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

October Interviews
10/2 Debra H. Goldstein, Two Bites To Many
10/10 Connie Berry, A Legacy of Murder
10/17 Lida Sideris, Double Murder or Nothing
10/23 Toni L. P. Kelner writing as Leigh Perry, The Skeleton Stuffs A Stocking
10/30 Jennifer David Hesse, Autumn Alibi

Saturday Guest Bloggers:
10/5 Ang Pompano
10/12 Eyes of Texas Anthology Writers
10/19 Neil Plakcy

WWK Bloggers: 10/26 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Lyrical Press will publish Kaye George's Vintage Sweets mystery series. The first book, Revenge Is Sweet, will be released in March. Look for the interview here on 3/11.

Shari Randall will be writing again for St. Martin's, perhaps under a pseudonym. We look forward to reading Shari's Ice Cream Shop Mystery series debuting next year. Congratulations, Shari!

Susan Van Kirk's A Death At Tippett Pond was released on June 15th. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Susan.

KM Rockwood's "Frozen Daiquiris" appears in The Best Laid Plans: 21 Stories of Mystery & Suspense, edited by Judy Penz Sheluk. The anthology was released on June 18th.

Fishy Business anthology authors include KM Rockwood, Debra Goldstein, and James M. Jackson. This volume was edited by Linda Rodriguez.

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files.

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/ydaklx8p

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder was released April 30.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Organize Your Writing Life in a Way that Will Keep You Sane

I was never the kid who did homework on Friday nights until I had to be.

Early in my schooling years, I’d live it up (usually with pizza and a movie) on Friday and Saturday nights and then spend my Sundays scrambling to finish writing papers or doing math problems while beating myself up for not doing my assignments earlier.

This all changed very quickly when my long-time gymnastics habit turned into an actual competitive team commitment. Soon came 25-hour weeks in the gym to go on top of all my school work and other extracurricular activities like volunteering and, I don’t know, being a 12-year-old kid.

Suddenly, my schedule was my life.

In order to get everything done, I finally had to be the kid who sat in her room working on algebra problems until 10 p.m. Friday night. I didn’t care if this made me a total nerd because doing my homework on Friday night meant I could do what I wanted the rest of the weekend. Hang out with my friends all day Saturday, go shopping with my mom, watch the Chiefs game with my dad, play with my little sister, head to the gym for a little extra work on my own Saturday mornings.

The sky was the limit, as long as my work was out of the way.

Thus, work before play became my motto back in middle school when it was a must. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to do all the things I wanted to do.

And it’s still my motto today.

Basically, my fiction is my “fun stuff.” What I want to sit down and savor. I don’t want to feel rushed. Or pressured by my other commitments to finish a scene, hit a word count, or whatever. So, I get other things finished first, and save my fiction for last.

This isn’t an easy task because these days, I also live and die by my schedule. It is PACKED. I have a full-time job, a family, a habit of ultrarunning. I have freelance—both writing and editing—and blogs like this one and the one I do over at Mysteristas. And, of course, I have my own writing habit.

Add all those things together, and I am one very busy person.

I can manage it all, but I need to have a hierarchy going or I get in trouble. So, just like when I was back in middle school, it’s always work before play.

My full-time job comes first. Then my paid writing and editing gigs. Then my regular unpaid gigs like this one. And then, finally, comes my “fun” writing.

(Obviously, family comes before ALL those things, but this blog is about work.)

Therefore, to stay sane/on top of things, I’ve got to get my paid obligations finished before my unpaid ones.

Not the most fun thing to do in the world, to be honest. I’d much rather spend all my extra minutes tweaking my work in progress, but, I’m an adult, and therefore I’m going to finish my freelance first. 

Every. Single. Time.

That said, actually sticking to my motto is especially hard when I’m in the thick of a project (like now) and can feel the words crowding center stage in my mind.

But, it must be done.

And once it’s done, I’ll have my fun—without all the other things I have to do hanging over my head.

How do you prioritize your writing life?


E. B. Davis said...

I'm most productive in the morning. AFTER a cup of coffee. Rarely do I work after the noon hour. My attention is diverted to lesser priorities, and my writing concentration is spent by then. The only exception, I've found, is if I have a deadline, and I'm revising. Then, I go all day if I must. In what stage is your novel these days, Sarah?

James Montgomery Jackson said...

EB has mentioned a key point regarding productivity, and that is understanding when you are at the top of your game and when you are less "with it."

I am also a morning person and so tackle those things that need focus early. Things that can be done "whenever" I need to leave to later in the day -- even if they are the most interesting.

~ Jim

Sarah Henning said...

I also prefer to write work in the morning. I am a morning person, though I think with writing I like the morning mostly because if I work on any of my fiction at night, I stay up thinking about it long after I put it away. Somehow, I don't have that problem with my non-fic freelance:)

E.B. - I have one project that I'll finish the first draft of this week (fingers crossed) and another that I'm co-writing that we hope to have done by the beginning of February. We shall see.

Kristi said...

Sarah, didn't mention that she's a machine at getting tons of stuff done. I marvel at how much this woman accomplishes in a single day.
For me, to fit in my fiction, I have to prioritize. I've mostly given up my freelance writing because the time it took wasn't worth the money I was paid. Of course, that means a tighter budget and looking at the thrift store before I buy something new, but it is so worth it because living lean and mean and keeping a low nut means every morning Monday through Friday between 9 and noon, I write. To make this work with the rest of my life, I work on the weekends at a paid job, have given up TV completely and don't read as many books as I would like. Of course, none of this would be possible without a partner who believes in my writing career enough to work full time while I don't have to. In order to thank him for this, I never squander that valuable writing time.

Kara Cerise said...

I'm amazed at how much fit in your life, Sarah. I agree that's it's important to prioritize and schedule. What throws me off track is a crisis (I've had to deal with a number of those the last few years). I've been able to continue writing by being flexible and managing my expectations.

Best of luck finishing your first draft this week!

Sorry about the Chiefs loss to the Broncos last night.

Paula Gail Benson said...

I used to have a boss who described our work as "drinking water from a fire hydrant." Anything can become overwhelming if not properly managed. A coworker reminds me that the easiest way to accomplish a goal is to break it into smaller tasks. I guess the key is to organize those smaller tasks well and hopefully have the time to complete them satisfactorily. Thanks for all the good advice about how to do those things, from Sarah and all who have commented!

Saille said...

Oh my gosh, I hear you. I homeschool my three kids. Because that's the reason I don't work full-time outside the home, it comes first. Then I tutor part-time...as much as half-time, when I'm busy. Writing comes after that, usually until one or two in the morning. Exercise is taking a back seat right now, and hoo boy, can I tell. Nice to know I have company, but I'm always glad when I see you stealing down time here and there...

Gloria Alden said...

Sarah, I'm amazed at all you do especially with a small child at home.

As for me, when I have my morning cup of coffee before my oatmeal, I write in my journal, a rough draft of my blog or a poem or read TIME. Because I have to do morning barn chores after breakfast and then take a morning walk. After that if it's warmer weather I work outside or run some errands. I don't sit down to work on my book or short stories until after lunch. Evenings are for reading unless I have somewhere to go.

Shari Randall said...

So true about figuring out the most productive time. My best time is after lunch (go figure!) and afternoon into evening. Very hard to get these hours to myself, but when I do I get a lot done.
Ultramarathoning! Are you able to plot as you run?

Sarah Henning said...

I do plot while I run, Shari! I also end up tripping while running and plotting, but I'll take that hazard:)

It's interesting to know how you all shoe-horn it in!