Dr. Quinn Time: What I’m Learning About Dedication
By Mona Hodgson
Remaining true to our annual tradition, the summer of 1996, my friend Shirley and I loaded the back of my Jeep and headed to a cabin in Northern Arizona. I would write and she would work on her music. That year, however, we encountered a big problem. No, it wasn’t a bear on the trail, the squirrels in the attic, the midnight mice, or a skunk on the porch.
Our two-day getaway to the cabin swallowed a Saturday. Saturday night was DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN night, and the modest cabin didn’t allow for TV viewing.
Don’t get me wrong—Shirley and I are all about retreating from noise, the hectic pace of small town life, and breathing in the pine-scented tranquility the mountains offer, but miss viewing Dr. Quinn (Jane Seymour) and Sully (Joe Lando) in “real time?” No way!
We had to find a place with good television reception. The nearest town was about thirty miles away. Never mind that we’d be driving back to the cabin in the dark, in the land of roaming bears and deer and elk.
This was before televisions lined the walls of most eateries. Where, oh where, could we go to catch up with the unstoppable Dr. Michaela “Mike” Quinn and mountain man Bryon Sully? Department stores that sold televisions? Sports bars? Uh, not the kind of shows they broadcast.
Ah ha! Hospital rooms have televisions. Yep. Off we went to the hospital to search for an empty room with a TV. With no time to spare, we settled into the outpatient waiting room, and were swept away into historic Colorado Springs with the beloved cast of DR. QUINN, MEDICINE WOMAN.
Who goes to all that trouble, leaves the comfort of a cabin getaway for a TV show?Someone who is dedicated. Whether it is time, energy, or finances, we are willing to invest in those things about which we are most passionate.
Writing. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, how would you rate your passion for writing?
You want to write article, children’s book, or novel. But it’s almost as if life pitches a tent on top of your literary creativity and sets up camp.
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Many of us work at home with life spinning all around us. Others of us also work outside the home. Family-life rides tandem with our dream of building a career as an author. Due to health issues, my hubby retired seven years ago and is, for the most part, a stay-at-home man. I travel regularly to speak at schools, conferences, and women’s retreats. My only grandchild in the United States lives only an hour away. I am a caregiver for my mother, a victim of Alzheimer’s Disease, and her ailing husband. And so on. Your own list of responsibilities is compelling and long. Is writing one of them? It is, for me.
So how do I set aside blocks of time for the writing process?
Drum roll please!I don’t give away time unnecessarily and I don’t discount the all important wedges of time.
I’d been under the impression that I couldn’t write a novel with distraction; that I needed big chunks of solitude in order to complete a full-length story worth publishing. Such expectations set us up for procrastination.
Time is an issue, no doubt about it. You and I are both pulled in a myriad of directions, and that can take place all within a five minute period. We face many opportunities to serve others, the church, the community, the world. All of them good causes. Some of them even great. So how do we choose?
Warning: here comes the dreaded “P” word. Priorities take precedence over any number of time-munchers. We will make time for those activities we consider most important. Where did writing land on your scale of 1 to 10?
Can someone else send out the flyers for the food bank? Serve on the Valentine’s banquet committee? Host the weekly Bible study? Manage the mailing list for your quarterly e-Newsletter? Dot. Dot. Dot. Next time you get a phone call, an email, or a text asking you to do this or that, stop and think. Think about your motivation for saying yes. Then think about saying no if the activity wouldn’t be the best use of your time.
Time WedgesI do have a “work” schedule. One I refer to as “fluid.” Yesterday, I edited this blog post while Sophie shampooed and rolled my mom’s hair. After sitting beside Mom at the hair dryer, I took her to lunch then helped her switch out her purse to a small sling-style bag. That was the best use of my time. I also frequently find myself in hospital rooms and doctor’s waiting rooms. I have learned to savor all the bits and blocks of writing time I have and I’m figuring out how to draw the best out of them.
Writing on the Go1) I know when I need to go somewhere else to write. A place with white noise works well for me these days. McDonalds. Starbucks. When I crave a quieter atmosphere, the library wins.
2) I carry writing work with me. My motto: Have tote bag, file folder, AlphaSmart and/or laptop—will travel. I keep my tote stocked with index cards, extra batteries for my AlphaSmart, a notepad, and a nut bar. Depending upon what I’m working on and what stage I’m at in the project, I might add research material I want to read or organize, character sketches I need to fill in, a hard copy proposal or chapters I want to edit.
Writing in a Pinch
I’m prepared to fill those wedges of writing time with activities that don’t necessarily require big blocks of uninterrupted minutes or hours. Research, outlining, character interviews, proposal components, editing scenes or chapters, drafting a query letter, studying possible markets, etc. can all be done more readily in snippets of time, which leaves any blocks open for storytelling.
Writing Settled In By tending to some of the pre-writing and the business side of writing on the go or in the pinches of time, I’m better prepared to sit down at the keyboard and get to the writing that requires a more concentrated chunk of time. Also, having those smaller tasks out of the way or at least lined up for writing on the go or writing in a pinch, I’m in a better frame of mind to leap back into my story.There you have it—a few my secrets.
Happy writing! Oh, and happy reading. J
It was a dreary day when DR. QUINN: MEDICINE WOMAN was cancelled. But fast forward to 2012. I’m still fascinated with the role of female physicians in the 1800’s, so it’s no wonder then that Colorado doctor, Susan Anderson known as Doc Susie, serves as my “real life” character in The Bride Wore Blue, Book Three in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series.
MONA HODGSON is the author of Two Brides Too Many, Too Rich for a Bride, The Bride Wore Blue, and Twice a Bride (October 2012), all four books in The Sinclair Sisters of Cripple Creek Series (WaterBrook Multnomah). You can learn more about Mona and her books at www.monahodgson.com and connect with her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/Author.Mona