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Category Archives: Writing Time

Make Writing regularly a 2017 goal

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

If you’ve been struggling to write that novel, short story, novella, etc. because you don’t seem to have time because other stuff to do is taking over your, life, whatever the reason, 2017 is coming in. Time for a fresh start.

Forget about “New Year’s Resolutions” which go down the drain after the first few weeks. Instead think goal, yes that’s singular. And make that goal to write on a regular basis in 2017.

For parts of 2016 I have struggled to find time to get at rewriting my third Beyond novel. The editor at my publisher’s (bless his soul) has given me a couple of extensions. But he is not the problem and I have to find a solution – make that several solutions to deal with the multitude of impediments that come at me “from outside.”

Just to clarify, “from outside” doesn’t mean things like sleeping in, too much socializing to name a few. Mine also include: gardening (in spring to fall, not now in horrible winter), doing client work (editing and teaching writing workshops and courses), and promoting my first two Beyond mystery books.Those things in the previous sentence I don’t begrudge doing and they are under my control and it is my business to get them in order so I do have time to write.

I’m talking about what just seems to come out of the blue at you. Some of mine are unforeseen health issues, house and property issues and weather (which often affects the house and property). It is true we just had Christmas and Boxing Day and I spent Christmas with my son and his girlfriend and Boxing Day just relaxing reading and phoning friends. What I did on those two days was my choice.

Most of the first half of my day today was not. I do a daily “to-do” list for what I call “Biz” and another for what I call “Other.” Unfortunately, like this morning, the “other” took over.

First there was the snow that came overnight. I had watched the Weather Network last evening and my “Other” schedule had up to one hour for shovelling the white shit that fell down. And I did it in that time.

Then things went wrong. The main time-stealer was the heating cable. I went to plug it in to melt the snow off the roof and discovered the cord just before going into the plug was suddenly frayed.And it got that way because it is a tight squeeze and turn to get it into the outside electric outlet. I taped it with electrical tape, then called my neighbour, a retired electrician, over to check to see I had done it right. He wouldn’t touch it, and instead gave me a long rant about he wouldn’t even check it because of liability, etc. The cord got frayed in the first place because my regular handyman (electrical stuff is one of his specialties) didn’t do anything about the short cord – didn’t even put it on a heavy-duty extension cord which my neighbour at least suggested. To make a long story short, I took my shortest heavy duty outdoor extension cord and found the plug from the heating cable wouldn’t go all the way in. I called the handyman and blasted him – he should have done it right first and I’ll pay for any new parts, but not labour. He is coming by later today or tomorrow morning to check it out.I made sure he knew I had expensive dental surgery coming up in January.

So, the bottom line is I have to come up with some way of dealing with all these outside problems that come at me unexpectedly. A year ago, I started dealing with all the health issues, one month at a time for each – even if I had to repeat this a few months down the road. I’m not sure about house and property things – certainly if not emergency issues they can be paced out per month based on time and money available (double hah-hah here).

Because I am fed-up with all this stuff getting in the way of my writing. (There’s a story there). I think the important thing is to figure out what is important. Staying healthy, of course, but when it gets beyond eating healthy, taking supplements, regular exercise (walking and gardening for me), getting enough sleep, and relaxing, then it is too much.

I may have found a way beyond the one medical issue per month – my writing is important for me to stay healthy. It is creative; it makes me feel good and relaxed. And it gets me out of the crap taking over my life. So it needs my time.

Perhaps, putting writing in one of your daily living categories, will get you writing regularly. Remember “regularly” will differ with each of us. If you have a full time job and/or raising a family/looking after an elderly parent, you will have a different regular schedule than I do. The trick is to look at what is taking over too much of your time, see where you can cut back and/or get help, and work in some time – whether it is two hours in the evening and/or Saturday and Sunday mornings – that is up to you. You also need to consider if some of the things you do are really necessary. For example, do you have to spend so many hours tweeting? Or even doing email. Shopping online or in bricks and mortars? If something is taking a lot of your time, that’s a clue to look at it closely.

And  tell family members and friends (remember, socializing takes up time, too) what you are doing and why – nicely. You have the best reason to do so now – a new year and a new goal. And think of the result – that novel finally underway, those short stories written, etc.

Good luck and may you write, write, write in 2017.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Click on either Beyond Blood at the top or Beyond the Tripping Point below to link to more information about the books. Hopefully later next year the third Beyond book will join them.

 

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

 

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Writing a new short story finally

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

I am finally writing a new mystery short story. And I am amazed that I actually found time. Despite my good intentions to try to tame time, except for perhaps a couple of areas, it has not been working. Most of the blame is what I refer to as “outside crap.” Included in that is even more and new computer problems. I won’t go into the sad saga here now, except for the one that is connected to this author blog.

WordPress in its “infinite wisdom” has a Set Featured Image feature. Technically (pun intended) it should work for only the actual blog post you are writing for the image withing the actual post and is not the image (my headshot) that appears at the side outside all blog posts. That one stays. But if it the image is in a blog post and you set it as an “Update” you now have two photos the same side by side on your live post. If you delete one from the one post when you are in Edit Post for update mode, it deletes all the same image on all the posts that have it. Those with another image in the post seem to keep that image.

What were the WordPress designers thinking?

For the ongoing computer crap problems, you will have to check my personal blog, for future postings on it. Meantime, my son the computer techie will be helping me remotely to resolve some of these computer issues later today.

As for the time management plan – the actual writing is getting in there, although not as much time each day as planned and hoped for. I have cut back my email time to 20 minutes a day (using a timer), except for family. All email replies and even new ones with promised information are being prioritized according to content date. So, something happening the end of the month doesn’t get priority over something happening today. I use a timer. So I can write. We writers are driven to write.

Someday I’ll write a noir satire mystery on computer problems and time management, but not in this new story. The story does take something from the news (no, not Trump’s election to the US presidency) but something else that has already been satirized on satire websites. So, I’m not doing satire here. I’m taking the news item and going on a “what if such and such happened? What if the character was like such-and-such?.

And so the story goes. But I’m not writing a fiction based on fact, something writers have to clarify when they are writing; Just because I’m writing fiction doesn’t mean I don’t need to do research. Besides the news stories, I have to research the laws connected to their content, medical issues connected to content, police procedure and most important develop my characters. I have two – a new one and the Toronto Police Service Homicide detective Larry Hutchison from “Missing in Action,” one of my short stories in Beyond the Tripping Point (Blue Denim Press, 2012),  Both stories take place in the same time period – NOW. I have wanted to put Detective Hutchinson in more stories, so this is my first go at that. .

I am also trying something new for me. Telling the short story from two different viewpoints – the new character and Hutchinson to develop the cat and mouse suspense.

It is interesting. I have to follow the fiction rules – one character’s point of view per scene with extra line space and/or asterisks in between scenes.

In some future posts I’ll go some more into the ins and outs using two characters points of view in short stories.

For now, it’s back to writing the actual short story…I hope. There better not be any more computer problems.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

And for this post, the Beyond Blood icon a the top does take you to Beyond Blood at Amazon.

 

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Recharging you novel’s rewrite

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

This week I finally got back to rewriting the next novel in my Beyond mystery series. The plan had been to spend a good part of June, July and August doing this. But for a change I had a lot of client work. That I’m not complaining about. Neither am I complaining about spending time gardening. As well as writing, gardening is a passion of mine.

However, I am complaining about all the health issues I’ve had to deal with lately, some caused by others’ negligence. (See my post this week on my personal blog Only Child Writes.).

Still doing one client’s work – but no complaints. Client confidentially doesn’t allow me to discuss the client’s work, but sufficient to say it is interesting and challenging and when it arrives I switch over from the novel rewrite to the client work.

Getting back to the big novel rewrite is also a challenge. Having ideas percolating inside my head while I was doing other things and also some suggestions from the editor at Blue Denim Press (my publisher) have been big helps. So has one of my writer friends and colleagues – Rosemary McCracken – just publishing the third in her Pat Tierney mystery series.And having a wacky main character like PI Dana Bowman is good. At least I think so, although she does get inside my head a lot and likes to have her way in her stories. All inspiration to do more than put the seat of my pants to the chair.

How did I actually get back into the rewriting?

First, I reread the novel and comments I had made for changes and also noted what I had changed. Then I got in and made some changes in the beginning and continued on until I got stuck. But I had ideas for other parts, including the ending which needed a big change, so those are the places I focused on next. I feel better that I made changes in the ending even though I know that some of it will be changed as more changes in parts coming before will be made. That’s okay. Often just doing something that is a change is a good start.

Writing the ending before some of the rest, you may ask? I am following the advice given by another author Ken McGoogan who said when he gets tired of writing in chapter order, he will go the end. Mind you he writes narrative non-fiction. But I think it can be done with fiction as long as you realize it is not written in granite. Well, some writers think their prose, and even their punctuation, should be left exactly as they write it.

That is arrogance and maybe a little worry that the editor will mess up your prose so it isn’t really yours when it’s done. And yes, being an editor myself, and a former journalist who worked with several editors, it does happen. However, there is one thing we writers need to remember.

Writers work in isolation. Writers see their creations with tunnel vision. Another pair of eyes will find flaws and better ways to express something than the author.

So keep up the rewriting. Although you can get carried away with that. Another author colleague is still making changes in his novels after they are published. And yes he does have a trade publisher, so not being self-published he can’t exactly make changes in the print book for sale. But he can do so for his author readings.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the Beyond Blood book icon a the top it will take you to my amazon author profile and books.

 

 

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Write something else besides your main project

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Sometimes a writing diversion is good when you get bogged down in a long and intense writing project. Or in my case, not only are you rewriting a novel (yes, again) but it’s income tax time.

Even the novel rewriting has been put on hold, except for ideas flooding my mind when math calculations and other income tax nonsense aren’t. Unfortunately I can’t afford to pay someone to do my taxes and because I have a writing and editing business there is a bit more than the regular tax returns to do. So, although I am a senior I can’t use the free tax clinics for seniors at library branches because these clinics don’t include small businesses. These tax professionals should wake up. It’s 2016 and many seniors are also entrepreneurs. At least I have some bookkeeping background. But I’m slow at it as I am more creative than math-oriented.

Okay, off my soap box.

When I’m fed-up with tax stuff, I switch over to another area I write in – memoir/personal essay. This latter is one I’ve decided to get serious about (yet again) and try to get some memoir essays published and get paid for them.

So far this year I’ve written/rewritten two and sent them off for possible publication. Now I’m working on a third and am finding it very satisfying. That may be because it marries two of my big loves and interests – writing and gardening. Without giving away details about the memoir, I have learned a few lessons about writing it. These can be applied to most any types of writing, including fiction.

I read out the memoir at my writing critique group the end of March. Because I’m aiming for a specific Canadian magazine to start, one of the other East End Writers’ Group members suggested I change my US research to Canadian. She suggested I go to the Toronto Botanical Garden library for information.

Which I did last week. And despite my harrowing bus trip to and from on Toronto’s public transit (read about that on my very personal blog here), the actual visit to the library was very productive and helpful. The librarian helped me choose books to check out, brought me old and older copies of a Canadian horticultural organization specific to my topic to look through and check out, and while I was there he did some research online including contacting colleagues at the Botanical Gardens in Hamilton, Ontario and one in New York. The result was two documents which he emailed me. One in particular was very helpful with Canadian history.

Back home, I read through it all and returned to my memoir for more rewriting. I’m still rewriting, but unfortunately today and tomorrow I have to return to the dreaded income tax returns.

So, if you are going bonkers with your main writing project, be it fiction or non-fiction, take another writing break. Write something else completely different. A poem, a journal piece, an essay.

You never know where it will lead. And when you return to your main writing project you will do so with more vigor.

And probably more ideas. Just let them flow in your head. Even when doing something else – other writing or the dreaded income taxes.

At least in Canada we have to May 2 to get them in (as long as post marked that day if sent regular mail), because this year April 30 falls on a Saturday.

Cheers..

Sharon

And again to find out more about my Beyond mystery books, click the Beyond Blood book cover at the top of this blog.

 

 

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Using deadlines to write

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

Writing deadlines are something journalists, editors, and authors with publishers have to deal with all the time. So does any writer who is writing a piece to enter in a writers’ contest.

But what if you are writing that novel, that short story and at this point have no publishing deadlines? You might think “hey, I have the freedom to take my time writing this story.”

You know how that can go if you are not disciplined. You might write when the  muse hits. You might write if you don’t have something else to do in a certain time. The underlying theme here is “I have all the time in the world to finish this novel, this short story.”

All the time in the world might expand to never finishing.

Why not set a deadline or if a novel, several deadlines, such as “I will finish so many pages, so many chapters by such and such a date.” If  you have an editorial deadline from a magazine editor or book publisher, or a contest, entry, wouldn’t you be working to the deadline? Wouldn’t that include setting up a writing time-line? Allow some flexibility for glitches such as what I’ve been encountering with my latest Beyond mystery book. Research replies. I finally had to go elsewhere for one (books and another police source) and in the case of the government agency with no email reply, I phoned.

Writing they say is1 per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration. I have sometimes seen that equation as 10 per cent and 90 per cent. Either way you can get the picture.

Why not use deadlines for the perspiration part? I find doing that has an added benefit than just getting the writing done.

Often when you sit down at your computer in a specified time and write, the inspiration and creativity just kick in and off you go, oblivious to whatever else is going on around you. I’ve been unaware of night creeping in until I realize that it is only the computer screen and the desk lamp lighting everything up. (That’s excluding the creativity going on as I write.)

Speaking of deadlines. Please excuse me while I get back to rewriting my latest Beyond book. My publisher is waiting.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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Crunch time for publisher’s deadline for novel

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

I am in the last month to finish the rewrite of the third book in my mystery Beyond series before submitting in to my publisher.. Of course, it won’t be the final rewrite. Once a publisher decides to publish a book, the author always has more rewrites.

I have limited my email time – I set a timer and when it rings I finish the current email and the rest can wait for another day. And I am particular which events I go to .

Some of the latter has been railroaded because I also just got yet another sinus infection over the weekend. So the two writing-related workshops I planned to go to, I had to cancel.

And with all my health issues, I am trying to keep medical appointments to one health issue a month. Last summer and fall when all these health issues kept coming and coming, often overlapping, I tried to deal with them all at once, including medical appointments. That caused way too much worry and anxiety and I might have had to add “shrink” to the list.  So, I’m trying the one-at-a-time approach and hope it works. Some of the medical people aren’t too happy about it. Too bad. I am trying to get more sleep to help heal.

But I like to rewrite what I have written. Sometimes the most creative twists in plots and character development occurs here. It is also a time to fix plot and character inconsistencies, get rid of excess and not necessary scenes and even chapters, smooth out the telling – get rid of awkward phrases and sentences, polish it all up. .And do final fact checking on your research.

It is the latter that is driving me crazy. A few new police procedure questions and also questions on the social issue in this novel have come up. And I’m having trouble getting the experts to reply to my emails and phone calls to get some answers.

My police consultant just retired and has moved out of the country. I am grateful for all his help with my other two books and this third book as well. So, I’ve been doing what most authors without police connections do – contact the corporate communications media department of the police services. I have emailed and phoned there and have received no response. It has been a week and a half.

Meantime I visited the Toronto Reference Library and looked at criminal code books from the shelves and stacks. Made notes as those books are not for lending. My book is set in late 1999, which is an added glitch. And did more Internet search.

Also emailed a government department’s service questions part. That was done two days ago and so can’t complain yet about that

I am also rewriting to change parts of the plot to fit in with what my research (at the library and online) has revealed, even to the point where I have a few options for a couple of areas.

But I need some answers.

So, I will try some contacts via Linked In and see where that gets me.

For those of you writing fiction, how do you deal with this type of non-response to your research questions? How do you get your rewriting done to meet your deadlines?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

If you click on the book cover at the top it will take you to my publisher’s page about my books and my background.

 

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Finding time to write in the Christmas season

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

No doubt you are all rushing around getting Christmas presents, wrapping them, going to Christmas parties or even holding a Christmas party, planning Christmas dinner including shopping for the Christmas bird. Then there will be all the Christmas Day family get togethers and afterwards the Boxing Day Sale. And don’t forget all those Christmas movies on TV.

Not that we all do all of these things. But Christmas can get us into quite a frenzy.

So, where and how with all of that going on, do you find time to write (or rewrite) that novel or short story (or short stories)?

It can be done, although with all that’s been happening at my end, it might be better to follow what I write here, rather  than what I do – at least until after this Friday.

Besides some of the above nonsense, I’ve had two dentist visits brought on by an emergency. Scratch two weekday afternoons to write my novel. Tomorrow afternoon I have to go the Christmas Market at Toronto’s Distillery. I used to go on weekends when that was the only time it was open. Now they are charging to get in on weekends. The $5 admission doesn’t bother me – it’s the long line-ups to get in weekends with tickets – you can buy them online.

A writer friend who lives in the area has let some of us writers know about those long lineups and the noise (well, she is living in the area – for those of us just visiting, we hopefully can tolerate the noise factor for a bit of time). Last year there were long line-ups to get in, but I snuck in another way around the corner and found it wasn’t as crowded as it seemed from outside the main entrance.

I doubt if I can do that this year – so I have to go on a weekday afternoon. Have to get my hand-crafted Christmas fudge (some of it becomes Christmas presents), and a few other things. It is also interesting to just look and absorb the old-fashioned Christmas market.

And hey, maybe it can be incorporated into a short story. Probably not the current novel I’m writing as my Beyond mystery series occur the end of the 1990s and into the millennium and the Distillery Christmas Market only started five years or so ago. But one can always fictionalize. And I do have this third Beyond book taking place in November and December.

So, besides using the incentive of your Christmas events to write, how can you make time to write?

Don’t set up times when you usually would write. Be creative. For example, I have made it a practice to take weekends off from writing (unless part of a workshop I’m attending). This Sunday afternoon I plan to write for a few hours. it’s going to rain anyway. That will take care of time taken off tomorrow afternoon for the Christmas market. Still haven’t worked in the time off for dental visits.

Also, you can just look at the time you actually have to spend with Christmas and Christmas-related stuff. Can you shorten, combine or delete some? And I don’t mean deleting the family Christmas dinner. But how many trips do you have to make to Christmas shop? Consider combining places to shop that are close together – if you just have to go in person. Or shop online. Or combine. Many places you can view the item online and pre-order it to have it ready for pick-up when you arrive at the store. I don’t recommend this latter one as it means you have to use a credit card and that means paying the piper in January or February depending on your credit card statement date.

There is another way – some stores (Canadian Tire is one) where you can search at their site for particular items. check them out and then go to the store’s branch online and see if the item is there (and how many) as well as what aisle they are in. Note: make sure you do this just before you leave or the item might be gone.

There are other shopping alternatives such as getting a lot of gift cards from one or two stores, using the old-fashioned catalogue shopping by phoning in your order from the print catalogue.

And record those Christmas movies on TV.

Just some suggestions for making time to write. Again, remember you don’t have to write in your usual time or day. We are creative writers and shouldn’t have problems creating time to write.

Just keep toes crossed there are no family and/or health emergencies. For the latter I have a writer friend, who was slightly injured in a car accident. Fortunately his laptop was not damaged, so he sat up in the gurney (even at the hospital) and wrote more of his latest short story.

That’s being creative.

What are your ideas for saving time at Christmas so you can write?

Cheers.

Sharon

The book cover at the top links to Beyond Blood on Amazon.com

 

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