Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can’t Seem to Find the Time? 5 Tips for Developing a Writing Schedule

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey.  She has a good grasp on time!
If you are like most writers out there, you probably don’t have a multi-million dollar book contract, with deadlines to meet and people to please. Writing your novel is more than likely a labor of love, a project that you set out to accomplish because you feel that you have something important to share with other readers. Juggling this labor of love with many other obligations—raising children, working a full-time job, keeping house—can seem all but impossible. You just can’t seem to find the time. The key, however, is to plan rigorously while still leaving yourself some breathing room. Here are a few ways to do just that:
1.      Don’t set unrealistic deadlines. Be flexible.
Writers are an imaginative bunch. It comes as no surprise, then, that we can be unrealistic about things that we should be approaching more objectively. Instead of setting an impossible deadline, like finishing your novel in a few months, give yourself some extra time based on your internal writer’s clock. Sometimes even a short story can take months from an initial draft to finished product.
2.      Set aside time to write whenever you are most mentally alert.
Socrates once suggested that the key to living the good life is being aware when he said, “Know thyself.” More than just a self-help pronouncement, this is especially good advice for writers, who use intuition and creativity more than any other faculty in order to write well. Knowing when you are most mentally alert and creative—for many, it’s first thing in the morning after a cup of coffee or late at night when the kids have fallen asleep—will help you produce your most penetrating prose efficiently.
3.      Enlist the help of a writing partner who will motivate you.
When we keep our writing projects to ourselves, it can be difficult to stay motivated because we are writing, at the moment, only for ourselves. You don’t necessarily need to join a writer’s group; all you need to keep you working according to your plan is to seek help from a friend or two who loves to read or write. Have them read chapters of your novel as you complete them, sit with them over dinner, and talk about how you can improve your work. Even if your friend isn’t a professional editor, you’ll still get an opinion from a typical reader, and talking about your work with someone else will inspire you to keep at it.
4.      Get into the habit of writing daily, even if you aren’t working on your project.
The only way to produce a steady stream of work is to make writing a hard-wired habit, something that you do as automatically as personal hygiene. Of course, it will take some time, but start by setting aside a short block of time, like thirty minutes to an hour, in which you do nothing but write. Don’t pressure yourself to work on your big project. Even if you are just scribbling journal-style notes, it’s the best way to get your juices flowing in a disciplined manner.
5.      Use milestones as goals instead of page numbers or chapter numbers.
Many novelists try to enforce their writing goals numerically. They tell themselves that they will get three chapters written by the end of the month, and they then race to meet their goal. The problem with this approach, however, is that it doesn’t take into account that novels are, in some ways, like living things. It would be the same if you were to tell yourself that you will find a partner and get married by your thirtieth birthday—life and novels don’t quite adhere to a set calculus. Instead, try setting goals based on plot milestones. For example, you can endeavor to resolve Character X’s mini-conflict within the story by the end of December. This type of goal-setting will help avoid stilted novels that result from thinking in numbers.
Completing a project as long and demanding as a novel is something that very few people, even self-proclaimed writers, are capable of. And it often takes a few tries to get it right. Regardless, if you set goals, both and long- and short-term, without being too hard on yourself if things don’t get done according to plan, you’ll eventually make it to the finish line. Good luck!

Lauren Bailey welcomes your comments at her email Id: blauren99@gmail.com

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hardboiled Help from the Sons of Spade

A new friend has set out to help preserve the hardboiled detective genre.  But I should let him introduce himself.

I’m Jochem Vandersteen, blogger behind www.sonsofspade.tk and author of the Mike Dalmas and Noah Milano stories. I’m also the founder of the Hardboiled Collective and Austin asked me to tell you all a bit about how that came about.

When I published my first Noah Milano short story on www.thrillingdetective.com the web was starting to get filled slowly with cool zines showing off the work of up and coming writers. It was a great way for writers like myself, who were writing about PI’s, crooks and other hardboiled character that might not appeal to a huge audience but surely to a niche of connoisseurs. It offered me the chance to introduce Noah Milano, son of a mobster, security specialist and always looking for redemption.

It encouraged me to put out my first novel, White Knight Syndrome at iUniverse. Then I started to promote it by showing people what my work and main protagonist had to offer through the e-zines.
Then the ebook revolution started. What a great way to get my work out there. It changed the writing world even more than those e-zines did. The audience that I could offer my work was huge, the possibilities to promote my work bigger than before. Social media, blogs and boards can help an author to get noticed without the big campaign a legacy publisher can fork over the cash for.
Blogging about PI-fiction at www.sonsofspade.tk I’d managed to befriend a large amount of writers. I decided their work could use an extra push. I decided they could help my work get an extra push.
I started to invite people and most were happy to join. The Hardboiled Collective was born. The goal is to get people to notice and buy the wonderful works of hardboiled fiction out there. We all help each other out by informing our own fans about the other great stuff out there. It’s been great working with these people and we’ve all benefited sales wise.

I think these kind of groups are the way of the future. Writers are not competitors anymore, they need to be partners. With groups like mine you don’t need a publisher anymore.
Check out the great work by the Hardboiled Collective here: