i am…A work at home mom, former coffee addict turned tea addict (ok I'm still addicted to coffee), writer who lives in this semi-large town in arkansas, is strapped always to her iPhone, Litfuse nester and is a sinner saved by grace. Dirty diapers, books, running (or not), paper loving, instagrams, messes, lover of one. Welcome to my world.
Category Archives: writing
Writing Rituals. I have heard so so many authors recommend you have writing rituals—to get you to “that place” when you’re ready to start writing. While I understand their points, and while it may work for them, I heartily disagree (besides the fact they don’t really work at all for me).
For one, I don’t think they work because I am completely ADD (self-proclaimed) I constantly have to change it up (just recently I moved my desk/”office” from the kitchen to a corner in the living room). Also, I’m a busy mother of two crazy, lovable littles. I don’t have time for rituals. My rituals will quickly become theirs—lucky pen? They will steal it and hide it never to be found again. Special hat? It’s now their special dress-up hat. Fuzzy socks? I’ll lose them (the wash would eat them). Have to type? My computer will break. I just don’t have time for rituals. Most days if I want to write, I have little snippets of time that I can jot a scene down on a napkin while the kids are eating lunch. Or, what’s been working the best recently, scribbling out a scene on the notepad I’ve taken to carry around while I stand in line at the postoffice or at the bank. I can’t have a certain pen or place because more then likely it would change from day to day.
As my favorite author, Lauren Oliver, said:
“I try to train myself out of writing rivals because I find that if you can only write when you have this pen or at home at this computer, it gives you all these excuses to indulge in not writing . . .”
My point precisely.
What about you? Do you have any writing rituals? Do you agree with them?
So I’m reading this book (I know. . . big surprise right?) Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide to Igniting the Writer Within. So far I’m liking it, like a ton. There are lots of different writing exercises at the end of each short chapter, and for once I’m actually doing the exercises (most of them anyways).
One of the exercises encourages you to find little pockets of time to write, so I started making a list of the little pockets of time I could steal to write (a little soon adds up to a lot!)
*Kids’ bath time - since this is normally the time I straighten up the living room (no worries the bathroom door is almost straight across from the living room so I can keep an eye on them at all times) I plan on having the kids help me clean-up before they jump in the bath. That way I can take my notebook in the bathroom and write while they play in the tub.
*While the kids play out side – generally I just take whatever book I’m reading or play/work on my phone, but this is a perfect time to scribble out some words!
*While driving – if I’m riding (Andy driving) I can free write some words, if I’m driving, I can use my phone and Suri—I need to use her more.
*Waiting in line at Target and Aldi’s – really these are the only places I generally shop. And let me tell you. . . that Aldi’s weekend line is a doozy. It’s also a good idea to pick the longest line—I can use all the help I can get!
*Eating lunch – since moving my “office” from the kitchen to the living room I don’t actually eat at my desk/while I work anymore (bad habit of mine). Now I have an extra seven minutes to write out some words while the kids chow down on their PB&Js.
*Making dinner – a little here, a little there.
*While watching T.V. – I don’t really watch a lot of t.v., but sometimes Andy and I will get into a show on Netflix (currently it’s Fringe season one. There are four seasons, and we’re LOVING it. . .it’s so strange!) Anyways. I can’t always concentrate very well while watching t.v. and trying to write, but I hate sitting still not doing anything, so even if I only get a paragraph written, it’s a paragraph written.
*If D or E wakes me up early – lately D has been waking up early (thank you canine teeth . . .), but this weekend it was E (our first accident bedwetting. . .she’s been going strong for four weeks, so. . .) I was woken up. Since it wasn’t a simple “Here-is-a-mimi-go-back-to-sleep” type waking up, I was awake, awake. Perfect time to get up and get some writing done. Quiet house. And since it was 4 AM it’s a good 3-4 hours of peace and quite to write—or write until I get re-tired and curl up on the couch and sleep for a couple before the kiddos wake us.
*After I put the kids to bed – this is what I have been doing. It hasn’t been working out so great lately because I have been completely zonked or so behind in work so I either crash or get caught up on work—hence the fact I haven’t been getting any writing done whatsoever.
So that’s the plan. I’d still like to get 1,000-ish words in a day, but some days I can’t hold myself to that. Somedays I have to realized that I also have a household to run, a husband to love, kids’ noses to wipe. But on those days. On the days I’m completely over-whelmed with life, I will just stick to getting something down on paper. A sentence. A paragraph—anything is better than nothing and a little will soon add up to a lot.
When do you steal little bits of time to write? I’d love to know—always looking for more ideas!
More ideas on my post Finding Time to Write
When I was eleven years old, I decided that I wanted to be the youngest romance writer ever (are you laughing yet?) I have stacks and stacks, files and files of character sketches, book ideas, outlines — tons of them. Somewhere along the way that evil nasty ugly voice — you know the one — the one who says you can’t do it? He got in the way and pushed the idea out of my head. A real confidence shatterer that one. Looking back I do realize this was a very lofty goal, but why did that dream shatterer have to come around at all?
Why do we give in to that voice? Why do we succumb and agree with him — agree that we can’t do it?
I’m here today to stand up and say stop. Stop giving into the negativity of Mr. “You-Can’t-Do-It”. He needs to shut up and get out! Here’s to making more dreams and big dreams and not comparing and talking down to ourselves. We are dreamers. We are writers. We can do it!
I love writing. I especially love when I’m over-the-moon-excited about writing whatever WIP I’m working on. I know that during the writing process you can’t always stay excited (I’m not that naive — just this week I was so tired I looked at my computer screen and said “Psh, it’ll be there tomorrow” and went to bed) I also have an idea that by the time I’m finished with the 7,654 edits that come with a novel, I’m going to be pretty tired of seeing my words.
So what do you do when you want to stay with it, but are getting to the point that you just can’t take it anymore?
1. Take a break. Not a long break (lest you don’t come back). Doing something else for a bit — go for a run (and then shower and eat because isn’t that what we all do after running?) or write a short story//article (or don’t because you’re tired of writing). Open your fridge 700 times willing it to start creating more food then what’s already in there.
2. Watch a movie with your main character look-a-like. You know those character sketches that you created and those celebrity look-a-likes you casted for your character? Well, find a movie they are in and watch it. I did this with one of my secondary characters last week and not only did it get me geared up and excited about writing, it also made me love my secondary characters more then my primary! (Don’t worry — I have a plan for that and all my readers will hate me, but it has to happen. *insert evil laugh*)
3. Listen to your novel soundtrack. You’ve made one right? (Whhhaaat? You haven’t? You should probably read this then and then go create one) You can listen to the soundtrack for The Black Knight (which FYI isn’t about a knight at all — intrigued?) here.
4. Make a novel pin board. (I’ve done that too) It’s a break in itself to make a pin-board and maybe it’s just the break you need to get re-excited about your project (just don’t get lost on Pinterest).
5. Are you on the re-vision process and you are tired of your novel//hate it//ready to throw in the towel? Slap yourself silly — you have come this far you are NOT stopping now. Give yourself a pep talk and keep going.
The trick is (because I know — haha — that was sarcastic FYI) to keep going. My pal Stephen King (ok he isn’t my pal — in all honesty I haven’t even read any of his books, and I’m just now a couple chapters in in his memoir) says that if you write 300 words a day at the end of the year you’ll have a novel. 300 words. That’s it. You got this!
How do you stay inspired on your WIP?
This is the beginning. The start. Before I can dig in deep to my story, I must have all my supplies — and a good start on knowing my characters — fleshing them out. There really is no right or wrong way to start, but this is how I beginning.
I’ve been carrying my WIP around with me like — Yes. That’s a manilla envelope.
Inside my envelope, I have my important tools … simple really. A pencil and (of course) a Moleskine – my favorite. I think I need to do something with this cover — yes?? (thoughts? ideas?)
First page is just a brain dump thus far — quick notes on what’s in my head so far. My WIP is my most in-depth story yet. Get ready for twists and turns and “Say what?” moments.
I have a page on a little what my world looks like and the start of my character sketches. Seriously this is one of my favorite parts.
This is the part that I really get to know my character. Flesh them out. I scour magazines and Pinterest until I find the perfect face for my characters. And then I go about finding dress for them and hobbies. So far it’s my absolute favorite part of writing my stories. I fall in love with my characters. Now — if I can get you to fall in love with them as much as I am in love with them.
How do you prepare for your novels? Got any good tips for a newbie like me?
I love getting mail (as sad as it sound, I stalk my mail man daily—poor guy). There isn’t much of a selection of fun stationary here in my smallish town (I’m limited to whatever Target has), so generally I’m stuck with notebook paper and very boring white envelopes. One fabulously rainy day, in the middle of writing all my letters, I ran out of envelopes and quite frankly was a little tired of the white of the envelopes. So . . . I decided to make my own out of magazine pages (because I’m a pack rat and can’t throw away my magazines—it’s the sad truth).
Magazines, packing tape, and some kind of label—I used a “My Name Is” label, but you can use anything you have on-hand.
Take your magazine and find a page. Tear it out. Fold it about 3/4 of the way up and tape both sides closed so you have a pocket of sorts.
Take the remaining 1/4 of your page and fold the corners down.
After putting your letter in the pocket, fold top portion down and tape close (it will resemble a “real” envelope).
Flip your envelope over and stick the label on the front. Address. Stamp. Send.
See? Easy peasy. I also like getting old children’s books from the Salvation Army and using the pages for envelopes. How fun would it be to get lots of old Christmas books and use their pages to send your Christmas cards in a homemade envelope!
Be sure to link up with any envelopes you make with this tutorial! I’d love to see your creations!! You can also Instagram them to me. I’m @krummcake.
So this post is a bit humorous. Humorous because it’s the 8th day of the month and I have found 0 time to write. This post is as much for me as it is for you.
I really love to write. I do. But sometimes in the midst of life (i.e. sick kids, being a wife, running errands, the NEVER-ENDING-LAUNDRY, etc, etc, yada, yada) I don’t write. I write blog posts and guest posts and to do lists, but I never make time to write for me. To write out the characters in my head. And this post is about making time/finding time to make sure I write for the fun of it.
Keep your laptop open (or pen and notebook) handy during all those mundane tasks. You know the tasks — making dinner, folding laundry, washing dishes (only be carful with the whole laptop/water thing. Write during the little breaks here and there. Yes, it can be frustrating not to be able to finish a scene (or a sentence), however, think at the end of the day when you are dead-dog tired you will have XX many words written instead of nada and you can sleep instead of trying to think about all the reasons you like writing better then sleeping.
Don’t underestimate the power of the “potty break”. Yes, I’m going there. Instead of surfing your phone or browsing a magazine, get a few more words written. If you’re a mom this may be the only few quiet moments you get in a day (and by quite I mean you can lock the door — can I get an amen?)
Think about your WIP when you aren’t working on your WIP. This can be a little hard sometimes — like when you’re trying to type up a press release or read How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the 800th time this week — but with a little practice you’ll be able to multitask with the best of them. The reason you think about your WIP (work in progress) when you’re not necessarily working on it is because when you are ready to work on it you’ll fly through a scene instead of getting three words down before you realize that the hamburger is burning. . . again.
Create a rad playlist. And listen to that playlist when you aren’t working on your WIP. It’ll keep you motivated. I have certain songs that throw me into a scene and I can’t wait to get back to writing it. You can create a playlist from the songs you have on iTunes (and purchasing the ones you don’t have access to), you can create a playlist on playlist.com or Spotify, or (I think you can do this) you can create a playlist on youtube. PS I do have a Spotify account and there are playlist for my current WIPs. I’d love it if you shared your playlists! I love discovering new music.
Carry a notebook with you at all times (when out of the house). I’ve already covered being in the house with your laptop or notebook pen with you, and now I’m covering the one that everyone covers — carry a notebook with you at all times. I love driving, and I hate driving. I love going on long drives, however, when it comes to in town traffic — hate it. So my notebook is a God send when it comes to traffic. When you’re stuck in it, pull out your notebook and jot down your thoughts. Stuck at a red light? Do the same. I used to study this way in college. It’s the only way I got through. Note: It’s never ever ok to write while in a moving car. These are examples of when your car is stopped, not moving (of course when I am moving and there’s a scene I have to get out now, I put Siri to work writing me a note). It’s also nice when you’re stuck in a check out line to whip out your notebook and write furiously — give those around you something to talk about (the crazy lady taking notes — that would be you).
Whatever your method of madness stick with it! Sooner or later you’ll be holding a finished product in your hands. And then it will be time for the re-writes!
Do you have any tips for finding time to write? I’d love to hear them!
Some of my favorite writing resources:
Writer Mama by Christina Katz — this one is more for the non-fiction writer but great nonetheless.
Pen On Fire by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett – this is one that I had interlibrary loaned this one time and never got a chance to read beyond the first 30 pages, but those first 30 pages were amazing.
The stuff on this Pin Board — stuff from around the web that I’ve penned (I’m always looking for more rad articles so if you have one, send the link my way!)
And my current favorite all-time tweet that is tacked above my computer:
Secret to writing: You write. You stop dreaming of writing. You stop talking about writing. Stop wishing you were writing. And you write. –@JonathanGunson
Writer Mamas – Writers who are moms and some how make it all work. A week long series featuring mamas writing about mamas for mamas.
Today’s feature comes from Rebecca Graf. She is a fellow writer at Blissfully Domestic. You can find her on numerous writing site online including BellaOnline and HubPages.
Juggling Writing and Being a Mom
Anytime a mom has to juggle different areas of her life, it can get crazy and sometimes comes close to a mental breakdown. Before I began writing, I had a 40-60 week job that made me learn to juggle things. This helped me some as I became a writer.
For 20 years, I worked in the accounting field. My job typically had me working 60 hours a week. I never saw the kids’ school functions. Only went on one field trip and had to fight my boss for that. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I quit and began writing full time. Then I discovered a different kind of juggling problem. Time and peace.
You have to know this about me. I need times of peace and quiet. When I need to focus, it has to be just me or everyone else completely silent. Being home during the school year wasn’t too bad. Ok, it was because every adult in town would stop by and talk to my husband. When school let out for the summer, I found out that I almost could do the writing and be a mom. I had to have a sanctuary.
For you, I’ve broken the juggling into two sections: When School’s Out and When They’re in School. I have to approach it completely different.
When School’s Out
If your kids don’t have camp or a job, they are more than likely everywhere at one time. Not exactly conducive to writing. I tried the headphone trick, but every thirty seconds (no exaggeration, trust me) someone needed my attention. I got behind on my writing jobs and almost lost one. I discovered that I had to make some changes.
In the morning, I was mom. After breakfast, I disappeared for a few hours to a local coffee shop. Right after lunch, I’d come back and be mom again until bedtime. Then I stayed up late to finish any work. I knew it was only for a few months so it worked out good.
When They’re in School
To be honest, I love it when they go back to school because I can focus all day with no one around. I get so much done between writing and housework. Now, when the kids get home from school, I have a few hours of just being mom before doing a few things right before bed.
Boundaries Need to be Set
If you’re like me and need quiet and structure to write, you’re going to have to set boundaries with the family, including the husband. If you use headphones to block out noises, announce that no one can bother you while they are on. If you are in the midst of writing and they need you, they should stand nearby so you can see them but wait until you finish the thought you’re writing and acknowledge them.
If you have a sanctuary that you can retreat to, then mark it off limits. No one should disturb you unless blood is gushing. You have to have a place that stimulates your writing.
Can you be a mom and a writer? You bet! Many do and have found very fulfilling lives. Just don’t expect the kids to understand your needs as a writer and that sometimes you have to switch hats and focus on only area. Yet, you’ll find that you inspire your children because you write which is “boring” to them and that you’re following your dreams.
If you’re considering doing some writing but worry about your mom role, don’t! It can be worked out. Have the support of your loved ones around you and you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams.
Rebecca Graf is a mother of three (8 if you include pets and husband). She was trained as an account and then found a love of writing. In the last three years, she has written a children’s book, and over 200 articles on Hubpages (http://rgraf.hubpages.com/) on topics that cover religion, nature, gardening, business, education, and history. You can also find her work on BellaOnline.com as the History editor (http://history.bellaonline.com/Site.asp) and the new Herbs editor (http://www.bellaonline.com/site/herbs). Her articles on marriage can be found on www.Blissfully.Domestic.com . On top of all this she has found a company to work for as a freelance writer that has helped her family financially almost as good as her accounting job. She loves to teach, write, and work on crafts when she’s not focused on being mom.
Writer Mamas – Writers who are moms and some how make it all work. A week long series featuring mamas writing about mamas for mamas.
Working from home is a bit unique. You don’t automatically have set hours or a set job description. You just kind of do what sounds good and what comes along. If you aren’t careful, this can translate to too much very quickly. I have a tendency to do that. My predictable work might get slow for awhile, so I commit to multiple ventures. Before I know it, I’ve got an onslaught of things to do and burnout is coming up right behind it. Here is what I’ve got to do to stay on track without getting bogged down:
Keep a To-Do List or Editorial Calendar
Typically, my list is in the form of a complicated Excel document that no one would understand but me. There are tons of apps and planners out there, but mostly I just come back to Excel, like when I took fabric inventory for my sewing room. It just works for me.
Whatever you use, the point is to look ahead at for at least a month. That way, you know what is coming far enough in advance that when you get the opportunity to do something with a deadline a few weeks away, you know what is on the agenda already and whether you can take it on.
Know When You Can Work
Currently, I have a handful of writing times slated. Monday nights I pre-write for both of my blogs, Saturday afternoons I write for my guest posting/article gigs, and that frees up what time I have during week days for editing. Wednesday nights are for sewing, and if I’ve got to take pictures and do etsy listings, I typically do that on a free Sunday afternoon.
If something comes up that won’t fit in those times, I have to pass. In theory.
Plan Family Time
I’m not good at being spontaneous, so as bad as I feel for “penciling” my family in, I have to. Otherwise, I’ll get wrapped up in one more project and the moments will pass. When it comes down to it, if work is important enough to set aside time for it, isn’t my family that much more important?
It takes some discipline to “be your own boss” and work from home. In my case at least, it takes even more discipline to say no when something is just going to be too much for me to take on. Having a plan and understanding what I can handle is definitely the key for me.
Brannan Sirratt is MamaTashov to three crazy kiddos, writing in multiple crazy ventures, editing for crazy-awesome writers, crafting whenever the crazy gets quiet.