Thursday, May 6, 2010


By Ruby Johnson
I wanted to post on Monday, but I had something else to do. I’m sure none of you can relate to this.

I was in Barnes and Noble Booksellers and looked through the large number of “how to write quick” writing books. For those who like to bang out lots of words, there’s Chris Baty’s inspirational NANO book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. Check. Read that one. Didn’t work for me. Then there’s Karen Weisner’s First Draft in 30 Days. Check. Read that one. Oops! Own it. It only works for the first 100 pages. And of course there is Immediate Fiction by Jerry Cleaver. I’ve never done anything immediately.

And the really great book is on the internet “How to write and publish your own OUTRAGEOUSLY Profitable eBook in as little as 7 days – even if you can’t write, can’t type and failed high school English class!”

Self help not helping?

Okay so, maybe there are other reasons slowing the writing progress of your one-day novel- the book that magically gets done one day.

It’s more interesting to sleep in since you stayed up late the night before and today is your day off.

Cooking a healthy nutritious breakfast when you do get up will give you the healthy dose of energy you need. And you’ve promised you won’t drive to get anymore of those Krispy Cremes and a quart of coffee from Starbucks every morning.

Oops, there’s not a bit of healthy cereal, and juice. Guess you’ll have to go get those donuts to get that sugar necessary to get your energy level up.

And while you’re out, you might need to stop by the grocery store, so a list is really necessary.

Revise the grocery list. You forgot to get paper towels to wipe the sugar off your hands and get some dental floss so your teeth won’t rot.

Call your dentist. You chipped a tooth while on vacation last month and realize it needs repairing—today.

Check your voice mail. Maybe you heard the phone ringing while you were outside getting the newspaper.

Check your email. You definitely want to get that out of the way before you start that novel.

Search for index cards-you want to try the index method of plotting.

Go to Staples. You need colored index cards. They have a sale.

Get a flash disc. You want to save everything you write in case the computer crashes.

Buy some of those paisley designed folders. You want each chapter to stand out in its folder--Blue for depressive chapters, pink for happy chapters, red for bloody chapters, black for black moment, green for a new day or end of the book.

Have lunch at that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to check out. Good thing you didn’t bring your laptop, because the place is too quiet to work. Go home and check your email again.

Watch some You Tube Videos. Who are you kidding? The video with the talking dog is much funnier than some writer telling you to read and write. Post the writer one on your group site. Maybe there is someone who might like Stephen King.

Check your tweet followers and tweet about an upcoming meeting.

Put your upcoming meeting on Facebook. After all everyone wants to know you’re busy.

Get tempted to play one of those games on Facebook that some of your friends are playing. Oh, maybe one game.

Check your voice mail again. Maybe you missed a call while you were out. Who the heck is the living redeemer group for change? And why does someone think this is the Red Hot Tattoo business?

Listen to your voice mail message. Maybe it’s encouraging such calls.

Make a new message, just in case someone thinks replying in four different languages is not professional.

Check your email. How many loops do you belong to? And when did you sign up for that workshop? Better read all that stuff now so your box won’t be overloaded.

Save the lecture from the workshop. You might need it someday. Didn’t read it? Put it in a workshop folder with all of the other lectures.

Color code the lectures in files. Make one for each section of a book.

Think about where you were going on vacation. You were going to Nashville, but it’s under water and you don’t swim that well. Florida, no—too hot and too many kids in the summer. San Francisco—no you don’t believe in rewarding cities that break federal laws, New York—no you might get blown up. Oh heck, you’ll just stay home.

Clean off your desk. You really need to learn to find things. You have sticky notes all over the place. Put those books back on the bookshelf. You’re not using them. Throw the old newspapers out. Put up the measuring tape. What’s that doing here? Throw the energy bar wrappers in the trash. Kleenex? Ditto.

Dust your desk. Okay, polish your desk. It has coffee stains on the wood.

Put all the pens into a favorite sports team mug. You can look at it and remember when we had a winning team at something in the metroplex.

Check Facebook again to see if anyone has posted a remark about your post.

Check your favorite blogs and leave a couple of little blog posts. After all, that’s good self promotion.

Make another To-Do List, since you can’t find the other one and you want to make the most of your time.

Write a headline for your article or type a number for your chapter. Good. That’s out of the way.

Get a cup of coffee. You always need that pick me up in mid afternoon. That cup of tea didn’t do a thing for you.

Stare at the computer screen. Wipe that spot of coffee off the screen.

Check your email. Respond to several with questions. A friend wants to know if you watched Castle. No. You saved the episode on Tivo and now you can’t wait another minute to see what happened.

Check your blog to see how many hits you’ve gotten in the last hour.

Begin a blog post.

Answer the phone. It really did ring. Your local political party wants money. Don’t we all?

Write the first sentence. It’s always good to have a hook. Good you’re on your way.

Check your email again. The workshop moderator wants to know why students are lurkers. You fire off a response that life interferes and you’re saving the lectures for a less busy time.

The doorbell rings and there are a couple of women who want to preach the gospel to you. Being the kind soul that are, you listen. Why did you even open the door?

You go back to the computer and the font has changed. Did you do that? Correct the font again.

Write another couple of paragraphs. Think about the next chapter and what you’ll put in it. You might make your word goal of 250 words a day, but why try to rush it. Good work, after all, can’t be rushed and requires intense thinking.

One day you’ll write that novel. That magical day will come, but first you’ve got to………..

• What things do you have to do first?


Jenna said...

Ha ha! Funny and so true. My life is so busy with my own business and 4 boys. I am trying to carve out regular writing time, but it keeps getting postponed :)

Jeff Turner said...

Very funny indeed !!! Such excuses of course apply to more than one effort you could be undertaking. I will say I wrote the first draft to my #2 book in two weeks. But I am still editing it slowly after penning it in October.

Ruby Johnson said...

Thanks for your comments. When I had school age kids, I remember how busy I was with work,call, graduate school,and keeping up with the kids activities-basketball, softball,gymnastics,tap dance, ballet, modeling, dentist and doctor's appointments.
I seriously looked at my schedule and found that I was wasting a lot of time waiting in the car for Heather and Anne as they flipped across mats, tapped, played ball, sitting in the doctor's or dentist’s waiting room , and standing in line at the grocery store …not to mention waiting while dinner cooked, the washer ran, and “enduring” a few squabbles when one daughter went into the other's room uninvited.

I had to fiqure out how I could carve some writing time out of my overloaded day and get some words on paper. You can probably find some time in your schedule too. You may have your own blocks of in “somebody’s” office or waiting in the car for your own little boys!
I'm not saying you can write a novel in the car, but you can certainly write a paragraph, or the start of a poem if you can fine 10 minute blocks that you can work in. Carry that notebook with you and fill it up.

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