Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Write Time

A few days ago, I had a major breakthrough for a story idea. With two middle-grade books coming out in the next couple of years, I thought I’d dabble in YA, just for a change of pace. Problem was, I couldn’t come up with a good hook. I pondered ideas for months. And months. And then it came to me. I raced to my computer and wrote the query. I know, I’m backwards. But I find writing the query first helps me to identify the stakes, the conflict, and the hook more clearly. Then I can dig in and write the first chapter. Which, I did, because I was so excited and just couldn’t wait! This isn’t such a big deal, of course. All writers do this sort of thing. Except that the timing stinks worse than my house (more on this below*). So why is the timing particularly bad? 1) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
2) I’m consulting for 3 different companies, all of which are in high season.
3) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
4) My dog just tussled with a skunk. *
5) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
6) I’m a Pitch Wars mentor with lots of intriguing submissions to read.
7) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow.
8) I have a husband, 2 kids, 1 cat, and one very smelly dog.
9) We’re moving 400 miles away tomorrow. Do you see a theme?
There’s lots going on right now! All great things (except for the skunk), but keeping me busy nonetheless. As writers, what can we do to keep the creative vibe alive while we spend most of our time on the rest of our lives? Here are a few suggestions that may help: 1) Use mindless tasks as brainstorming sessions. I think of my best story ideas in the shower, while walking my dog, or while driving. Although I’m not actually writing during these times, I’m plotting, and that’s just as important. And bonus: I’m clean, exercising, or getting somewhere! 2) Determine if you’re a morning person, a night person, or another-time-of-day person. My husband does his best thinking at night. He also is impossibly strong and shimmers in the sunshine, so it’s possible that instead of a night person, he’s actually a vampire. Many of my writer friends are early morning risers (hence the #5amwriters club), but since it’s not even light out at 5 am, I’m forbidden by my brain for joining them. I’m another-time-of-day person. I still haven’t figured out what time that is, but I do know that it varies from day to day. Whenever I have a break in my calendar, I sit at my computer and write. It’s not a set time, but it works for me. 3) Use your time wisely. This isn’t always easy. It’s so easy to get sucked in to any number of things that are not on our “To Do” list. A few things that get me are Facebook, Twitter, tv, and cleaning skunk off my dog. But when I focus on my story, I find I’m inspired to write, and those other things naturally take a back seat. 4) Find a motivated critique partner to keep you accountable. Preferably one that carries a whip. 5) Give yourself a break. Sometimes, you really are too busy and writing may have to wait longer than you’d like. That’s happened to me more times than I can count. But you’ll get there. And in the meantime, keep thinking, plotting, and most importantly, keep your dog away from skunks.


  1. Shiny new ideas really don't seem to care that they always come at the worst possible moment! :p

    Great tips -- thanks!

  2. Thanks for this Ronni. Great advice. My sticky-plot breakthroughs always seem to come during the shower -- it doesn't do our hot water bill any favours but I see it as a long-term investment. I hope you settle in okay -- thanks for doing PitchWars during such a crazy time.