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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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Making time for your writing

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford’s mystery short story collection

Many of us would like to spend more time writing our novel, short story, etc. But our hectic lives can get in the way. The only solution is to take stock of what we are doing and what is happening in our lives. What is necessary? What can wait? What can be scrapped?

I’ve reached that point again and am getting ruthless. Unlike some of you I don’t have children around the house – my son has been long grown up and left the nest. I don’t have a significant other – a partner. That has its downside when you consider all that must be done or at least organized – alone. In a nutshell, I’m juggling the house (regular housework and things that need repairing/replacing, snow shovelling, etc.), family and some friends (I’ll clarify the “some” shortly), what I call “self” (walking, gardening and reading – things I do for me), and my writing/editing/writing teaching. The latter is my business and maybe that is the key to getting at your writing. Under those four categories I prioritize daily.

However, stuff happens; sometimes you find yourself spending too much time on related (or not) things.

So what does a body and soul do to get writing regularly?

Here are a few pointers to get you thinking.

  1. The aforementioned treat your writing like a business, i.e., something that must be done.
  2. Divide what you do into categories. They don’t have to be the same as mine – whatever suits your situation.
  3. Prioritize – within categories and the categories themselves – this must be done on a weekly and daily basis.
  4. Use the three Ds to decide what to do with No. 3 – Delay, Delegate, Dump (or Delete). I use some of the suggestions by Alan Lakein in his book How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life (1989, available at www.amazon.com). My version is much earlier but he has lots of helpful ideas, including dividing your so-called “to do” list into A, B and C’s. A’s – obviously your top priority (i.e. writing) for what must be done, B’s for somewhat important but could wait before doing – you do these when the daily A’s are done. C’s – dump, delete. Here is where I put phone voice-mail messages from telemarketers and the like, even some friends (here it comes) – friends who appear suddenly out of the blue and wonder why I haven’t phoned them when it’s been years since I’ve heard from them – unless I want to reconnect. Have to be “ruthless” here. Maybe it will move up to a B.
  5. Juggling what’s left. For example in the writing/editing/writing teaching biz, I look at the overall picture, figure out what is most important and slot it into an A, what I have to do at some point into a B, and what I can dump into a C. And I do it by week and day. So this week’s (based on deadlines) priorities are: finish editing one client’s book manuscript, continue with the rewrite of my prequel mystery novel (including some research that has popped up as I write), my blog posts, some PR for my current short story collection Beyond the Tripping Point (fortunately I have a writing colleague friend who put my marketing plan into Excel and my end is to critique one of her short stories – when she finishes it). This brings up another idea.
  6. Instead of directly delegating – do a skills trade with someone – but make sure for both sides it is on each others’ priority list. For example I am not going to babysit for someone so they will clean my house because I don’t babysit.
  7. Try to set a specific time each day, five days a week, each weekend to write, and decide what you are going to write before you start.
  8. Don’t work on too many writing projects at a time. I have a friend who did that until she realized she had to rein in what she was writing.
  9. For those with families to look after, insist on certain times a day (depending on your circumstances) for you to have undisturbed time to write. Yes, I did this when my son was still at home, albeit in his teen years his rock band sometimes practiced in my basement while I wrote. Although I liked their music, I used ear plugs when writing. There was a trade off. The band members helped move appliances and other kitchen stuff when my kitchen needed painting. Your trade-off may be if you have kid-free and spouse-free time to write, you spend other time with them.
  10. Limit your social media, email, texting, online group participation, and phone calls. Turn off your email account notification (or close your email), turn your i-Phones, etc. to vibrate and let voice mail take over when you are writing. And don’t answer your door unless you are expecting someone. I don’t always follow the email and door ones. But you can bet if the someone at my door is soliciting they get short shrift from me. I’ve sent those water heater company sales people scrambling down the front steps – with words alone.

Happy and productive writing.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

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