Saturday, April 12, 2008

Do You Have a Minute?

No, I don’t have a minute or even a second to spare. My life is all planned. But we can’t make time our excuse for not writing. Many of us editors are also authors and between reading and replying to submissions must find time to come out from behind the garden gate and write for our own pleasure. For those authors struggling with time constraints, I’d like to give you some suggestions.

1. Learn to delegate. At first, I thought I had to do it all. I didn’t want to release my workload to anyone in fear that I might have to do it over. (Hey, I’m a Virgo. I like perfection, as some of my authors would agree.) When someone asks if he/she can help, say yes. Don’t be selfish; spread the work around so more than one person can get credit for the job or enjoy the fun.

2. Learn to say no. This one was most difficult for me. I enjoy helping in the community, but I soon learned other people volunteered when I said no. Now I don’t feel as guilty.

3. Write every spare moment. My lunch is thirty minutes long. I’ve learned to work on my writing and eat at the same time. I do not necessarily have to write, but I can read over one of my chapters and make notes in the margins about corrections later.

4. Teach your husband to cook. I’m lucky that my husband is an excellent cook and works out of the home. He volunteers three or four times out of the week to cook dinner if I do the dishes. Washing the dishes is mindless, and I can think about dialogue, plots, subplots, and characters. (No, I don't have a dishwasher. ) If your husband can’t cook, it doesn’t matter. Eat it anyway and smile. If he asks if you like it, be honest. Say you’ve never tasted anything like it before. (You’re not really lying.) This may encourage him to cook more and become a better chef.

5. Encourage your husband to have a hobby. Many hobbies can get your husband out of the house. My husband loves the flea markets and yard sales. Do you know how long he is gone when searching for treasures? I only hope he doesn’t bring anything back I have to clean around later. I’ve reaped the benefits of his quest by having the house all to myself.

6. Pets. Half hour walks with my dog allow me time to think about the next chapter or a difficult passage. My dog doesn’t care that I am not talking as we walk; she is happy to be outside.

7. Make driving to work productive. Are you stuck in traffic on the inner loop or outer loop around town? Use this time to brainstorm. Have a tape recorder handy to record any random thoughts that come into your mind.

8. Allow your children-if you have any- to go to a sleepover. Not only will your children love you for allowing them to go somewhere; you will love yourself for having time to write without chasing after your kids. Caution: Make sure husband is engaged in his hobby 'cause he may have other ideas if you are alone together! Although, that could be considered research. :-)

9. Make the television your friend. No, don’t sit in front of it waiting for an idea, but allow your husband and children to watch their favorite shows. Choose only a few good shows you must watch.

10. And most important. No matter what else is going on, give yourself time every day to devote exclusively to your writing. I have an office in my house, and when I go there I am not to be disturbed. It’s my time alone.

Find those spare minutes in your life and you’ll start reaping the benefits in your writing. Be creative in your use of time as well as in your choice of words.

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