Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Write Time

© Marta Stephens 2009 all rights reserved

Here it is, Wednesday. My day to post and all my story and blog ideas are on my PC at the local computer shop getting a nasty, malicious virus it caught over the weekend cleaned up. Thank goodness I have my laptop, but it left me unprepared for my post this week. So I hope you don’t mind that I went digging for something I could update from one of my other blogs.

Anyway, what’s the question I’m asked most often? “When do you find time to write?” Answer: I’d love to say I jump out of bed at four in the morning, go jogging for an hour and then sit down for the next several hours to write with a cup of flavored coffee by my side.

The only thing that gets me out of bed at four in the morning is the neighbor’s barking dog and if I ever went jogging my husband would think I’d lost my mind. I continue to work full time and we’re on summer hours that begin at seven-thirty so not much time to do anything in the AM during the week. To make up for it, I do a bit of writing during my lunch break and of course at night. On the weekends though I continue to get up around six and then I do write for four to five hours at a time—sometimes more.

Over all, my writing schedule has changed dramatically over the years. Also, where I am in the manuscript has a great deal to do with how time I need to work on it.

When the writing bug first bit me, I used to work writing into my schedule much like I would a hobby. I set it aside and picked it up as time permitted. But the more I learned about the craft, my characters, and all the other wonderful things that go into writing well, the more I enjoyed its and thus, my writing time quickly moved up on my list of priorities.

Now that I have two books published, the first draft completed on the third book in my Harper Series, and I’ve start work on an entirely new book, writing has become my second job, therefore I treat it as such. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to say that writing has turned into a cold, heartless business. Absolutely not! Rather, I give it the time it deserves.

My best advice to those still trying to fit writing into their day is; organize your time, prioritize the tasks, establish a schedule, and delegate, delegate, delegate. The first thing I had to admit to myself was that I couldn’t write and continue to do all the things that I had been accustomed to doing. Eventually I learned to say: “No.”

The day job is a must. It pays for my paper, ink cartridges, postage, and entry fees. It also helps pays for little things like the mortgage and all the things that make this house a home. I can, however, take control of my time.

Weekends are still errand days, but I don’t drag them out into an all day affair and I do them only after I get my morning writing time in. I working a bit of housework into the afternoon as well but if it doesn’t get don’t I panic and neither does anyone else. In fact, there have been times I’ve threatened to give the dust bunnies names. Ha!

Learn to delegate. Everyone in my family knows how to run the sweeper and my favorite small kitchen appliance is my crock-pot cook; better it cook all day than me. Our son is in charge of the trash detail and mows the lawn. When I least expect it, he cooks too.

The secret is for each person to find the schedule that works best for them. I’ve found that the key to success in any venture though is dedication and consistency so don’t allow yourself to get distracted. Prioritize your tasks and establish a routine you can adhere to.

My house isn’t as spotless as it used to be and granted, the weeds in the flower beds have gotten a little out of hand again this summer, but it’s still home. And I have to say, I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family who lets me indulge in my passion. So, as long as I can get at least four to five hours of writing in each day, I’m happy as if I were in my right mind.

Now ... go write!

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Marta Stephens is the author of the Sam Harper Crime Mystery series published by BeWrite Books (UK)

THE DEVIL CAN WAIT – (2008), Bronze metal finalist, 2009 Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), Top Ten, 2008 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)

SILENCED CRY (2007), Honorable Mention, 2008 New York Book Festival, Top Ten, 2007 Preditors and Editors Reader Poll (mystery)


Shirley said...

I really enjoyed the comment you made about starting out grabbing time when you felt like it, but as you learned your craft and characters, you found more time to write.

I find time for short stories, but I also want to finish a novel, so maybe confidence will come with practice.

s.w. vaughn said...

In more than ten years of writing, I've truly come to believe that habit is just as important, if not more important, than "talent."

Once you make writing a habit, your skills will improve. It's an amazing thing.

So - do what Marta says and WRITE! :-)

Kim Smith said...

great post Marta!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Wonderful advice, Marta! Thanks!

J D Webb said...

Thanks for your tips and advice. Writers are a friendly lot in most cases. It applies here in each case.
J D Webb