The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. **Mark Twain

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hard work is important

This blog is about the "soul" of a writer.  It's not my job to teach you how to write...but rather to keep you writing.  Since we all receive those dreaded rejection letters....I thought we should take a moment to laugh and realize that we probably are doing better than we think.  Imagine if the following letter was a proposal for a writing assignment. 


To hoom it mae cunsern,
I waunt to apply for the job what I saw in the paper.
I can Type realee quik wit one finggar and do sum a counting..
I think I am good on the phone and I no I am a pepole person,
Pepole really seam to respond to me well.

I no my spelling is not to good but find that I Offen can get a job thru my persinalety.
My salerery is open so we can discus wat you want to pay me and wat you think that I am werth,
I can start emeditely. Thank you in advanse fore yore anser.


Yore best aplicant so farr.



Now don't you feel better?  At least you know how to use spell check.  As we all know, working hard at your craft does pay off.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Schedule

If you want to be tested on any particular issue....just write it down or announce it to the world and boom!  Testing is bound to come.

The last 2 1/2 weeks have been a blur of illness, legal matters, writing deadlines etc....blah, blah, blah....

Everyone has those issues.  Some popular authors have worked on their schedules long enough that they seem to take those issues in stride.  Lately I've felt like a Texas Cowboy trying to herd thousands of cows without any help.  I crack the whip on one end and get that area in line only to have to rush to the opposite end and crack the whip there.

I DO HAVE GOOD NEWS.......the more I work with my schedule, the easier it gets to say no to some things and to stay in line with my goals.

Here's what I'm doing now.

1.  I'm being good to myself.  NO more guilt.  You see...I love people and I hate the thought that they might think I don't care or that I'm putting them off.  Often that's meant that I've had to stop my writing in order to accommodate their needs.  Of course, I would never tell someone in an emergency that I couldn't stop...but I'm redefining emergency.  I'm giving myself permission to say no to things like, "Do you have a minute to talk?"  That's a one talks for just a minute. 

I'm learning to say, "I'm in the middle of writing.  This will take me about an hour.  Can I call you back then?  I really must meet this deadline."  Most people are willing to wait and it's giving me a little more freedom to stay on task during the day.  In fact, just last week that philosophy helped me stay on task and sell another article.  That's just cool!

2.  I'm trying to set actual work hours.  I imagine this "boss" in my head that insists that I meet my writing goals for the day no matter what.  I've even imagined that I had to call in sick.  My boss (I've named him GW) asked if I couldn't just come in and make a few notes for him.  I pushed my aching arm and sat at my desk and did the one finger typing thing - all because GW needed me.  I know....sounds like one of those flaky psycho tricks....but it has helped.  I'm getting my head in line with the knowledge I've always known - writing is a business and you must have some structure for it to work.

3.  I've made a list of every writing project I feel is important enough to complete.  That list is sitting by my monitor.  It's my goal for the month and for the year.  I have to admit that at first it was discouraging and overwhelming.  But when I added the following it became an exciting encouragement.

4.  Every morning I begin my day by praying over my list.  I ask God to give me the energy and the "expertise" to know how to accomplish those goals.  Knowing that I have a partner in this helps me to stay focused and to know where to go for strength when I'm tired.

5.  My plan today is to make a list of the things I have accomplished in my writing career.  Every time I'm discouraged I plan to go over the list for a quick look back at the things I have accomplished! 

Please write and let me know what you are doing to stick to your schedule.  I would love to share those thoughts with others.

God loves you and has called you to write,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is it possible for any author to follow a schedule?

Over the course of my writing career I've made hundreds of schedules.  I've written them out, plugged them into computer programs, used sticky notes, tried to keep it in my head and left messages all over the house.  I've used calendars, lists, notecards and e-mails.  I've written everything down, prioritized and edited until only two items remained.  I've tried to think ahead, think behind and not think at all.

I'm frustrated and sick of the whole process.  Yet, I understand that without some type of structure...without some type of schedule - my writing will never be produced.  Why is it necessary to talk about schedules here?  After all, aren't you supposed to be writing about my mental frustrations as a writer? 

If you can't produce and you can't tame your will always be depressed about your writing because you can't sell something you don't have finished!  It's important to your mental state of mind that we work on a schedule so you can get on with your writing.

Please understand that I don't evade my work.  I love my work and avoiding it isn't something that I ever think about doing.  But...there's always someone, something or some problem that seems so pressing that it pushes and pushes until my writing time is cut down to only a few minutes.  It's at that point that I have to choose between my books or my blogs or that great new article for some magazine.  If only I could spend an entire day writing. my working outside the home friends says...."If only I could have one Saturday or week-end a month to devote completely to my writing."

As authors we must have that quiet alone time to write.  If we are to produce the work that God has called us to do....we must have time to do it.  The only way to make that time is to schedule.  But how?

Yesterday I had planned to tell you exactly how I was going to do it.  I had new plans and I was sure they would work.  Yesterday was no different than any other.  I tried to write and my arm just wouldn't cooperate.  I tried to get my arm settled down and had to take two phone calls.  "Debbie!"  Ron called with an emergency that just wouldn't wait.  My pitiful schedule was ruined....again.  I sat at my desk and cried.  "Lord please help me.  I need a plan."  The thought came to me that I've always started my plans by writing down what I wanted to do.  But...I've never investigated what I actually do during any one day. 

Hum....So, today I started by writing down the hours and plugging in my day - as it happened.  I'm hoping that this will give me an idea of how many times I'm interrupted and for what reason.  Then perhaps I'll be able to either schedule around them or find a way to move those things to another slot and make way for more writing. 

I have an idea of what Today looked like.  Tomorrow I'll document my day again but...I'll also try to move around 30 minutes here or there and see if I can work within the confines of the sort of schedule already in place.

Wish me luck!

Let me know how you plan your days.

God loves you and has called you to write.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Distractions can destroy an Author's productivity

"I'm gonna write a book....."

"I've got a great idea for an article...."

"I know I could be a great writer if...."

I've often felt sorry for people who have wonderful ideas but can't seem to produce the work.  In fact....just between you and me....there have been times when I've wondered if I should go over and stand in their line.  It seems when I feel the most inspired to "produce" that's when I'm also the most distracted.  Someone calls, another person begs for help, an emergency e-mail pops up or my wonderful handsome husband announces he wants to take me to lunch. 

None of those are bad....but when added together they can rob an author of the time needed to produce.  Successful authors must have quality "butt in chair" time in order to produce good work. 

There are a lot of great books that deal with time management.  There are books just on time management and books that get specific with special plans for authors.  My favorite is the book by Jim Denny, Quit your day job!   It's a wonderful book that covers all the bases.  In Chapter two he helps the reader determine if he's serious about being an author.  He asks the question, "Do you write at least an hour a day, every day?"  How can you call yourself a writer if you are not writing at least an hour a day in your spare time?  He then goes on to say, If you can't find time to write, make time.  Get up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later.  If you're not writing an hour a day, you haven't developed the discipline and focus to write full time.

Sounds pretty harsh and yet he's absolutely right.  Many people often have desires and dreams, but in reality they don't have the drive or passion to make those dreams come true. 

Now before you get upset and start praying for me to wake up tomorrow with a thousand wrinkles - having unfulfilled desires isn't a bad thing.  Sometimes those dreams can carry us through tough times or help us face an unfulfilled life with the hope that maybe will all fall into place.  No one is knocking the fact that you do have dreams.

But...if you are ready to make those dreams a reality, then the reality is that you will have to design a schedule, stick to it and produce the work.  There's just no way around that fact. 

When I was younger I dreamed of playing the piano.  I loved piano players.  What fun to plop down and instantly create all sorts of tunes that would take listeners on a journey through their emotions.  Unfortunately for me, I didn't have the talent or the drive to make my hands learn the necessary steps.  As a teen I remember talking to a young classical pianist.  She could play Bach and Beethoven and transition to jazz and pop.  I leaned on the upright piano in the choir hall and dreamed out loud.  "I would give anything if I could play like you."  She smiled back and said..."I did."

If you want to be a writer and to serve God with your talents, you can find a way.  It's not impossible.  It won't cost much....just everything you have."

All this week we will go through the process of finding time to write.  Join me as I plan my schedule and get down to business.

God loves you and has called you to write,