Writing in the Midst of Life

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I’m a college student. (Though only part time this semester hallelujah!!). That means 15-20 hours a week are dedicated to school.

I work part time. Another 15 hours each week.

I read 7-10 books a month. (No idea the hours on that.)

I’m a musician. Approx 3 hours a week (I’m in a slump right now).

I’m a martial artist. 1 or 2 days a week, I’m at the Dojang for 3 hours each time.

I’m trying to shave down blogging to an hour or two per month.

Somewhere in all of that, I have to have some kind of family life.

Yet I also want to write.

So how do I do it?

To be honest, not very well. A lot of days, I feel like I’m riding a spiraling roller coaster into “the depth of despair” (as Anne of Green Gables would say).

Other days, I sorta feel like I come out on top.

So what makes the difference?

Let me introduce you to this lovely little device called a timer.

The timer has changed my life. I decide how much time I want to dedicate to a particular project, then split it up into 20, 30, or 50 minute increments, depending on how my brain is functioning. Here’s how it works.

 

After a 20 minute set, I get a 5 minute break. That’s enough for 20 pushups and a fresh cup of water, or 3 TaeKwonDo forms.

 

After a 3o minute set, I get an 8 minute break. That’s enough to make a cup of coffee, do a quick desk tidy-up, or 5 TaeKwonDo forms.

 

After a 50 minute set, I get a 20 minute break. That’s enough to read a chapter of a book, reply to an email, play with the dog…or write 250 words.

 

 

Here’s the most important thing: set a timer for the breaks, too!!!! You’ll regret it if you don’t. (Speaking from experience.)

And also, switch between two projects/school subjects. Twenty minutes on this, twenty minutes on that. I was shocked with how my productivity skyrocketed when I did that.

If I don’t do that, this is what happens.

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*clears throat* *coughs* yeah–not what I wanted.

 

So, this is great and all, but what does it have to do with writing?

A lot!! When I get done what I need to get done during the day, my evenings are free to write. Or edit. Or outline. Or–whatever! But even when I’m writing, I set a timer. Seeing exactly when I’m going to get a break helps me remain focused.

 

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What do you do to keep yourself on track? Have you ever used a timer?

Pinterest: Tool or Trouble?

Pinterest.

The first thing that comes to my mind is addictive.

Anyone who has used Pinterest knows what a procrastination station it is. For some authors, (yours truly), it can be one of the worst distractions to writing. Others use Pinterest for inspiration…or so they say. Pinterest can be a death trap if it is allowed to become one. But is it truly possible to utilize Pinterest as a tool for writing, without being sucked in?

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YES! IT IS!

In fact, when used correctly, Pinterest is an amazing resource for writers.

When I realized just how much time I was spending on Pinterest, and how little time I was actually writing…let’s just say I wasn’t pleased with myself. Here are some guidelines I used to cut down on my time spent on Pinterest.

  1. Set a time limit, first daily, then weekly. I was shocked as how much I could get done in 15 or 20 minutes.
  2. Research just one topic in one sitting(or look for photos of one character) to make the most of your time. Pinterest is famous for those little rabbit trails; “ooh, look at that! Wow, that’s cool!” Clickity clickity click. It can go on for hours (speaking from experience).
  3. DELETE THE APP FROM YOUR PHONE!!! This was the biggest one for me. It’s so easy to just whip out the app while waiting in an office or just to kill time. DON’T DO IT!!! Just get rid of the app.

Can Pinterest be a good resource? Absolutely. One of the best, in my opinion. Just use your time wisely. Time is far too valuable to spend hours and hours looking at funny dog memes or searching for just the right photo of your beloved character.

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What thoughts do you have about Pinterest?  Do you think it can be a good resource?

Writing on the Road

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I’ve had to learn over the past few years to be a mobile writer. Car trips, RV trips, plane trips…and they’re all so different. Sadly, taking my lap desk on the plane doesn’t work very well, but most planes have those lovely fold-down trays that are lovely desks and double as a place to fold your arms up and sleep when you get tired.  In the RV and cars, space is at a minimum.

So how do I do it?

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Well, in the RV it is pretty simple. I take my massive lap desk with me (it takes up a lot of space but I love the crazy thing) so I can sit in the chair, on the couch, or in the passenger chair. I can’t write very well in my bunk because I am too close to the ceiling and can’t sit up. Also, I do a lot of writing at the table.

In the car (sorry, no pictures to go with this one), I also take my lap desk along. I slide it under my seat when not in use.

Plane travel is a little more difficult. Thankfully, my computer fits in my backpack perfectly…there is even a designated computer pouch, Taking my lap desk is out, because it doesn’t fit in my backpack. The fold-down desk works well while on board the plane, but not so much during long layovers in the airport. In the past, I’ve taken my science books to set on my lap (those Apologia ones are massive) or, if my backpack isn’t too lumpy, I’ll set that on my lap to boost my computer up.

Another thing I struggle with while trying to write, whether at home or on the road, is distractions. ;)  In battling that, I’ve found that listening to music through headphones helps drastically. Headphones are important because it blocks most of the outside noise (when you have 6 siblings this is quite important). Listening to soft, classical piano works very well for me.

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People enjoy taking pictures of me when I’m not paying attention. Lovely, huh?  Actually, I think this is a look I get frequently when I’m “writing.”  :)

 

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(Yes, I stuck the camera out the window to get this photo (and the one at the top of the post).  Let me tell you…if anything felt wrong, sticking an expensive camera out the window is definitely it!)

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This photo doesn’t really fit this post at all, but I thought you might enjoy seeing what a circus we look like. Want to know something even funnier? These aren’t even all the bikes! :)

I Told Myself Not To

Before we left on vacation, I sat myself down and had a talk with me. I told meself that I had enough writing to do and by no means did I need any new ideas for a story.

Apparently, I didn’t listen.

I came back with an entire new story planned out in detail and the writing already begun.

Why don’t I ever listen to myself?

 

Anyway, I am very excited about this new story, and it’s coming along very well. I’m not going to tell you what it’s about yet, but here’s a hint: It has to do with the ocean.

Here are some photos I found on pinterest to go along with the story.

 

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I Have To Do WHAT?!?

Friends, you’ll never believe what I had to do this week.

I had to work on Clara’s Story by hand.

Seriously.

With a pencil and paper.

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I couldn’t believe it.

It was terrible.

And slightly funny.  My mom laughed at how much I was griping about writing by hand.

Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  I still don’t like it and will take my computer any day, but since my computer has been having attitude issues for the past month and is currently being doctored (i.e. got a new hard drive and is now being restored), my only options for working on my stories are by hand or on another family member’s computer.  :(

How is that spelled?

I’ve been without my computer for the past few days because of a hard drive problem.  All of my information was backed up, thank goodness, before the hard drive crashed (including my manuscripts, thank goodness!).  The Apple store replaced the hard drive and I just picked up the computer today, so I’m still setting up my ‘brand new’ computer and re-setting it to all my old specifications.  I missed my computer for the 2 days it was gone!  Don’t get me wrong…there are LOTS of computers in our house that I can use, but I love MY computer. :)  (Yes, I’m a bit of a snob.)

I recently learned that trying to write while half awake generally doesn’t go well for me.  Here is a conversation I had with myself not too long ago…I realized how funny it was and thought you might like to see what goes on in my rather twisted brain.

“Callie had forg…”

How do I spell that?

F-O-R-G-O-T-T-O-N

(enter red squiggly line under the word)

No, that’s not it.

F-O-R-G-O-T-O-N

(enter red squiggly line)

Ahh! Well I don’t think it’s ‘forgetted.’  Perhaps “Forgottonized?”

(Use spell check)

OHHH. F-O-R-G-O-T-T-E-N!

“Callie had forgotten–“

 

Please tell me I’m not the only one who has conversations with myself while writing.  I mean…I need to tell somebody about all these ideas in my head!  :)

This is one of my favorite quotes.

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Way to funny

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YES!  Only add pulling your own hair to the “what I really do” photo.  :)

How is the comment feature working?  I’ve messed around with it a bit so I’m hoping that it works now.  :)

Next week there will be an exciting post (well, I think it’s exciting!) about my old typewriter.  That’s all I’m going to say.  You have to come back next week to learn more.  :)