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Block Buster #2: Three tips for finding time to write

What should you take time to do?

Is finding time to write your biggest obstacle to writing regular blogs, finishing that novel, or getting started on the title you have in mind? Have you announced you are going to write a book and are now embarrassed by your lack of progress? Here are some tips to try.

It happens to everybody
OK, I’m embarrassed too. Interesting that I should be writing on this topic when it’s been weeks since I wrote my last blog! First of all I’d say to both of us, “Get over it.” Let’s not allow our past performance to paralyze our future. Let’s make progress.

FCWC

I could use the excuse that I was improving my craft. Since writing Writer’s Block Buster #1 post, I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference. It was great and I met a lot of wonderful people who were generous in sharing their knowledge. If you get a chance, you should attend a writer’s conference near you or not near you! It will fire up your creative juices or just give you a kick in the pants, which is what I need from time to time. After forgiving yourself for not writing, take a look at your schedule to see if it reflects your priorities.

Tip #1. Schedule according to priorities

What your schedule tells about your priorities
Consider your activities of the past week. Did you find time to write? If not, discover what consumes your time. For the next week, keep a log of how you spend your time. Note what activities took priority. Maybe these are more important than writing right now. Or maybe you might discover you are not doing what you want to do at all. You are in reactionary mode.

Fire in bonesWhat your emotions tell about your priorities
If your story is like a fire shut up in your bones and finding time to write seems impossible, you may notice you are a little grumpier than normal. If requests for your time leave you feeling resentful or even a little angry, it may be an unconscious reaction to your goals being blocked. Examine your heart and determine what you are longing to do. Then make it a priority on your schedule and guard it from interruptions. Be intentional.

Tip #2. Schedule writing zones

How do you find time in a busy schedule?
I’ll say it again, it’s about priorities—making time to do the things you love. It’s interesting all the ways we describe time as if we really had control of it: spend time, waste time, save time, take time. We can’t really make more time, but we can plan what to do with it.

Mark your calendar
Go back to your schedule. Take a typical week or month and block out three different time zones—maybe use colored highlighters. First, cross out all the regularly scheduled activities that you can’t change like your time at work, church, or regularly-scheduled meetings—indicate these as your “no” zones. Next, highlight activities that you have control over. Some of these you can choose not to do or do at another time of the day or month. Label these as your “maybe” zones and use them for writing every chance you get. Finally, look at what is discretionary time—your unplanned time—this is your “go” zones. Put these on your calendar as writing appointments with yourself that you cannot break.

Tip #3. Write at your optimal time

If you have the luxury, arrange your schedule so that you write when you are most creative. If you are a morning person, get up earlier or see if you can adjust your schedule such as moving your gym time to after work. If you are a night owl who comes to life after 8:00 pm, resist the urge to turn on the TV, surf the internet, or check Facebook. I suggest you use your less creative times for editing and rewriting. I think you get the idea.

Your turn
Please use the comments section to share what works best for you!
Write on!

Kathy

Writer’s Block Buster #1

What should you take time to do?

My last blog addressed the importance of establishing momentum to keep your writing flowing. Momentum isn’t something that can be conjured up. It comes from diligently practicing good writing habits. This is the first in a series of writer’s-block buster habits designed to get you unstuck, on track, and in the flow!

Writer’s Block Buster #1. Know your reason for writing

No doubt, you have heard people say it’s important to know your “why” for writing. Likely they mean determining whether you are writing for personal expression or writing for market trends. In this Writer’s Block Buster, I’m suggesting that our “why” goes deeper than we think. I’m talking about searching your heart to understand what inspires you to write, because knowing this will likely keep you motivated to write.

Know what inspires you to write
Recently, I was introduced to the book, Find Your Why: A practical guide for discovering purpose for you and your team, by Simon Sinek with David Mead and Peter Docker (New York, NY: Penguin Random House, LLC, 2017). While this book isn’t about writing, I think completing the seemingly simple exercise of writing your WHY STATEMENT may help you explore your purpose, and as a result, your motivations. It goes like this: TO________________SO THAT_____________. In the first blank, write your contribution to the lives of others and in the second blank, write the impact that contribution makes. Try it—it’s harder than you think! Maybe you will start with multiple statements until you see a repeating theme that will help you hone it to a single one.

Face it, it’s unlikely we will write a bestseller that will make enough money to support us for the rest of our lives. So why write? Maybe you write because you take pleasure in it or hope that in the reading of it, someone’s life might be a least briefly changed for the better. Try to articulate your motivation by writing a WHY STATEMENT for your reader. Maybe something like this: Because of your message, what do you want your reader to do that contributes in a positive way to their own life or someone else’s? By the way, it doesn’t have to be nonfiction or a self-help message to do that! Even fiction may transport someone to a place that, at least temporarily, delights or excites them.

Being convinced your reason for writing is important should be a big motivator! Also in considering your why, identify your target audience how you want to appeal to them: to uplift, educate, inform, or entertain. Maybe your reason is more personal: to express your thoughts or creativity, or leave a historical record for someone to discover in the future. Determine your writing is important and necessary and just write, write, write!

For whose glory do you write?
Sometimes we fantasize about our book being published and becoming a recognized author and sought-after speaker—to be known. Maybe even to be in the spotlight. There are many valid reasons for writing, but it is most satisfying for me is when the underlying motivation is for the glory of God.

I have noticed that as humans, we seek to answer three basic questions about ourselves: (1) Am I significant? (2) Does my life matter? and (3) Where do I belong? The Bible tells us that (1) we are significant to God and he loves as his very own child, (2) we have a purpose in life that is part of his plan, and that as people of faith, (3) we are part of God’s family and heirs to his kingdom. I find answering these questions from a biblical perspective is empowering.

Children of God

But sometimes our egos get in the way and we are tempted to want our names to be great rather than God’s. We seek to answer these questions in selfish ways. The answers might look like this: (1) our significance comes from popularity, power, or wealth, (2) our purpose is guided by self-recognition or perhaps greed, and (3) we belong to groups that are popular or powerful in order to give us identity. I suggest that when you find your true answers to these questions, you will find your why. I am always surprised that when I seek to first bring God glory, he shows up to inspire my writing!

Make it a habit!
Whatever your reason for writing, be absolutely convinced of your why and it’s impact. Make it a habit of continually reminding yourself of the importance of your writing. Then just do it and don’t be discouraged!

Write On!
Kathy

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Get Your Momentum Going and Flowing

Waterfall flow

Have you got your writing momentum flowing? Are you consistent in your writing habits? What keeps you at it? There are so many good writers out there and likely, if you’re reading this, you are one of them. You’ve probably realized that writers don’t become authors by intending to write a book, or announcing they are going to write a book—it takes diligence. If you are a blog writer, all your followers know when you are MIA. How would describe your progress as a writer? If you’re like me, you might need some help.

I feel a little sheepish addressing a topic of momentum after you haven’t heard from me for a while. I was recovering from hip replacement surgery in December and illness in January. You would think I’d be itching to get back at writing, but the truth is, I’ve lost my momentum! Today, I opened the book I’m currently working on.Scrivener plugOnce again, I argued with the doubt demons and reminded myself of all the good reasons I should continue. Still uninspired, I did what I so often do—I edit what I’ve already written. How many times have I done that??? Stop that Kathy! Oh, don’t get me wrong, my writing needs editing, but it is not moving my story forward!

What keeps your momentum going? Momentum isn’t something that can be conjured up. It comes from diligently practicing good writing habits that keep you in the flow. I make the most progress when I just plow ahead even if the direction isn’t perfectly clear or my words aren’t perfectly right. If I just begin, the Holy Spirit has a chance to guide me. It’s thrilling when the words that come from my fingers surprise me. That alone should inspire me! Speaking of inspiration, in I Timothy 4:15, Paul writes to Timothy, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.” Paul is encouraging Timothy to continue in his faith by practicing it. If you are a writer, be diligent in your writing habits so you can make progress and improve yourself as a writer. The world needs to hear from you!

What should you take time to do?Is your momentum is waning? Do you need to develop good writing habits? Watch for my next blog series called: “Writer’s Block Busters.” As you read these, I hope you will participate by responding and sharing the ideas that have worked for you. So be thinking about what you’d like to add and share it in the comments section.

I can’t wait to talk to you next time! Meanwhile: write on!

Kathy