Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Art of Drive-by Writing

with guest blogger and drive-by writer, Meg Brummer.

 "The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes."
- Agatha Christie

I don’t have time to write.

No, really I don’t. I stay home with two kids under three and I’m pretty sure they hold nightly meetings while my husband and I sleep to plan out just exactly how they’ll alternate naps during the day so that Mommy never gets a break. Ever.

Every night at 8:30 when they are good and asleep in their beds for at least the next few hours, I spend several minutes deciding whether I should sleep because I’m EXHAUSTED or write because I, hey, I want to! Let’s just say this blog post is brought to you by coffee. . .lots of coffee.

So, how do you write a book when your life doesn’t allow for regular chunks of uninterrupted writing time? 

After wasting months (um. . . years) of writing no words at all, I stumbled on a method I like to call Drive-by Writing. 

It’s pretty simple, really. I keep my computer and outline (or whatever other notes I need) in a central location that I see and pass by throughout the day – like the kitchen table or counter – and that stays out of reach of the two-year-old’s curious fingers! Throughout the day, every time I pass by or get a minute or two to walk over to the computer, I write a little bit. The first few times I tried this out, I was pleasantly surprised by my word count at the end of the day! Now, drive-by writing is my primary strategy for getting writing time when life is crazy.

So how does it work?

Aim for any words

Seriously. Any. When I have a drive-by day, my goal each time I pass my computer is five words. Just five! Sometimes that is realistically all I have time for at the moment. More often than not, five words turns into fifty or one hundred. Repeat twenty to thirty times throughout the day and you end up with a 2000 to 3000-word day! Worst case scenario: if you only get five words at each pass, you produce 100-150 words. No, that doesn’t feel like major progress, but it is progress and you can celebrate it!

Be flexible

I’ll be brutally honest here. I love routine. I love it so much that I flirt with the line between “functioning human being” and “frantic basket case” when I lose my sense of routine. So I resonate with the many authors I have read who advise setting aside the same time every day as official writing time and sticking to it! Let the people in your life know that it’s your writing time and it needs to be respected! Close the door, put up a sign, and unplug the phone!

Yeah. . . that conversation didn’t go over so well with my two-year-old.
These two keep me on my toes!

So when you find yourself in a season of life where predictable writing routines are just plain out of reach, get flexible! I wasted a couple of years producing no words while waiting for the ideal routine to be established until I realized I could write in snippets throughout my toddler-paced days. Now, that is my routine.

Write on the go

I always liked the idea of going old-school. You know, writing a novel with pen and paper – having the distinguished ink smudge on your hand that marks you as a writer. When I try that, though, I just don’t seem to be able to get a lot of words out before my hand cramps up. But when I’m drive-by writing that doesn’t matter! I can stand in line at the grocery store and write my five words. I can sit in the drive-thru teller and get ten more. Waiting room at the doctor’s office – another 30. Then after the kiddos are in bed, take thirty minutes to type them into my WIP document and hit “Save.” Progress! And depending on how my nightly dilemma between sleep and writing turns out, maybe add another paragraph – even page! – or two.

If just thinking about pen and paper still causes your hand to cramp up, utilize your smart phone.  Occasionally I hear of a great new app for writers. I’ve tried a few but personally haven’t stuck with them, and usually they cost somewhere between .99 and $3. For drive-by writing, I prefer to use the basic “Notes” app that came free on my phone since I’m not dictating large chucks of text at a time or needing to sync with other programs.

Set up Writing Dates

Finally, even if drive-by writing becomes your primary way of getting words on the page, it’s still a good idea to set aside “writing dates” – larger spaces of time every once in a while that allow you to “get in the zone” and get those cathartic word sprints out. I am blessed enough to have my parents in the area, so my mom and I set up one day a week on which she gets to hang out with her grandbabies all day and I get to do whatever I want – which usually is sitting at a coffee shop and writing without a single interruption for hours, and only the occasional intentional break to get up and stretch. It might be twice a week for you or once a month, but this gives you something to look forward to while you slog through your phrase-at-a-time Drive-by days.

 Could Drive-by Writing work for you? Next time you have a busy day or a crazy season of life, think about how you can fit even a few words in here and there, and go for it! You might be surprised how much more you mull over your story in between the snippets and how many words you can write when you feel like you just don’t have the time!

How about you? What strategies do you like to use to keep yourself writing when life gets crazy? I’d love to know!


Meg Brummer grew up in a world of adventure and discovery and found depth, hope, and courage in the stories of adventure, romance, and imagination of her youth and in the deeper, truer story that inspires them all. The stories of her childhood planted themselves deeply and grew into a love of storytelling and a passion for spinning her own speculative tales of beauty and wonder.

She spends her days exploring the beautiful Black Hills with her two adorable and imaginative children, living out the best romance tale she could imagine with her heroic husband, and writing down her daydreams in the naptimes, bedtimes, and cracks of a busy and beautiful life. When she has a really rare moment of free time, she indulges her sweet tooth on a morsel of chocolate and loses herself in an overly ambitious quilting project or learning some dead or obscure foreign language for fun.

Leave a comment today to get your name in the draw for a Seeker Book of Choice in honor of Meg's visit (if we can find it on Amazon, you can pick it).  The winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition!


Mary Connealy said...

I like the new Seeker book of Choice logo. I'm doing that from now on!

Mary Connealy said...

Meg I love your advice.
The 'Five Words' or Any Words...that's great advice. It gets you STARTED!!!!

Mary Connealy said...

Drive-By Writing. Great way to put it! :D Love your little cuties, too. Major distractions there.

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Mary! Thanks! Just getting started is sometimes the biggest hurdle for me, so taking the big word-count pressure off really helps. And yeah, "major distractions" is right! Haha :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

I love how you do this. It has occurred to me that this will work for anyone. You could even text yourself words while in line at the post office for your drive by writing.


Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary dear,

Just ask and you shall receive the SBC logo with color of choice.

I aim to please.

Tina Radcliffe said...


Do you live near Jan Drexler? How near? Are you in the same ACFW chapter?

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Tina! I didn't even think about texting yourself. That is brilliant! I'm going to use that too now.

I do live near Jan Drexler :) We met at church, so I see her every Sunday. I'm on the very southwest side of town and she's on the very northeast side, so about a 20 minute drive. She's awesome!

And I actually JUST joined ACFW, so I'm assuming I am? But I'm not fully oriented yet, so I'm not entirely sure how chapter affiliation works.

Mary Preston said...

I know that as a reader that I can always find time for the things I love to do. I just need to be organised.

Cindy W. said...

I loved this post Megan! I'm in a season of waiting on the Lord right now but He and I have been having some talks lately and I'm praying I will be out of this season soon. I miss writing.

Drive-By Writing sounds like an inspired and unique way to get words down and could very well work for me. Thank you for the inspiration today. It would also help my inner editor that likes to keep editing before moving forward, which is a very bad habit I got in to. Moving forward I hope to plunge in, get it down, make it to 'the end' and then do my edits.

I pray you all have a very blessed day!

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Kara Isaac said...

Love the post, Meg! I have two children under 5 and a third on the way. My "I need time, all the tiiiime to write" brain is grappling with learning to write in such little blocks but I suspect I'm going to have to give it a crack to get much done in the near future!

Mary Connealy said...

Strategies, write late at night. Like now.
Make lists.
Buckle down.
Work harder AND smarter.
No excuses.

Mary Connealy said...

Yes I mean 'like now'. I haven't been to bed yet. But I'm going now. Before My early bird cowboy husband catches me still up.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome, Meg! I'm a creature of routine also. If it's written in my calendar, I must do it. Keeping track of my word count keeps me motivated. Even those days when the count is low, by the end of the week, they all add up. You're kids are cuties!

Jackie said...

What beautiful children! I like your idea of drive by writing. I also keep a little notebook in my purse for when an idea hits me and I'm away from home. When I get home I try to decide if it's worthy of adding to my story, and it's fun to go back through those ideas when I'm stuck.

Kate said...

Great advice. And I love the pictures of the children! Thanks for the giveaway!!!!

DebH said...

LOVE the picture of your beautiful children. Wonderful distractions that they are. I love your drive-by writing concept even more. I so need to implement this. I know I'm letting writing moments pass and wasted time NOT writing. What you have explained is a light-bulb moment for me. THANKS!!!!!!!

I did have a small notebook in my purse for writing purposes, but it morphed into a drawing pad for my then 4 year old (now 6). Never recovered. Now that I actually have a smart phone, I may give that notes thingy a try. Not sure about the texting myself, but...

This is a wonderful post. Yay for Seekerville and the wonderful peeps who contribute. LOVE IT!!!!

Julie Lessman said...

OH. MY. GOODNESS, MEG ... this was flat-out adorable and SOOOO desperately brilliant!!!

First of all, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, girl, it's SO good to wake up to a cup of coffee doctored with a smile!!

Secondly, your children are as GORGEOUS as their mom is smart, so I'm praying they synchronize their naps!!

I've actually dabbled in drive-by writing, but not to the extent you have, so I have definitely learned something today that I tend to apply. Like you, I utilize my Notes app on my phone and computer as well as keep a pen and paper with me at all times -- especially on the treadmill!

My best drive-by story actually took place while driving ... at night ... down a curvy hill ... while I desperately tried to write a line that came into my head. My second best, I'm ashamed to say, was a funeral, where I didn't know the person well at all and the eulogy was long. Got three chapters plotted that day.

When I am on a roll with writing and have to quit to make dinner (my husband is so demanding!) or get ready to go out (even dinners out rank second to writing when I'm hot on the trail of a scene), I will literally keep my laptop on the kitchen counter to liberate those sentences ramming against my brain between stirring the chili or waiting for the chicken to brown (or burn, depending on the intensity of my writing at the moment). So I would consider those drive-bys.

But NOTHING compared to the genius of a young mother who refuses to let her dream go. I applaud you, my friend, and would lay good money on the table that you write more words than I do in a day, and I don't have two babies to watch!!

Hugs and more power to you!

Janet Dean said...

MEG, welcome to Seekerville! Whatever phase of life we're in, you've given all of us some terrific advice. The more time I have, the more time I seem to waste. My writing routine is to sit at my desktop in the office. The idea of working on that small laptop keyboard in small snatches between this and that is exciting. I'm going to give it a try.

Your children are adorable! I wasn't writing until my kids were in high school. You will see your dream come true a lot faster than mine did. Go you!!


Tina Radcliffe said...

You'll have to ask Jan about the local chapter.

Kudos to you for joining ACFW.

What do you write? And what are you drive-by working on?

Jill Kemerer said...

Oh Meg, I could have used this post when my kids were toddlers!! I set writing aside for a few years because I was driving myself nuts trying to do it all!!

About 18 months ago, I had a light bulb moment and started writing on my phone when waiting for a kid to finish practice or sitting in line for something. It really works!! Thanks for your inspiring post! Your babies are adorable!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Kara has one on the way???? Congratulations!!!! WOOT!

Kav said...

Love this! And can totally see how those two cuties would be major distractions and schedule disruptors. LOL For me, it's a chronic pain condition that I find limiting so I do this too. Small snippets at a time. It can be frustrating and the only way I can keep calm about it is by concentrating on what I've achieved instead of lamenting over what's still left to do.

Barbara Scott said...

Meg, I think all writing mothers are superwomen!! Isn't it great God invented laptops, tablets, and cell phones just for you? The idea of drive-by writing is pure genius. Now if I can only find a way to write in the shower. That's where I get my best ideas.

I'd love to win a Seeker book of choice!

Jan Drexler said...

MEG!!!! It's so great to see you here on that side of Seekerville! So excited for you. :)

(Expect an email from me about our local chapter - ACFW Dakotas - and our even more local regional group of that chapter - ACFW Dakotas West!)

The concept of drive-by writing is brilliant. You're getting words down! Too many people use the excuse that they have to have an hour or more of uninterrupted time...and then never write that book.

I need to use this concept through the next couple weeks as we travel to Michigan to stay with/care for my mother-in-law. For some reason my dear husband expects me to talk to him when we travel! Doesn't he know I have deadlines???

(Actually, he understands the deadlines, just not the amount of time it takes for me to meet one.)

Hug those cute children for me!

Jan Drexler said...

And Meg, you didn't share about your other major distractions, but I'll spill the beans...

Hey everybody, Meg and her husband are part-owners in the most awesome ice cream shop in South Dakota!

So if you're ever in the Black Hills, be sure to stop by Armadillo's for a treat!

Megan Brummer said...

Good morning Seekerville!!!

MARY – Yes, organization is key! For me, that looks like giving the kids some structure to their day and then using the cracks of time while they’re entertained or playing nicely or sleeping to squeeze in some writing. And you’re right, when you love to do something, you find the time for it!

CINDY – I’m so glad you stopped by! Seasons of waiting can be so tough. We’re just coming through one that has been a little over a year. I often felt like I was walking through a fog just waiting for the sun to come through and burn it off so I could see what was next! But in those times, I’ve found God’s faithfulness really shines through. Praying you’ll feel and know God’s faithfulness in the waiting. In the meantime, I’m glad I could offer a strategy to help you keep forging ahead! My inner editor and I play tug of war too, and this can really keep her at bay and help me get down LOTS of words because I simply don’t have time to listen to her!

KARA – I so feel you! Having little kids is a fun, exciting, beautiful, HARD, EXHAUSTING season of life! The best advice another auther has given me to is to celebrate ANY progress and not to wish away this season of childhood with my kids. Embrace the crazy, write when you can, and before you know it the kids will be older and more self-sufficient, you’ll have TONS of time to write… and you’ll be longing to have these days back again :)

Megan Brummer said...

Mary Connealy – I LOVE your “no excuses” attitude. It’s so true! If you want to be a writer, then you have to write! No excuses! I’m also incredibly impressed at your ability to stay up all night. I try to do that, and I’m wiped by 1 or 2! And then I spend the next day letting Cinderella and The Jungle Book babysit…haha.

Jill – Thanks for the welcome! I’m so excited to be here today! Word count is a great motivator for me too, as long as I don’t get too hung up on when the numbers feel small. I like to look at my cumulative word count over a few days…it’s motivating to see that I really am making good progress, even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment!

Megan Brummer said...

Jackie – A notebook in the purse is a great idea. I also keep one on my bedstand for those 2 AM moments of inspiration! I also like how you can stop and reevaluate what you wrote on the go before typing it into the WIP. I’ve taken new directions a few times just because I had those extra few hours to mull over the idea between jotting down a few words and then adding to the document later.

Kate – Thanks for stopping by!

DebH – Thank you! I’m so glad I could offer something helpful! Haha… my notebooks often turn into doodle pads for the kids too. Then I have to try to squint through the squiggles to figure out what I wrote underneath it all. I love Seekerville! This is such a unique community and I love that we can all learn from each other!

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

Doing this now to some extent since I have a 5-month-old. But that means naps are free time, so I usually get one good chunk of time in if my muse cooperates. I also spend a lot more time typing one handed, like now, while my daughter is taking a bottle. But ... even if I WANT to sleep, my muse sometimes keeps me awake. It's hard to turn off that brainstorming generator. So then I waken my phone and type in the thought (yeah, Notes!) while trying to block the light from my husband so he can sleep. Anyone ever have that problem?

Kara, I hope you ARE able to keep writing. I'm enjoying your second book now :-) and I can't wait to see what comes out next.

Seekerville, maybe one of these days I need to sponsor the free giveaway of two recorders. One for the lucky commenter and one for our dear Julie so she won't go careening off the road some dark and stormy night, just to get that thought on paper :-). (I do actually have a recorder, and have used it extensively while writing. It's easy and safe to use, even while driving.) And this is another example of how to engage in drive-by writing! Literally!

Megan Brummer said...

Julie! I think we must be kindred spirits! Thank you for such a warm and exciting welcome! I LOVE your Drive-by stories. I laughed out loud! I can’t say I’ve ever plotted at a funeral (there’s a pun in there somewhere…) but I do have to admit there have been a couple of times I worked out a story or character when I should have been listening to the sermon at church on Sunday! Don’t tell my pastor… ;) As for dinner, I’ve definitely had a day or two where I’ve just given up on cooking all together and told my husband to pick up a pizza on the way home from work! A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do…

Megan Brummer said...

Janet - "The more time I have, the more time I seem to waste." YES. It's a constant battle! I have to admit that there are still days that I end up wasting all the spare moments I had instead of capitalizing on them. Drive-by writing has to be a habit in order for it to work and overcome those wasted moments, and habits can be really hard to start! But it's really been worth it! I've written more than I ever thought possible at the stage of life!

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Tina! Thanks! I'm excited to be a part of ACFW now. The resources alone are incredible. I'll have to chat with Jan about our area.

I mostly write speculative, but I've been reading a lot of historical and romance in the last year or two - partly because of Seekerville! - and I've got some ideas I'd like to try out in those genres too.

Right now, I'm Drive-by writing three different projects. (Because I'm not an overachiever at all...) An epic fantasy novel about an orphan girl who saves a world from an ancient dragon, a Christmas short story for a contest, and a novelette about an absent-minded explorer! Most of my time goes to the novel, but the last couple of days I've really focused on the Christmas short story trying to get it ready for a contest :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Ice Cream!!!!!

Gosh, I want to see a menu now. Is there an on line menu?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Anyone who isn't juggling several things at once isn't really trying. HA! Good for you, Meg!

Megan Brummer said...

Jill Kemerer – Thanks for stopping by! After our first was born, I also thought I would need to set writing aside for a time, and unfortunately didn’t write at all for over a year. I’m glad to hear that you stumbled on a way to keep writing too! It’s encouraging to hear that it works for other people too!

Kav – I’m so sorry to hear about your chronic pain. I didn’t go into in the post, but I’ve also dealt with chronic pain and other issues related to a disease that I JUST got a diagnosis for. It can be frustrating and discouraging trying to reach your goals when you feel like your own body is fighting against you. I’m praying for relief and health and strength, and for beautiful moments of inspiration and production in the meantime! Remember, every little bit of progress is worth celebrating! Writing can be hard work, like climbing a mountain or running a marathon. But if you keep at it, you’ll get there!

Barbara Scott – Yes! God is a creative genius!! Haha :) I often keep an eyeliner or lipliner in the shower with me. Then I can just write directly on the side of the tub or the shower if needed and wash it away later after I’ve written it down on something more permanent! Hope that helps!

Megan Brummer said...

JAN!!! Let’s be honest… I wouldn’t even BE at Seekerville if it weren’t for you, so thank you!! I look forward to chatting with you about ACFW!
I remember a couple of years ago when we first started talking about writing together, you mentioned to me another young mom you knew who just always kept a notebook with her in her diaper bag… or something like that. Joey was only a couple of months old and I was overwhelmed just being a new mom. I couldn’t imagine writing too! I think that’s what gave me the encouragement to go for it and figure out strategies that would work… and here we are!
Have fun on your trip! I’ll miss you! I can’t imagine why that hubby of yours would want you to talk to him… ;)
And thanks for spilling the beans about Armadillos! But to be fair, I only go down to work at the shop about once a week. My husband does most of that work and the rest of us just get to reap the benefits (i.e., eat lots of ice cream)! Haha.

And for Tina, yes! We have an online menu! Our website is www.armadillos.co

Myra Johnson said...

Welcome, Megan! This post is great encouragement for writers who must deal with interruptions in whatever form--family, children, job, or just life in general. Love your take on "just five words"!

Megan Brummer said...

Lara, I try to hide the phone’s light from my sleeping husband too! I think he actually appreciates it, though, because it means that I’ve at least turned off the light… I have to admit sometimes he sleeps for several hours with the light on while I’m plucking away on my keyboard next to him. Ha!

And let me know how I can contribute to Julie’s recorder! I love the story, but I’m glad it had a happy ending! I want to be sure she’s around to keep writing for a LONG time! Haha

Tina Radcliffe said...


My eight favorite words!!

Almond Joy: vanilla ice cream, coconut, chocolate dip, almond

Wilani Wahl said...

This is a great idea. I will sometimes reward myself when I have to do a chore I don't like in the house I get to either read a chapter in a book or write for a half hour. Both are rewards I love. It is amazing when you keep your laptop open how much you can get done in a days time.

Thanks for stopping by Seekerville today.

Janet Dean said...

MEGAN, the more I think about drive-by writing, the more I realize that when unavailable to write, I'm usually gone from the house. I'm at a stage of life where I want it all. I want to write, to travel, to spend time with my DH, family and friends. I'm a people person, not the best personality type for a writer. To get the writing done, I need focus and drive. Can I borrow some? LOL

We were in Mt. Rushmore a couple years ago. I loved the carvings and want to go back. If I do, I'd love to hook up with you and Jan at your ice cream shop! Where in the Black Hills is it?


Jan Drexler said...

I wrote about Armadillos on the Yankee Belle blog last year - here's the address to that post:

Janet, we'd love to meet you for ice cream on your next trip out here! Wouldn't that be fun? The website tells you how to find the ice cream shop: www.armadillos.co

Just shoot me an email when you're on your way. :)

Mildred Bastidas said...

I can definitely get your story Meg. I also have a bunch of little ones. Five to be exact. Mine range from 15 year old to 18 months old. And just like you I have to invent ways to get those words into my WIP. Thanks for the great post.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Well that was last year. I missed the entire year. I was working the job from you-know-where. Thanks, Jan. Will go check it out!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Mildred! Long time no see. Glad to see you in Seekerville! Mildred is also a 1K1HR member.

Vince said...

Hello Meg:

I think the 'drive-by writing' idea has great potential. I would think, however, that the method is very dependent on 'driving by' very often so as to keep everything fresh in your mind. If you don't keep it fresh, then the time needed for those short five-word pit-stops will have to be spent on refreshing yourself as to what you've written so far.

It's like watching three kids in a large swimming pool; you are going to have to check each child very often.

I find the whole 'drive-by' idea somewhat perplexing. It would seem to me that a pantser would be the most psychologically adept to work this way; however, a plotter would be the best prepared to know what to write next on those short pit stops.

What do you think?

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Now as for my own approach, I believe that a lot of writing does not involve actual writing. So anytime, anywhere, you can't actually write, have a mental list of what you need to do next, usually decisions that you must make, and work on those tasks in any non-writing time available.

ABW -- Always Be Writing!


Please place me in a drawing for one of Debby's first two books. For me those are the "Before Seekerville Discovery" books.

Vince said...

"I Do Not Love Thee, SBC!"

In the spirit of loyal opposition, I must say, I do not love the SBC logo.

Generally speaking, in communication and marketing, initials are a bad idea. For example, after over 110 years of advertising, most people in a survey thought TRW was an airline!

I've seen the SBC graphic for over the past month and thought it was some kind of writing contest! The graphic does not say, "Books", nor does it show "Books".

Here's my idea:

SHOW at big pile of Seeker books, maybe several feet high, all randomly scattered helter-skelter, with these two words mortised in the center:

"Your Choice".

Bingo. In one second flat the reader visually 'gets it'.

It's not what you show. It's what they see.

Besides, the subliminal Gestalt, for me at least, is that the graphic is a death notice. Other than these objections, the graphic is just fine.

Just a thought: if everyone agrees, then there would need for only one follower. : )


Caryl Kane said...

MEG, thanks for the great post! Your kiddos are too cute!

Please put me in for the draw for a Seeker Book of Choice.

Sandy Smith said...

Meg, thanks for the wonderful post. I don't have small children at home, but I do have two jobs and not much time for writing. One of my jobs is a substitute teacher. I try to take advantage of any free moments in my day teaching to write by hand in a notebook. I have also used the Notes feature on my phone, but I find it too time consuming to write much on the phone.

Your children are adorable. A very good distraction for sure.

We might be going to the Black Hills later this summer, so will remember your ice cream shop. we are always looking for good ice cream places when we travel.

Please enter me in the drawing.

Bettie said...

I love your post Megan! What an amazing way to make use of every minute. I'm ready do do some drive by writing right now. I'm doing pretty well this summer but drive by will definitely come in handy when teaching starts up again.

Please throw my name in the Seekerville choice drawing. Have a blessed day everyone.

Sandy Smith said...

Mary, what time do you get up when you don't go to bed until 5 a.m.? I would have a hard time keeping that schedule.

Sandy Smith said...

By the way, I meant to add that I can so relate to Janet when she said that even with time to write, it sometimes doesn't get done. I have the summer off from subbing, but still find so many things to distract my time.

Janet Dean said...

SANDY, a self-imposed deadline is the answer for whipping myself into shape. Want to join me?


Janet Dean said...

JAN, I don't know if I'll be able to talk my DH into going this summer, but I'm going to ask. He's not as enamored with Mt. Rushmore as I am. If we make the trip, I'll be in touch. Time chatting about writing over ice cream would be delightful!


Marianne Barkman said...

I loved the post and the comments this morning! It entertained me so well I didn't even pick up my book to read! Your choice of ice cream flavours match mine, TINA.

Megan Brummer said...

Myra – thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you found the post helpful!

Tina – that Almond Joy shake is SO GOOD. If you’re ever in my neck in the woods, I’d love to make one for you!

Wilani – I love that you view writing as a reward and not as a chore! That’s a great motivator to get some of the more mundane tasks done, tell yourself you “get to” write!

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Janet! We’d love to meet up with you for ice cream. We’re in downtown Rapid City. And I know what you mean by wanting it all. I’m in a stage of life where I have to narrow down my goals to what I REALLY want and put everything else aside. Even my focus and multitasking talents have severe limits! I’ll send you whatever I can though, ha!

Megan Brummer said...

Wow Mildred, five kids! I’m so impressed you find time to write… that’s amazing! Keep at it! Thanks for taking some time to stop by :)

Hello Vince – Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, the hard part of Drive-by writing is keeping it in your head. I find myself between my short sprints thinking about my story. In that sense, just as you pointed out, I’m “always writing” even though I’m not physically adding words to the WIP. I am a VERY detailed plotter. I’ll spend weeks planning before I ever write the first word of the draft. I find this helpful, actually, in Drive-by writing as I always have my detailed notes sitting right there so it is easy to reference exactly where I am and what to write next. I would love to have longer chunks of time more regularly, but unfortunately I’m in a season of life where that just can’t happen, so this is how I keep going! Haha…I love your analogy of watching three kids in a pool, because that’s exactly what it’s like! I’m watching two real kids and then also my “baby” of a writing project, so I have to go back and forth between the three of them often.

Megan Brummer said...

Caryl – Thanks for stopping by today!

Hey Sandy – I’m glad you found application for your own circumstances. Mine happens to include kids, but holding two jobs can be just as hectic! We’d love to see you at Armadillos when you visit :) Thanks for the comment!

Bettie – Thanks! Have fun drive-by writing today! Praying you’ll have a fun and productive day :)

Megan Brummer said...

Janet - Mt. Rushmore is great, but there's so much more here! Remind him of the beautiful hills, Custer State Park, Deadwood, the Badlands, the dino and mammoth dig sites, and ICE CREAM ;)

Marianne - I'm glad we were entertaining this morning. Thanks for stopping by!

Jan Drexler said...

SANDY SMITH - if you make it to the Black Hills this summer, don't forget to let us know you're here!

Meghan Carver said...

What cuties, Meg! I started writing seriously when my youngest (my sixth) was a baby. I sat at the laptop and pecked with one hand while I nursed. I love the name you've given your writing style, and I love that you've made it work. I'm not sure I could pop in and out of a story like that, except to brainstorm. Keep up the good work, and enjoy those precious blessings!

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Meghan! I've pecked away at a keyboard one-handed while nursing too...haha. It's great that you're willing to do whatever it takes to live your dream! Thanks for stopping by and be sure to enjoy your six blessing too!

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Meg! I love hearing about other writers' methods to get those words out. This sounds like a great strategy for a full-time mom!

I work full time outside of the home, and often weekends (I work for a symphony), so my writing time can get scrunched, too! I've found that taking my laptop to work, and writing over my lunch break has been a great way for me to get those words on the page. I have an office door that I can close, there's a certain candle I light to get me in the mood, and then I just go. I shoot for writing 3-4 days a week during lunch, and I love it! It's something to look forward to in the middle of the day, and with just an hour to work, it forces me to focus. On a good day, I've written more than 1K words in my hour!

Have a great day!

Megan Brummer said...

Hi Stephanie! I love that you have figured out how to write in your little down times and breaks too. And I love the idea of lighting a candle to get you in the mood...I just might need to adopt that little writing ritual myself! Have a good day too!

kaybee said...

Meg, this is great. I am in one of those seasons -- I have three jobs right now. I'm trying to shore things up so I can retire, so I'm working as much as I can. The three jobs are actually writing, I'm a newspaper reporter, which is one of those double-edged sword thingies: when I'm not burned out I can fold my "real" writing into the job, but when I'm burned out it's all I can do to produce the news stories. I've developed a few drive-by strategies of my own, some good, some not so good. Editing a hard copy at my father's bedside when he was dying? BRINNNGGG, LOSER, something I deeply regret. Taking a folder of hard copy on a busy day with an hour between appointments and going to a coffee shop to edit? The only sensible thing to do. I don't really like my laptop, but I'm 65 so I remember Life Before Computers, and don't mind red-penciling a hard copy or writing a draft on a yellow legal pad. I don't really like fitting my "real" writing around the edges, but it is infinitely better than not writing at all.
The most productive time for me was when my children were in elementary school and I wasn't working full-time. I couldn't get anything done when they were babies, when I put them down for a nap I needed a nap too, ha ha. Thank you for a good post ane reminding us, "Whatever works for you, DO IT."
Kathy Bailey

kaybee said...

JULIE LESSMAN, love the plotting-during-a-funeral anecdote. Thanks, makes me feel better about writing at my father's deathbed.

kaybee said...

MEG, this is good advice for someone home with children (SO unpredictable) and also for someone who Works Outside The Home.

Rhonda Starnes said...

Excellent advice, Meg! No matter what season of life we're in, life has a way of interfering with writing time. My husband and I are empty nesters so you'd think I had all kinds of free time to write, but between the day job and chores around house, time just seems to slip away.

Megan Brummer said...

Kathy, thanks for your comment! It's a good reminder that sometimes there really are good reasons not to write. And while you may deeply regret editing by your father's bedside, I'm sure he was pleased you were still there with him through it.

And I'm impressed with your news reporting! The idea of writing under that much pressure stresses me out :D

Megan Brummer said...

Rhonda - yes! There always seems to be an obstacle to writing time. Even before I had kids there always seemed to be something that crowded out my time. That's why it was so important for me to figure out how to make writing a habit, even if I couldn't do in the way I always though of as "ideal" :) Thanks for dropping in!

Julie Lessman said...

MEG SAID: I can’t say I’ve ever plotted at a funeral (there’s a pun in there somewhere…) but I do have to admit there have been a couple of times I worked out a story or character when I should have been listening to the sermon at church on Sunday! Don’t tell my pastor… ;)

LOL ... your secret is safe with me, my friend, "buried" in the recesses of my mind, along with that wonderful pun!! :)

LARA SAID: "I need to sponsor the free giveaway of two recorders. One for the lucky commenter and one for our dear Julie so she won't go careening off the road some dark and stormy night, just to get that thought on paper :-)."

LOL ... I actually had a recorder that I kept on my nightstand when an idea struck at night, but every time I'd go to whisper into it, my husband would wake up, so I finally ditched it. But I just may try it again ...

KAYBEE SAID: "JULIE LESSMAN, love the plotting-during-a-funeral anecdote. Thanks, makes me feel better about writing at my father's deathbed.

Kathy, I bet both you and I would be SHOCKED as to all the places people have written or read books, so if I'm sitting in a chair anywhere and not engaged in conversation, there's a good chance I'm writing or plotting in my mind, be it funeral, hospital, or on a treadmill. Heck, just a few days ago, I even wrote on a pontoon boat in the middle of a lake. :)

As far as where people read? I have heard from readers that they read my book while stirring spaghetti sauce for dinner that they almost burned, in a bathtub for over six hours (yeah, I know this is a stretch, but I actually read this is on a blog where a gal reviewed my book). She said she stayed up till 2:00 AM reading it, then decided to read a little more in the bathtub in the morning. She said she ended up finishing the book in the bathtub, wrinkled like a prune. I was SO shocked, I left a comment on her blog, telling her I surely hoped she lived in a warm climate and stopped for lunch, at least. Then another gal told me she read it while eating her breakfast, blow-drying her hair, at stoplights on her way to work, and then under her desk at lunchtime so she wouldn't be disturbed ("disturbed" being the operative word here! ;)

WHICH ... just goes to show that many of my readers are just as crazy as I am, I guess. ;)


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Megan, I'm swamped with cute kids this week, but I wanted to stop by and laugh... and commiserate! It's so tricky to work with kids around, I don't know how you guys do it!!

Coffee is clutch!!!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Are you a coffee-aholic, Meg??

Megan Brummer said...

And now I'm thinking about all the strange places I've avidly read a book. Waiting in a fast food drive-thru, under the covers with a flashlight...as an adult, walking through a grocery store...haha!

And hi Ruthy! I'm glad you stopped by! I don't know how YOU do it... you juggle WAY more kids than I do. But you give me hope that it can be done and done well! :)

Megan Brummer said...

Am I a coffee-aholic? Hahahaha. In a word, yes. :D

Tina Radcliffe said...

"w as for my own approach, I believe that a lot of writing does not involve actual writing. So anytime, anywhere, you can't actually write, have a mental list of what you need to do next, usually decisions that you must make, and work on those tasks in any non-writing time available."

HA, Vince. This I can agree with.

The SBC logo dislike, well naturally, not so much.

Tina Radcliffe said...

AH! Wait until you get your first contract, Meg. You will be not only drive by writing but bathroom writing. LOL. That's stress.

KB's deadlines are good practice.

Edwina said...


What a great idea! My children are grown and I'm an empty nester, but I could see how this would work for laundry days, house cleaning days, etc. I plan to put this idea into motion!


Connie Queen said...

Great ideas Meg.

Your kids are sooo sweet. Makes me smile.

My kids are no longer little so I don't have to deal w/those interruptions. But I've always been one who find long sessions of writing overwhelming. So much so that I often procrastinate and don't write for days.

I finally realized if I'd set the timer for 15 minutes and just write, I can get a lot done. I follow that w/a 5-min. cleaning-the-house-break and go back back to writing. I try to repeat this 4 times, but if I only get one or two done, I'm still so much better off.

Megan Brummer said...

Bathroom writing! That sounds exciting and maybe perilous!

Edwina - I'm glad you found a helpful idea! Happy writing!

Connie - That overwhelming feeling can be paralyzing! I've found I'm more productive when I let my mind rest every once in a while too.

Laura Conner Kestner said...

Love this idea, MEGAN, and the sweet photos of your little ones. My children are grown and gone (thankfully not far :-) but sometimes my planned writing time still slips away from me. Will try to be more mindful of the minutes I could use more productively, and not wait for those uninterrupted hours. Thanks again!

Megan Brummer said...

Hi Laura! I know that for me it's often harder to manage time when I have lots of it. Have fun figuring out what works best for you in this season of life! Thanks for your comment!

Mary Connealy said...

Vince I'll see how many Seeker books I can gather and photograph. Uh, ladies? Seeker Sisters? It's okay if they're......75% mine right? (okay 95%)


Heidi Robbins said...

I love this article since it helps me see the reality of writing as a busy mother! As a reader I take my Kindle with me everywhere I go, and often find myself reading while waiting to pick up kids from school, in the line at the grocery store, and pretty much anytime I have to wait :)

Megan Brummer said...

Thanks Heidi! The flip side as a writer is just capitalizing on all those same in-between moments to write :) I'm glad you stopped by today!

Carol Garvin said...

During my earlier writing years I would wait until I had a reasonable block of time before settling down to write because it felt like the shorter sessions weren't productive enough. I soon realized that on busy days, interrupted days, and even holidays, no writing got done at all unless I took advantage of whatever brief moments were available. "Drive-by writing" is a perfect description of that process. Thanks for the reminder, Meg.

Janet Dean said...

MEGAN, Rapid City is so doable, if I get to see the "boys." Isn't that what you called the Presidents, JAN? :-)

So MEGAN, will our visit be a drive-by version? ;-)


Tina Radcliffe said...

Mary, you forgot to take your ego pill today.

Pam Hillman said...

Megan, I'm a grandmother, but I can so relate. I wrote 1K yesterday while my grand baby played on her pallet on the floor, and then while she was napping.

I wrote a novella with her asleep in my arms. She's 4 1/2 months now, so that's a little harder to do. :)

But a 2 yo and a baby... hmmm, yes, that does add in some challenges. But every word down puts you closer to a finished novel, so go you.

And those are some CUTE KIDDOS! :)

Megan Brummer said...

Carol - You're welcome! I struggled with feeling like I needed solid blocks of time too. And realized that I NEVER got them! Every little bit of time can be used. Is it ideal? Not always, but it's a strategy that works right now :)

Janet - I hope your visit to Rapid is a little more than just a drive-by! It would be fun to hang out!

Pam - I'm impressed! Writing while holding a baby can be hard work...and very distracting! But you just write one word, and then another, and then another until you're done :) Thanks for the comment!

Janet Dean said...

MEGAN, actually I was referring to you driving by. Unless you share way more of your brain and become me. Pretty please.


Theresa Van Meter said...

Thank you for sharing this information. I seem to not have enough time for my writing, but this will work perfect for me. I plan on start using this tomorrow.


Chill N said...

Meg, thanks to you I now have a term for the writing I so often have to do :-) I like that goal of five words at a time. Realistic, and since I would probably type more than five, I would feel very, very good about my accomplishment.

Aside: you said you learn "dead or obscure foreign language for fun." I learned Ancient Greek. For a long time I could not honestly say, "It's Greek to me." Now that a lot of time (a lot of time) has passed, I do well to remember the alphabet :-)

Thanks for sharing today. Best wishes with your writing -- whenever and wherever!

Nancy C

Megan Brummer said...

Theresa - that's great to hear! Have fun writing!

Nancy - That's why I set my goal so low: 5 words is ALWAYS doable and then when I do more I feel great! Haha... I'm glad it works for you. And I love Greek! Mine has become REALLY rusty too, but I still remember some of the basics. Someday when I have tons of free time and nothing better to do (ha... right) I hope to brush up on my Greek :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Greek? Really? I took Latin in high school. Not much. But one year was plenty.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Meg, thanks for being such a wonderful hostess today. I dare say you probably didn't get your drive-by words in today with being a hostess and juggling kids. Thanks for sharing with us.

Jackie Smith said...

What adorable kids, Megan! I love your drive-by writing ideas. I am an avid reader and look forward to reading your books.....soon (?)!!

Thanks for the Seekerville book of choice giveaway.

Walt Mussell said...

One, I love Agatha Christie, though I only read Hercule Poirot.

Two, I have periods when I can write, and there are usually short bursts at odd times. I agree. You have to write when the time opens up.

Tanya Agler said...

Meg, I love this post as I am struggling in the summer months when my kids aren't in school to get writing done. Thank you for your hints. I love reading about different authors' tips about how they navigate kids and writing. My story is that I have done critiques in doctors' offices, written in every library and Panera in a ten mile radius, and Starbucks' baristas know my order.

As far as Agatha Christie, my favorites are Tommy and Tuppence.

Thank you for sharing your story.

Sharee Stover said...

I loved this!!! I'm stuck in summer mode and struggling to write with all the kids home

Megan Brummer said...

Tina, I had so much fun today! Thank you for letting me host. And while I didn't get a ton of Drive-by words in today, I was able to get about 500 written. (Thanks, Mom, for helping with the kids!)

Jackie - I look forward to having books out for you to read...soon(?)!! Haha :)

Megan Brummer said...

Walt - I love Agatha Christie too. She really knew how to write a tight plot with intriguing characters and how to keep her reader guessing! And keep capitalizing on those short bursts! Those can be SO satisfying :)

Tanya and Sharee - I didn't even think about how this might help moms of school-aged kids in the summer. Hopefully some of today's ideas can help with these busy months!

My favorite Agatha Christie is probably "And Then There Were None" :)

ohiohomeschool said...

What a great post! I am just reading. What a great way to approach so many things.
Please put me in the drawing. Good luck on your writing.
Becky B

Terri Reed said...

I love this! I was recently on vacation and went old school with notebook and pencil. We have a new puppy and its like having a toddler again. I have to grab moments to write when she's occupied.

Cate Nolan said...

Hi Meg,

Coming in very late here - because it's been that kind of crazy day.

I love drive-by writing. It's the only way I get anything done. My absolute minimum is 1k a day and I'll do it even if I end up falling asleep over the keyboard.

The bulk of my writing gets done in snatches on my iPod on the subway. 5 minutes waiting for a train. 15 - 20 on the train. Plotting while I walk in between. I'm a happy camper when I get home if I've already gotten 500 - 700 words in. A simple synch and I'm good to go. The rest doesn't feel so insurmountable.

Megan Brummer said...

Becky B - Thanks for stopping by!

Terri - I hope you had fun going old school! And pet that new puppy for me... I love dogs :)

Cate - I LOVE that! When I first started writing, 1k a day felt like an impossible goal. But when you add bit by bit through the day, sitting down to only 300 words at the end of the day is VERY doable. Even if you fall asleep at the keyboard while doing it. Haha!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Terri! That's sort of funny. (sorry, but it is!!)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Cate- Quinoa woman!

You are the 1KHR poster child.

Darlene L. Turner said...

I love this. Drive-by writing. Such a great way to put it, Megan! I've been getting up earlier to get in some drive-by writings. My day job can be demanding and sometimes I need to work overtime, so getting up earlier helps. Some mornings it's only a few words, others it's more. Thanks for this. I'm sharing on Facebook.

P.S. Your kids are adorable!

Deanna Stevens said...

LOL.. whatever works.. Drive-by writing.. how fun! I'm just tickled when we go on a road trip to my son's and I get 2 hours of Drive-time reading :)

Rachael Koppendrayer said...

Wow, that actually sounds like an incredibly useful strategy right now as I finish up commissions and pack up the apartment to move across the state. I haven't felt like I can spare the time to write, but even five words between each box--that could be the thing!

Debby Giusti said...

Meg, I love your drive-by writing technique. I use a timer for a 30 minute burst of writing the usually expands into an hour or two. But then I don't have little ones. Such precious children. I know your life is full!

Debby Giusti said...

I haven't read the comments yet...so if you haven't already shared about your love of languages, I would love to learn more!

Megan Brummer said...

Darlene - I used to get up an hour before the rest of the family just so I could squeeze in a few words, but somewhere along the way that fell apart. But that's a great strategy for finding good writing time! Way to go! And thanks for the share :)

Deanna - The only reason I love road trips is the uninterrupted reading time! Haha

Rachael - I'm so glad this could work for you. Moving can be stressful! Hopefully these little drive-by writing breaks can give you something to look forward to as you pack each box :)

Megan Brummer said...

Hey Debby! It's amazing how just getting started can sometimes be the hardest part. When you set a small goal, like 30 minutes, it can really get you going and suddenly you've been writing a lot longer :)

As far as the languages, I was making up languages before I ever discovered Tolkien. Then, when I was 10 years old I got a copy of the Hobbit and spent hours deciphering the runes on the cover. From there I tried to teach myself Russian (and failed miserably, but I can still sound out the alphabet...ha) and took Spanish in high school. I took Greek and Hebrew at Bible college and LOVED IT. Then I had to learn French when I spent some time working in Africa with a mission organization. And now I dabble in whatever I can get my hands on. I have a whole shelf dedicated to foreign language books and linguistics texts! Everything from French and Spanish to Latin and Aramaic. But, like most amateur linguists, I pretty much only speak English fluently. Haha! Do you love language too?

Glynis said...

I'm so excited that I stopped by today to read your post. I love the idea of drive-by writing because the last year has just been so hard for me to get motivated to write. And secondly, I'm excited because I live in Rapid too! And I can agree that Armadillo's is the place to be on a hot summer day! You didn't say anything about the strawberry butter sherbet though. It's fantastic. Nice to "meet" you!

Glynis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Brummer said...

Nice to "meet" you too Glynis!! I had no idea another villager lived in Rapid. I'm glad you like Armadillos! Strawberry butter is definitely fantastic...one of my favorites :)

Angela K Couch said...

Way late on reading this post...having three little kids myself, but your drive-by writing is how I survive. It's amazing how you can train your brain to take advantage of 10 minutes here and there. With baby three I even got really good at writing while nursing! With how often you do that with a new baby, I got so much writing in!