Archive for March, 2013

March 20, 2013

Merging my writing time with the needs of a growing family

A random photo from my daughter's photo blog

A random photo from my daughters’ photo blog

Last Saturday my teenage daughters and I had our first-ever, all-sit-down-together Creative Project Planning Meeting.

I’ve mentioned before that one of my daughters likes to write. We sometimes talk about our books, daydream together about what they’ll turn out like, have fun laughing at ourselves and generally enjoy the process together.

Saturday’s meeting was something different. As part of our claiming day, it allowed us all to get an inside picture of the progress we’re making and the challenges we face as we pursue the goals we set for ourselves.

We took turns, starting with the youngest. We talked about all the different projects she has in the works, and I was surprised to discover she’s planned almost as many books as I have. She’s got a lofty goal of getting one story completed by the end of the school year.

While my other daughter likes to write, she’s much more interested in visual arts. She’s got a talent for manga and other drawing styles, but her real gift and interests are all wrapped up in photography right now. She has her own photo blog, which she started as a school project, and she’s involved in the online photography club for her high school. I like her work so well that I’ve asked her to take lots of stock photos I can use when I commission book covers (The Night Ones Legacy will be getting a new book cover soon, by the way). She’s planned some photo shoots and has some really great ideas.

From a time management perspective, this type of meeting was valuable in several ways:

  1. I realized that, tempting as it is, I can’t write all the time. My girls need me to come out of my office and encourage them in their own projects. This means I’ll be doing a little more work in the living room while they finish school projects. My productivity might suffer a little, but their happiness and their successes feel like personal successes to me. I can always come back to ambitious writing projects later. They’re only going to be here in my home for a short time, and I need to make the most of it while I can.
  2. The planning meeting helped us schedule around each other–I knew, for example, that I couldn’t ask one daughter to babysit my toddler son on one particular day. Rather than asking her and making her cranky, I made arrangements with the other daughter to babysit while I conducted a telephone interview.
  3. It’s also allowed me to see that I need to have a backup babysitter outside the home for times when neither daughter is available. I’ve known they were growing into young adults, but it really hit home during that meeting. They have their own distinct interests, which is beginning to translate into personal time tables that deserve courtesy and respect. I can ask them to help, I can even expect it at times, but I should never demand it. With my girls, polite requests seem to result in more help–and definitely more pleasant help–than a strict demand ever would.
  4. Following that meeting, I also knew what kind of help my daughters were looking for. That knowledge was freeing–I realized how easy it would be to squeeze a few minutes in with them and their projects at least a few times a week. It’s been four days since that meeting, but I can see progress already. Overall, it’s been a great week so far–productive and happy for us all. 

We had so much fun we decided to try it again this coming Saturday. I’m secretly hoping it will become a tradition for us.

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March 18, 2013

For the best stories, dig deep

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One of my favorite games in life is trying to find life lessons in the world around me. They’re everywhere.

I’ve learned from writing about the Bakken area of North Dakota that there’s oil, and then there’s oil–which, when I apply it to my writing life, really means there’s writing, and then there’s really great, can’t-put-it-down, can’t-wait-to-read-it-writing. For me, this includes both fiction and nonfiction.

It takes a lot of work to get Bakken oil out of the ground. The wells are deep. They’re drilled vertically to about two miles from the surface, and then they’re turned and drilled laterally for up to another two miles or so before the formation is fractured.

To me, that’s what good writing is like. You have to dig deep–way beyond the surface of the story. You have to go beyond the normal depths, twist with the story, dig sideways and up and down within the story’s formation and plot even if it hurts. You dig deep.

Then, when you know your story and your place in it and where everything seems to fit best, you crack it open.

In a horizontal well, the hydraulic fracturing process opens up tiny cracks in the rock that allows the oil trapped there to move into the well bore.

When you’re writing, this is like taking an even deeper look at your scenes, your dialogue, your action sequences, and your characterization. You crack them open, ask yourself what details are missing, what’s simply too much, what else will add to the story–and then, you let the story flow like oil into a well bore.

One of the really great things about Bakken oil is how little refining it needs compared to oil from other formations around the country. I suppose if you do it right, if you really know your story, crack it open and let it flow, the refining process for editing and rewrites could be simplified, too.

Most likely I’m reading too much into this. I do that sometimes–but I can’t help thinking that the best things I’ve written personally have been pieces where I’ve known the story inside and out, even when not all of the details appear in the finished product. This is something I’ve learned gradually over the past few years, and it’s not something I have a great handle on yet,even though it makes complete sense to me. It’s something to work on.

Romance author Carrie Spencer recently posted on Word Play on a similar topic. I loved her ideas. She wrote about how, in her first book, she chose the plot and characters and went with the first careers, settings, etc. that occurred to her. Since then, she’s discovered that plots and characters become more unique, more interesting if writers don’t use the first idea that pops up. She recommends taking an option further down the list and working with that. She wrote:

You can play this game with all parts of your story. Use it to turn your setting from blah to ta-da. Turn your hero from a boring man in a beautiful suit to someone who has pizzazz and personality. Take your heroine from a beautiful woman who owns a hotel to one who has multiple secrets about her past and is on the edge of disaster.

It also reminded me of something Rachel Aaron wrote in 2,000 to 10,000: How to write faster, write better and write more of what you love. As a way to up her writing productivity, she began detailed plotting lists of what she meant to write before she began her writing sessions, with terrific results. Sounds like cracking a story open, to me! I appreciate people who write about these kinds of experiences and allow me to learn from them.

March 16, 2013

Friday Photo Poetry: The end of winter

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My deserted island is this moment,

This space to plan, to think, to breathe the sun.

The winter days were far too dormant.

I snoozed and dreamed, I wept, I saw no one–

but now I see Day’s warmth inside your smile,

emerge from my dark shell and soak in light.

Sunbeams of hope pierce deep through my heart’s guile,

wrap me in peace reflected, soft and bright.

I may not stay long here, and yet I dream,

While all Life’s  challenges come flowing past–

How nice it is, to sit amid the stream

And merely say that I see Sun at last.

I spent much of the day away from my desk, and so I’m a day late posting this one.

March 14, 2013

A conversation with author Darrell Pitt

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Earlier this week I promised I’d post an interview with Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero. Here it is–and thanks again, Darrell Pitt, for your kindness in sharing your thoughts and experiences!

Do you always write in present tense, as in Diary of a Teenage SuperheroHow would you describe your normal style?

First of all, thanks for your wonderful questions. Diary is the only book I’ve written in present tense, although I think I will be doing more of it in future novels. It’s a great way to build the tension and give a sense of immediacy

I did something different with the later novels – The Doomsday Device and The Battle for Earth. In these, I’ve used past tense, but I switched around with point of view. These books use a combination of first and third person perspective.

Did you intend for your superhero books to become a series? Or did that just happen?

I wrote Diary as the first book in a series, but I also wanted it to stand alone as a single novel as well. The other books have been written in the same fashion.

Along those same lines, do you plot your work before you write, or just let the story develop as you go?

I plot beforehand. Essentially I come up with some broad structural ideas. Then I create a chapter by chapter breakdown. From that I write the book.

Now, having told you about the chapter by chapter breakdown, I sometimes go ‘off trail’ if the characters push me in that direction. I don’t slavishly follow the breakdown. In fact, even the breakdown is fairly vague. I don’t go so far as to subdivide it into scene by scene breakdowns. I like to let a certain amount of flow happen in the writing while still having a general map to follow.

How many drafts do you go through before you have a work ready to publish?

I’m doing less drafts as I write more novels, but that’s probably because I’m becoming a better writer. (My first book was rewritten twelve times and the end result was an unpublishable train wreck! My advice to writers? Write your first book and then move on to the second!)

I write (as Hemingway would say) a shitty first draft. That really just gets the story down on paper. Then I go through and give it a line by line edit. Then I go back again and rework it. By that point I’ve got something fairly finished. If I can, I’ll put it aside to give myself some distance from the piece before I go back and recheck it one more time.

How did you come to be a writer–including how and where you first published?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. I got some positive feedback from a teacher and knew from that point that I wanted to write for a living. Having said that, there’s no guidebook to becoming a writer. It happens differently for everyone. For me, the real turning point was when I developed a ‘magnificent obsession’ about it.

My wife and I had owned a cafe where we worked 70 hours a week, on our feet, for four years. It was an exhausting, disheartening business and we got into it because I thought it would give me more time to write! LMAO!

Finally we sold the business. This is when I was overtaken by my ‘magnificent obsession’ to succeed as a writer. After everything we had been through with our business, I wanted to be a writer more than ever – and I was determined to work at it until I succeeded.

I became a full time, mature aged university student studying a BA of Creative Writing at RMIT university in Melbourne. I’ve also been writing and self publishing my own ebooks at the same time.

BTW – my total earnings for writing was $320 up till the time I started self publishing my books. I earned $8 for a poem and $12 for a short story. They both appeared in small press magazines many years ago. After that, all through the years, I received contributor copies in return for getting published. In addition, I won $300 for first prize in a short story writing competition.

So, did I write for love? You bet!

Where have you had the most success selling your books? What do you suppose makes the difference?

Amazon is the leading retailer for ebooks – and with good reason. They are deadly serious about the business and have been quick to act where other businesses have been slow. I also use Smashwords because they distribute the books to all the other online retailers such as Kobo, Apple etc.

What makes the difference? From a short term marketing perspective – the cover and the price. From a longer term perspective, continuing to write and get books out there. Having one book out there is the hardest place to be. If someone loves your book, what do they then move onto? You need a second book, a third book and more to build up a reading audience. And your books have to be as good as you can possibly make them.

There are too many self published authors who bash out a first draft and publish it online. They give a bad name to all other indie authors – and they’re not doing themselves any favours either.

Please tell us more–as much as you can–about the major publishers now looking at your work. What series are they most interested in? Will you be publishing through a traditional publishing house anytime soon?

The name of the publisher will come out soon. I’m in the process of signing an eight book contract. They’re buying both my Steampunk Detective series and Teen Superhero books. They’re also buying a standalone humorous sci-fi book as well.

The first seven books are due to come out in 2014 with book number eight early the year after. Having said that, I intend to have more books written for 2015 so – watch this space!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeffery Deaver at the Sydney Writers Festival a few years ago. I told him about my aspirations to succeed as a writer as he signed a book for me. He wrote in the book, “Don’t ever stop.” He was absolutely right.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever given?

This is a golden era for writers. There has never been a time like this in history where writers can create and self publish their own work and earn a living doing it. If you want to be traditionally published, that’s fine. But don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Get your work out there. Get it into the public domain. Put it on fan sites. Self publish it. Sell it. Give it away. Just get it out there!

Prior to this publishing deal coming along, I’d already had a Hollywood producer contact me about the TV/film rights to Diary of a Teenage Superhero. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d sat at home with the book in my drawer. It happened because my work was out there.

If there’s anything else you’d like to say, any experiences or wisdom you’d like to share, please, just share!

Develop a magnificent obsession about your writing or whatever it is you want to achieve. It won’t happen unless you’re absolutely determined to make it happen.

Life is a lot like the Rocky movies. There are many people who will want to knock you down, but you’ve got to get back up again. The internet is a wonderful tool, but there are many haters and trolls out there. Ignore them! They will say horrible things about you, but you have to hold your head up high and keep on writing!

The person who will make it as a writer is the person who keeps on producing work while they continue to hone their skills and improve their craft. It’s the person who gets their work out there in the world and keeps on putting it out there while striving to build up a following. If you truly want to be a writer, develop a magnificent obsession. It’s your life. Live it!

March 13, 2013

An essay written by my daughter

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One of my daughters loves to write. She and I sometimes have our own little ‘writer’s group’ over lunch–it’s so much fun to share writing with someone I love so deeply!

Today is the fourth day she’s been sick, and in spite of that, she wrote the following essay…and I’m so proud of her, I asked her if I could post it here. She said yes! 🙂 It may not be perfect or long, but for an eighth grader, I think she’s done a pretty good job finding a theme she can relate to.

The Battle for Peace

     The poem “The Stretcher Bearer” by Robert Service is about a person who desperately tries to escape war. When affected by war, the speaker longs for peace.

     There is not a place worse than war. Service says “I’ll tell you wot-I’m sick with pain/For all I’ve ‘eard, for all I’ve seen.” Here he mentions the horrors of war. The reader catches a glimpse of the grotesque scenery. He goes on to say: “Around me is the ‘ellish night,/And as the war’s red rim I trace,/I wonder if in ‘Eaven’s height,/our God don’t turn away his face.” As he explains the awfulness of it all, Service brings out the shame and distress of war. It is bad enough that the most powerful being would turn away.

     Everyone is affected by the great and terrible wars of men. In the poem, Service points out, “As man destroys his fellow man;/I wave no flag; I only know,/As ‘ere beside the dead I wait,/A million ‘earts is filled with woe,/A million ‘omes is desolate.” Service exposes war as the cause of suffering for millions. It leaves families with children without homes, without loved ones, and without hope.

     The war’s end is so far away that no mortal being can see it. In the last stanza of the poem Service creates a dark and hopeless mood when he says: “In drippin’ darkness, far and near,/All night I’ve sought them woeful ones./Dawn shudders up and still I ‘ear/The crimson chorus of the guns./Look! like a ball of blood the sun/‘Angs o’er the scene of wrath and wrong…./“Quick! Stretcher-Bearers on the run!”/Oh Prince of peace ‘ow long, ‘ow long?” He paints the picture of a distant, hopeless future. In the last sentence of the last stanza he is praying. He prays to see the end soon.

     He does not even want to know who is responsible. The speaker says “I don’t care ‘oose the Crime may be;/I ‘olds no brief for kin or clan…” all he wants is an end. The stretcher bearer tries to leave the war behind him. All he wants is peace. But hatred seems to catch up with him. Service speaks for many people when he points out all the awful tragedies of war. He uses the speaker in the poem to represent these people.

Source

Collected Poems of Robert Service page 389 lines three through ten, twelve through sixteen, and seventeen through twenty four

March 13, 2013

How Sheila Williams’ “Time for Your Life” makes life more fun

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

Time for Your Life, by Sheila Wiiliams

As a writer, as a mother, a wife, a friend, a human being–learning to balance my time to get the most out of my life has always been one of my greatest challenges.

Although I’ve made some inroads, after years and decades of practice, I can’t say that I’m really very good at this yet. This means it’s become another topic to study, an item that ends up periodically on my blog and one that I study as much as possible.

That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed Sheila Williams‘ book, Time for your Life.

Williams says this in her introduction:

 Most of us lead busy, complicated lives. We often find time fast vanishes as we get bogged down with the trivial or meaningless; with last-minute rushes and crises and with the demands of other people. Time for long-distance planning, for dreaming, for ideas and creativity disappears and all too often we begin to feel like a hamster running fast on its wheel to nowhere.

William’s book is about giving readers hope, about teaching us how to discover, understand and manage our unique relations to time.

The first section of the book focuses on how your personality affects the way you spend time and helps you see where you’re losing time. I’ve always found things like this interesting.

From a writing perspective, understanding my own time personality was quite revealing. I discovered that I enjoy a solid mix of routines and flexibility, and I get my best work done when I have occasional breaks from my routines.

In the second section, Williams focuses on organizational skills that can help free up time, and in the third section, Williams addresses ‘Time Thieves’ like procrastination (one of my oldest acquaintances). Even reading about these things motivates me to try harder, and I appreciate the strategies she suggests for dealing with the time thieves. My personal favorite: Play a game. Williams says this:

If it’s a boring but necessary task make a game out of it. See how quickly you can complete it and complete it well. Then next time, see if you can beat your own record.

I love games!

William’s thoughts on a ‘claiming day’ also make a lot of sense to me:

 If you are clear about when and how often certain tasks or actions have to be performed, then you can plan for them and reduce the risk of forgetting about them or leaving insufficient time to deal with them properly.

Claiming dates are events that are regularly scheduled, like a Monday morning office meeting, and should show up on the calendar well in advance of it’s actual occurrence. Williams says people need advance time to prepare for meetings, to send birthday cards, register the vehicle, etc.

For me, Saturdays are my day to catch up on work I’m behind in, but they’re also my ‘claiming dates’ when I prepare for the week ahead. I have to admit, scheduling items well in advance is an area that I’m only now beginning to make progress in, and it’s making my life much, much easier, much more enjoyable.

I think that’s part of the game!

And really, for me, that’s what it’s all about. Life can be difficult, distressing, discouraging–but overcoming those feelings and the distractions that allow me to feel that way is a challenge I can’t resist. Managing my time well helps me feel like this is a game I can very happily win. 🙂

Overall, there’s a lot of really great information in this book…more than I can use at once. I intend to work on integrating this information into my personal system a step at a time.

March 12, 2013

An inspiring true-life story for Indie authors

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling suspense author on Amazon.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif is a bestselling suspense author on Amazon.

I know I’ve posted quite a bit about KDP Select the past week or so, but I read a great book about it and haven’t had a chance to post about it yet…so here goes!

Last week I read a book called How I made $42,000 in 1 Month Selling My Kindle E-booksby Cheryl K. Tardif, a Canadian suspense writer.

Her experiences were inspiring.

Tardif was skeptical about the KDP Select program at first, but it worked well for her. The middle section of this book details her personal KDP Select experiment, chapter by chapter (there are eleven chapters just on this experiment), allowing us all a sneak peak into how she used this program to really boost her sales.

That was just last year. If I understand correctly, by the time this book came out, she was on track to earn $150,000 for 2012.

Tardif writes suspense novels, which I think have a wide appeal to writers, and that may have worked in her favor. She also admits to being somewhat hooked on marketing. From the outside looking in, it seems like she really knows what she’s doing.

Here are a few quotes from two chapters in her book:

From Chapter 17, The KDP Select Experiment: Part 11-Conclusions:

I began enrolling in KDP Select as an experiment. I was a skeptic. I didn’t like the exclusivity clause. But I knew I could always opt out and return to my old ways of selling if things didn’t work out.

I also knew that even if I saw a slight increase in sales, it didn’t mean I could maintain that increase every month–or make any of the big numbers a few people like JA Konrath have mentioned.

My experiment took place from January to March…

In January I made 3 times more money than I was averaging per month last year. If my math is correct… that’s a 300 percent increase.

In February I made 13 percent more money than I was averaging per month in 2011.

In March I made 42 times more money than my 2011 monthly average.

From Chapter 21, All the World’s A-Twitter:

I believe Twitter is 90 percent responsible for my recent success and income increase.

She proceeds, through the rest of the chapter, to detail why and how this works. One more quote from this chapter:

So how do you use Twitter to market your e-books? Simple. You create relationships. You get to meet people from anywhere in the world. There are some pretty cool people out there. By showing a genuine interest in people, you’ll gather more followers. Eventually, some will read your book. Maybe they’ll tweet about how much they enjoyed it. Maybe they’ll write a review. Maybe they’ll suggest it to their book club, or to a producer they know. This actually happens.

Building relationships sounds like a lot of fun. Who doesn’t like to make new friends?

Tardif gives other great advice, as well, like the four elements you have to have in place to see consistent sales. This includes her thoughts on pricing. Earlier in the book she addresses how NOT to be a telemarketer and still toot your own horn.

In my mind, this was a very valuable read for anyone who’s thinking about using the KDP Select program–or who’s trying to sell books online at all.

I’ve acquired a few of her suspense books to read now. I started one last night, and I stayed up way too late reading.

Which brings me to my last point. I’ve heard and read over and over that in order to get books to sell, you have to write well.

Cheryl Kaye Tardif most definitely writes well. I’m taking notes for tweaks I can make to my own fiction.

"One doesn't simply read a Tardif story; one experiences it!"--Cheryl Kaye Tardif's novel Children of the Fog sold more than 50,000 copies by September 2012.

“One doesn’t simply read a Tardif story; one experiences it!”–Cheryl Kaye Tardif’s novel Children of the Fog sold more than 50,000 copies by September 2012.

March 11, 2013

Thoughts on Diary of a Teenage Superhero, by Darrell Pitt

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I finally had a chance to read Diary of a Teenage Superhero by Darrell Pitt this weekend.

It was a fast read–which to me means it was a page-turner that I couldn’t put down. Pitt does an excellent job building tension and suspense through the story all the way to the end. This is a skill that I truly admire.

The story begins with an action scene–there’s almost no down time in this book at all, and as far as I can tell, all the down time here is used for character development. I especially appreciate how the teenage protagonist really doesn’t know how to handle girls. It made him realistic and very likable.

I also enjoyed the process as he slowly stepped into a leadership role. It’s not something he sought. It’s just something that happened, and that made it believable, too.

All in all, I think this was a well-developed story.

My first favorite passage:

There’s no time to think. There’s only time to act. I don’t run as much as fling, scramble and tumble down from one level to the next. I hear something thud on the escape above me. More footsteps. They’r giving chase.

Like Charles Yallowitz and other authors I’ve read lately, Pitt’s present-tense writing gives the story a feeling of immediacy. It was a great weekend escape. I’ll be reading more of his work in the future.

Darrell Pitt has agreed to an e-mail interview with me, which I’m hoping to post this coming Thursday. I learned when I posted about Secrets of Successful Writers (also by Pitt) that he now has a major publisher looking at his work. Exciting news! You can bet I’ll be asking him about that.

Also by Darrell Pitt:

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March 11, 2013

Why writers have to consider semantics

Rose colored glasses--sort of! :)

Rose colored glasses–sort of! 🙂

The more I write, the more I understand that semantics and definitions really do matter to readers.

In the oil industry, for instance, there’s a real difference between oil shale and shale oil. Getting the two mixed up can completely change the meaning of the article–it can even impact whether the article makes sense.

And, as I learned this past week, my definition of one word has a completely different meaning to the wider world. I’ve thought quite a bit about it, and I can’t help smiling over it. I always knew I was at least a little bit odd (we all have our eccentricities). It still amazes me how different frames of reference impact the way we define words in our world.

Just for the fun of it, I’ve listed a few words that, upon some reflection, I define a little differently than at least a few people I know. Like the word ‘simple,’ most of these words have become goals for me to shoot for. I’d love to be able to define my life these ways.

Meek–I think this word is thought of far too often as a synonym for ‘weak.’ I recently heard a new definition for it: meekness is absolute power, under absolute control. I haven’t been able to think of it the same way since.  How wonderful would it be to know you had the power to crush your enemies, but the self-discipline and compassion to help them, instead?

Feminine–To me, feminine doesn’t mean prissy, prudish, or frilly. It also doesn’t mean feminist, which I think demonstrates the other end of the spectrum.

In my mind, the word ‘feminine’ embodies strength–the quiet, uncomplaining kind. Patience, a willingness to sacrifice for others, a dedication to home, family and work (whatever that may be), cheerfulness and compassion are part of it, too. The most feminine women I know are also kind to themselves. That alone has to take an amazing amount of inner strength.

Kind of a tall order, don’t you think?

Courage–Growing up, I thought of courage as the lack of fear. I still sometimes think of it that way, but my personal definition has expanded to include this idea: real courage means having the integrity to live openly and authentically without worrying much about what other people in the world think.

So, maybe I just see the world through rose-colored glasses, but I’m really curious now. Does anyone else think of these particular words this way? Are the words that other writers define differently than other people?

If so, I’d love to hear about it. These are the kinds of things that writers have to take into account, if not in their writing, then at least in their re-writing and editing.

March 11, 2013

How the Flylady strategy keeps my life manageable and fun

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It’s time for another Flylady Reboot.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Flybaby, that I write better when my home is at least somewhat clean and that I really love my timer.

I do tend to get sidetracked, though. There are days the dishes build up in the sink, days when my ‘hot spots’ get cluttered, days when the folded laundry doesn’t get put away and promptly gets unfolded and stepped on by a helpful toddler.

There are even weeks like that–and last week was one of them. When the house gets out of control, so does my writing life. I feel guilty closing myself off in my office when the rest of my family still has to work around messes. If I do make it to my office on messy weeks or days, I’m too keyed up to write well, and my writing time is interrupted by a bazillion little emergencies.

I’ve decided it’s actually a time saver, on weeks like that, to set aside at least part of the day to catch up on laundry, make easy dinners ahead of time, make sure my daughters have everything they need for school the next week, etc. Saturdays are usually my day to do this. I think my Saturdays are akin to what author and life coach Sheila Williams calls ‘claiming days.’ (See her book here.)

Thanks to some decently evolving routines, I don’t have to spend all day long every Saturday doing this, but a few hours of reclaiming my life makes a real difference in my attitude the following week. This past Saturday was one of those days. I’m not even sure how many loads of laundry I had to catch up on. I didn’t get it all done, but I got it back to the point where I can do a load of laundry a day and keep up with it.

It feels good.

As this new week begins, I’m working harder on developing my routines. I’ll be focusing on evening and morning routines first.  Changes in my family’s schedule means some items previously in my morning routine have to be moved later in the day, and some things that weren’t really part of a routine will have to be accommodated.

I have an image in my head of my life as a strategic game. I HAVE to be flexible, to be willing to try different angles and strategies to reach my objectives. It’s part of my ‘level up’ philosophy, and living this way is both entertaining and fulfilling.

I like the fact that my routines are flexible. Life would be boring if I thought of my routines as a set of rules and regulations rather than tools to help me become the best person I can be.

Once I’ve got the hang of my new evening and morning routines, I’ll begin revamping my work routine. One area I really want to improve is having a set time each day to write fiction–no matter where I am. I’m looking forward to watching my routines, watching how and where I spend my time and finding a time I can consistently set aside for this.

I know it will change again in a few months. As the weather gets warmer, I’ll want to spend more time outside, and that will mean a change in schedule, again. It keeps things fun!

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