Thursday, May 26, 2016

Winning the Creative War

By Guest Connie Mann

In my head, I envision myself as this ethereal creative creature that floats through the mist, scooping up ideas in my pretty basket. The moment I alight at my desk, beautiful, perfect words pour from my fingertips like rain as a story magically appears.

Then I wake up and squint at the mess on my desk. I scowl at the big red due date on my wall calendar, slurp more coffee and panic.

For most writers I know, creating new characters, building a story world, and envisioning a juicy plot is the fun stuff of writing, the misty creative part. I can talk stories with you all day long and enjoy every minute of it. But tell me to spend the day at my desk writing? Hmm, I’m pretty sure I need to clean out the guestroom closet—right now. Can’t go another day without new curtains in the living room, either. And really, what was I thinking buying those socks?

In his book, The War of Art, Steven Pressfield says, “It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.”

Pressfield calls what keeps us from doing it “resistance.” I call it a big sweaty battle against inertia. And fear. And insecurity. Whatever name you give it, the moment we set out to do something creative, a force pushes back just as hard to keep us from it. How do we break through? How do we get our stories down on paper?

Here are my best strategies. They may not work for you, but I hope you’ll give them a try.

1—Write early.

I know, I can hear some of you groaning from here. Last fall I sat between two writer friends at lunch and realized both of them had full-time jobs and families and were getting up at 4:00 am (yes, you read that right) every morning to get their writing done. I decided if I was going to take my writing to the next level, I needed to do the same. The next morning, I set my alarm so early I wasn’t sure God was up yet and got to work.

I don’t like 4:00 am much, and realized I can’t keep it up for long, but I can do 5:00 or 5:30. So I’ve been gradually resetting my internal clock to get up at that time, gulp coffee and head to my computer.

The added benefit: my internal editor isn’t awake then, either. Apparently that naggy voice in my head that tells me this is clearly not misty creative material doesn’t get up early. I can simply pour the story out on the page and tell my internal editor she can gripe at me later.

2—Make deadlines your friends

I like to think I’m organized and disciplined and all those lovely things that sound so good, but the reality is that without a deadline, nothing happens. Nada. If I have all day to write 1,000 words, they will get dumped on the page exactly 30 minutes before hubby gets home from work to ask if I got everything done.

If that sounds familiar, try word sprints with friends, set a timer, or whatever makes that deadline panic work for you.

When I write before my day job, I can’t weasel out. The deadline is real and I only have so much time. I am a boat captain (just like the heroine of Tangled Lies) and work out in the sun most days, so by the time I get home from work, my brain is mush. I’ve learned that if my writing doesn’t get done first, it won’t happen that day at all.

Connie Mann at work!

3 – Set small goals

It sounds completely counterintuitive, but it works. I’m an optimist, which means I’m always pretty sure I can write a novel in a month; six weeks, tops. Then reality slaps me upside the head and I notice my gut is clenched and my palms are sweating because I’ve set an impossible goal. I just can’t do it.

I’ve learned to do the opposite and set small goals. Instead of 10,000 words in one day, I’ll tell myself I just need to write 500 words in this one hour. That’s it. No more. Usually, when the timer rings, I’ve written far more than 500 words. But even on days I don’t, I’ve met my goal so I can feel good about my progress.

4 – Keep a record

Speaking of progress, several years ago, I discovered the beauty of a yearly wall calendar, the kind that lets you see the whole year at once. That’s been a huge help in planning projects, setting reasonable goals, and meeting deadlines. But it also lets me record the successes--the days I met my goal, submitted a project and especially those days when good news arrives--like the day I sold Tangled Lies!

Writing is often solitary and kudos are few and far between, so this visual reminder of my progress throughout the year helps me stay the course. And for seasons when life interferes—as it inevitably does—it helps me cut myself some slack when progress is measured in teeny tiny steps.

That’s my battle plan for winning the creative war. It starts with the ‘butt in chair’ adage--and prayer, too--but without goals, deadlines and a set time of day, I never get close to my ‘misty creative’ ideal.

What about you? How do you get the story down on paper? What strategies do you use?

Leave a comment letting us know you’d like to be entered to win a print copy (U.S. address) of the newly-released Tangled Lies, from Waterfall Press. Available now!

Tangled Lies
Some Family secrets are best left buried at sea…

Orphaned as a child in Russia, boat captain Sasha Petrov has spent most of her life adrift, anchored only by her loving foster family. So when they beg her to return to the family marina in Safe Harbor, Florida, for Mama’s sixtieth birthday, Sasha complies, hoping to put the past behind her. But Mama has other plans: she wants her three foster daughters to find Tony, the biological son who disappeared twenty years earlier.

Sasha agrees to try, but that’s easier said than done when bad boy Jesse Claybourne shows up, reigniting an old attraction. Back in Safe Harbor on a quest of his own, Jesse gets tangled up in Sasha’s search, and soon the two are close to uncovering an old town secret that some will stop at nothing to protect.

When Jesse is violently beaten and Sasha’s dog is poisoned, they realize the past is hiding something more sinister than they ever imagined. Can they uncover the truth without destroying Sasha’s family and breaking each other’s hearts, or are they sailing against the wind?

Connie Mann is a licensed boat captain and the author of romantic suspense novels Tangled Lies (May 2016) Angel Falls and Trapped! When she’s not dreaming up plotlines, you’ll find “Captain Connie” on Central Florida’s waterways, introducing boats full of schoolchildren to their first alligator. She is also passionate about helping women and children in developing countries follow their dreams and break the poverty cycle. You can visit Connie online at


  1. Welcome back, Connie! I totally agree about the inertia. These are some great tips to help overcome!

    I've put on the decaff for our late night crew. :)

  2. Hi Connie! I'm not a writer, but I love how you reach your goals everyday. I suppose in a way, I do the same thing with say shopping/household/chores/etc. I find if I start those early in the day, I accomplish much more than I set out to do. And that sense of satisfaction is all worth it. On busy days or weeks, I can break down all I need to do in smaller chunks; prioritizing what needs to be done sooner than later and what can wait.

    As for keeping a record: I am a HUGE list person/ calendar writing/ dry erase board fanatic! I've always told my husband, if you want me to remember to do something/buy something at the store, etc, add it to a list somewhere & set it on my desk. I have PLENTY of scrap paper! If it's an upcoming appointment of some kind, add it to calendar. As for activities for the week, they get added to the dry erase board on the front door. And I love seeing the board empty at the end of an especially busy week!

    Oh yes, prayer is so important! We start our days with it and end them the same. God knows what needs to be done when and somehow it all gets done :-)

    Thanks for a great post! I'm sorry to say that I haven't heard of you as an author, but I do love meeting new writers. It helps widen my reader appetite :-) I would love to be in the draw for your book "Tangled Lies", thanks for the chance!

    P.S. I think it's so neat that you are a boat captain!! Do you do river cruises, or what exactly does your job entail...I'd love to know :-) I'm a huge water fan and being out on the river all day would be so relaxing!

  3. Oh Connie you made ne laugh when you spoke of being up so early. I have never been and never will be a morning person. In fact, I'm pretty sure I was the only five year old that could hardly get out of bed in time for kindergarten. Ask me to stay up until four - no problem. Ask me to wake up at four - torture.

    I love the idea of setting small goals and keeping a record.

  4. Connie, Welcome back!

    Yep. Self-imposed deadlines. I have editorial calendars all over the house and they are dated into February 2017 to get projects done.

    There is a Facebook group -private but anyone can join if they are serious about words on page-called 1K1HR. I find it helpful when I can't get motivated.

    How do you like working with Amazon's traditional publishing arm? You get hard copies and audio with all your releases or is that a myth? I am so excited to see new opportunities!!

  5. Hi Connie. Great post. As for getting up early, I do to, for other reasons, but I set my alarm clocks ahead by 45 minutes so when I set my alarm for 5 am, I'm actually getting up at 4:15am. It works for me, even though the clock says 5 and I know it's not true my mind can wrap itself around it better than it can 4:15 am.

    I would LOVE to win a copy of your book. I love the cover.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  6. Good morning, Everyone! Thanks so much for the warm welcome back, Missy! I'm delighted to be here.

    Hubby is out of town on business, so there was no fresh coffee when I got up this morning. Sadness. His great coffee is one of the many things I love about that man!

    But I'm up and ready to spend the day with all of you--in between getting words on the page!

  7. Good morning, Trixie,
    Wow, you are one busy lady! Ooh, I love the dry erase calendar by the front door where you erase things as they get done. I'm afraid mine would never be empty, though. I cross one thing off and add 3 more! LOL!

    My day job is really cool. I work for the local school board and pilot a 33 foot pontoon boat. I usually take 5th graders out on the Silver River here in Florida and get to show many of them their very first alligator. It's very cool.

    Good luck in the drawing!

  8. Hi again, Everyone,
    So the big news for me this week is that TANGLED LIES is now AVAILABLE!! It released on Tuesday and I'd love to have you check it out. I'm super-excited!

    Tina, yes, the book is available in print, e-book AND Audio (which is a first for me!). And Waterfall sent me print copies for promo and a few audio copies, too. They have been wonderful to work with.

    Calendars all the way to Feb 2017? Wow, I am super-impressed. You go, Tina. I will have to check out that FB group. Thanks for the tip!

    Terri--that's so funny! The problem for me as I'm, ahem, getting older, is that I can't stay up late OR get up early without a struggle. I'm becoming a middle-of-the-day person and even then I want a nap! So I let my alarm nag me awake and drink lots of coffee!

    Cindy, Oooh, what a great idea. I've always set clocks 5 minutes ahead, but 45?? I like it and may have to try it.

    Time for more coffee...

  9. Welcome, Connie! Thanks for the great tips! Since I'm at my day job @ 6:00 a.m. and I have a distance to commute, there's no writing early for me. That said, I do get up early on the weekends to write. I've learned that I must have a deadline in order to get projects completed. Once I write it in my calendar, I'll do it. I must say, I'm jealous of your office! :) I'd love to be entered into the drawing.

  10. Hi Connie,

    It's great to see you here. I love the cover of your new book and the story sounds great.

    Yesterday I had a day off work, and I woke up before 6:00. I went ahead and got up and ended up with a good writing day. I love early morning writing before the daily events start to pull me away.

    Congrats on your new book!

  11. Connie, good morning! I'm an early morning writer, too. When you're working outside jobs and writing, I found that if I didn't make writing my first rule of the day, I was minimizing its importance... So the early "get up, get it done" works well for me, too.

    And now that I'm only working my other job part-time at 25 hours/week, I can get another one or two writing sprints in per day... and checking in to 1K1HR gives me buddies to work with. I hope it helps them as much as it helps me!

    I'm so glad you're with us today! And congrats on Tangled Lies with Waterfall Press. Romantic Suspense is so popular right now, and kudos to you for being able to do it. That's awesome!

  12. hi Connie!
    Love your book cover and love your writing tips. I go in to work early, so I don't think that tip will work for me, but I so see the benefits of it. Maybe I should try it - but I KNOW I'll have to go to bed much earlier if I do. Otherwise I'll turn into one big Miss Crankypants. *sigh*

    I think your day job is sooooo cool. My husband has a 100 ton boat captain license. He works dive boats as a First Mate and back-up captain. He prefers another person carry the weight of responsibility for the ultimate welfare of passengers should something go awry. He does enjoy piloting the boat though. God certainly wired him for the sea - I never see him more alive than when he's working a dive trip. I joke with him that God made him amphibious, but forgot to install his gills. We're both certified scuba divers.

    The blurb for Tangled Lies sounds awesome. Please put my name in for a chance to win it. I'm heading to Amazon to put it on my wish list so I don't forget to buy it should I not win.

    Thanks for visiting Seekerville and sharing your hard won insights with us!!!

  13. I think we were cut from the same cloth, so to speak, Connie. So much of what your wrote hit me hard. I'm nodding.

    And I have been getting nudges that I need to write early. Life hits at 6:30 or 7 AM when I usually start the day. Ruthy rises at 4:30. As you mentioned, that's too early for me...especially if I've gone to sleep at midnight. But 5:30 would work.

    Thanks for a great post!

    So tell us about your day job. Hubby and I took a great boat tour in a swamp outside of New Orleans. The boat resembled yours. Are you a swamp boater? I'm so everything you do.


  14. Welcome, CONNIE! Great post! Keeping ourselves moving, overcoming that inertia, can be a real battle at times, especially when a story isn't flowing.

    I'm one of those up-at-4 a.m. writers because that's the only time available on weekdays and I usually carry that early hour into Saturday as well. Like you, my mind is mush when the day job ends, so mornings are my best bet.

    I keep an Excel spreadsheet for each of my books...columns for date, daily word count total, running total (programmed), and then a comment field so I can document WHY I didn't write on a given day ("to work extra early," "writing Seekerville blog post," etc.) or WHY I didn't hit my word count ("cut more than added."). I document there, too, my various deadlines (proposals, final manuscript, edits, art fact sheet completion, etc.).

    And to visually keep track, I have a little graphic on the spreadsheet that I fill in with red for every 5,000 words. (I'm just 3K short of hitting the last 5,000 on this latest WIP! YAY!)

    What a fascinating day job you have! How did you get into that? (Me, I sit plunked in front of a day job computer monitor for 8-10 hours a day. Or more. YAWN.)

  15. Yay, Connie!! I'll go change the blog now to reflect the new release!

  16. Trixi, I love that idea of a dry erase board on the front door!! We have a giant calendar on the wall in our kitchen and use highlighters on items we don't want to forget.

  17. Terri, you sound exactly like me on being a night owl. :)

  18. Cindy W, that's a genius idea to psyche you brain out about getting up at 4:15. :) I've always joked that anything before 5 am is impossible to comprehend. :)

  19. Jill, that certainly is an early commute! How far do you travel to work?

  20. Jackie, that's great that you got some good writing in yesterday! I love days like that.

  21. I knew Ruthy would chime in. She's the queen of writing early! I've always been amazed at what she can get done in the morning. Sometimes when I go to bed crazy late--like 4 am--I imagine passing Ruthy as she's getting up. :)

  22. DebH, that's so cool about your husband also having his captain's license!

  23. Good morning Connie. Your job sounds so exciting! I'd like to be a boat captain for a day...

    I'm a mid-morning person, or at least I'd like to be. I stay at home so after my husband and kids leave the house is the perfect time to get to work. But this year I homeschooled two of my teenagers. Even though they're not much trouble it's enough to throw off my writing. Just them being in the house, breathing, is a distraction. If they don't have work that day, I send them out of the house for an hour or so.

    I also prefer writing sprints. After about 12 minutes I begin to slow so I either write for 15 or 20 minutes sprints followed by a 5 minute break. I get more house work done in those 5 minutes than if I had 2 hours. (So agree w/your comment about having all day to write but hurrying the few minutes before your hubby walks thru the door...)

    Your book sounds great!

  24. Good Morning Connie Great post on getting that writing done. I'm with you on the early morning regime. I learned that from Glynna and Ruthy. My days are so full and like you, the brain is mush at the end of the day.

    If I do get an opportunity to write later in the day, I tend to revise and edit. Those are left brain activities that I do naturally so can manage those when tired.

    Thanks for joining us today and for sharing your ideas on writing. Best wishes on those deadlines.

  25. Glynna Yay on that word count. woo hooo

  26. Hello Connie! We at Sunshine State Romance Authors have a little thing called "butt glue". It is a ceremonial bottle that we pass around to a different member each month. You sit it on your desk top and it calls you to the chair. (actually I think it is the knowing that you have to write a blog about its power at the end of the month) Anyhow, I agree with you that the mind is more creative in the early hours of the day.

    Your Tangled Lies sounds awesome. Can I find your radio interview on youtube?


    SO appreciate this post today because it's given me some new ideas and reaffirmed some that I've been doing of late, the most important of which is:

    1—Write early.

    It was actually Ruthy and Glynna that got me started on this because most of their writing was accomplished the first two hours of the morning like you and your friends, before they went to work. I find this works for me really well also, when I actually do it, which has been more often lately. :)

    I don't actually keep a record, but I think that's something I might want to consider as well, so thanks for the tip.

    Hugs and Happy Writing!

  28. Missy, it takes me around 1/2 an hour. It's amazing the number of people on the road at that early.

  29. I'm back! I ducked out for a quick cup of coffee with a writer-friend. We've been talking about getting coffee for about a year and finally pulled it off this morning. :)

    Bear with me a few minutes while I catch up with all you fabulous people!


  30. Jill--Wow, being at work by 6 would be hard for me. But way to go on setting deadlines on weekends and getting it done. For me, it's ALWAYS about a deadline. I love my 'office' too!

  31. Hi Jackie, So good to 'see' you again, too! Good for you getting up early and plowing through the writing. That's wonderful! Thanks for doing the book release happy dance with me, too!

    Oh, yeah, the cover is gorgeous, isn't it? Waterfall did an amazing job on it!

  32. I can *so* relate with all of this and I employ some of the same tricks. Last week, I had a very busy week with my family--dance recitals and Confirmation--and I got more writing done than I usually do because I had no time to waste. :) I jokingly told a friend that I needed more weeks like this. I also keep a log and I'm amazed how, little by little, the words add up even when I feel I haven't been that productive.

    Please don't add me to the drawing. I have Tangled Lies waiting for me on my Kindle.

  33. Thanks so much, Ruth! I'm with you--if the writing doesn't get done first thing, it usually doesn't. By the time I get off the boat, I'm hot and sweaty and my brain is mush. But I will definitely see about joining you all in the word sprints. Sounds productive--and fun! :)

  34. DebH--how fun to meet fellow lovers of the sea. I so get what you said about your captain hubby! Somehow, for me, and my hubby, too, we are most alive when we're out on the water. Can't explain it--it just is. But SCUBA is something I've not done. Well, ok, I tried it once in a hotel pool and the weights they put on me were too heavy and I couldn't get back up and panicked a wee bit (snort), and haven't tried it since. But I've always wanted to. :)

    Thanks for checking out Tangled Lies. Hope you'll let me know what you think!

  35. Oh, thanks so much, Debby. I'm glad it encouraged you. I love getting to know people who are wired like I am. Of course, I'm fascinated by those who are very different, too. :)

    So my day job is really cool. I work on the Silver River (Central Florida) for the Silver River Museum, which is part of our local school system. I take 5th graders out (I work about 3 days a week) and get to show many of them their first alligator. Some have never been on a boat, either. Hubby and I have our own boat, too, which we're on every chance we get. No swamp tours, though. We prefer the gulf. :)

  36. Hi Glynna, Hats off to all of you amazing 4 am writers. Wish I could pull that off. And your spreadsheet? I am so impressed. Wow. I will have to think about that.

    Congrats on all that amazing progress! You go!

    So how did I become a captain? Ten years ago now, I'd had a book contracted and then things at the publisher changed and long, sad story short, the contract was cancelled. It was the last straw after years of rejections and I just couldn't deal with it anymore. So I stopped writing. completely. And then realized if I didn't get out of my house I was going to lose what was left of my mind. When a job opened up (with captain's training included) I jumped at it and found I LOVE being on the water and playing tour guide. Eventually, the writing called me back and I started writing again. These days I've found it's the perfect balance for me. Time outside around people and then back to the writing cave.

    Thanks for asking!

  37. Hi Connie--Oh I know all about distractions! My son did virtual school one year and I wasn't sure we would both survive the year (we did, but some days it was a near thing!) I love picturing you writing and cleaning in short bursts. Great way to do it. I think that's what we sometimes forget--it doesn't matter how we get the words down, just that we do it. Love your method!

  38. Welcome, Connie! Love this straightforward advice about getting the words on the page. And wow, how fun to be a boat captain and tour guide! Bet you meet a lot of interesting "characters" in your job!

    I keep telling myself I'm going to try harder to do some writing first thing in the morning, but too many other things seem to take priority. For the past several years, my system has been to take care of "busy work" first so it isn't hanging over my head all day. Then immediately after lunch, I set to work on the wip and let everything else go (mostly).

    It does help having a retired husband who has taken over most of the household chores and grocery shopping (after all, I did it for the first 35 years of marriage). And I've been blessed to be able to write (mostly) full-time for many years now.

    Even so, it takes tons of self-discipline.

  39. Thanks so much, Sandra. Love meeting all these fellow early-morning writers. An added benefit for me is that my internal editor is a late riser, so by getting up early, I outsmart her for a while and I can dump words on the page without her muttering in my ear.

  40. Connie -- time out away from the computer and around people AND water sounds ideal for rejuvenating your creative juices!

  41. Hi Linda, Oh I LOVE the idea of an actual bottle of 'butt glue.' :) What a great reminder. I may have to 'borrow' (I shouldn't say, steal, right?) that idea.

    Thanks for being excited about Tangled Lies.

    So, for everyone, and to answer Linda's question, I got to do a radio interview yesterday, which was so fun I forgot they were filming it and forgot to be nervous. I talk about Tangled Lies and about being a boat captain. Here's the link to the u-tube video if you want to check it out. (It's also on my FB personal page)

    Thanks for asking!

  42. Hi Julie--thanks for the warm welcome back. I'm delighted to be here. Glad you found the post helpful. For me, knowing I'm not the only one up so stinkin' early makes me less likely to whine about it. :)

    Hugs and happy writing to you, too!

  43. What an awesome post! I'm not a writer, but I find I need to start my project I the morning if I want to get it done. Wait till afternoon and I can't get motivated for anything....well, except reading. But that is like breathing for me!
    I love the blurb for TANGLED LIES.
    Thank you!

  44. Alison--congrats on getting lots done in the midst of a busy week. Those last few weeks of school were always insane at our house.

    It's the inverse of this axiom: tasks expand to fill the allotted time. Know what I mean? If you have all day, it takes all day. But when you only have 15 minutes, it's amazing what you can get done. (Yeah, the pesky deadline thing again)

    Good for you moving forward no matter what!

    And thanks for getting a copy of Tangled Lies! :)

  45. Myra, I do love my job! No question. I've tried doing all the busywork first, but for me, once I've done all that, my brain doesn't want to write. I'm so glad it works for you. I think we do whatever works during this season of our lives, knowing that circumstances may change that.

    My captain schedule changes with the weather. Half the year I work early (to beat the heat with the kids) and the other half, I don't start until 10--which is awesome for getting my writing done.

    Hooray for hubby taking over the household chores. That's awesome.
    Happy writing

  46. Glynna--Oh yes, being out on the water AND around people is just what I need to recharge my batteries so I can crawl back into the writing cave. I have found I need both to keep me balanced and happy. :)

  47. Hi Marianne-I'm with you, by afternoon my motivation has run off to curl up with a good book!

    Glad you like the blurb for Tangled Lies. I hope you'll give the book a read and let me know what you think. :)

  48. Hello Connie!

    What an interesting day job you have.

    I just love that mental picture that we're ethereal creatures floating around in a mist scooping up ideas and putting them in our baskets. Reality is a messy desk, for sure.

    I'm fascinated by this idea of a calendar that displays a whole year at a glance. Where do you find those? I think that would help me, as I'm such a visual person.

    Thanks for sharing today. I'd love to be included in the drawing for one of your books.

  49. Hi Renee--I know, right? The mental picture is so pretty compared to the gritty reality!

    I love my big calendar. I used to get them at the local office supply store, but found they are MUCH cheaper online. I like the BlueSky brand and I buy the fine-tip dry erase markers so I can write a bunch of things in each box. I also use different colors for each area of my life and use the corresponding colors on my online calendar so they all match. (I know, there's a word for people like me.) So captain days are in blue, writing is in green, family is orange, etc. It makes it easier to plan, especially big projects.

    Try it and let me know if it works for you.

  50. Glynna, your spreadsheet sounds like such a good idea! I use a time tracker app on my phone and add comments like that.

  51. Connie, your quote cracked me up: "Just them being in the house, breathing, is a distraction."

    Hahaha! I totally understand that! :)

  52. That last comment was about Connie Queen. :)

  53. Linda Tillis, I love the idea of a physical bottle of "butt glue" to inspire your members. :)

  54. Jill, I've been in horrible traffic around Atlanta that early. It's crazy!

  55. Missy--Thanks bunches for updating the blog with the release date! I'm so excited that Tangled Lies is finally available--and hoping people will fall in love with Sasha and Jesse's story the way I did.

    Sasha is a boat captain, too, so it was a BLAST to write!

  56. These are such great suggestions, Connie. I'm a fan of early morning writing and of deadlines. When I write early (and yes, my alarm is set for 4:00), my brain is fresh and open to creativity. When I set deadlines, I get my family onboard with me. My husband, especially, helps me carve out time for writing.

    Thank for sharing what works for you!

  57. CONNIE, welcome back to Seekerville! Thanks for the practical tips for getting words on the page. I feel better knowing I'm not alone with the struggle to sit in the chair. I'm an optimist, too. I believe I'll get a load of words on a day when there's no appointments, no distractions, but I seem to be an expert at distracting myself. My favorite tip of yours is to set small goals. I use a timer to remind myself to get up and move around. I intend to record how many words I got written during that hour.

    I'm guessing captaining a boat full of kids has given you some wild moments. Any stories you could share?

    Your book sounds excellent!


  58. Hi Jeanne--My hubby is a 4 am guy, too, and I'll admit I'm sometimes a little jealous, since even if I'm up, I'm not coherent that early. Kudos to you for getting it done and making it work for you. Double-thumbs up for a supportive hubby. I've learned that when I make it a priority, others do too. (Except my mother, but that's a whole different blog post!) :)

    Thanks for the encouragement!

  59. hi Connie
    So glad you could relate to my husband's love of the water. You should definitely give SCUBA another try. My husband is also certified dive instructor and he loves helping the folks who say they've tried and been scared. He figures if you love the ocean, you'll naturally love what's beneath the water. He's amazing. If you find the right instructor (that usually is NOT connected to hotel pool instruction) I think you'll find another hobby to enrich your life.

    Looking forward enjoying Tangled Lies.

  60. All this talk about getting up at 4:00 a.m. is giving me hives! I've never in my life been a morning person. Not really a night person either, so I've always called myself a middle-of-the-day person. ;-D

    However, as I'm waking up each morning (and believe me, it takes awhile!), I spend a few minutes thinking about my wip--where things ended during my last writing session and where things might go today. Sometimes I get some very useful insights.

  61. Hi Janet--I don't think there's a writer alive who doesn't struggle with sitting still long enough to get the work done! We're so easily distracted by shiny things. I hope recording your words will encourage you as you see the progress you're making, one chunk at a time. Go, you.

    Captain stories? Oh, there are many, but here's one. Florida weather can change on a dime, so we keep plastic ponchos aboard in case in rains. It's when there are thunderstorms in the area that things can get dicey. I have a weather app on my phone and the office monitors the radar, too, but sometimes, what we see on a screen and what's above our heads are two different things. I had a class out one day when it started sprinkling. About the time we got the ponchos out, the sky opened up and we were in the middle of a fast moving storm cell we'd never seen coming. Kids screaming as they got instantly soaked, wind whipping the canopy so hard I thought it might tear right off. But my biggest concern was a small boat that had been ahead of us. It was raining so hard I couldn't even see the front of our boat (The helm it at the back). My poor first mate had to stand at the bow, in the torrential downpour, and try to find that other boat so I didn't accidentally hit them. I called base and said I was turning around (no easy task with a big boat on a narrow river). By the time I got the boat turned, the storm passed by, the rain stopped and the sun came out. I looked at the teacher and asked what she wanted to do. She said, "We're soaked anyway, we might as well keep going." So we did. :)

  62. MYRA
    I think I'm in the same boat as you. Of course, the right cuppa Joe on an early rising day helps rev the motor some...

  63. DebH--Thanks so much for the SCUBA encouragement. I would love to give it another try, but I think it will be down the road a while. These days, I'm trying to get back into music, playing an instrument, because I've realized that's been missing from my life for too long. But to be honest, I've been thinking about it, but haven't actually done it yet.

  64. Hi Connie:

    I wish I was on that boat with you right now! Every year we go to Orange Beach and every year we take the same two-hour Dolphin cruise which features one hour of open water dolphin viewing, (they have about 30 dolphins photographed and named), and one hour in the bayous looking for birds and alligators. Each year is a new experience!

    So does your writing creativity bleed into your captaining?
    Do you wear a hat?
    Is the boat all shaded or is there also a sun deck area?
    Do you have a helper?
    Do you play Beach Boy and Jimmy Buffet music along with providing a funny running tour guide narrative?
    Do you do an amazing parallel docking maneuver where you slip into an 'L' shaped dock as the bow stops just short of hitting the front dock while at the same time washing gently alongside the landing doc -- all to the cheers of passengers?

    The most common comment on leaving the boat: "You've got the best job in the world".

    BTW: You don't have to answer any of these questions. : )

    I just listened to the Audible sample of "Tangled Lies" and the narrator does an wonderful job with all those different voices plus having to do one with a Russian accent. I can't believe that Audible would offer that 10 hour audio version for just $1.99 -- if you buy the Kindle book for just $3.99. That's a deal!

    I totally love Audible books.

    I most enjoy books where I've been to the location and would love to revisit the area.

    Are you going to write a series of books in the same local? I'm always looking to add to my short list of 'auto-buy' authors. If you're not too far from Pensacola, I might just come down and take one of your boat trips.


  65. Hahahaha Myra! I SO hear you! I have always been a middle-of-the-day person, so I'm fighting my nature on this one. Hubby doesn't get that just because I'm vertical, does NOT mean I want to get all crazy and have conversations and stuff that early. :)

    Letting a story simmer as you sip coffee? Sounds wonderful.

  66. Hi Connie:

    I meant to say this about your point #4 - "Keep a record" which I usually mentioned in my TQM seminars:

    "It is often said that you can't control what you can't measure and you can't manage what you can't control."

    I think all your points comply very well with the best total quality management practices.

    While I do all the above things, my problem is not writing the first draft. I love writing the first draft because it is all about blank page creativity and it is all very entertaining. It's editing that I hate. Almost all the creative fun is dissipated after the first draft. If I just loved editing, as so many published authors do, life would be so much more pleasant.

    I see editing as having to wash all the dishes, by hand in very hot water, after having just prepared a glorious gourmet meal for twenty guests!

    Like 'duty' is just wish 'editing' could have been a cutie.


  67. Hi Vince--I love all the questions and I'm glad you enjoy your time on the water every year. I wish I could play Buffett or other fun music, but since I generally take out 5th graders on a field trip, I'm afraid that's a no-go. On our family boat? Oh, yeah. That and Beach boys. I hate wearing a hat, though I do wear a ball cap when hubby and I take our boat out. Docking on the river with the current is always tricky and my favorite comment from students is, "This is the best field trip EVER!"

    I've never had an audio book of one of my stories, so I'm delighted that you liked the sample. Hope you'll give it a listen and let me know what you think.

    If Safe Harbor existed, it would be between Crystal River and Cedar Key on Florida's Gulf coast. I do have two more Safe Harbor books planned, so we'll see. Thanks for being excited with me.

  68. CONNIE, the possibility you could hit another boat had to be terrifying! Aren't we thankful happy endings aren't limited to romance novels. I'm guessing the kids and adults had a lot to share around the dinner table that night.

    My new motto: Think small to produce big. :-)


  69. Vince, you have me longing for a trip to Orange Beach! We didn't go last year because we did the NYC trip with RWA. But I'm hoping for a beach trip this year after we move.

  70. Thanks, Janet! Oh, yeah, they were all chattering like magpies the rest of the trip. I feel very keenly the responsibility for all the lives on the boat when I'm at the helm. Was so grateful for God's protection that day, for all of us. :)

    Oooh, I like you new motto!

  71. Vince--I'm with you on that. Love the initial burst of creativity. Editing? Not so much, but I am learning to make friends with the process, mainly by setting deadlines so I get through as quickly as possible. Otherwise I can futz and procrastinate for months.

  72. Great tips, Connie! Thanks for sharing. I'm a teacher, and my summer break starts tomorrow. I already have my alarm set for 5:00am. I plan to get up and get my writing done early. In addition to making headway on my many writing projects, the goal is to developed a good habit so that when August 1st rolls around I can continue achieving goals while working full-time.

  73. MYRA, I'm with you! I like to be up fairly early, but I'm rarely "at 'em" unless you count doing my devotions and guzzling coffee. No sipping on that first mug. LOL Sometimes I eat lunch in my office. I use that time to check Seekerville or answer email. Once lunch is over, I hope to have stowed all the shiny stuff so I can work.


  74. RHONDA, go you! Hope your summer is relaxing, even with getting up before the chickens.


  75. Go Rhonda!!!

    Thanks for being a teacher. Y'all have big jobs taking care of young minds. I certainly appreciate the K level teacher for my little guy.

  76. Rhonda--Thanks for being a teacher! Such a tough job, but rewarding, too, I'm sure. (I love it when a student lights up at something I say on the boat.) Cheering you on as you write and work to develop good writing habits this summer. For me, that's the key--making it automatic, so I don't have to psyche myself up for it every day.

  77. CONNIE, I'm fascinated by alligators and dolphins, oceans and palm trees. Perhaps I love the fauna and flora of Florida so much because its so very different from the Midwest. Though we do have blue herons visiting the pond out back, a small reminder of the Sunshine State. Have you lived your entire life there? Or are you a transplant?


  78. Oh Connie, you're singing my tune.

    What would I rather do than sit down and work on that first draft?
    clean the toilet
    weed the flowerbeds
    put another load of laundry in the washer
    check my email one more time "just in case"
    peruse for land to buy (Incentive to write!)
    clean the other toilet...

    Yes, the list goes on and on.

    BUT, the deadlines come to the rescue! I wouldn't get anything done without them!

    Oh, when it's time for revisions, though, I can hardly stay away from the computer. Love them. So bye! I'm off to work on revisions. :)

    BTW - Tina, my calendar goes through January 2019. My agent and I are working on new contracts... :)

  79. Janet--I grew up in a small town on Long Island, but our family moved to south Florida in 1979. After college I moved around quite a bit (my kids were born in Washington State) and came back to Florida in the early 1990s. We've lived in Central Florida for 20 years and love it. We say we are now far enough north to actually be in the south (because south Florida is mostly northern transplants).

  80. Jan--your list made me laugh. Oh let me count the distractions! I'm a bit envious of your love of edits, though. We've negotiated a cautious truce here, so I'm working on it.

    Calendar through 2019??? Wow. Go, Jan!

  81. I can really relate to this post. I have such a hard time sitting down to write. In fact, I am avoiding it right now. I am not a morning person, but I need to get started when I do get up in the morning. I am on summer vacation from my substitute teaching job, so should be able to make the time.

  82. Good advice Connie. One day I'll try the writing sprints with friends. I wholeheartedly believe in small goals. I don't do hourly word count but I do set my chapter word count for 3K. Then I write as much as I can when I write toward that 3K. Sometimes I can do it in a few hours, sometimes a few days. Life can get in the way. The getting up early...hard for me when I don't sleep well as it is. What makes me most productive is to have the house to myself, music playing and the world becomes just me and the story in my head. And staying off social media helps too! Which means I need to get back to my writing because with a new puppy in the house who's sleeping right now I need to be working. Have a blessed day.

  83. Connie, we're in total sync. Unless I write first and early, that infernal, internal editor wakes up and pushes me around. I also set daily goals that I have to meet, because I live an editor's life in the late morning/afternoon. Pays the bills.

    I LOVE your profession! I'm always more interested in a story when I can learn something new. A boat captain!! How cool is that?

    Please throw my name in the boat for Tangled Lies. I'm alread hooked by your premise!!

  84. Hi Sandy, Hooray for time off this summer. I don't captain much in the summer, so I totally hear you. I find when I go straight to the computer, coffee in hand, of course, I don't give myself time to come up with excuses. And the more days I do that, the easier it is. You can do it!

  85. Hi Terri, What a great way to set goals--by chapter. I've never thought of that, but I like it. We all have to work around the life stuff that gets in the way of our writing--but that sweet puppy would derail me for months!! Such a cutie.

  86. Hi Barbara, thank you! I love being a boat captain. Keeps me sane, centered and creative. :)

    With all the early writers I've chatted with today, it'll be easier to remind myself I'm in good company when I drag myself out of bed at oh-dark-hundred!

    Hope you'll let me know what you think of Tangled Lies.

  87. Terri, that new puppy is like having a baby around the house again, isn't it?! :)

  88. Great post, Connie - - thank you!!
    I'm adding this to my keeper file and plan to refer back when I need a dose of motivational tips. :)
    I have found that *if* I can dive into my writing BEFORE getting on Facebook, I'm much more likely to meet my word-count goal (or even exceed it some days).

    How special that you're a boat captain! I taught first grade and kindergarten for many years, and I'm sure my students would've LOVED taking one of your boat rides!

    No need to enter me in the drawing, because I ordered TANGLED LIES from Christian Book Distributors 2 days ago! Cannot wait til it arrives! :)
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  89. Definitely will, Connie! Can't wait to read it.

  90. Hi Patti Jo-I'm delighted that the post will be a help to you. I totally get the struggle of avoiding Facebook. It's a black hole I fall into if I'm not paying attention. I've been known to do a writing sprint, then set the timer for 10 minutes of FB as a reward, then another writing sprint.

    It is such fun to get the students engaged and excited about nature and the river. Too many spent their time with electronics these days, so what we do matters even more. Thanks for all of your years pouring your life into your students.

    Oh fun! Thanks for ordering Tangled Lies. I hope you'll let me know what you think.

  91. Connie, Thanks for the great post, and I've so enjoyed reading your comments as well. Captaining a boat in Central FL sounds like fun. I remember going to Silver Springs as a child.

    For me, a huge factor for scheduling is the school calendar. I was so hoping to get my present WIP's draft done by the end of the school year, but where I live, today was the last day of school so I didn't make it, so now I have to try to find ways to write with the kids at home. I am not a morning person, and writing first thing in the morning is something I so admire from the writers who work for an hour or two first thing.

    Thanks for the tips and scheduling ideas. Always on the lookout for ways to be more productive. I think I will have to change my timer from 20 minute sprints to 30 minute sprints in the summer.

  92. Hi Tanya, I'm glad you enjoyed the post and the comments. I piloted a Glass Bottom Boat at Silver Springs for about 6 years. It's a special place. I work on the same river, different employer, but I'm still friends with all the captains there.

    When my kids were still in school and I really needed to get some words down, I would post a sign I made on my office door that said: "Artist at work--do not disturb. Exceptions: fire, flood, blood." I didn't stay in there too long, but they knew Mama would not be happy if they interrupted for anything other than the noted exceptions. It taught them to respect my writing time, which was a good thing. Just an idea. :)

    Cheering you on as you word sprint this summer.

  93. Hi Connie,

    Great post! I'm an early riser so I try and write from 5AM - 7AM. The challenge for me is to not check emails. (Major pet peeve: email box gets overloaded!)

    I like your idea of the yearly wall calendar.

    Please enter my name for the drawing!


  94. Hi Connie. Wonderful explanation about the inertia that hits. Although I wish it didn't, I'm relieved to know that it happens to others.

    Your tip about the yearly wall calendar reminds me that I used to print out a monthly calendar and then note anything I did that related to writing. It was a great way to reassure myself that I was doing and accomplishing more than I realized. Somehow I always seem to focus on what I didn't accomplish :-)

    The write up for Tangled Lies has quite a storyline!

    Nancy C

  95. I set small goals, Connie.
    Slow and steady wins the race.
    Write every day, or nearly every day.

  96. Thanks, Edwina! Email and FB--if we could stay away from those during our writing time, think of the progress we could make, right? A battle, I know.

    Happy writing!

  97. Hi Nancy, I think we're all guilty of focusing on what we didn't do, rather than what we did. But in a business with little recognition and lots of rejection, we need to build ourselves up, not tear ourselves down. I hope you'll go back to that calendar. Record your progress and give yourself permission to celebrate forward motion every day--even if it's only a few words. It's more than you had the day before. :)

    Glad you're intrigued by the Tangled Lies blurb. :)

  98. Well said, Mary. Well said. Small goals, steady progress. :)

  99. I like the comment of "set small goals." A boss once asked how I wrote a book and I old him 500 words at a time.

  100. Walt-I love what you told your boss. That's how it works, isn't it? We eat that elephant one bite at a time.

  101. Edwina, email is my distraction as well!

  102. Walt, I love that reply too.

    How are you holding up with graduation? They grow up way too quickly, don't they!

  103. Thanks so much for a fabulous day chatting with all of you! I enjoyed every minute.
    Happy writing, everyone!

  104. Hi Missy:

    We've gone to Orange Beach, the same condo complex, every year since I used your video, as posted on Seekerville, to sell my wife on the idea of going there.

    Now my wife books the condo for the next year within a week of us getting back home. We are now on the top floor of the building that looks fully out on the water with the small pool below. We are also dealing with the owner directly and saving a lot of money for a much better furnished unit.

    If you want a one bedroom and a great landlord you can deal with directly, email me. I'll get you in touch.


  105. Wow, did I need to read this post. I've struggled with finding the time to write lately too. As much as it would kill me to get up early, I probably need to do that too. Trying to write at night after work and the kids are in for the night just doesn't work. I'm exhausted by then! And if my internal critic stays asleep for a bit, then that's an extra bonus! Thanks for the great post!

  106. Thanks for the helpful post! Yes, I'd love to read your book about a boat captain heroine. Please enter me in the drawing.

  107. Connie --- thanks for the timely encouragement. It was a just what I need!

  108. Connie --- thanks for the timely encouragement. It was a just what I need!