Sunday, May 25, 2014

Tips for Becoming an Early Riser

First and foremost, wishing you guys a safe and happy Memorial Day!

This past winter, I went through a phase of waking up at 5AM to write. Also, during my last round of revisions, I was wide awake and at my desk by 4AM. The only way I get true alone time is when I'm awake before the birds or when I stay up half the night.

Lately, I’ve turned into a night owl. The idea of waking up that early again causes me physical pain, y'all. There is not an UGH loud enough to express my displeasure for that 5AM on my alarm. But the late nights are harsh when my kid averages a 6AM wake-up, so I’m working my way back into early-riser status. And in case any of you guys may be considering the early wake-up, I figured I’d pass along a few tips for easing into it.

- Go to bed earlier. The obvious one, right? Except it’s not always so easy. I would suggest cutting out electronics at least an hour before bed (eReaders, computers, even your phone). Caffeine can also keep you wide awake (well, duh). My personal rule is no caffeine after 3PM (which means farewell to my 5PM coffee breaks).

- Set your clothes out the night before. Also, shower at night if you’re able.

- Prepare your breakfast the night before. Your body needs good food to function properly (another farewell to my beloved Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms). You can whip up a bowl of overnight oats (plain oats that soak in almond milk overnight) to grab on the way to your desk. Whole-wheat muffins are another favorite. Pair it with an apple and glass of water (and COFFEE), and your brain will thank you. I promise.

- Coffee’s the nectar of the gods, but DRINK WATER too. Hydration doesn’t just make you feel better – your brain truly needs it. It’s science.

- Have something happy at your desk/writing space. I have a patch of inspirational quotes posted above my computer. I drink from cute cups and coffee mugs because life needs a little bit of sparkle. I also turn on my writing playlist because music is one of the greatest motivators ever. A fun spot makes work more enjoyable.

- Along with the music: DANCE PARTIES. Find a 4-minute song and dance your heart out. If that doesn’t wake you up, I don’t know what will. Also, celebrate the small victories with a quick dance party! This method is Revision Warriors-approved.

- When all else fails, and what I'll be doing for a few days: Fake it 'til you make it.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Writers on the GO: Mini Task Lists

Stay Connected All Day to Your WIP

Last week on RW, Cheryl dropped a bomb-load of time management technique on us. Author or illustrator—it’s good stuff.  Check it out, I’ll wait.   

*whistles Stairway to Heaven*

So, while you’re downloading the LibriVox app Cheryl recommended, I’d like to expound on another one of her points: Make the Most of Small Chunks of Time.
It’s tough trying to launch a writing career while remaining a functioning member of society. Day jobs, commuting, shuttling kids, appointments, eating balanced meals… it never ends. To combat the eternal onslaught of commitments, I’ve started the Mini Task List. 

 These are little jobs I can work on away from my precious, precious computer desk. I throw this little notepad in my purse  cool satchel  backpack the diaper bag and off I go. And yes, I have to write things down. Just looking at that little notepad helps me focus.

I thought I’d share a typical list of mine.  Pretty self-explanatory, but if you’re curious:

First order of business: Check Danielle’s twitter. My agent, Danielle M. Smith of Red Fox, is a twitter guru. She shares things like agency news, book recs and reviews, insightful articles—it keeps me in the loop. I can do this while waiting for kinder-kid at school pick-up. This is an instance where my Smartphone is actually used as a tool, not a time-sucking gadget of doom.

Second: Google Image Search Snake Dens. Ah, research. I need to know about snake dens for a scene I’m writing. Do snake dens have a bunch of rooms, or is there just one chamber? Who knows? Smartphones and tablets make researching possible just about anywhere, even my dentist’s office.
Third: Write descriptive sentence for dipping toe in water.  This is a definite mini-task. I need this description in one of my chapters, but it was hanging me up the other day. So, while Kinder-kid is in dance class, I can (hopefully) jot down a few better words.

The Mini-Task List keeps me connected to my WIP all day, and when you’re being pulled in a dozen different directions, that feeling is priceless.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Make Time To Do What You Love

We all get the same 24 hours a day. We mark the passing seconds, minutes, and hours almost obsessively. Seriously, take a second to think about how many clocks you have in your house—wall clocks, watches, phones, computers, oven, microwave, alarm clocks. There’s a clock in your car, there are electronic roadside signs displaying the time. It’s craziness!

So why it is so hard to accomplish everything you NEED to do and everything you WANT to do each day? “Time got away from me” is a favorite saying of mine, but how can time escape my attention when I'm constantly reminded of it? Why do I feel like there is never enough time for me to WRITE?

“I must govern the clock, 
not be governed by it.” 

~ Golda Meir

You only get one life. Shouldn’t the majority of it be spent doing the things you love? Here are a few things I do in hopes of making that happen.


LibriVox  provides free audiobooks from the public domain that read by volunteers. How great is that?! Many classic books are available for download in several different formats; I have the app on my iphone, and I’ve listened to Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice during my commute to the day job. These are two books I’ve wanted to read for like… ever, and LibriVox made it possible. For free. And you can’t beat free, right?

I also subscribe to Audible and pay a monthly fee of $14.99, which gives me 1 credit every 30 days to download a current title. As much as I love physical books, I wouldn’t get to enjoy as many stories as I do if it weren’t for Audible. Now I listen to books while I’m cleaning the house, doing dishes, cooking dinner, driving to work, etc. 

“Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away.”

~ Charles Caleb Colton

Make use of the small blocks of time

There was a time, not so long ago, that I didn’t realize what I could accomplish during those 10 minute breaks I had at work, or the time I spent waiting during my son’s karate class. Now, during my breaks (thanks again to my iPhone) I read blogs, check emails, jot down ideas, and check my twitter & Facebook.

I have 45 minutes twice a week during my son’s karate class. That’s an hour and half a week, folks! When I was editing my WIP prior to querying, I sent a copy of it to my Kindle app so I could read and catch errors while sitting in the waiting area. Now I use it to brainstorm new story ideas.

“For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work.”

~ Doug Larson

Put yourself first 

This is a big one, and it can be a toughie because we’re so used to making sure everyone else is taken care of before our own needs are met.  All you moms and dads with kids out there know EXACTLY what I mean.

Sometimes it’s okay to say NO to stuff.  No, this weekend the sleepover isn’t going to be at our house. No, this time you need to ask your friend’s parent for a ride to the mall. It really isn’t selfish to not do everything all the time. There must be some balance. Embrace it. Love it. Live it.

Treat writing like a job  

Even if you’re not paid to do it. My husband laughed at me the first time I told him that I work two jobs. He wasn’t trying to be mean or insensitive. He just didn’t get it at first. But when I began to take it seriously, he did too. Now, he respects the time I set aside for writing. But it had to start with me. Others won’t take you seriously if don’t give them a reason to.

Fact: writing is my second job. For now. One day, I hope will be my primary job. Why wouldn’t I treat it just as seriously as anything else I do?  Why should the thing I want most come second to everything else?  

Make a schedule if that works for you, but whatever you do, make it a priority. Don’t treat writing as something that can be pushed off to the side. 

 “Work is hard.
Distractions are plentiful.
And time is short.”

 ~ Adam Hochshild

I guess what it comes down to is that time isn’t going to find us; we have to make the time.  This may mean sacrifice, like watching less television or playing fewer video games (man, I love video games). Sometimes it means getting creative and finding ways to kill two birds with one stone, like listening to audiobooks while driving to the day job. 

In the end, we all choose what’s important to us and ultimately what we make time for.  Every time I choose to do something else over my writing, I ask myself if what I’m doing is more important.  Sometimes the answer is yes, but many times it’s no. Those are the times when I need to force my BICHOK (but in chair, hands on keyboard). 

Are the 24 hours we get each day enough for you?  Please share any tips you have to stretch the time and fit it all in.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fast and Easy Edits

I'll be querying soon! YAY! Before I send out my manuscript, I'm going through it one more time to search for a couple of things. Here's the short list:

Overused words:

so, was, just, even, ever, then, really, had, and THAT.

Also, check out Rachel's post on crutch words to find the overused words unique to your ms!

Tighten by cutting unnecessary words:

Shrug my shoulders = I shrug

His heart beat in his chest = His heart beat

She yelled out = She yelled

They could see the river = They saw the river

Revise clunky Sentences:

Too many actions-

Moving toward the door, she smiled, waved, and walked down the stairs, eating a donut. = After opening the door, she smiled and waved. She finished eating the donut on the way down the stairs.

Redundant descriptions-

Clearly, they were too busy to hear the shouts of screaming children echoing from the walls within the building. = No one noticed the children's screams coming from inside the building.

Pronoun confusion-

She nailed her to the wall but she fought back and her hair pins fell into her hands. = Abby nailed Clair to the wall. Clair fought the restraint, loosening her hair pins. Abby caught the pins as they fell.

Attach detached body parts:

I threw my hands around her. = I hugged her.
Her eyes roamed his body. = She looked him up and down.
She rolled her head. = She stretched her neck side to side.
His feet swiped the carpet. = He walked slowly.
Their arms flew in the air. = They raised their arms in unison.

Basically, anything were the extremities are not attached to the body. ;)

Deepen POV:

She felt hands on her arm = Hands touched her arm

He could feel the heat of her breath on his face = Her breath heated his face

*Watch for filtering words- felt, heard, saw, thought, wondered, knew.


Im not a super, genius when it come to finding all the errors' but some are obvious." Its always good to has you're sentences at least end with a period?

*If you come across something you're not sure about check out Grammar girl. :)

What about you? Do you have quick checklist for editing?