Now, what was I talking about? 5 sure-shot methods for managing distractions.

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At the last brainstorming session, we bitches thought ‘Managing Distractions’ would be a great topic for the month of April. It was just the other day, amidst a few months of an uninterrupted, gale force work-icane, that my handy phone calendar dinged at me…

“Do wordbitches post,” it read. I promptly moved that ‘to-do’ item to the next day, a habit I have fallen into of late.

I’m sure those of us working two jobs, one to pay the bills and the other to pay the soul, will understand the pleasure of deferring action. After all, why do today when you can put it off until tomorrow.

The following day, my calendar dinged again… “Do wordbitches post” it nagged. And here I am, feeling fully qualified to expound on methods to manage distractions due to my ineptitude of doing just that.

  1. Do not put off today what you can do tomorrow. Do it now. Do it even if you don’t want to because, if you push it until tomorrow, you’ll start a pile up of things-to-do. A thousand word count day today, if pushed to tomorrow, becomes a two thousand-word count day.
  2. Use the tools. In my business and writing life, when things are flying fast and furious, I use my contact manager and calendar on my Apple devices to their fullest. In the busy times, I call these my brain because unloading tons of tasks and itemizing duties frees up brain space for other things. It also gives you defined goals. It feels good to cross things off the to-do list.
  3. Set the word goals and stick to them at all costs. In a previous post on wordbitches, the use of Scrivener was discussed. This is not just a great program for organizing plot, character and story, it has a motivating schedule (your daily word count goals) that can drive you to complete an otherwise floundering piece of writing.
  4. Turn off the phone and social media apps. Better yet, take social media off of mobile devices entirely. It’s much too tempting to take a five-minute break to catch up on the latest Facebook posts and Tweets. Half an hour later, you’re up to date on who is complaining about people’s driving habits and who got the wrong Starbucks order, sure, but you’re out a solid block of writing time and your flow is completely disrupted.
  5. Block separate times for your writing and your distractions. Prioritize your time into blocks. A half hour of solid writing is more valuable than an hour of writing time that’s interrupted by the phone and checking your favorite writing-themed websites.

 And on that note… isn’t there something you should be doing?

Posted in Books, General Mess, Making Time, Writing Process, Writing Tips | Leave a comment

Revise with Someone New

Spring Wordbees 1

I’m in the process of revising one manuscript while I’m beginning to write another.  Revising is a slow and painful process and I’d much rather spend my time watching Beverly Hills 90210.  I need deadlines.

Writing groups are wonderful for deadlines.  You need to write something for the other people to read.  I used to think I needed a writing group of five or six people to be official.  I couldn’t find five or six people to meet twice a month to exchange writing.  (Brenda and Kelly probably could have.)

I was frustrated until I realized that I train for races with just one other person.  When I make running or swimming dates, I keep them because I know someone else will be there.  In fact, I was more determined to get there when only one other person was waiting for me.  There would be no one to take my place if I just stayed home.  I decided the same could apply to writing.

Instead of looking for a whole group of people, I found one.  We meet every other week.  We enjoy each others’ writing and give helpful suggestions and criticism.  Just like with training, it’s actually more pressure to have something to share when there is just one other person.  In a group,  someone generally has something so you can slip under the radar and not share anything.   In my case, if I don’t write, my writing partner doesn’t read anything.  It puts more pressure on me to have something to give her.  She feels the same.

It’s helped immensely to force me to revise and rewrite.

It’s also easier to find one person instead of five or six.  I’ve found writing partners through NaNoWriMo, writing conferences, and writing classes.

In this springtime of renewal and rewriting, I suggest finding someone new to share your writing with and see what they have to say about it.   It will force you to write.  I guarantee it or your money back.

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How to Avoid Revision Hell

Spring Wordbees 1

Spring is almost here. Seriously, it’s supposed to be almost here. I’m writing this while wearing fingerless gloves and a shawl over my hoodie, and I’m practically sitting on an electric room heater. It’s -20 deg Celsius outside (without windchill) and my basement office tends to reflect those temperatures.

Springtime for most people is either about renewal of life or spring cleaning. I propose for us writers it should be about both. Renewing the life in your WIP and cleaning it up. What does this mean to me? You guessed it… Revision! Everyone’s favourite. Not.

At the moment I’m working on a shiny new project that I love and that I plan to Indie pub in the fall. (Yup, I’m gonna make that leap and I’ll drag you guys along with me.) I’m also working on revising a YA novel that’s dragging on forever. I always seem to be able to finish my first draft in a decent time, but the revising and rewriting kill me. It takes forever! I am truly in Revision Hell and I don’t know where the emergency exits are.

I’m a big proponent of writing a fast, hot, messy first draft and then polishing later. Or at least I have been until now. I still believe in writing fast and hot (no second guessing!) but messy is something that I don’t want to be anymore. If you write fast and hot then there will be days (weeks?) when you write utter crap. It’s unavoidable.  Or is it?

If you haven’t read Rachel Aaron’s blog post on how she went from Writing 2000 words/day to 10 000 then you must check it out. (Mind boggling word counts, eh?) But even if you’ve only got thirty minutes a day to write and you struggle to eek out 200 words, this post and her methods can help you. They’re helping me.

She details three things that you must have in order to achieve maximum word count. Knowledge, Enthusiam and Time. I’m going to talk about just one aspect today. Knowledge. This means knowing what you’re going to write before you start typing.

Having knowledge of the scene you’re going to write means writing longhand what the scene entails BEFORE YOU START WORD COUNT FOR THE DAY. And not the single sentence that we all use when we’re plotting, but exploring the ins and outs of the scene. Detail what’s going to happen step by step. Not only does this let the words flow faster when you’re writing because you know exactly what you’re doing, but it will also show you possible dead ends, it will let you explore those character conversations that you think might be a good idea but turn out to be shit, it will save you time later when it comes to… REVISION and REWRITING.

At least that’s what I’m hoping. I’m scheduled to be finished my new story at the end of the month. I’m hoping by using Rachel’s methods I won’t be stuck in Revision Hell with this story. It doesn’t mean I won’t revise, just that I’ll only be visiting hell and not occupying my permanent cell there.

So have you heard of her method’s? What do you think of them? What do you do to avoid Revision Hell?

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