Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Indie Tuesday— Getting in the Write Zone: Simple Strategies for Creating Productive Writing Time

Jessica Keller @AuthorKeller here: I first met author Kristen Ethridge because our books debuted in the same month. We’ve been kindred ever since. Not only did we launch into the trade publishing world at the same time, but we both decided to dive head first into indie publishing right next to each other too. Like me, Kristen juggles a full-time job, kids, a writing career and managing her household (did I mention she makes AMAZING dinners?) so we often commiserate about how to find writing time. Today she’s agreed to stop by and offer pointers for getting in the write zone: simple strategies for creating productive writing time.

Getting in the Write Zone:
Simple Strategies for Creating Productive Writing Time

by Kristen Ethridge @KristenEthridge
When Jessica asked me to join her here, I jumped at the opportunity because there’s so much great information and conversation on this blog.

Once I sat down to start writing this post, I confess I panicked a little bit. Am I really the right person to be talking about finding time to write? As a kid, my mother said my middle name was procrastination.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that maybe I'm exactly who you need to hear from. Because the chances are, you and I have a lot in common. You see, I had a two-year hiatus on my latest manuscript for Love Inspired because of bedrest during pregnancy. I had to manage working a full-time job, another child, a husband, and keeping my house functional. I had about 2 hours a day out of bed, and things that weren’t necessary got sent to the wayside.
A three-month gap in between the first seven chapters of Lucky in Love (coming soon!) and the last two got started after Redhead2 was born and I developed severe back issues that ultimately rendered it almost impossible for me to sit up for more than fifteen minutes at a time without severe pain.
So, I’ve had physical roadblocks. I’ve had mental ones too. What if my story isn’t good enough? What about that ugly review where someone said I couldn’t write—should I trust that? I’ve had to give myself grace to work through what’s holding me back, both in body and mind.
So that’s rule number one. If you’ve got a roadblock, deal with it. Deal is a verb, though. You’ve gotta take action and tear down the roadblock. Analyze the situation and do what you’ve got to do, but you don’t have permission to stop.
Two, find a time and place that work for you. For you, it might be early in the morning or after the kids go to bed. When I used to commute on a train, I wrote longhand in a notebook. Now, I take my portable treadmill desk to the gym during my lunch hour and I walk while I type. The key here is to pick something reasonable and stick to it. If you want to hit your alarm clock with a sledge hammer, then an early morning writing session is not for you.
Three, find something that inspires you. Make a playlist of music that reminds you of your characters and their experiences. If you write at home, organize and decorate your little corner of the world in a way that makes you happy to be there. I love to diffuse essential oils—I have specific blends that really get me in the zone. A blend called Motivation is one I use a lot. I also like Ylang Ylang, a perfume oil with romantic tendencies and Frankincense, a powerful inspirational tool going back to Biblical days. I even have a USB diffuser that I plug into my laptop while I’m at the gym.

The key to finding time to write is to set up everything in your favor. If you give yourself the grace to find the sweet spot for you and you’re in a time and place where you know you can work consistently and you’re surrounded by things that inspire you, you’re going to want to be there and you’re going to look forward to keeping the routine that you’ve created for yourself.
What about you? What are your best tips for finding time to write? Sharing best practices is one of my favorite things!
The writing bug bit Kristen Ethridge around the time she first held a pencil. A 2012 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Award Finalist, Kristen was discovered by Harlequin through their 2012 So You Think You Can Write contest.
She writes contemporary inspirational romance for Harlequin's Love Inspired line, as well as sweet contemporary romance. Her favorite stories are filled with love, laughter, and happily ever after--and her favorite happily ever after is the story of God's love. Although she has fun creating characters, Kristen's favorite people are her family. She lives in Texas with her husband, children and a self-important poodle. Visit her online at www.kristenethridge.com. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The Latest from Kristen:
The Cupid Caper (A Holiday Hearts Contemporary Romance Novella)

Sometimes you've got to take Cupid's bow and arrow into your own hands.

Amanda Marsh is in love with love. As a high school English teacher, she is surrounded by poetry and classic literature, including the love stories written by her favorite author, Shakespeare. She knows she’ll never find anything as romantic as the stories that have stood the test of time, so she’s settled on having a crush on chemistry teacher Luke Baker from a far.

Luke Baker left his career as a research chemist behind to share a love of science with students. And he’s about to make his pet project a reality as the curriculum lead for the district’s new specialized science and technology academy. When a poem shows up on his desk drawing him into The Cupid Caper, the Valentine’s Day-themed dance and fundraiser for Skyview High School’s Student Council, Luke dismisses the whole thing as a silly game. But when he realizes that winning the grand prize in The Cupid Caper is the one way he can help a star student attend the new STEM Academy, he decides to play along.

Paired together, the English teacher and the chemistry teacher both realize The Cupid Caper is more than a game, but neither can tell the other their feelings are no joke. When an education in happily ever after is on the line, will a man whose life has been ruled by the scientific method and a woman who quotes sonnets miss the mark, or will Cupid’s arrow finally ring true?

Other books by Kristen:

Coming August 2014: Lucky in Love (A Holiday Hearts Contemporary Romance)
New Year’s Eve (A Holiday Hearts Contemporary Romance Novella)
Saving Gracie (Harlequin Love Inspired)


  1. I love the idea of playing music that makes you think of your characters! Great idea...I'm going to share this with my PB writing group. Thank you for sharing Kristen and Edie. :)

    1. Rene, I'd love to take credit for bringing Kristin on, but it's all Jess Keller. She's amazing about finding valuable posters and topics! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

    2. I make music lists for both my characters and my book plots. When I'm plotting while commuting to work I listen to the mixes and work through plot problems. They're also excellent for when you have to come back to a story after a long time away (like when my editor gives me edits or the final proof) because the music brings me quickly back into the tone and mood of the story. It's been a lifesaver when working on more than one book at a time!

    3. I have songs that are specific to the various books that I am working on, but also an overall playlist of songs I just plain like and that keep me in the right frame of mind to write! :)

  2. Very interesting. I'm a full time publisher/writer. I'm also a morning person and I do my best work and most interesting work then. Right now our garden is coming in so i'm jiggling canning and freezing. It's corn today and a book to publish. Interesting. At least my office is close to the kitchen. I also listen to Celtic music when I work. My day starts around 5:30-6:00 with time with God. It's the only alone time I have all day. In the evenings my laptop goes to the family room and I read manuscripts and connect with hubby. Love my job!

    1. Your day sounds great! My office is close to the kitchen too! I figure then I can write while stuff is cooking and that gives me 15-40 extra minutes of work during the day (and I'm close enough to run to the stove for a dramatic rescue if something starts to boil over). I do the laptop trick in the family room too. Hey, we have to fit in writing whenever we can, right?!

    2. My office is actually upstairs...and it's almost never quiet around here! I would love to have some fresh produce to can, though. :)

  3. Great post. I struggle with procrastination and am determined to get on track. Now that I have real deadlines, I have no choice. Recently I installed software on my computer that tracks where I've been. Uh-oh! :) The one thing I've noticed is that if I just do my work, I feel great. When I procrastinate, I feel awful. That should be motivation enough to work, right?

    1. I hear you on procrastinating! I started doing what I call the timer trick to be better. I set a timer for 40-90 minutes and start working. If I stay on task for the WHOLE alloted time then when the time to goes off I can celebrate with a reward (twitter for 10 minutes, watch a YouTube video, PM with a friend, eat a cookie, whatever). But only if I worked the full time - if not, no reward and work on. It's helped me make better use of my time lately.

    2. Sometimes, it's truly easier for me to get up and go somewhere that I don't have wifi, so I can shut off the wifi button on my laptop.

      I suppose I could do that at home too...but I truly doubt I'm that disciplined! :)