Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WRITING, THE DAY JOB, AND YOU


I have a confession to make. I’m probably the last person on earth qualified to write a blog on this topic. We have those among us who are much more adept at the juggling the day job thing than I am. But I sort of got “nominated” when topics for BIAW were being bandied about among the Seekers. Once upon a time I may have kept my shaky balance on the writing high wire, but since getting “The Call” in January, life’s been a roller-coaster. Each day is scrambling to keep up with a To Do List of things that have nothing to do with reaching my word count. I’m sure many of you can relate!

Cheryl Wyatt and Ruth Logan Herne are the queens of kid dealings, so I’m not touching that one. But I’m going to talk a bit about how Seekers and others from the Love Inspired Authors loop have managed to squeeze in writing time while holding down a day job, either part-time or full-time. If you’re looking for a miracle solution to all your day job dilemmas, you won’t find it here. But hopefully this will inspire you look at your schedule from a fresh angle, encourage you to reevaluate, and assist you in finding an option that works for you. As you’ll see, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan!

So let’s get started!

All three books in her Daughters of Boston series were written while Julie Lessman (http://www.julielessman.com/) worked outside the home three days a week. She found the key to keeping at it was to stay focused on brainstorming and plotting at every opportunity--on the treadmill, driving to work, or at functions that didn’t require her full attention. (Bestselling author Diana Gabaldon admits to coming up with the idea for “Outlander” while sitting in church! I’m not endorsing that method, just reporting. ) Julie says sometimes she’d get so caught up in the story, especially toward the end, that she’d even write all night! She doesn’t recommend that--says it can make you “scary.”

When Myra Johnson (http://www.myrajohnson.com/) began writing, her children were pre-teens and she was working part-time to make ends meet. She tried doing a day job in the morning and squeezing in writing time in the afternoon, but things got “too crazy” when the kids got home from school. When they were in their teens and could stay alone a few hours by themselves, she switched to writing in the morning and working in the afternoon.
I think you’ll soon see that often it’s trial and error to find the “sweet spot” for your writing. What works best with your natural 24-hour circadian rhythms, your family’s schedule, other responsibilities. If one thing doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to try new tactics!

Our Ruth Logan Herne (http://www.ruthloganherne.com/) is at her computer at 4 a.m., rain or shine, and writes for several hours before getting ready for the full-time day job. And until recently, she’s also worked a part-time second job in the evenings and on weekends. On the nights she wasn’t working, she brainstormed plot ideas, edited on the computer, and periodically did hardcopy edits on paper to read for flow and pacing. When preparing to write a new book or series, she creates an electronic file in which to drop bits of accumulated research. She fills it with plot ideas and anything that catches her eye or other senses--how something smells or tastes or feels. Words to a song that inspire. Notes about a music video that reminds her of her characters or plot. By the time she’s ready to start, she has a set of Cliff Notes that make it “so much easier than trying to fill in the blanks at the end and prevents sagging middles.”

I, too, keep several active Word docs – one for ideas in general that don’t yet have a story home and others to capture ideas for stories that are more solidified in my mind or that I’m currently working on. For my current WIP I have an 82-page, single-spaced document filled with notes, snippets of scenes, snatches of dialogue, bits and pieces of research. If I don’t write things down, I forget them and they just float off to the attic of lost ideas. I print my file out and keep it in a handy binder I can carry around with me. Whatever I don’t use in one book, I might be able to use for a later one. I also keep a paper file where I drop in clippings from magazines, newspapers, etc.

Ruthy also keeps a small notebook in her purse for ideas that come to her when away from the computer. She might collect these pieces for months or only a couple of weeks, depending on what else she’s working on at the time. She says “when your hands are tied so much to a full-time job plus everything else you need to do as a wife, mother, homemaker, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, etc., you really must work double time mentally to try and make use of every single minute and never lose an opportunity.”

Like Ruthy, I keep a pad of paper in my purse to jot down ideas that come to me when waiting for appointments. I also keep one on the console of my car. No, I don’t write while I drive--but if an idea pops into my head, as soon as I stop the vehicle I write it down before it evaporates. I also keep a stack of index cards and a pen on my nightstand for when inspiration strikes in the wee hours!

Author Rylee Andrews (http://www.ryleeandrews.com/) says a key for her is to keep her job AT her job. She does her day job with excellence, gives it her all, doesn’t surf the net or check email. The reward for that is when she comes home she recharges for awhile, then sits down to write for an hour or two. She also writes before work as well as between church, family and friend events on the weekends. While Rylee says it’s not an option for everyone, she actually took a pay cut to work at a job much closer to home and reduced her daily commute time from one hour each way to five minutes, gaining back two hours a day of her life!

The day job workload of Audra Harders’ (http://www.audraharders.com/) is cyclical, so she’s able to write more or less depending on the ebb and flow of her overtime hours. She uses snatches of time to think about how to deepen shallow spots in her plot or develop characters who feel like they belong in the profession she has them in. She strives to leave work at work so that when she comes home she can wind down—walk the dog, laugh with her family, and not think about what awaits at the day job. But no matter what the workload, she disciplines herself to write two hours each evening.

Meeting contest deadlines kept Missy Tippens (http://www.missytippens.com/) disciplined when she was a stay-at-home-mom. Then once she started working part-time, she would come straight home and jump right in. Her advice is to set up personal deadlines and stick to them.

Laura Iding/Laura Scott (http://www.laurascottbooks.com/) tries to do editing and marketing (blogs, website updates, etc.) during weeknights and saves a few hours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to write a chapter both days. Although her job doesn’t require a lot of overtime, she’s frequently on call, so it’s easy to get distracted when she’s pulled away from her story to handle a crisis. She has a 45-minute drive to and from work, so on the drive home tries to think about her characters to put some distance between herself and the job. By the time she’s home, she’s eager to do some editing. And by letting herself think about her story problems during the week, her weekend chapter writing goes much faster. Laura also strives to keep balanced by reserving Friday nights as a date night with her husband.

Mary Connealy (http://www.maryconnealy.com/) points out that she’s never had to force herself to write as, for the most part, it’s her first choice of activities. However, as a newbie writer she discovered that the thing that would stop her from writing was when she didn’t know where to go next in her story. So setting an easy goal like 300 words got her into the discipline of writing every day and forced her to write that first sentence—which often led to a thousand or more words. She now writes 1000 words a day, 5 days a week. Mary says insomnia can work to your advantage, too—extra brainstorming time! She recommends writing regularly and setting easy goals so that you don’t always feel you need a big chunk of time in order to write. Don’t make your daily goal so overwhelming that you dread it.

Kim Watters (http://www.kimwatters.com/) is another early bird who gets up at 5 a.m. and writes for two hours before heading off to the day job. She tried a night schedule, but it didn’t work—she’s a morning person. Like Kim and Ruthy, I find myself much more creative and alert from 4:30-6:30 each morning than I am at night. I find evening time best for editing and catching up on other writing obligations.

When Cheryl Wyatt (http://www.cherylwyatt.com/) worked full-time as a nurse and had little ones, she only wrote on Saturdays, which is when she learned to draft a book in under seven days! Can you believe she finished almost 20 books that way? She’s also brutal with her time management—no TV. No instant messaging. By planning her stories in detail, Cheryl is able to write quickly in a short span of time so she can spend less time away from her family.

Even after writing 23 books, Roxanne Rustand (http://roxannerustand.com/) maintains her day job. Like most of us, access to good medical insurance and a regular paycheck are critical, especially since the timing of advances and royalty payments are uncertain.. She now works part-time and uses the rest of her week to write, but admits working outside the home makes it more difficult to stay mentally in a story. To help her keep the chronology straight, she opens a blank calendar file and types in the chapter, scene, and a couple of words about the main events in the calendar squares. This prevents jarring, illogical leaps in time. She also uses a “subplot tracker” where she records each major event in a scene under the appropriate column. That enables her to look back to see where she’s been and make certain she hasn’t neglected a subplot. Check out her website under “Articles” for samples of her tracking tools! (http://roxannerustand.com/articles)

Like Roxanne, I keep a calendar for each story. I also create a horizontal, visual time-line for my hero and heroine, one created above the other, so that I can easily determine where they were in their lives in relationship to each other. I start with their birth month/year, then mark h.s. and college graduations, jobs, and significant life events. It really keeps me on track when referencing their pasts.

When Camy Tang (http://www.camytang.com/) worked full-time, she wrote when her colleagues vacated the building during the lunch hour. She’d also take an occasional noontime walk to brainstorm and took advantage of every small chunk of time that came her way. Since she’s a night owl and not an early bird, she’d set aside time in the evening, staying up late to forego an hour or two of sleep. She didn’t strive for a daily page count as her time was so limited, but she committed to writing at least an hour a night.

I don’t often take a full lunch hour now, but when I worked elsewhere I used to take my lunch to a nearby park and write. One place I worked you didn’t dare leave the parking lot at noon or you’d lose your spot and have to walk a million miles back to the office—so first thing in the morning I’d find a parking slot I knew would be shady by lunchtime, then would slip out and write while eating.

When Sandra Leesmith (http://www.sandraleesmith.com/) was working full-time, she always wrote two hours each morning before she left for work. Then she’d edit and revise on the bus ride to and from the day job. She’d think about her story as breaks in the day allowed.

Tina Russo (http://www.tinarusso.com/) who currently works two jobs (and sometimes three!) says: “It's all about priorities. Be ruthless. Ask yourself if what occupies your non-job and non-writing hours is something you are going to care about a year from now. If not, snip snip. Consider your most wasted hours. For me it was after work. I came home and just sat in front of the computer totally fried. Now I try to get to the library after a quick protein and coffee break and put in three hours minimum.”

Are you starting to get a few new ideas to try out? Feeling less like you’re all alone trying to write and hold down a day job? All of us have obstacles that life sets up around us. Challenges. If not the demands of a day job, then something else. A million other responsibilities and obligations. If you want to write, if you have a passion to write, find a way to work around the barriers even if it means writing one paragraph, even one sentence, each day.

But having said that, I firmly believe that there are seasons in our lives. Seasons when God may say “not now.” And we need to be sensitive to that. Life happens. We’re not invincible little robots. God doesn’t want life to pass us by--or for us to pass by those he’s put in our lives to love and minister to--just because we have our noses pressed to our computer screen, our fingers worn to a nub on the keyboard. Yes, we may have a “calling” to write, but we’re also called for many other purposes as well. Do your best to strike a balance.

As I mentioned earlier, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to finding time to write. As Ruthy says: “Writing is a lot like dieting – you have to find the plan that’s right for you and stick with it.”

Okay, so what are YOUR tips & tricks for writing when you have a day job? Leave a comment today with your email address (remember use “at” and “dot”), and be eligible to be included in a giveaway drawing for a copy of Victoria Lynn Schmidt’s “Book in a Month: The Fool-proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 days.” The winner will be announced in the Seekerville weekend edition.

Glynna
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An ACFW "Genesis" and RWA Faith, Hope & Love "Touched by Love" award winner, GLYNNA KAYE'S first published book DREAMING OF HOME is an October 2009 Steeple Hill Love Inspired release. http://www.glynnakaye.com/

102 comments :

  1. Good morning, Seeker's! :)

    This post was so helpful, Glynna! It's interesting to see all of the different ways authors find time to write, and gave me several ideas, too. This week has taught me a lot about squeezing in time to write, even if it's just for a few minutes in between cleaning the house, or foregoing an hour or two of sleep by going to bed later or getting up earlier, or writing instead of spending an hour reading, watching a movie, etc.

    Next week, I'll probably be working in our printing ministry (my family and I are missionaries) 5 or 6 full days, so I'm really going to have to be creative with my writing time ;) Thanks for these tips!

    OK, I'm off to start writing for the day, and encouraged and motivated to get as much as I can accomplished today! :)

    ~Arianna

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  2. Woohoo I'm first here today.

    Open your windows and catch the fragrance of my Yesterday Today and Tomorrow as if wafts in. I planted a shrub outside each of your homes

    Do you get these shrubs in elsewhere in the world? They are a mass of blooms now (Spring in South Africa)- the flowers start out a deep violet and gradually fade to lilac and white, so each bush is a stunning mixture of these colours. Their scent fills the early morning and evening air.

    Thank you for the excellent article today Glynna, it's very helpful even though my day job is in the home looking after my two granddaughters.

    My tip for those with a day job is to use One Note to catch all those sentences, scene fragments, conversations, research etc. One feature I really like is that when doing research on the internet for my WIP, I simply have to click on "Send to One Note" and it sends the whole page there complete with URL- soooo easy and convenient.

    Hope you all have a good day writing.

    God bless

    Ruth Ann
    RuthAnnDell(at)mweb(dot)co(dot)za

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  3. Well I was almost first! There were no comments when I logged in,Arianna sent her comment in while I was typing mine and beat me to the post!

    Hi Arianna! Here's some coffee- I think Ruthy's about to join us

    Ruth Ann
    RuthAnnDell(at)mweb(dot)co(dot)za

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  4. Taking a quick break to eat breakfast... mmm... I'l take some of that coffee, Ruth Ann, as long as there's plenty of cream and sugar to go along with it. I blame my love of sweet coffee on my brother... he's the first one who ever got me to like coffee ;)

    I don't have much goodies to offer, but I'm about ready to finish baking the rest of the cookie dough I made yesterday. Softest chocolate chip cookies in Romania, if you ask me. Stuffed with chopped pecans (a treat for me since we can't get them here!), and big chunks of European milk chocolate. Mmm... I'll share, once I grab 'em out of the oven ;) Not the healthiest breakfast, but it'll be close to lunch in Romania, at least. LOL.

    ~Arianna

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  5. Good morning, early birds!!!

    I wrote first before bopping over and I'm A: loving the coffee, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

    And B: cookies. Gimme. Oh my goodness, Arianna (whose name I used in Winter's End, by the way) these are the BEST COOKIES IN ALL OF EASTERN EUROPE, NOT JUST ROMANIA!!!

    Thanks for sharing. And I love the tidbits of good stuff in Glynna's post. It just shows how different we all are, and how we attack this gig when time is limited, but the one unifying thread was sacrifice. We all sacrifice something (tv, shopping, web-surfing, etc) to achieve our goals, and utilize whatever's handy (drop in files, One Note---thanks, Ruth Ann!!!, pads of paper) to cement our thoughts while not working on the computer.

    Glynna, you rock. Great all around ideas, girlfriend.

    Sipping coffee, ooooooo, it's hot, gotta be careful, guys. We're not McDonald's, we have no money, so you can't sue us for hot coffee spills. ;)

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  6. I'm thinkin cookies make good breakfast food. Thanks Arianna.

    Glynna, that was quite a collection of behind-the-scenes information. My problem is I can't shut the
    'night job' (writing) out of my head during the day one.

    I enjoyed hearing all the ways authors accomplish their tasks, and I think I've done a little of most of them. I even bought one of those small digital recorders but I have to carry the directions with me to remember what to do with it!

    I think I'm going to ease my way back into pre-dawn writing. The dog thinks 4 AM is the start of the day now. What will she do when we change the clocks?

    Big Word Count Wishes for all you BIAWers!

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  7. Oh my, what an excellent post. I've been struggling with finding time to write, or even having the energy to write after working all day, so this post was just what the doctor ordered!

    I confess to deflating a bit when Ruth said writing was like dieting. As one who hasn't found the right plan and stuck with it, this was NOT encouraging! lol

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  8. Great post, Glynna! I loved reading how the other Seekers managed work and writing.

    I'm a stay at home, work at home mom. I own and operate my own in-home child care program that is open 50 hours a week. For the last three years until May, I was also a college student. So working all day, going to school in the evening (online through my computer), being a mom, a wife, and Christian education director of my church's children's ministry program does make it tough to find time to write.

    Well, I managed to write the a women's fiction that is in the revision stage.

    I write while my daycare children are napping. I write in the evenings and a lot during the weekends. I'm a semi-empty nester--one son in college, one son at home. My husband helps with dinner and our son helps with clean up--even if it's done with a grumble. :-)

    My family knows my writing is not a hobby, but something I want to do for the rest of my life. I've put steps in place to make that happen. :-)

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  9. Good morning, all! I'm taking a few minutes away from my 4:30-6:30 writing time to wish you all a day of GREAT productivity in your BIAW endeaavors and much success in finding a "sweet spot" for your writing time.

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  10. Arianna -- This post illustrates how we're all a determined bunch, aren't we? All of us with unique challenges. Best wishes on your writing today!

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  11. Ruth Ann--Your spring sounds lovely! I'm not familiar with One Note. I'll have to see if I have something like that on my computer! Happy writing!

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  12. You guys are too cute, battling it out for first place. Me? I JUST WANT COFFEE.

    Tell me about this bush Ruth Ann.

    Glynna you do yourself a disservice. You get more done in a day than most people I know.

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  13. Morning, Ruthy! Like you, I see a "theme" here in that few have long stretches of hours, days, weeks, months to write. Whether pubbed or unpubbed, we all have to work writing time in around "life."

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  14. DAY THREE OF BIAW!!!


    DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR MSC IS???

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  15. Mornin' Debra! I have the opposite problem--I never have a single free second at the day job to mull over my story, then can't turn off the day job when it's time to write!!

    Anyone have any tips for QUICKLY shutting off that left-brain activity and getting back into the right brain world of your story?

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  16. Sherrinda -- I can sure relate to the coming home so tired you almost literally stumble through the door. So try to remember what Mary Connealy said: don't set a goal that's intimidating. Just something small that gets you started.

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  17. I keep a tiny little sign at my desk that I can see when I am working.

    What Have You Done Today To Make Your Dream Come True?

    It helps remind me to leave work on time to get to my dream. Like you Glynna there isn't time to think about writing at work. I feel fortunate I can check in with Seekerville at my lunch and break however.

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  18. Lisa -- you absolutely wore me out with all that's on your plate!! Keep up the good work--you're one determined woman!

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  19. Good morning, Tina! A couple of years ago, Tina kept asking the unpubbed Seekers that question: "What have you done TODAY to make your dream come true." I posted it at my desk & a smaller version on my car's dashboard. I also created a collage of "visuals" and sent a copy to the Seekers to help keep the dream alive. Remember that, Tina? I'll have to post it in Seekerville sometime.

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  20. Hi, Glynna! This is very timely for me, since I'm starting a part-time job next week. I waited as long as I could, now I have to make some money.

    Since I'm not a high-stamina person, and I'm not a morning person, or a night owl, and I have two young children, I always figured I couldn't write and work too. But guess what? I can, and I will.

    One thing I'm doing, which I really feel sad about, is I'm stepping down from being the ACFW Book Club Coordinator. That way I can concentrate more on writing and less on emails and all the obligations of the book club. I did work a little bit a couple of years ago, and I found that when I did have time to write, I was more determined to actually write. So I know I can do it. And I really admire those who work full-time and write. That's amazing to me.

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  21. Glynna that IS Monday's post. Plan B. Great minds!!

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  22. You guys are inspiring!It takes a lot of discipline to stick to a wip instead of fooling around with computer distractions. I won't mention which ones because we all know what they are and which ones are our downfall.

    Back to my revisions and then to the dentist.

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  23. Melanie, you will find you accomplish more with more on your plate.

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  24. Thanks for sharing all your research on how authors do it, Glynna.

    I'm kind of in-between because my "day job" is nonfiction assignments, so the schedule isn't fixed there either. It's good and bad :)

    I'm not super successful with balancing them, but things are coming together, slowly.

    Glynna, I do something that could help you shift gears sooner. Contrary to what others say about reading a story like yours, I always have a book somewhat similar to the one I'm trying to write. I will read some paragraphs from it and then go to my own. Reading someone else's make-believe story seems to trigger ideas for my own and I'm not talking about plagiarism. It's more like my own little brainstorming session.

    I think part of it is just doing it and stopping the complaining that it isn't the ideal situation. I would also like my husband to understand more, but that's probably not happening until I would be published and paid. And then I suppose I'd be more assertive about what I need. I could explain better why sitting in front of the keyboard is not a "sin" anymore than watching a TV football game.

    Okay, TMI (Too Much Information) and I have to go interview a jewelry store owner for an advertorial. Hmmm, maybe I can work diamonds into my WIP. Ha

    I'd love to win the prize!

    Cathy

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  25. Lots of new things to try in that post.

    I like the notebook idea. I doodle a lot, especially in church.

    If I switch from drawing pictures to making notes I will look ever so much more studious ;-)

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  26. Good morning, Melanie! It sounds like the "seasons" are changing for you right now so there will be adjustments and trial & error as God shows you how to work it all out. Hang in there -- and best wishes on the new job & writing!

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  27. Hi, Cara! I know exactly what you mean about those computer distractions! We're cheering you on with those revisions! Can't wait to read your first book next Spring!

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  28. Cathy -- Great idea about reading a bit from another fiction piece to get your mind in the right brain mode! I'm going to try that. (But I'll have to set my handy-dandy timer for 15 minutes or the next thing you know I'll be reading clear to "the end.")

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  29. Ann -- And not only will you look "every so much more studious," but you may carry home a seed of a story idea! I take sermon notes in church and often find the message helps me hone in on potential inspirational threads for my stories.

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  30. Cathy -- Great idea about reading a bit from another fiction piece to get your mind in the right brain mode! I'm going to try that. (But I'll have to set my handy-dandy timer for 15 minutes or the next thing you know I'll be reading clear to "the end.")

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  31. Another tip I'm trying this week is something I learned from interviewing mega-writer Marie Ferrarella who's pubbed a couple hundred books or so.

    When she gets up early, she puts on headphones and listens to music.

    I'm trying this with the same music every morning, hoping it will get me in the zone. I'm using the best of "The Police" and channeling (not really, just joking) the thoughts of their hit "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" except I substitute the word "Writes" for magic :)

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  32. Great article, Glynna! My writing sisters make me feel like such a slacker! I get a lot done during the daylight hours, but something about it being dark outside tells me it's time to get away from the computer. When I traveled often during my full time job I was very productive at airports and on planes but once I got to the hotel at night it was time to crash. Oooops, I probably shouldn't write PLANES and CRASH in the same sentence! :-)

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  33. Cathy--that's another great idea about the music! Marie is one PROLIFIC writer! Where can we find the interview you did? I'd love to know more about how she writes because she's so productive.

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  34. Boy, was this fun, Glynna, seeing how everyone else does it. AND very inspiring too. There are several nuggets in here that I've gleaned to help me be more productive, so thank you!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  35. Good morning, Mae! Thanks for stopping in! I'm solar-powered, too, so with the sun now setting before 6 (we're not on daylight savings time in this part of the country), it's a struggle to keep going. When I went to ACFW last month, I tried your writing on the plane idea -- just tuned out everything around me, the flight went so fast, and I had an impressive wordcount by the time I landed!

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  36. Good morning, Julie! We're a pretty creative bunch, aren't we? Where there's a will, there's a way! Best wishes for a GREAT writing day!

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  37. Good morning, all!

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes info, Glynna. It's encouraging to know that you really can work a FT/PT job, take care of family, be active in your church -- and still write books!

    I usually have a notepad with me like some of you mentioned. I also have a digital voice recorder in the car since the idea will escape before I stop somewhere and write it down. I have an older Palm/PDA that's great for writing on the go. I'm learning how to take advantage of wait times during the kids' piano and ballet lessons and get some writing done without being rude to the other moms. Or maybe I should just write and not worry about the rude factor ...? :-)


    Ruth Ann mentioned One Note. I fiddled with it a couple of years ago but might try it again.

    A big deadline shifted and threw me into the late-night work zone. That means not as much BIAW time as I'd planned, but I'll keep at it. Sure would love the chance to win the book since I have a terrible time turning off the internal/day job editor!

    leigh [at] leighdelozier [dot] com

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  38. Good morning, everyone! It's a great day, isn't it?

    For years, I've struggled with having time to write--between the house, two jobs(one of which I'm on call all the time), family and church, I just didn't have a lot of time.

    But the one thing I took away from last year's conference was that almost every published author I talked to had set a word count within reach. So I came home and after much prayer and consideration, I set a plan into action. I got rid of some activities in my life that just sucked my time--including one job. Then I set a word count that I could live with. Nowhere near the counts Cheryl posted yesterday(I mean--WOW!)but better than I had done before.

    Have a great day writing, everyone!

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  39. I loved reading all about the ways others manage to write. It's really about prioritizing and setting goals, isn't it. I'm on a really hectic deadline right now and I needed to sit down last night and sketch out how long it will take me to get this book out. In my agenda, I have made daily goals and they are brutal, but writing it down makes it harder to cheat.
    Thanks for the advice, all!
    Barbara Phinney

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  40. Good morning! This was a great post! I love the idea of having several word docs going at the same time. I would never have thought of that. And I already have the little notebook by the bed but the problem is when I wake up in the morning I can never read what I wrote. Sigh.

    I read to my husband last night and I was surprised. It sounded fairly intelligent and even a little, tiny bit cohesive.

    Thanks for the help and the guidance and the gentle cattle prod toward being more productive.

    Happy writing!

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  41. Good morning, Leigh! That digital voice recorder is a great idea! Sometimes all you need is to get down a few words to remember your idea later.

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  42. Patty -- Sounds like you've put some good plans into action. Setting realistic goals for output is so important. No way an I write with the speed of Cheryl or Ruthy. I'm just not a fast writer. But 250 words a day x 365 days a year = 91,250 words! That's a decent-sized book a year. 500 words a day is 182,500 a year! When I break it down like that, it's not so intimidating. Seems more doable!

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  43. Thanks for stopping in Barbara! As you mentioned, studies show putting goals in WRITING and reviewing them on a regular basis multiplies the likelihood that you'll meet them. Good luck on meeting that deadline!

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  44. Hi Jenny! A friend of mine gave me one of those pens that lights up when you write--helps with the deciphering in the morning!

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  45. Deb, that 4:00 am thing is the ticket for me.

    It started with the kids, so I could have quiet, organize the day time. Then hit the ground running when they got up. Now that they're grown, it just works but that's because I'm a morning person. I'm even meaner at night if you can believe that. :)

    And Sherrinda, dear, dear girl, I didn't say I kept the dieting schedule. I just analogized it, LOL!!! Gotta leave room for improvement, right? :) In a land of plenty, it's hard to avoid calories, and with sit down jobs it's tougher yet to work them off.

    Lisa, perfect example of making use of time to fit the day, the budget, the job. Couldn't have said it better although I'd have tried because I'm THAT competitive!!!

    :)

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  46. Melanie, I gotta tell you, I'm much more effective if I have to make good use of time than if I just want to.

    Like most of us, if I had all day, I'd probably not produce any more than I do now because now I know I HAVE to write in the allotted time. The time disciplines me, not the other way around. You not only can do this, you'll probably excel at it.

    Go get 'em, Tiger!

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  47. Love the post!

    Off to write,

    Cheryl

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  48. Hi Everyone,

    It's fun to see the varied routines we all have. I do most of my writing on the weekends since I work an 8 to 5 job. But if I have down time at work, I'm able to jot notes or maybe rough out a scene.

    I'm not a morning person, so getting up early to write is not an option for me!

    I was able to silence my internal editor last night, even when I'd think that is a stupid sentence, I just kept going.

    Rose

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  49. Loved the ideas Glynna. I'm retired now so you would think I'd have more time to write. Actually I was more disciplined when I had the day job. I knew my time was limited so I made sure I accomplished a goal to write so many words every day.

    Once retired it was easy to say, well I'll have time for that later. I'm learning that even with time, you have to be just as ruthless as you day jobbers with your time.

    Thanks for the helpful hints. I still like getting up early in the morning before hubby wakes up and the world intrudes.

    Thanks for the coffee and goodies everyone. How fun to have Seekers out there who like to share the yummies. Happy writing

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  50. Great Post Glynna,

    As a business owner, I have days where I have no day left after work. On top of that I watch the grandkids. So the ideas are wonderful.

    I must say, Arianna, I used your name in my second novel fifteen years ago, only the character that got the lovely tag was a mine.

    Oh Great leader of Seekerville,
    I have a question about the contest, I've done a lot of writing, but I haven't gotten into the computer yet, that still counts right...

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  51. Hi Sandra! Good to see you this morning! You know how they always say how preparing to teach Sunday school or a Bible study often does you more good than those you're teaching? I feel that way about researching this post and listening to the comments. I have lots of fresh ideas to get me jump-started!

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  52. Tina P -- I can relate to the NO time at all you're facing. That happens to me periodically, sometimes in months-long stretches, depending on day job deadlines. While in theory we like to think we can keep going 24 hours a day, that's just not realistic. God wants us to safeguard our health and our sanity!

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  53. Rose -- congrats on smacking down that inner critic last night! I'm someone who tends to revise as I go rather than just getting those words on paper, so I know what a battle it can be to get that irritating Mini-Me Editor to quiet down!

    And you really do have to go with your natural 24-hour clock rhythms. I can't regularly write at night for any length of time. So early bird or night owl or something in between has to be figured out on an individual basis.

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  54. Oh, and Tina, I'm not the Great Leader of Seekerville, but words are words whether they're typed or handwritten!

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  55. Some of you on the East Coast are probably starting to think about lunch time, but here in the West I'm off for the day job.

    Hope you have have a great day and fast-accumulating wordcount!

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  56. 46 comments already at 10 a.m.
    Wow.

    I think this hits home so hard. Working or not we all have busy lives. That's why I set that very easily accomplished word count back in the day of 300 words. Thats one page...maybe a bit longer. Three paragraphs if they're long ones.

    It keeps back a sense of failure and it keeps us opening that book document. I am a disorganized person and an undisciplined person in many areas of my life. But just like all my writing behaviors, it's compulsive or rather it's just my idea of fun. So sticking to writing is kind of like sticking to donut consumption for me.

    I do my best. :)

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  57. Wonderful post. There are definitely seasons. I felt as though I was crossing the Adirondacks on foot with nothing more than a wind breaker when I tried to write consistently after the birth of each of my sons. Some mothers could do it all, but I couldn't and I had to learn to be okay with that.

    As they get older and more independent--my youngest is still only four--it's easier. They mostly understand when Mommy works on the computer for an hour or so at a time and ignores all pleas, no matter how incessant. Everyone now sleeps through the night, giving me time to write and still get a good night's sleep myself.

    Checking email and blogging during my lunch period rids me of the need to do so when I get home. After dinner and bedtime for the kids, I can go straight to my wip with no Internet temptation.

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  58. Wow, so many ways to get to the same end result! I work 3 days a week, and my husband graciously agreed to let me take my son to daycare an extra day and use it as a writing day. I treat it the same as if I were in the office and try to pound out the work. Then I try to sneak an hour of writing each evening after my son goes to bed, which still leaves me some time to relax before my bedtime.

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  59. Wow, what a treasure trove of great ways to capture ideas and carve out writing time! Not only Glynna but several commenters reminded me of things I used to do regularly but somehow have let slide, like keeping a little idea notebook handy when I'm away from my desk. Of course, I'm hardly ever away from my desk anymore, so maybe that's why!

    Hmmm, is that telling me maybe I need to get a life???

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  60. Wow, that's so cool that Ruth and Tina used the name Arianna for a character ;) I've never even met someone with the same name as me. LOL.

    Well, I'm mostly done with writing for the day (although it's night time here). I'm going to write 300 more words to bring my word count for today to 5, 000. That's nowhere near Cheryl's amazing word counts, but for me, that's awesome, so I'm happy with that ;)

    ~Arianna

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  61. Glynna, thanks for compiling a great list of ideas for squeezing in writing time while working a day job. I applaud each and every one of you who handle both! I don't have a day job, but your strategies are valuable to me as well. Thanks all!

    Janet

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  62. Okay someone explain what One Note is.

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  63. Yay for this post! I need it as I balance bookkeeping duties, homeschooling, and writing. Along with all that wifely and friendship stuff.

    I try to devote at least a couple hours a day to writing, and having the story plotted out in advance is crucial to my time management. I'm in awe of Cheryl's word-count capabilities!

    ericavetsch at charter dot net

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  64. Hi Tina and anyone else who's interested

    Here's 2 links which will tell you a bit more about One Note. The first also has a link to download a free 60 day trial.

    http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA101656661033.aspx

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_OneNote

    Hope this helps

    Ruth Ann

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  65. Glynna,

    Thanks for an awesome post, with all the ideas in my head it is often times overwhelming to even think about writing!! I took notes and I am putting them to use as we speak! Thank you so much you have saved the day!!! Milissa

    Mdriverswife(at)aol(dot)com

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  66. Whoohoo! What a great post...I can just feel the energy percolating from it.

    Having a late lunch break from work to check in and after reading the post (which was very encouraging, Glynna), I realized I kind of mix up a few of the Seekers' techniques and add some of my own.

    Whatever it takes to (as Tina said) "Make my dreams come true" :-)

    I'm a daydreamer, which helps with my planning, when I'm driving from home to the university or the medical facility - I always have about 15-20 minutes.

    Like Ruthy, I keep a notebook handy at all times and also chart scenes on a Word Document for use later in my ms.

    Based on some of Mary's advice, I started a word doc for character info too. Tips about their appearance, background, siblings...etc. It helps me make sure that Jane always has blue eyes instead of tossing in a couple of brown-eyed moments :-) poor Jane. Maybe she's a vampire.

    Sorry - I'm punchy. It's been a long day and I've been goofing off with my hilariously wonderful patients at the Traumatic Brain Injury unit. They're SO much fun!

    So...where's the chocolate?

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  67. Ruth Ann, thanks so much for posting the link. I will investigate after BIAW, but MUCH appreciated.

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  68. Glynna,
    Such great info. I can tell I need to get a writing schedule. I fit it in whenever I can...sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

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  69. thank you so much for taking the time from your day job : ) to write about how other writers deal with theirs : )

    Great ideas, Glynna. You're always so thorough!!

    Here's a tip for the notebook-in-the-purse set. I found these little composition notebooks, just like in science class, and can't be more than 2.5 x 3.5 in size. They have a hard cover so the pages won't get crinkled in your pocket or purse. I clip it closed with a small size binder clip.

    Since it's hard, it's easy to find in MY purse; since it's clipped together, the pages don't get destroyed in MY purse : )

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  70. Oh my stars, I have OneNote in my computer, part of the Microsoft Office 2007 package Zach had installed on it.

    Have I mentioned how much I love lawyer-boy??? Seriously?????

    Ruth Ann, I haven't had time to play with the computer programs imbedded inside since the first e-mails started coming in January, so I'm THRILLED you drew my attention to it.

    I'll play with it later this week, when I'm not cramming work.

    Thanks, Ruth Ann!!!

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  71. Okay, I keep forgetting I need to show up here and report in. LOL.

    I have to say that I'm going back to work full time on Oct. 19th, so this column today is very timely for me.

    But I've worked full time and written books before and I'll do it again. I wrote the first book I sold while working full time and chasing much younger children than I have now, so I'm not terribly worried. Sure, it's going to be a challenge, but what in life that's important, isn't?

    Thanks again, Glynna! Great post.

    Lynette

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  72. Glynna,

    I couldn't find the short article I wrote about Marie F. online (I definitely would not have kept her name and tricky spelling :)

    Since it was in a newspaper a couple years ago, it's probably okay to print my rough draft here. Please keep this a secret :O
    I did see something similar in Romance Reports awhile ago, though.

    It starts here and I'm hope I'm a better writer now :):

    Don’t be surprised if author Marie Ferrarella’s entertaining style helps solve some of life’s mysteries, especially those between men and women.

    Ferrarella’s 183rd book comes out this month, Doctor in the House, in the Harlequin Next line. It’s the TV sitcom “House” meets the book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.

    “I believe the Next line is about it never being too late to be surprised by what life has to offer and what you can get if you’re not afraid to grab for as much as you can,” said Ferrarella.

    The story is about gifted neurosurgeon Ivan Munro and Bailey DelMonico, his newly assigned intern. He’s 46 and she’s in her late 30’s and although their life experiences and personalities couldn’t be more different, through their often troubled working relationship, they find common ground. Romantic Times rated the book 4 ½ stars out of 5 and named it a Top Pick. Her website is www.marieFerrarella.com

    “I’ve been selling books since 1981,” she said. “Prior to that, I was in the business of collecting rejection slips. I had enough to wallpaper the Smithsonian.”

    Ferrarella is married with two grown children. Originally from West Germany, she came to the United States at age 4, lived in New York for 20 years and came to California.

    “I used to get up at 3 a.m. to write because my kids would get up at 4. I’d put on headphones, turn on the soundtrack to “Footloose” and wake up at the computer, writing. Because my life is so busy, I’ve learned to write whenever I can and am able to write in five- and ten-minute increments. I write everywhere and anywhere.”

    Helen Conrad, who writes under the pseudonym Raye Morgan, is a close friend and has a Harlequin Next book coming in November, The Boss’s Double Trouble Twins. In 1981, their mutual literary agent, Pat Teal, introduced them.

    “Marie’s writing has always been full of wry humor and so much fun, but in the last few years, she’s developed a new depth and emotional connection with the reader that just blows me away. She’s wonderful,” Conrad said.

    “I love what I do and if I wasn’t selling books right now, I’d probably be writing very long, annotated grocery lists,” Ferrarella said.

    For more information: www.marieFerrarella.com
    Next author blog: nextauthors.blogspot.com

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  73. Mary -- I love your 300 words goal. While I can write more than that in the morning, when I get home from work I usually just do editing. But I'm going to try shooting for 300 words each night and see if I can get myself writing a bit more in the evenings.

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  74. Thanks for stopping by, Patricia! The "seasons" thing is so true, especially when you have small children.

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  75. Sarah -- your husband sounds like a sweetheart to help you work in a writing day! Sounds like you're putting it to good use!

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  76. Myra -- you need to get one of those cute little "mini" computers like Missy had at ACFW so you can unchain yourself from your desk! :)

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  77. WOW, Arianna! 5,000 words for the day!! FANTASTIC!!

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  78. Erica -- sounds as if you have more than enough on your plate! Congrats on squeezing some writing time in there, too!

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  79. Thanks for dropping by, Milissa! So glad the ideas were of some help!

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  80. Hi Janet! I think a lot of the ideas everyone shared are applicable to juggling jobs, kids or even grandkids -- and everything else in between. We're all very busy people in one way or another.

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  81. Pepper -- I'm finding that character file idea a really good one--especially since I'm now writing a second book set in the same community with some of the same people as were in the first one. Sure don't want Joe Diaz to have dark brown eyes in the first one and blue in the next!

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  82. Hi Debby -- As prolific as you are, I sure never would have guessed you don't have your writing time scheduled right down to the minute! You must be doing SOMETHING majorly right!

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  83. Great idea on the hardback notebook, Audra. The soft-sided kind can get so easily bent and mangled. It's so much more fun to write on a nice, clean pristine page, isn't it?

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  84. WOW, Lynnette! You wrote books while holding down a full-time job AND keeping up with kids? Some of you ladies AMAZE me!

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  85. Cathy -- Thanks so much for sharing the article on Marie F. Can you imagine having written 183 books? I'd heard she wrote almost one a month. I've just GOT to learn how to write faster!

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  86. My husband go an HP Netbook. It arrived yesterday. It is sooo cool. Full size keypad too.

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  87. Hi Glynna:

    I just finished “Dreaming of Home”. It’s great! There’s so much to like. I can’t wait to review it after this BIAW thing is over.

    BTW, this BIAW thing has really got a hold of me and won't let go. I just can’t seem to stop writing. I’m over 7,000 words in two days. Nevertheless, I've found it impossible to turn off my internal editor. It’s like one of those snooze alarms that comes back on every 20 seconds. So I have a better idea: I just ignore the IE!

    That’s like telling your boss to get lost and not getting fired. Oh, what a feeling.


    Vince

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  88. Great post, Glynna! I loved reading about everybody's tactics and techniques for writing while working or busy! Thanks so much!
    Camy

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  89. I feel like I'm late to today's party, but work has kept me slammed. Definitely a germane post.

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  90. Vince, I love it.

    Walt, it's hard for Ruthy to win round three if you don't show up. Have some sensitivity.

    he he he

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  91. Hey Glynna!
    Sorry it's so late...this was such an awesome post! This totally applies to me! Lol! I am a high school senior, as a lot of you probably know already. I have 3 AP classes going on, college applications and deadlines, thesis program starting next week finally(check out my blog for more about it!) and those deadlines, musical rehearsal in the evening, homework, piano lessons and practicing, recovering from 2 carpal tunnel surgeries, and just LIVING...life is so full! Honestly, I could complain about all of this and yes, it gets annoying at times when I'm stressed, but I wouldn't want to have it any other way. I like having a full life, it makes me feel accomplished and that I have a purpose. But, man, fitting in time to write...it's soooo hard! Lol! I know that you guys know, but it really is a job : )

    Okay, sorry to rant/talk your ear off, but I just wanted to contribute : )
    Great post! I'm eagerly waiting for the chance when I get to read Dreaming of Home!!
    Hannah

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  92. Well, Tina, I only got eight pages with the time I had, but it's been my best day so far.

    I decided to let the muse take over, as we were arguing what story to write.

    The next few rounds should be interesting.

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  93. I don't exactly have a day job any longer, but I'm so busy I might as well have one. My tip is to write first thing in the morning, right after enough exercise to get the blood flowing to my brain. Looking forward to reading ALL the hints tomorrow, but I came here late because I was working on that short story I mentioned yesterday. I DID get it posted, and it's not midnight in California yet, so it counts. Thanks to anyone who prayed for me!

    hope_chastain [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  94. Thanks, Vince! So glad you enjoyed Dreaming of Home!! And 7,000 words in 2 days is incredible--and with an inner editor sitting on your shoulder no less!

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  95. Oh, my, Walt. "Germane." Awfully big words for the end of an exhausting BIAW day. :)

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  96. Hannah -- I well remember my jam-packed high school and college days, trying to squeak in snatches of writing around all the classes and studying and extracurricular activities. It was mostly a holiday indulgence back then. I still distinctly remember after college graduation the joy of having time to read UNassigned books!

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  97. Congrats on meeting your deadline, Hope!

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  98. Thanks, Glynna! It was a near thing... Now if it just qualifies for inclusion in the anthology.....

    :-)

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  99. I usually write in the evenings since I am a night owl. Best hours are between 10 and 12 when my husband is in bed. I also try to do some early on Saturday mornings after my first cup of coffee, and my husband goes off to work.

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  100. Glynna said: "Myra -- you need to get one of those cute little "mini" computers like Missy had at ACFW so you can unchain yourself from your desk! :)"

    LOL--I have a laptop and love it! But I hardly ever unplug. Something about sitting in my office surrounded by all my writing references, notes, favorite books, etc., helps me remember I'm a writer.

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  101. Hello Pirate Queen! Sound like you have your best time for writing all figured out. That's half the battle if you can find free time when you're at your energy and creative peak!

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