If You Want Something Done . . .

I’ve heard the saying over and over . . . “if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”  Always thought that saying was for the anal-retentive amongst us, and not for us creative types. I mean, who wants to be busy day in and day out?  I was quite happy for a long time to hang back when the call for volunteers and help went out.

Book copies from the publisher.

Success comes from getting the work done!

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in search of my Muse today.”

But then, I joined Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and Rocky Mountain Mystery Writers of America.  Life picked up and I was running around doing a lot of volunteer work.  Still, there was no organization to my day.  If something slipped I thought, “I’m not getting paid for this after all.” I simply let the guilt build up dust bunny castles in the corners of my mind until I finally got whatever project was on my mind done.

Today, I’m looking toward having full time work again.  This is so cool!  I’ll actually get a pay check (hopefully) in the next couple of months.  No matter how small the check, I find work with pay a very self-validating experience. Ego boosting at its finest.  Thing is, will there still be time to write?


In fact, I think that work is just what the doctor ordered for the writer’s block I’ve been indulging in for far too long.  When I wrote Faith on the Rocks, I was working full time as a vice president of marketing for a software company.  And when I wrote Sliced Vegetarian, I had two or three clients that were keeping me busy full time.  When those jobs stopped, I found myself doing a whole lot of busy work without getting anything done.

And then, this summer, I noticed something about the stars of publishing–they’re really busy doing what they do too.

I spoke with Desiree Holt, who writes about 17 (SEVENTEEN!) novels a year.  She said she’s always excited to write and has projects in varying degrees of completeness going all of the time.  When she meets an interesting person, she takes his or her picture and asks them personal questions about themselves.  Her character driven erotica novels are rich with this constant level of input from the world around her.

Jeffery Deaver also spoke of having multiple works in process.  Joan Johnston, Cindi Myers, and many more successful authors keep plugging away with multiple successes. Slow learner here, but I finally caught on.

But all of these writers, to the best of my knowledge, started by being busy in their “work lives” before becoming full time authors.  Are you seeing trend here?

Creating ideas in a vacuum may not be the way to get things done.  Sitting around looking for that perfect moment, when the light flows across your page in such a way that every good feeling abounds and the words flow like champaign on New Year’s eve,  is for the birds.  I believe the human experience is as much about what we soak up in a day as it is about how we digest our experiences and put them down in story for others to enjoy.

When you have a job, you make time to read (because we writers love the written word) and carve out that sacred hour a day for writing.  You naturally become that busy person others admire or think of as an over-achiever. But don’t tell anyone that you wouldn’t want to be sitting in a quiet corner of your house, hoping your Muse will make a visit. That’s our secret.

I’m going back to work, and I couldn’t be more excited.  I hope that having new experiences will help me become a better writer–or at least a more organized one.

Wishing you a productive week.

Michele W photo of Sliced Vegetarian

Thank you Michele W.

P.S. THANK YOU to Michele W. who sent this photo from her library.  Ooh! I feel like a real author sometimes.


Getting Productive With Writing

Made it back to Colorado last night, and yes, it’s great to be home. Traveling is a wonderful adventure and I loved seeing and chatting with my family, but I’m also looking forward to renewing efforts in writing now that I’m back.

One of the big advantages of a good plane trip is the chance to catch up on a little reading.  During one of my flights, I was able to do just that, with my latest issue of Writer’s Digest.  I’ve had a subscription to this magazine more on than off, since 1980.  It’s filled with good advice, profiles of authors and best of all, sets of articles around themes.  In the September 2012 issue, that theme was all about productivity.  Love this topic.

The section was called “Make Your Writing Time Matter” and included five articles on everything from time management to blogging your way into a book deal.  I was particularly taken by the article called “Ten Fast Hacks For Fiction Writers,” by Elizabeth Sims.  Her practical advice for keeping things simple went beyond the rules you may be familiar with in that she showed HOW to apply them.

My favorite example was her challenge to make characters sound different from each other.  This is such a common issue for me and others in my writing group, I dove right in to see what she had to say. Elizabeth said to use two markers to help distinguish voices:

  • Pitch – the high or low tones people talk in, or the physical sound that comes out when people talk.  This is achieved most often in the attribution–he said, wheezing between each strangled word.
  • Idiosyncratic constructions that a character owns.  You know them from watching television — Dy-no-miiiiight!–I can’t push the engine any harder, Cap’in, or she’ll blow–Thank you, thank you very much.  If you listen to your friends, they probably use one set of words over and over, so that they just wouldn’t be familiar without the phrase.

Now it’s your turn.  Spend a writing session on making your characters stand out from each other using dialogue.  Write a scene with three or more people in conversation and share it with your writing group or writing buddy.  See if whomever reads your work can tell how many people are in the conversation and what the characters are in terms of sex, race, age and other mug sheet information.

Good luck and have fun.  Today’s the day to get productive.