Monday, December 29, 2008

Writers Write. Everyone Else Makes Excuses

-- Jack Bickham.

So what's your excuse for not writing?

In truth--I really don't want to hear your excuses, and I doubt if you really want to hear mine. We both know we have a drawer full of sorry rationalizations, when we should have a drawer full of manuscripts, short stories or articles to peddle.

Here we sit on the brink of a new year, and there nothing is more promising than those 365 days in front of us.

A clean slate, crisp and blank for us to write our future upon.

Several weeks ago Seekerville guest Lenora Worth, shared some powerful words. Words worth repeating. They really seared my conscience and I hope they do yours also:

"We should never take our talents lightly or squander them away. So if you’re reading this and you’re down or wondering why you should keep trying, remember you have a responsibility to develop your talent and your craft because there just might be one person out there waiting to read YOUR story."

This certainly casts a new light on your writing doesn't it?

Instead of condemning yourself for not giving enough to every other area of your life, keep in mind that your writing is your calling, and you have an obligation and responsibility to that calling too.

With this in mind I am making a list of ten. Ten excuse busters. Ten things I can do. I don't have to do them all everyday but I can do at least one of them each day.

Tina's List of Ten

1. I will carry index cards and pen with me at all times to jot down conversations and ideas.

2. I will not check my email when I am supposed to be writing.

3. If I have insomnia I will turn it into productive time by at very least researching something from my WIP or for a non fiction article.

4. When I am "stuck" in a story I won't waste valuable time: I will move to another project.

5. Instead of hitting the snooze button, I will get up 15 minutes earlier each day and write, because those fifteen minutes translate to 5,475 minutes of extra writing time a year, and seven and a half more hours of writing time a month.

6. When I suspect I will be waiting in line somewhere, I will print out pages to revise as I wait.

7. I will give up one television show in 2009 for 4 extra hours of writing time each month.

8. By making my lunch the night before and planning my clothes (ugh!) I can leave for work at 6:15 instead of running out the door at 6:30 and avoid traffic. I will arrive at work 15 minutes early and can read a writing craft book for 15 minutes and/or revise my WIP.

9. This year I will try that trick of leaving your manuscript mid-sentence when you are done for the day, in an effort to jumpstart my next day's writing.

10. If I don't feel like writing I will write story starters.

That's it. Pretty simple, right?

In 2009 I challenge you to create your own List of Ten.


"What have you done today to make your dream come true?"--Karen King

"Ultimately you have to choose your writing over something else. It has to become a priority. Only the writer can decide what you are going to carve out of your life in order to fit this in."
-- David Ebershoff

"Half of getting what you want is knowing what you have to give up to get it."
--Bill Phillips.

"The person who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones."
--Chinese Proverb


Jessica said...

Great quotes Tina!
I'll add my own buster:
I will NOT watch House instead of writing.
Thanks for the end of the year wake up call!

Tina M. Russo said...

Have you ever noticed that it is really hard to kick yourself in the behind.

Janet Dean said...

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Tina, even if it hurts. I admit to wasting time with e-mail and the Internet. I'm blowing the cob webs off my timer.


Ane Mulligan said...

My dad used to carry index cards in his shirt pocket next to his pen. He was foreer jotting down notes. Thanks for the memory. :)

I have a small index-card-sized notebook I carry. I can always rip the page out if necessary, but it has an eleastic band to mark the next blank page. And I use it constantly.

Cara Slaughter said...

I notice I waste time whether or not I'm busy or have all the time in the world. For me it's a lack of discipline, not free time to write. Even though I have lots of commitments, I can make time to write if I really want to. No more excuses.

Tina M. Russo said...

Ane, I used to carry cards all the time and got out of the habit. I would write bits of conversation down or ideas, or incidents I observed. Then I dated them and put them in a little file (recipe type) box.

They were wonderful story starters, or idea joggers.

Since you are taking me down memory lane, here are a few I still have in there:

1. OCS --overcommitted syndrome-- June 2004

2.Don't look at me with that tone of voice.--March 8, 2005

3. "Someday I hope to enjoy enough of what the world calls success so that somebody will ask me "What's the secret of of it?" I shall simply say this..."I get up when I get down." Paul Harvey --July, 2000.

Ann said...

I have a small spiral notebook around here somewhere.

I do have a lot of set and wait time while picking up the kids after church or school activities. Thanks for a reminder of how to use those minutes!

Happy New Year, everybody!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, Great ideas. I'm writing each one down and am going to add a few of my own. What I really should do is get rid of freecell. loll

Anyway thanks for the kick start for the new year.

Mary Connealy said...

I used to tear stories out of newspapers, odd occupations, odd crimes, odd personality quirks and keep a file. Then, I'd finish a book without an idea (something that rarely happens because I've always got another idea percolating) I could go to that file and sift through it and there'd be those stories.

Buffalo Gal, my Oct. release from HP is a story that came from that habit.
Now, instead of a real file, I keep a computer file of ideas.
It sort of helps get a little, pestering, haunting idea out of my head so I can focus on the book I'm currently writing.

Tina M. Russo said...

Just for one second I would like to be a cell in your brain, Mary. Talk about a lot going on!!!!

lynnrush said...

GREAT POST! Nice tips. I'm getting so pumped for 2009 reading all these encouraging, goal-driven blogs....


Pam Hillman said...

I keep ideas on the computer, but I wonder if it would be more fun to keep them in a box somewhere where they're easily accessible. Just the idea of doing something "out of the box" you know. Something worth thinking about.

What have I done today? Read Tina's post and have plans to figure out how to get workshops on my new iPod!

And last night before I dozed off I brainstormed a final scene I need to add to my 99.999% completed WIP.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks Lynn. I'm with you. I am really jazzed for 2009. I have a new project ready to begin with my sister who is a writer and a few other tricks up my sleeve. It's going to be a great year.

Pam, I like having them at my fingertips also.

Tina M. Russo said...

I'm passing along a message from Lenora Worth who is having trouble getting into Blogger. BAD BLOGGER!!


Tina, how nice to see my quote on your blog. Now I need to listen to my own advice. I love the New Year because it gives us a clean slate, or in this case, a clean slate! So I'm challenging everyone here to WRITE something every day. Just one SOMETHING!!!! For that one person out there waiting for your words!
From Love Inspired Suspense:
The CHAIM series:
Heart of the Night (January 2009)
Code of Honor (April 2009)

Erica Vetsch said...

oooo Number 2 is soooo painful.

I like to take my writing show on the road to someplace that doesn't have wireless access, so I'm not as tempted to check email or surf for a little research. When I'm home, the temptation looms large.

Tina M. Russo said...

Hey,that's my List of Ten. I want to hear yours.

Dig deep, come on.

How are you going to stop making excuses in 2009?

Kimberli said...

I'm guilty of the email thing--and posting comments on a blog or two--but I write regardless of the circumstances. I'm chapters away from finishing my fifth novel. I'm revising my second novel-again. I'm making notes for a new project and all the while, I update my blog each week.

If you don't mind my taking more space, I'd like to share something I sent to my writers group for anyone who needsit, and then I'll get back to my story. Note: I'm not a poet, but it comes across that way. Happenstance :o)

December is about to end.
Time for a new year, new goals
Let's put aside the disappointments of the past
The setbacks (wow, they hurt, didn't they?)
Chalk it up to another day at the office
It's part of the process, after all
Paying dues, they still call it

In 2009 we'll write.
We'll assess our skills
Do what we can to improve
But beyond that, let's have fun
Go to a conference. Meet other writers
Talk. Share our war stories
Sit down with an editor or agent
Ask them what they think

After all, we're writers
We hear the call
Words flow from our fingers unbiddened
We have stories to tell
And we'll tell them
While the Lord leads the way

Happy New Years. Here's hoping for a great year, no matter what happens.

Patricia W. said...

Wow, Tina! When you give a kick in kick hard!

I like the idea of ten things I will do. I will carry a small notebook (works better for me than index cards). I will give up a lot of TV watching and some (not all) book reading.

Audra Harders said...

Your top ten list takes me back to the days when I first started to write. When I wasn't so slothy. When my fingers itched to write. Good to remember those feelings.

Okay, 15 minutes earlier in the morning. Not to write, but to do all those nagging things that keep me from writing in the evening : )

And, I will take all those piles of stuff that needs to be filed and file them! Organization is definitely my downfall, but it's a goal to pursue.

Good, good stuff to take into the New Year, Tina.


Tina M. Russo said...

Awe, Kimberli, that was very touching and true. Thanks for sharing. And congrats on the productivity.

Pat W. Happy New Year.

Audra, I'm a pile person too. Sigh.

Kimberli said...

And congrats on the productivity

Thanks. I should add that my ministerial husband moved me to the country last year and with the exception of last semester when I taught a couple classes, I've been out of a job, lol.

Two more chapters and this novel is over. I could weep.

Cheryl Wyatt said...

Tina, this "Writers write" quote is among my favorites.

Great always!


Cathy Bryant said...

Thanks, I needed that (the motivational push, or should I say shove)!


Melanie Dickerson said...

Good one, Tina! I need to commit to the one about not checking email when I'm trying to write and getting up early instead of lying in bed.