as possible, as readable and entertaining as possible.”  She writes the first draft, without editing, because according to her, she doesn’t know yet what will happen next.  Once she has down her story, she starts editing, page by page, chapter by chapter.  She pays attention to how it sounds, mistakes, emotion, and adds anything that she needs to.  Once she’s done, she goes back one more time and pays attention to language, rhythm, and that all loose ends are tied.  She makes sure that she has “been true to the story.” 

This is how magic happens to best selling author Nora Roberts.  But there is a method to her magic.  

Today my question to you is:  Are you following your own magic?   

Writer’s Wisdom 23

Writing, Just Do It!

Best selling authors agree on this.  You can take as many creative writing classes and seminars, read books on writing, but if you don’t do it, your knowledge is just that – knowledge.

There is no minimum or maximum amount of pages to write a day.  It is different for everyone, and you should find what works for you.  Best selling author Eloisa James, writes 20 pages a day.  She says that, “writing is hard work; it is tough.” (interview with Borders).  John Grisham from 5-8 + pages a day.  I recommend Janet Evanovich’s book:  How I Write, Secrets of a Best Selling Author.  It is full of information, and real life advice on writing – excellent book for aspiring authors.

One of my favorite quotes, is from best selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon, and has become inspiring to me:  “Over, under, around or through, there’s always a way to get where you want to go; you just have to find it.”

We have to find our own way in writing, our own path.  Debbie Macomber is one of the greatest inspirations in writing.  As told in an interview with Borders, she was dyslexic, and learned to read in the 5th grade.  She is a best selling author, and in her own words:  “I Loooooove to write.”

Author Claire Cook is another inspiration.  She knew all she wanted to do was to write, but it took her 25 years because she was afraid of the big step.  Her recommendation to aspiring writers:  “Just try it; small steps every day take you there.” (Borders)

And who can say it better than one of my favorite authors – The Donald.  In an interview with Borders, for his book Think Big and Kick Ass, he said:  “Keep your left up; never ever quit.” – Donald Trump.

So, if you love writing, but are procrastinating, stop now, go pick up your pen, (or mouse), and let it flow; don’t think about it, just do it! 

Writer’s Wisdom 22

The World(s) in your story

When you are writing a story, immediately, you are confronted with –  where is it taking place?  Time and place are essential to a story, especially in historical novels.  If you are writing about a place in reality, then you have to research its history and what it looks like, and many other details.  When you are writing fantasy or just making up the setting, you are free to give range to your imagination.  The world or worlds that you create are entirely up to you.

Best selling author Gregory Maguire puts it this way: “Your inventive culture/world should be convincing.  Work this world in your mind, even if you do not write all the details in the story.”  (Borders interview)

The important issue here is that you have a clear picture of what your world looks like, feels like, and works like.  When the vision of your world is clear, the characters will move more freely in it, and their interactions will flow easier.  Just because a world is fantasy, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be convincing.  The reader will step inside that world, and navigate around it through its characters.  If you want your reader to keep visiting that world, and exploring it, it is your job as a writer to make it alive for the reader – to make it convincing.  Character creation follow the same rules, your characters should be believable, but where they are interacting should be as well.

Fantasy or reality, the setting of your story will capture the reader or turn him/her away.

Review of RICH & HAPPY by Robert Kiyosaki

The complete title is:  If you want to be RICH & HAPPY don’t go to school.  A work of love, this book presents Robert Kiyosaki’s view of the education system in which we grow up and get educated by.  An eye opener for most, and a sad truth, the book explains how the system prepares you for failure in the future.  It shows you how the harmful programming you received during your school years prevents and sabotages your success.  Robert says it like it is, and doesn’t sugar coat it.  He is also deeply concerned about the wrong programming that has been going on for many generations, and still continues.  While reading these truths, I got chills, and couldn’t help but feel sad for our children; tears streamed down while recognizing some of the patterns, in myself.  A must read for every parent, and teacher, but mostly, for every one of us, who has been educated in the system.

Writer’s Wisdom 21

Writing with Heart

Writing a piece is more than telling a story.  If you are passionate about writing, you write with your heart.  You give something in you, to the story.  Author Harlan Coben expressed in a Borders interview:  “I like to write with heart, otherwise it is not going to work for me.”  I agree with his comment; to make a piece that captures the readers, there has to be passion in it.

Author Wally Lamb expressed:  “Write a book for yourself, and let the readers that have to find it, find it.” 

Another author that follows the same rule is Jamie Lee Curtis.  She told Borders:  “I don’t do it for achievement; it is pure expression for me.”  Another good example of this is best selling author John Grisham.  He writes legal thrillers, mostly, but he says that he writes whatever he wants; he has fun with the genre.  He says he does not know where he is going as far as sticking with a genre.  Some of his books have been made into movies (The Firm, The Appeal).  In his own words to Borders:  “You can’t get too serious, the pages have to turn.”

And perhaps, the best example we have about a best selling author who writes with heart is Stephenie Meyer.  Her first book, Twilight, she wrote for herself – at the kitchen table.  The very successful series followed, and captured the heart of fans all over.

So, next time you pick up your pen (or your mouse), ask yourself this question:  “Am I putting my heart to it?” 

Writer’s Wisdom 20

Age in writing

Age is an important factor in your character’s development.  As you write, you have to address age appropriate dilemmas for your characters.  If you are writing a series, you are presented with the issue of aging your character or keeping it  the same age throughout the series.  The interactions of your characters should be age appropriate, around issues that affect that particular age group.  Marriage dilemmas, teen issues, younger kid’s points of view, all of that is taken into consideration when writing your characters.  In a historical novel, some of this issues differ with modern times, since women got married much younger (in their teens).  Periods in history affect the age issues in a particular piece of writing, so does cultural backgrounds and regional customs.

Although age is not something that has to be mentioned in the story, behavior and setting of the characters should be congruent with it.

Writer’s Wisdom 19

The Inner Critic

We all know the inner critic;  it lives inside us.  It can sabotage our writing at any time – if we let it.  The inner critic creeps out when you least expect it, and takes over your brain, feelings and confidence.  Author Kate Jacobs said in an interview with Borders:  “the secret is being persistent and silencing this inner critic.”

You may be persistent and disciplined, but if you let the inner critic sabotage your writing, then it will paralyze you, and you will end up in a circle of procrastination, or over editing, because the critic says it is not good enough.  Although writing should never be “good enough,” there is a point when you should stop over editing.

Silencing the inner critic is critical if you want to move along with your writing.  Your main concern is to write the piece; once that’s accomplished move on to editing.

So, next time the inner critic shows up, give it a piece of chocolate and keep writing.