Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Use What You’ve Got—Learning to Write in Bits & Pieces of Time

by Edie Melson

I had always believed that I needed at least an hour, and preferably three, to make any progress at all with my writing.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

In the past year, I’ve learned how to use the time I have, even if it’s just fifteen minutes. Today I want to share with you the things I do to help me increase my productivity when life intrudes.


1. Decide to use what you’ve got. This is the biggest part of the puzzle. If you wait for perfect circumstances, chances are you’ll never finish your book. Truthfully, things rarely line up. When they do—celebrate! When they don’t—just decide to work harder.

2. Do your pre-work. There are a couple of things I recommend you do before you start writing in those short bits of time. AND they can also be done in bits and pieces.
  • Have a road map of where your book is going. I’ve learned that I work better from a scene map (a list of all the scenes I want to include in my book). You may not have something that detailed. But you should know what you want to write about next. After you finish a scene, before you get up, make a couple of notes about where you want to go from there.
  • Have a foundation of research to build on. I take a few weeks, before I start writing, to do my research and compile my notes.

3. Don’t overthink what you’re writing. Sometimes you’ve got to write junk before you can get to the good stuff. Beyond that, the only thing you can’t fix is an empty page. So put some words on the page and keep moving forward.

4. When you’re writing your first draft, don’t stop to research. When I only have fifteen minutes, I could waste all of it, looking up a fact I need to know. When I come to something I need, I make a note and keep writing. I can look it up after my first draft is done and I begin editing.

5. If you’re working on revisions, make a list . . . actually, make several. Make a list of things you need to look up. Also make a list of scenes you need to add. By making these lists you have a roadmap for your revisions and you don’t have to waste time figuring out what to do next.

These are all great tips if you’re writing a book, but what if it’s an article or something small that you’re working on? Take the principles I’ve outlined and structure your writing time, no matter what you’re working on.

Most of all, learning to work in the bits and pieces of time that life sometimes throws us takes practice. When I first started, I spent a lot of time frustrated because what I was writing didn’t measure up. But within just a couple of weeks, my frustration lessoned and productivity increased—exponentially.

Don’t assume you can’t work this way. I did, and I lost years of productivity. Instead, take a chance and learn how to keep moving forward.

Now I’d love to find out what tips do you have to work in less than ideal circumstances.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,

Edie

TWEETABLES

25 comments:

  1. What a good post. I need to just do it. I need to walk with my notebook and write down my notes as disjointed as they may be. My notes keep my mind creating and writing. Thanks for being a blessing. Every day is a learning experience and provides stimulus for writing. May we grow in God's grace. Blessings in 2014.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elaine, I could kick myself for not starting sooner! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

      Delete
  2. Good tips, Edie. I often think that fleeting moments of reading are wonderful. When added together they help me read an entire book. Why I never thought of applying that to the writing end of things I don't know. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pam, that's a great analogy with reading! Thanks so much for sharing it, Blessings, E

      Delete
  3. Great post! In fact, right before reading it, I opened my computer and wondered if I should even work on my book since I only have an hour. This motivated me to reevaluate how I spend the little nooks and crannies of my days. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Renee, I'm so glad I could help! Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment - especially when you only have an hour to work! Blessings E

      Delete
    2. Very good advice, Edie. I'm always thinking about the next book. When I see the end of the book I'm working on, I start research on the next one. It only takes a few minutes a day to scout out the information. When the present book is finished, I'm ready to start on the next one. Anyway,I'm always thinking ahead to the next book.

      Delete
    3. Kathy, I'm the same way too!thanks for dropping in! Blessings, E

      Delete
  4. I've always been of the same mindset -- 2-4 hours in one stretch if I'm to get any writing done. Thanks for proving me wrong! I'm putting your practical but oh so powerful advice to task today.

    You're awesome, Edie Melson. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cathy, thanks for the encouragement! Blessings, E

      Delete
  5. It helps to carry a notepad wherever you go. You never know when an idea will surface!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sally, I'm a notepad-a-holic! Thanks for dropping in, Blessings, E

      Delete
  6. We think alike. I have a similar article, though not as in-depth, over on the Borrowed Book :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer, great minds, you know! LOL! I read your article, really good stuff. Thanks so much for stopping by! Blessings, E

      Delete
  7. Lists are what keep me sane! LOL! If it weren't for them, I'd lose my head. And yes, love the notepad idea, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great article and marvelous advice. Thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gail, thanks forth encouragement! Blessings, E

      Delete
  9. I see you know me. I set a schedule to write from 7 to 8 every night and if I'm not writing at 7:05, my world thus endeth. I really need to learn to write in bits and pieces. Good grief, I've got a Macbook that's smaller than my composition book, an iPad, two smartphones, and oh by the way, the aformentioned composition book. So why do I require a desk and a time? I vow to change. I'll report my progress in a week. Next Monday. 12:09pm. Sharp.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ron, I know just what you mean! Thanks for stopping by, blessings, E

      Delete
  10. Thank you for this encouraging post Edie! It seems that the only time I have now are bits and pieces. In my iPhone, I have a note entitled, "The Next Sentence." It reminds me of the last scene I wrote and where I want to go with the next one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erika, thats genius advice! Thanks so much for sharing, blessings, E

      Delete
  11. Thanks for the advice. #5 struck me as particularly useful. This is something I'll put into practice.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This hits home, Edie. I'm often waiting for a chunk of time that seldom comes along.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great post. I, too, am a notepad-aholic. I also find that by having some space that is all mine as a writing space, I can leave my current project open on my desk. When I have time to get back to it, I just sit back down and start back up. If I have epiphanies about a scene or article I'm writing, I jot it down and place that on my desk to find at that next work time.
    And, with my tablet and notebook in hand at all times, I can take advantage of any moments I find myself waiting which might be in the car on a trip or at some appointment. I've said before that I've been known to stir supper with one hand and write a scene in my notebook with the other.
    That's the key - taking advantage of all of our moments. I'm proof you can write a book this way. My first published novella was written between caring for small children, helping with homeschool lessons, and doing house chores.

    ReplyDelete