Writing for Fun (Penny Rader)

Having one of those days or weeks where you just can't focus on your novel or novella? Consider taking a play break - choose a topic or two from Write Source and see where it goes.

A few examples:
  • I know a lot about...
  • Sometimes I wish...
  • Something I don't understand
  • What makes me special
  • I'll never eat another...
  • Grandma's attic
  • If I could be someone else, I would be...
  • We got caught!
  • The toys I'll never give up.
  • If I were a superhero, I'd be...

I saw this on Twitter and it really spoke to me. Maybe it'll speak to you, too.

Today — do not be angry.
Today — do not worry.
Today — be kind to yourself and others.
Today — be honest to yourself and others.
Today — work diligently.
– Usui Sensei, 1865-1926

You can find the complete article by Nora Dunn here.


Anything you care to share?

"What's On Your Mind?" (Frances Louis)

There are a host of things that prevent me from actually engaging in the craft of writing. Laundry, kids, my bevy of exchange student placements and LIFE in general, all compete for the precious 2.5 hours of solitude I carve out every weekday afternoon. But the crutch I struggle with the most, the largest demon that continues to seduce me with its promise of easy entertainment, is by far and large, social media, especially Facebook.
It has become a routine, a daily ingrained habit that I must adhere to, lest I be left out of someone's gossip or another's vacation pictures. Of their own accord, my fingers automatically type out the website address and I find myself scanning the status updates of people I haven't seen since my days in high school, which, without divulging my age, was a long time ago.
I don't need to know silly things like what people ate for lunch, or what grade their kids made on the latest spelling test, especially from people I haven't seen in 10+ years, but I can't help myself. I am hopelessly lulled to the website and to the senseless and easy entertainment it provides in my otherwise quiet and rather lonely day.
I'd like to blame Mark Zuckerburg for inventing one of the biggest time suckers known to man, but it isn't Mark that sits at my laptop, chatting with my friends, or updating my status on Facebook. It's me, myself, and I that wile away precious writing time knowing full well the consequences of such behavior.
I can conjure a slew of excuses as to why I NEED to participate and engage myself in the world of social media. But the real reason I immerse myself into other's business and why I blab about my day for the entire world to see, is because, simply put, I'm lonely.
Writing is a solitary and sedentary career. I am the only one that can write my story. I am the only one that can sit at the laptop for hours at a time creating the world that I see in my head. While I find myself a rather social and amiable sort, being alone for hours at a time gets dull, boring, and rather lonesome. The idea that someone, even a virtual someone, is only a status update away, is more than alluring. It's downright comforting.
Which is why I suppose, I will always have to fight the demons and focus on not what everyone else is doing, but what I am (or am not) creating.

(Not) In the Mood

This month we've been blogging about the writing problems we struggle with and how we solve them.  Some problems are solved permanently, some are solved temporarily, and some are never solved.  The reasons can be anything from a change in our lives that happens because of outside circumstances or it can be from something inside ourselves.  Sometimes we have control, and sometimes we don't.  The trick is discovering whether we fool ourselves into blaming things out of our control, when we really can do something about then, if we make a change, either in ourselves or the world and people around us.

Every one of us has been through those not-in-the-mood-to-write times, whether it's  a good time or a bad time.  I've been going through that since early this year, and I've found that I have had to sit down and make myself write.  That means literally sitting myself in my chair at my desk, putting my hands on the keyboard, and bringing up the Word file I need to work with.  And even then I have to trick myself into doing what needs to be done.  I'll be honest.  Even that doesn't always work.

Sometimes even trying to trick myself doesn't work. I just don't feel like writing.  Today is one of those days.  I know I should.  In additional to this blog post, I'm working on some old manuscripts, trying to decide if any are worth reworking and revising or if they should be put back under the proverbial bed and forgotten.  I'm not making much progress.  I'm just not in the mood.

Not wanting to write can be linked to not feeling our writing is worthwhile.  Do we feel guilty for taking time away from family to do something for ourselves?  Has someone said or done something that tells us they think writing is a waste of our time?  Have we recently received a rejection or entered a contest where a judge's comments have made us doubt ourselves?  There are thousands of things that can open the door to doubt, but the only one who can close that door is ourselves.

If, like me, you're struggling with not being in the mood to write, take a look at what's going on in your life.  If you find whatever it might be that is causing the non-writing mood isn't something that can be changed, then wait as patiently as possible, without beating yourself up, until an opportunity, no matter how small, presents itself.  And if that non-writing mood is caused by something within, it's time to take a close look, be honest, and do whatever is necessary to change it.

Good luck!  (I know I need it!)


"If Music Be the Food of Love, Play On." - William Shakespeare (Melissa Robbins)

This month, we have been discussing problems writers face. I'm going to discuss inspiration. If we want to write, we find the time and push away those fear demons.

What inspires me to sit at a computer for hours on end (besides my characters wanting to get out and me going crazy until they do)? Music. I have a playlist on my computer that plays along while I write. My husband mocks my “soundtrack” for my stories, but listening to certain songs when I'm writing helps with the emotions that go into a scene.

So here is my playlist made up of songs from movie soundtracks and swing music since my story takes place in 1940.

Page 47 – National Treasure 2, Book of Secrets - This song has that epic quality to it. I picture fighter planes flying over my heroine's head or Wren standing on that beautiful spot on the cliffs overlooking the Channel.

Sing, Sing, Sing – Benny Goodman - I can't have a playlist for a story set in 1940 without including this classic. Sure makes it easy to write a dance scene in a village hall filled with fun and forgotten cares. It starts as soon as my heroine and her friends walk through the door.

Jumpin' Jack – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – This is my hero, Jack's swing theme song. The boy loves to dance. My kids love this song and request it when we are driving in the car.

First Class – X-men: First Class – There are some amazing songs on this soundtrack. Similar tunes run through all the songs, but to me they convey so much emotion and it is sure fun to picture Jack sauntering sexily to this song.

503 – Angels and Demons – A sorrowful song; there is a war going on.

(I Would Do) Anything for You – Benny Goodman – as a former clarinet player, I'm a big fan of Benny (not that my band director let us clarinet players play any of his stuff). This song is Wren and Jack's fast theme swing song. I always found the title appropriate.

Goodnight, My Love – Benny Goodman – Wren and Jack's slow theme swing song; Jack sings it to her. My kids love this song, too. They all sing it in the car. I caught Becca (my three year old) belting the song out in the living room one day without the music playing. She could only remember two lines, but it was cute.

Kingdom Dance – Tangled – I LOVE this movie. It is my favorite Disney one. How does this song figure into my story? It has an Irish dance flair to it and I have a scene where one of my character's dad is playing his fiddle during an air raid.

Sky Battle – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – What can I say? I have Royal Air Force pilots in my story. There are one or two 'sky battles'.

X-Training – X-men: First Class – I wrote this romantic scene that Fran loves. When she asked me how I did it, I told her this song inspired me. Fran doesn't believe me. She thinks this song is more action than romantic, but to me it is one sexy song. My favorite on the list.

Rage and Serenity – X-men: First Class – Did I mention how much I like this soundtrack? This song is short, but I LOVE how it starts off quiet and gets louder and more powerful. Perfect for a kissing scene when it is so not the time for my characters to be kissing.

Forest Battle and I Claim Your Sun – Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen – I love the Transformers soundtracks. When I hear these songs, (they are pretty similar) I picture a scene from my story where my characters are first riding on motorcycles through bombed out London and then they have to run when the debris gets too bad. I haven't written that scene yet, but it's in my head.

Arrival to Earth – Transformers - Did I mention I like these soundtracks? This song is perfect for the final air raid at the end of my story. Planes, bombs, explosions, etc.

Optimus vs. Megatron – Transformers – This is beyond sad. Since I associate this song with a scene from my first story, when I see the part in the Transformers movie where this song is, I start crying.

Now We Are Free – Gladiator – This song makes me happy and sad.

Mutant and Proud – X-men: First Class – This is a kissing song. What? The title doesn't sound like it, but to me it is. This is the longer version of Rage and Serenity, when my characters have more time to kiss.

Obliviate – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1– When I hear this song, I picture several of my characters reacting individually after the previous scene. Since my story is first person, most of these scenes aren't actually in the story, but it helps me with their feelings for later. I can just feel the coldness of that train window through my skin.

I See the Light – Tangled – Such a romantic song and this is Jack's singing voice. Sigh. Wren won't be singing with him. She couldn't sing to save her life.

Something That I Want – Tangled – Just a fun song. Flynn is my favorite Disney hero and he just happens to share his name with Jack's middle name.

Silver Wings March - There is one song that hasn't made it on my actual playlist yet because my dad is still trying to figure out how to get the music onto a CD. I asked my dad to compose an Army Air Corps song reminiscence of Bell Bottom Trousers (the sweet, nice version) and he did. I have the lyrics, Shiny Silver Wings. They made it into the stories. Dad promises to sing it too.

There you have it. My Wren and Company Playlist. Maybe one of these songs will inspire you. Does music inspire you to write? Do you have songs that you like to listen to when you write? Perhaps we should say instead, "If writing be the food of love, write on!"

Writing Amid Chaos (Penny Rader)

This month we’ve been talking about what gets in the way of our writing. Fear? Check. Procrastination? Check. Time Management? Check. Distractions? Check. Myself? Ch—no one wrote that post, but I’m the one who gets in my own way.

In addition to the fear that the words just won’t come and frittering away my time by procrastinating and indulging myself in all sorts of distractions, my other obstacle is writing when all around me is chaos. Or rather, not writing.

There've been several health issues in my family this year. Nearly lost my mom in May. My dh has another surgery scheduled this week. A separate, highly emotional issue is also pulling us in all directions and might go on for another month, maybe indefinitely.

During times like these my brain freezes. I’ll jot down things the doctors, etc. say so I won’t forget…but creative writing? Doesn’t happen. My brain is just mush. I can read (to momentarily escape), but I’m unable to create, unable to lose myself within my own writing. I remember hearing a story as a kid about tigers chasing each other around a tree. Around and around they went. Faster and faster and faster until they turned into butter. That’s my brain. Butter. A messy blur.

I’ve read that many, if not most, writers write through emotional chaos. That writing helps them through trying times. Are you one of those people? How do you do it? Or are you like me and unable to write when your life is a stressful mess, especially emotional stress?

Distractions - The little things that draw my attention

Look up distraction in the dictionary and you get three examples of noun definitions:
1. The act of distracting or the condition of being distracted.
2. Something, especially an amusement, that distracts.
3. Extreme mental or emotional disturbance, obsession; obsession: loved the puppy to distraction.

Yes, I know...what could a picture of a huge wine bottle possibly have to do with my article? Well, nothing. Your point?

Okay I am ruled by distractions and being weak when I come face to face with them.

In relation to my writing, I am a master at creating complicated schedules of What needs to be done, Why it needs to be done (contract), and When it must be done. I color code my Outlook calendar by publisher, my writing business, promotional stuff, release dates, and personal stuff, too. It looks so good, so pretty. And when I get finished updating it all, I am so impressed with myself. I am determined to start working through it all.

BUT along comes a post on one of the groups I follow online about using Kindlegraph for autographing Kindle books…and I have to check it out. Then someone else tells me what great PR they’re getting by doing giveaways on Goodreads. Yep, I’ve got to check into it and set up my own giveaway. Oh, and someone mentioned Wikispaces in the latest RWR magazine and what a useful tool a writer can have there. I barely finished reading the article before I was out there creating my own massive database in Wikispaces.

What happens by getting so easily distracted? I have to shift my pretty colors around on my calendar. Everything that was so nicely spaced out and gave me plenty of time to finish whatever it was is now squished together. I suddenly need 48 hour days instead of 24 hour. (heavy, heavy sigh here)

My daughter and I started a travel writing website for our adventures, which, of course, keeps getting put on the “Do tomorrow” list. Anyway, I love the caption she put on it: We believe a map is merely a suggestion…until something “shiny” catches our attention.

Apparently all of my life is that way, filled with mere suggestions about the “when”s and too easily distracted by “shiny” things. I’m obsessed with loving all of those spur-of-the-moment distractions.

Wake UP and Smell the.....

Writers are strange creatures. They make stuff up in their heads. Then they write it down. Then, if everyone is really lucky, they share their creations with others. How can anything go so sadly awry with that?

Becaaaassse. We're all different. We mix methods and proceedures together differently from each other and there is no way to know in advance of actually writing and completing a body of work to know how our individual mind will function in the creative process of writing.

For example let us take those pansters and plotters. Pansters are supposed to fly by the seat of their pants which is supposed to mean that each day brings new material to their heads and therefor their fingers. Yeah right. In reality, their minds have been very busy thinking this way and that. They have tacked the big problems, and some of the minor, by allowing their subconscious brain to figure out the plot and characters for them. I have yet to hear of a panster who did not have any idea whether their characters and story were going to be an adventure or a contemporary story before they began writing it. There is a little bit of structure in mind before the fingers hit the keys. A panster might not know how a story will unfold, but they usually begin with at least one character, a place or situation for that character to be in, and an idea of where the character will end up whether physically or mentally.

Those of us who are plotters are amazing creatures of planning. Plotters decide in advance who does what in who's alley, when, and why. They string together pearls of moments for their characters to complete. One new writer that I sometimes talk to discovered last week that writing 3x5 cards with plot points on them and then playing with them to create order has suddenly let her writing ability soar. She's written over a hundred pages in four days. More than she's ever completed before. The only thing slowing her down is having to work for a living. This breakthrough is after more than ten years of writing. She carries the cards to organize her life and the transfer of her ideas of her story into a pile of cards added to what she keeps on her was an epiphany.

How long does it take a writer to complete a project? Some writers can complete a novel-sized project in a few weeks. Other writers complete one only after decades of work on it. Some writers take course after course attempting to memorize enough grammar and structure from various instructors to be able to express themselves fluidly. The frustration of attempting to take an amorphous idea, notion, or emotion and explain it in the words of the author's language, which is regularly too imprecise for satisfaction, often causes author hair loss and vague growling sounds to be uttered.

How, then, do we figure out how our individual writing processes work if the art of writing is not consistent? Because it is consistent. If you interview enough writers a body of commonality forms in a smorgasbord of writer traits. The most important trick of all as a beginning writer is to stay true to your own story. Do not let others who are confident in their opinions to overly sway your work. Trust your writer's gut. It is a sensitive organ and will let you know if a piece of advice or methodology rings true for you. Do not scoff at other writer's notions or paths. Their own individual expression in the story world cannot ever be yours. It may be similar. It may be very dissimilar. Writing is much like learning to run. First you have to figure out how to crawl, toddle, walk, and then run. Yes, we fall down and cause ourselves to bruise, but not to move at all means a large part of a potential writer's world is missing.

I once read that a story must have so much dialogue. I put dialogue in. I then had to go back and pull it all out as it was wrong for the characters and the story. I should have stayed true to myself and expressed what happened in my own way. Then the story would have flowed and all would have been right in my world. However, without the attempt, how would I have ever figured it out? There is no one who can teach a writer to write expressing his own talent. It cannot be done as a writing talent is too individualized in its expression.

What do we do? We wake up and smell the morning beverage. That's what we do. We plug along with baby steps, asking for advice, trying out different methods, write our stories, and as we gain experience and understanding we can begin to fly.

Are you awake? Then join WARA so that you have all the help you can ask for on the writer's path.

Time Management

I noticed when I visited the blog this evening that I had missed my post date. Hence, I realized another obstacle I face as a writer. My lack of time management skills.

I have enough hours in the day. I get 24, just like the rest of you, but there are days when I have to wonder what happened to the 18 or so hours that have passed since I woke up. What did I do all day? Why didn't any of those hours include writing?
Sure, I work 12 hrs shifts at the hospital and those night shifts play havoc with my engery level and productivity, but that's only two nights a week. Five days a week I should be writing at least 6 hrs a day. I'm not. I've tried making schedules, checking off boxes of most important to least important items that have to be done, but the morning passes and all I've accomplished is to sip two cups of coffee and watch the news. Talk about depressing.

So, I'm at my wits end. I really have no idea how to manage my time and my writing is suffering because of it. Any suggestions? Any sure fire helpful hints? If you can help, I'll name a character after you in my next book.

Writing Obstacles

The phrase “writer’s block” is misconstrued by many. The belief that it connotates one who has nothing to write about is far from the truth. “Writer’s Block” can be defined as someone who has SO much to write about, that the author cannot filter the numerous topics and choose one.
This is one problem with writing: I have a ton of plots swirling in my head and choosing just one can pose conflict.
So, what to do?
Jotting down the ideas is one step and then selecting the one that piques the interest the most is the next.
After the top choice is determined, the dilemma that I face is actually sitting down and writing. I constantly think about my story, the characters and the outcome. My mind dreams up the beginning, the middle and the end, but placing the words on paper is almost inhibiting.
My life is chaotic. It is filled with grading, grading, grading, not to mention carting my children to ballet, boxing, guitar lessons and squeezing in something that is necessary in my life now: exercising. It is not an option any longer. My health must be improved and maintained in order to participate in the milestones of my daughters.
Writing problem? Not sure if that’s a precise phrase any longer. Writing obstacles seems to be synonymous.
When the window of opportunity arises, I seize it and write. I may not finish a book, chapter or page for that matter, but the happiness I feel at accomplishing a bit of writing is bittersweet.
Eventually, my life will settle down a bit and composing my stories and completing it will happen one day. I don’t have a set time for my pen to paper, and maybe I should pencil it in, but for now, it’s one baby step a day.

Problems? What problems?

When I started writing, the whole world of writing was amazing to me. Every aspect was sparkly or scary. Scary because I couldn't understand what was happening in my head. How could a story unfold from it without conscious thought on my part?

With research, understanding, time, and two novels out, now I'm asking myself, what happened? Why doesn't a story unfold without conscious thought on my part? More than that, why is it the same struggle for others? Authors with little work finished and authors whose body of work is huge?

I have absolutely NO IDEA!!

That is what is driving me crazy.

I thought it was little time to write. I cleared some time.

I thought it was lack of discipline. I sat in the chair and stared and cursed at the cursor.

I thought maybe it was lack of inspiration. I inspired myself with, new paint, a new computer, new music, new clothes, new shoes, a new cat, a box of donuts, a pocket of chocolate, a pot of custom blend coffee, a framed note from an agent, nothing worked for over three minutes. All work in that time had to be redone.

I thought it was a lack of direction. I turned my desk around. (Ok, I didn't really, but I was getting desperate.)

I thought maybe I was suddenly unable to write so I took a sentence course on how to make interesting sentences. Now I'm totally confused as to how to string all of those interesting sentences together into one meaningful story. Meaningful? Never mind. How about interesting?

Then I thought maybe it was my regular life interfering with my fake one. So I took a look at what was happening this last week.
I had to approve, disapprove, rewrite, then approve the main ad for our business. It will run 13 weeks and cost roughly nine thousand dollars. Let's not get it too wrong, OK? Then don't forget the left-over containers for after the caterers after two customer dinners in two towns. Sister and mom are here to work over the family pictures and documents for three generations and include the family archive book and stories and give lessons making homemade biscuits. Hired girl gets here and begins to empty the kitchen cabinets so that they can be relined with birch veneer. Mom decides to begin working on the drip system that will allow the fish pond water, the patio containers, and two trees to actually get watered regularly and she's weed-eating random places around the yard (God help us.). Husband decides to cook but decides to make triple batches so he can help a friend who has chicken pox for the third time. How many apples does he need to buy for apple crisp and would I come and look at it to see if it is done? The darned cat can't get to the cat food because the barrier to make the door smaller so that the bobcat that has been getting in the green house and slashing the cat food sacks all open can't get in there. But now the human door won't latch. Better look into that. When will the pickup get to be in the garage again? Can we do something about the boxes of stuff mom has brought from Tucson for a garage sale in Walsh in October? The guy refinishing the dining room table sanded right down through the surface of the veneer, can we do something about that? The new veneer came in lets get it installed so meet me in Manter at nine in the morning and we'll give it a try. The man to replace the hailed out roof on the rent house has never shown up. The fellow that is painting the other one has charged all the materials to the accounts but hasn't done anything but remove the shutters on the other rent house. Yes, let's get new ones, but paint them black to match the ones we don't need to change. Rain? Nope, that's dirt in the wind. Yes, bug man, please spray the crickets in the seed building office. Did anyone water the new trees this week? Commerce bank called, they're missing a payment. Uncle Milon died. He fell down stairs and broke his ribs. At the hospital, he couldn't keep his lungs clear and died of pneumonia. Mom's friend's husband has had a heart attack and may not make it two more weeks. Is there anyway to get them help? Yes, Washington state has hospice care that is not only in the home, but also helps council those who have never gone down this path before. Cell signal is spotty. Air fares from Denver are only three hundred five dollars round trip and it would only take twenty four hours to get her there. Don't come yet? Ok. Town day, gotta buy some groceries and get finish for the inside of the cabinets since what we have will turn yellow. Yuk. Table finish took a dark turn, but will come out ok and will be delivered back on Saturday. There are four more blouses ready to pick up. The left rear tire on the car is flat. Trash is piling up in the garage and will be dealt with tomorrow morning when we go get the flat fixed. Called to find out how to stake the three new trees. What is the anniversary date of our company insurance so the secretary can schedule knee surgery? I'll find out. We took an inventory of our baseball farmer hats and we don't have any! Order some immediately and try to get them here as soon as possible. Yes, the pocket notebooks came in. I'll bring them to the seed meetings myself. Who parked the car in the garage at such an angle I can't get the front passenger door open? Yeah, buttons selected and put on two new blouses. Why don't I have any clean underwear? Why is the computer coughing up hairballs and giving me repeat messages that said I don't have enough virtual memory? Where are the sponge sticks I bought to put bleach on the mold I'm allergic to on the corner of the shower door before I cough up both lungs? Yes, mom, I found a place you can dump your dark water tanks in your motor home on Friday when you go to town. My new sandals rubbed sores on the top of my feet. We spent two hours waiting to get through the line at the hospital for the health fair. Then we spent two hours looking at dismal crops of ours drougthing out on the way home. The student I tutored in math is doing an excellent job and bounded ahead this Monday. He's also doing pretty good at getting my bank statements balanced. He has three out of five accounts up to date.

No, just a regular week.

I can't figure it out.

Somehow I will get a little forward in the story. Maybe I should plot a little instead of relying on the seat of my pants?


No, the title of this blog post is not a mistake.  Titles are one of many things I struggle with in my writing.  How do I solve it?  Uh...  Obviously it isn't solved today and is one of the reasons my post is late.  (Tardiness being another problem I haven't come to terms with, not only in writing but in life.  Let's save that for another time.)

It's the title of a piece of fiction or non-fiction that invites and entices a person to read what's been written.  A perfect example is Reese's title on Thursday.  Or Pat's.  Or Joan's.  Each of those had an element that pique a reader's interest. 

While my title above has no enticement, except to wonder why I didn't title my post, it pretty much conveys my struggle.  I hate trying to think of titles.

Of my twelve published books, only two have kept my original titles.  His Queen of Hearts (Sil. Romance 4/2006 and Family by Design (Harlequin American Romance 1/2008) miraculously made it through the editorial process.  Which is not to say the original titles of the others were bad.  Personally, I think Darlin' in Disguise has a better ring to it than The Truth About Plain Jane, but someone with more experience didn't agree.  And, in truth, the official title isn't far off from one of probably fifteen or so others that I later suggested.

Fifteen?  Yeah, fifteen.  Because authors are given the chance to suggest more titles. 

With the last six books--part of a series--I made it a habit not to give them a title.  Not a real title, anyway.  The original titles  included the name of the hero or heroine and a key word that told me something about the story.  Here's the list of my working titles and the books' published titles:

Tanner's Prize - The Rodeo Rider 
Taming Kate - Bachelor Cowboy 
Morgan's Pride - The Lawman's Little Surprise 
Nikki's Secret - The Reluctant Wrangler 
Tucker's Homecoming - The Maverick's Reward
Garrett's Woman - Bachelor Dad

130 titles total were sent.  5 of the suggested were chosen.  But I have to be honest.  I didn't think of all 130.  I'm part of a great group of authors with a talent for titles, so thanks to the Ditzy Chix, my books haven't gone untitled...like this post.

And now you know the whole story, at least about this particular struggle. One down and an infinite number to go.  ☺

Writing Problem du jour by J Vincent

My writing problem du jour or rather de l'annĂ©e is simply writing. The actual physical task of pen to paper, fingers to keyboard. I struggle with how to get myself back on track to daily meaningful—let’s even skip meaningful— to writing. To be a writer one must write. Now running through my mind is the caution that one must not have word repetition. Are five forms of “write” too much repetition? Ahh, distraction.

Distracted writers do not write. Distracted writers cook, clean, sew, quilt, babysit, do laundry, organize anything and everything etc. etc. We make lists on things to do and even on how to get back to writing. There are many legitimate distractions. Emergencies happen, circumstances change in a flash and schedules only seem made to be disrupted. For me it is truly an ongoing struggle to find time to write. No, I need to be honest since the first step in recovery is to admit the truth. I do have time to write. The problem is I do not when I choose to do something else. It was such a struggle that I did have the internal debate about giving up writing. But I blog here because it makes me write. I post a monthly “Coze” on my website because it ensures more writing. I’m never truly happy not writing so it isn’t time to give it up.

Then how can I make sure I do it? Better stated, how DO I make sure I do it? What I should do is set an image of a leprechaun—a leprechaun with a really big gavel in hand, on the top shelf above my computer. She should bear a striking resemblance to a very successful author who happens to be our intrepid leader. Every time I am tempted to drift away from my writing task she whacks the shelf and shouts “Set and KEEP Goals!” Seriously, this is an excellent if not THE point.

Setting goals is key to keeping on track and gaining writing success. Every time I’ve been prodded into doing so I have accomplished something. So I’ve been setting very small goals and reaching them for the most part. Large goals overwhelm. I am easily drawn into my “impossible” mode with large goals these days. So my goals are writing for an hour; planning a specific scene; writing that scene; editing; and then continuing to the next part of the book. It’s like stacking toy blocks into a building, except I get pages filled with sentences and paragraphs. Which lead to more pages. Which leads to goals met. Achieving goals breeds and feeds success. Following my goals, which are progressive, leads me to a completed book. This blog post proves goals work—due to setting a goal it was written a full two weeks before I had to have it up—not the day before like sometimes happens.

No plan is fail safe. I love, no I need, back up plans. Please share how you get edge or better yet, blast your way through the temptation to not write.


Wait. Wait. Waaaaaait. Hold those itchy trigger fingers and don’t click away from this site. This is not one of the web pages your momma warned you about. This is WARA’s writing blog and our topic this month has to do with writing problems. Still confused about the title? Double check the color of your undies, (hot pink with white and yellow daisies) grab something cold to drink (iced tea) and let me explain.

My biggest struggle when it comes to writing is myself. There. I said it. I feel like a huge weight has been shifted from my shoulders to this page. Please understand that I’m not apologizing. I’m just admitting it to you, the faithful readers, writers and otherwise curious title pursuers.

My motto is and always will be that if you get a chance to do something or see something really cool and extraordinary then you have an obligation to yourself to do it. There are some experiences that only come around once and I don’t want to miss anything. We only get one shot at this life and I want to make the most of it. I go and I do until my calendar is full and my checkbook is empty.

As a writer, I’m curious by nature and I’m not claiming to live like Indiana Jones. Not everything I do is movie-worthy but it is vital to who I am. I recently lost a very good friend to a tragic accident. She was only 33. Her death made me realize how very short and precious our time is. We should all live like today could be our last day.

How do I strike a balance? Make time for everything I want to do with everything I have to do? I’m not sure. I celebrate a milestone birthday in a few months—gasp—and I wanted to have this current WIP finished by then. I have a long way to go but I’m going to try. It’s important. I will find a compromise between where I am now and where I want to be.

So, tell me. If life is so short why would you want to waste a single day wearing ugly underwear? Pull out the good ones. The colorful ones that make you secretly happy when you wear them. The ones that make you feel like you can conquer the publishing world. I know that’s asking a lot from a pair of undergarments, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. You owe it to your manuscript but most importantly, you owe it to yourself.




Hello, Pat Davids here. This month on our WARA blog we are going to be talking about writing problems we have and how to solve them.
Oh, if only there was a way to solve my writing problem.

My problem is procrastination. Not a small amount of procrastination. I am talking about procrastination the size of Mount Everest. An enormous, five-mile high, thin-altitude, ice-covered hunk of a mountain’s worth of procrastination that I may never be able to climb over.

What!! You all exclaim. Pat, you've written 15 books! How can you claim you suffer from procrastination? I don't just claim it, I can prove it. Right now, it is ten fifty-five p.m. on August 1st and my blog is due to be posted after midnight. See, I procrastinate. When did I look up what I was to blog about? A single minute prior to starting this post. When I think of how much preparation time Penny puts into her posts I'm almost ashamed to admit mine are off-the-cuff.

Earlier today I was expecting a call from my agent. Because I was unable to meet her at the RWA conference, we didn't have a chance to discuss my writing plan for the year, what projects I wanted to work on, who I might want to target with new work or where I wanted to take my career. I was DREADING her call. Why? Because I had next to nothing planned and no idea what direction I wanted to take my career.

In true queen-like style, I have been telling people my new goal is to become famous. To make the New York Times bestseller list. How am I going to achieve such a lofty goal? I don’t have a clue, but it sounds good.

My actual goal is to meet the looming deadlines of the books I have under contract. How much have I written? Fifteen pages. First book is due Oct 1st. In a bout of gloomy soul-searching just ten minuets before her call (notice once again my glaring procrastination) I discovered a disturbing underlying cause of my affliction. I'm not afraid of failure. I'm not afraid of success. I'm not afraid of bad reviews. I'm not even afraid of being thought unreliable by my publishers. I mean, what the heck, I'm still a good nurse. That job is not going away.

No, I realized that I'm afraid I don't have anything meaningful to say.

That's it. That's the fear that holds me back.

People can tell me my work is meaningful, my work is funny, or my work is endearing, or even that it sucks. If I don't believe it in my heart, then what someone else says doesn't matter.

Perhaps the recent sad events in my life have skewed my perspective. I don't know. I do know I have always loved to tell stories and I always will.

In the end, I have to believe I will conquer this fear now that I recognize it. Why? Because I hate roadblocks. I hate letting something else keep me from getting where I want to go. If I want to hit the New York Times bestseller list I really have to write more books. I really have to write better books, books with something meaningful in them.

And do you know what I just realized? What is more meaningful than LOVE? Wow! Why didn't I think of that before?

So, do you suffer from procrastination? How do you fight it? I'd love to hear.