If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com

Our March author interviews: Karen Pullen (3/1), Lowcountry Crime authors: Tina Whittle, Polly Iyer, Jonathan M. Bryant, and James M. Jackson (3/8), Annette Dashofy (3/15), Edith Maxwell (3/22) and Barb Ross (3/29).

Saturday Guest Bloggers in March: Maris Soule (3/4), and Virginia Mackey (3/11). WWK Saturday bloggers write on 3/18--Margaret S. Hamilton and on 3/25--Kait Carson.

Julie Tollefson won the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter's Holton Award for best unpublished manuscript (member category) for her work in progress, In The Shadows. Big news for a new year. Congratulations, Julie.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

Linda Rodriquez has two pending book publications. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel will be released by Scapegoat Press on November 29th. Every Family Doubt, the fourth Skeet Bannion mystery, is scheduled for release on June, 13, 2017. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Linda here in June!

Cross Genre Publications anthology, Hidden Youth, will contain Warren Bull's "The Girl, The Devil, and The Coal Mine." The anthology will be released in late November 2016. The We've Been Trumped anthology released by Dark House Press on September 28th contains Warren Bull's "The Wall" short story and KM Rockwood's "A Phone Call to the White House." KM writes under the name Pat Anne Sirs for this volume.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for pre-order.

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Saturday, June 4, 2016

Three Lessons for Being A Productive Writer by Maren Bradley Anderson

My writing career began with the birth of my daughter in 2007, which changed everything. For one, I suddenly had no time to myself. In a thunderclap, I realized that my time on earth is not infinite, and if I wanted to be a writer, I had better get to it.

I began looking for a way to force myself to write, and I found NaNoWriMo (nanowrimo.org). The lessons I learned from NaNoWriMo have transformed me into a person with a life and a productive writing schedule. These lessons may help you, too, even if you don’t try NanoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo is a writing celebration that takes place each November. Hundreds of thousands of people (325,000 in 2014) gather online to try to write 50,000 words of the first draft of a novel in thirty days. That’s 1,667 words a day if you are wondering.

NaNoWriMo kick-started my writing career because it provided a deadline, and my commitment forced me to make time, a lot of time, to write. I completed the 50K in 30 days challenge that year and four other times since.

“Cannot” vs. “Am Not”

Now for the life-changing part: once I completed a novel manuscript in a month, I realized that any time I am not writing a book, the reason isn’t because I cannot write a book, it is because I am not.

The most difficult part of writing for me and many other writers is not putting words onto the page. Our trouble is that the world thinks that writing magically happens and writers can write at any time. Therefore, the world thinks that it isn’t interrupting, and it is good at convincing writers (myself included) that we aren’t doing anything important.

The world is not correct. Writing has to be a priority, or I never write. This is what NaNoWriMo taught me, and how it changed my life.

Lesson One: Shitty First Drafts and Writing Forward

The first lesson I took away is the concept Anne Lamott talked about in Bird by Bird. I used to be the writer who created and edited at the same time, and it took me forever to write anything. However, when I am writing 50K in 30 days, I just don’t have time to edit.  Understanding a shitty first draft is okay is an important concept.

Here’s what helps: mark edits you know you have to fix, but write as if the edits have already been done. Your draft will be “shitty,” but then you will edit the whole document later. This habit will up your daily word count.

For example, I sat down at the computer one morning and BAM, my character Bailey was a girl. She was a man the day before. I sighed deeply, wrote “[BAILEY IS A GIRL]” in the margin and wrote the rest of the book as if she had always been female. I went back and changed the earlier parts of the story after I finished the draft. If I had changed the earlier parts of the first draft the day Bailey first flipped genders, I would have broken my creative stride.

Lesson Two: Write First

But how do you deal with people when they start asking for things when you need to write? In order to have a life and write a book, you have to learn when to write and how to say “no.”

When to write? The answer is to write first. For some people, this means getting up at 5 AM and writing before the world starts making demands. This does not work for me because I am a zombie before 8 AM. However, when I do sit down to write, I write first, before email, before lesson plans, before grading papers. Even though my goal is 60 minutes of writing a day, if I can get 15 minutes of writing in first, I feel like I have made progress that day.

Lesson Three: Say “No”

The last lesson is that if you want to be a productive, professional writer, you need to treat writing as a priority. Like, you know, a job. In order to do that, you have to schedule a regular writing time and treat that time as an appointment that cannot be broken.

This might mean that you say “no” a lot. It means you might pay for a little extra daycare. It means that you need to write during your writing time and not surf the web or play Wordiest. And you may still have to remind yourself that the world can spare you for one hour out of twenty-four. If you are like me, you need this time to stay sane.

Treating my writing life as a priority has not lost me friends. My family still loves me even though sometimes our dinner comes from a frozen pouch. No one knows I answer emails after I write 1,000 words. I have a life, a job, and I am a productive writer. But it took NaNoWrimo and a shift in my attitude to achieve this.

To be a productive writer, you have to act like a professional writer.

Bio:  Maren Anderson is a writer, teacher, and alpaca rancher who lives in rural Oregon. Her novel Fuzzy Logic was published in 2015, and her poetry has appeared in The Timberline Review.  She teaches college English and novel writing to new writers. If you want to know more about Anderson’s writing, classes, or alpacas, contact her via Facebook, on Twitter (@marenster), or at http://www.marens.com.

Fuzzy Logic Blurb:

She thinks moving to a ranch will lead to the simple life she craves, but the countryside has other ideas…

After divorcing her unfaithful husband, Meg Taylor buys an alpaca ranch to finally do something on her own. She meets not one, but two, handsome—and baffling—men. She thinks choosing between the shy veterinarian and her charming securities co-worker is her biggest problem, until life and death on the ranch make her re-evaluate more than her love life. At least her new life is nothing like her old one.

5 comments:

KM Rockwood said...

Great insights, and thank you for sharing how you came by them.

I, too, learned I have to set priorities, although I don't think I'm as far along in the process as you. My writing is important, and I know I need to treat it that way.

Jim Jackson said...

I agree it is important to write the first draft to completion, because it is difficult for most to edit something that has no ending. However, I have found authors develop different approaches that work for them regarding techniques that allow them time to write. Some prefer retreats or vacations to splurge write rather than forcing themselves to write every day. What is consistent among successful writers is that they commit to a plan.

Warren Bull said...

I think your last comment is the most helpful.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting how different people approach their writing. I started writing later than you, and although I'm committed to writing, I don't have a specific time nor do I write everyday. that being said, I do get two books out a year and I write short stories and poetry, but still take time to do other things like read, walk in the wood, garden and spend time with family and friends. Your book sounds like one I'd like to read. Also, I hear you on people not taking your writing seriously. When someone calls and ask what I'm doing, and I say writing. They say oh and go on with what they want to talk about. Or others who think because I'm retired I have all the time in the world.

Kait said...

Great lessons. Priorities are important as is saying no to the distractions.