Finish It!

“Sometimes you have to get your writing done in spare moments here and there.” ~J.K. Rowling

 

I’m working hard at trying to be a consistent writer. That means either an hour of writing each day or 1,000 words. Unfortunately, my schedule this week has not been conducive for writing. My husband and I are at a church family camp where he is the speaker and I have some responsibilities in that direction as well. Since it’s a camp I attended as a youth, there are many people to reconnect with and also many to meet, and it’s hard to find time to write. Constant interruptions and long conversations have kept me from it. Rather than bemoaning the fact, I find myself intrigued by the stories I’m hearing as I sit face-to-face with people from various parts of the country, many whose families immigrated here years ago. There are lots of bits and pieces that might work nicely into future novels. So rather than feeling guilty for not writing, I feel like an investigator gathering information. By the time I one day write the bits and pieces of these stories into a fiction, they will not be recognizable to anyone, but they will have fed my imagination.

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Life can get away from us. There are responsibilities that are quite frankly more important than writing, yet there is nothing that needs to keep me from gathering more information and gaining ideas for future writings. HOWEVER, these times of not setting pen to paper or fingers to keyboards cannot last long — maybe a day or two — and then I must make time to write if I wish to keep improving. So here I sit at my computer between meetings typing a few sentences that I plan to review later and edit. I need to write. I must write. It’s the only way to become better at this craft.

Now that I’ve published my first novel, I’ve had several people come up to me and tell me how much they long to write a book. Some have a partially finished book lying in a desk drawer at home — still unfinished after several years of working on it. Let me encourage you to get it done. Complete it. Finish it. You have a story to tell, a gift to share, and information to impart. If it’s a dream, then make it come true. Commit to writing each day for one hour or write 1,000 words per day. You decide what’s doable, but be consistent and it will get done.

Are you that person who has an incomplete book at your house? Perhaps you haven’t even begun writing yet and it’s still just a dream in your head without one word written on paper? What’s keeping you from finishing? On the other hand, you may be a writer who already has a consistent routine of writing. I’d love to hear from you. How did you get to this place of consistency?

Writer’s Hideaway

IMG_0896.JPG-1.jpegThe days slip away as I cook meals, straighten the house, grocery shop, care for family and pets, run errands, go to church, talk on the phone, answer texts and emails, etc. I haven’t even mentioned conferences, weddings, showers, graduations, birthday parties, and the list goes on. Distractions to keep me from writing surround me. The clock keeps ticking and another week flies by.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining. I love caring for my family and I love my life. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world. But I also believe I can make time for the things I really desire to do. I don’t need to give up my aspirations when it’s possible to enjoy both. It’s a matter of managing my time.

I’ll be honest with you. I’m a great procrastinator. I’ve learned to be very good at it over the course of my life. As a teenager, my mother would ask me to clean my bedroom. What she meant was, she wanted me to make my bed, dust, vacuum, and put away any clothes lying around. What I ended up doing instead was, cleaning my desk drawer out and going through old letters, reading them, and deciding which to keep and which to throw away. Then I made the bed and put away my clothes. But that made me aware of how messy my other drawers had gotten, so I would refold all my clothes and stack them nicely in each drawer. Finally, I would get to dusting and vacuuming. By the time I finished cleaning my room, my mother had cleaned the entire house, cooked and baked, and worked on laundry, too! Why, she probably even washed the windows, mowed the lawn, and cleaned the garage! Thankfully, I’ve grown up since then and can clean my whole house in a day, plus cook a meal, and even work on laundry. But the temptation to procrastinate is my constant companion. So how can a procrastinator manage time? Here are some things that are working for me:

  1. Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wiseIt’s an old saying, but loaded with wisdom. If I go to bed early enough, I wake up early, which allows me to get things done so I have more time for writing.
  2. Most days are filled with activity and I have to snatch time wherever I  can find it. If dinner has to cook for thirty minutes or an hour, that’s a good time to write. Thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there. I write when I can.
  3. Sometimes in the writing process, it’s absolutely necessary to devote a huge chunk of time if you want to make some fast progress. On those days, and I admit they are few and far between, I will stay in my lounging pants and tell my family I’m hiding in my room to write. And that’s exactly what I do. They know they can call me if there’s a fire, but they also understand I need some uninterrupted time alone. It’s so easy for those around you to invade your workspace if you are at the dining room table or sitting on your recliner. But if you hide in your bedroom and close the door, it may cause them to think before they interrupt your thought process. As I said IMG_0897.JPG-1.jpegalready, those days are few and far between, but this method works well when necessary.
  4. The final thing that has helped me with writing for hours at a time is a writer’s hideaway. For example, my husband and I rented a vintage studio apartment in a small obscure town only a couple hours from our home. We only stayed a couple of nights, but it was for the express purpose of using this as a writer’s retreat. Its vintage appearance was a great inspiration for a historical fiction writer like me. Its seclusion allowed for a feeling of isolation conducive for creative thought processing. My husband and I would take long walks to talk, explored artists’ galleries, and observed the people around us, then returned to our quaint and peaceful room. With a warm, gentle breeze blowing through the cranked-open vertical windows and the sounds of birds in the trees, I placed my fingers on the computer keyboard and allowed inspiration to carry me away — uninterrupted — in my writer’s hideaway.

If you’re reading this blog post, you are either a writer or perhaps your creativity is in a different direction. Whatever it is, don’t allow the busyness of life to keep you from your dream. You certainly must not give up the people who are counting on you and the things you are responsible for, but I’m certain there are activities you can set aside to pursue your goal. How much of your time is spent on Facebook, TV, searching the internet, talking on the phone, and so on? Be completely honest with yourself. Is there something useless or unnecessary that is robbing you of valuable time that could be spent on learning something new to help you obtain your dream? I love the quote by Reinhold Niebuhr.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” 

Why Not Start Now?

George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to start what you might have been.” I’ve taken this advice and have started a new phase of my life — writing. Not just any writing. I’ve done that. I’ve written hundreds of letters, kept journals, written articles for newsletters, and so on. But what I haven’t done is written the one thing that really interests me. A romance that helps to inspire, give hope, and hopefully even cause the reader to chuckle a bit. I’ve decided it’s time to finally begin.

I could make excuses. I’m certainly not young anymore, so why start now? I don’t understand all the modern technologies and apps. What if my friends laugh at me? How will I feel when I’m criticized? There are numerous excuses I could make, but what I can’t get away from is this. How will I feel at the end of my life if I haven’t pursued this dream?

If I live to be my parents’ age, I may still have 30 or more years of life ahead of me. What will I do with those years? Perhaps it’s time to start checking off items on my bucket list. One of the top items on that list is writing a Christian historical romance. And guess what? I did it! It’s not quite ready to be published yet, but soon — very soon. And I find my fingers are itching to begin the next book in the series.

I have only one regret about the entire book-writing process. I wish I had started sooner. But what I will never have to regret is to not have started at all.

Is there something you have dreamed of doing? Have you given up on it? Are you listening to the excuses in your head that tell you it’s too late? Hopefully this post will inspire you to allow courage to rise up in your heart. Begin dreaming again. But this time, make that dream come true.

“‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11 NASB