Posted in Pitchwars, Uncategorized, Writing

Time for Pitchwars! Or, Eeeek…Time for Pitchwars??

Flashback to PW’15: hitting the submit button was a thrill—I’d worked up the nerve to send my work to some very talented and successful mentor-writers. But it was also a huge relief—it had been an entry months in the making. My writing To-Do list self-destructed in a single click…and what an awesome feeling that was! Nothing left to do with the ms for the moment—done!

Mid-August, with the sub window about to close, I turned to prepping my classroom and attending in-services. The flood was imminent—grading and planning, researching and teaching, meetings and emails. Over and over I thought, Good thing I had the summer to finish my entry for Pitchwars. And I just wouldn’t have had the time in the school year. And Working more on the book will have to wait.

Then I got picked as a mentee, and I had to make time to keep going.

For anyone considering entering Pitchwars (or other contests), but worried about the deadlines and the time commitment, or anyone just struggling to fit in a few hours of writing in the week—I hear you. The frustration is real.

Time is a funngiphyy thing, though—you can never seem to have enough, but it is somewhat manipulable. Kind of like Hermione with her Time Turner, you can overrule the constraints that time puts on you.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during PW was that I managed significant revisions and rewritings despite being real-life busy. Pitchwars was motivating, and my mentor gave me awesome ideas and encouragement, but the improved book came about from work that I did. You can make the time to move forward on your book goals.

These tricks for making time are not new. You know them. You’ve done them. They work with varying degrees of success depending on your habits, day job, family, and personality. So maybe consider this list a self-check, or a calming take-a-breath moment to review some ways in which you can take control of the clock.

  1. Can you limit your screen time more? Cut down on FB and Twitter unless it’s book-related correspondence, until you reach a word or page goal. Try sticking to only a few hours a week or less of TV. Or use a streaming service to catch up after you meet a goal.

2. Can you be more efficient with your reading choices? Don’t give up reading altogether! But reading a new police thriller when you’re writing younger historical MG may not be the most time-saving choice. Read at bedtime if that suits you, and sleep well knowing you fit in a craft chapter, a bit of research, or a comp title into your day at the eleventh hour.

3. Can you wake up earlier (or go to sleep later)? Even a half-hour a day of added writing time can get you pages ahead by the end of the week.

4. What can you carve and whittle off the clock? Can you write on your commute? In the car-rider pick-up lane at your kids’ school? In the waiting room at appointments? Look at your day-to-day schedule and pry open some windows of opportunity. Take notes on your phone, bring along a reference book for research, or own the archaic with a red pen and a chapter print-out.

5. Leave work at work (said no classroom teacher ever, lol). Well, okay…to the extent possible. Try to get as much of your day job done at the office or the school or the business, to allow more writing hours evenings and weekends. When can you sneak in some extra time for work at work? Though I missed my colleagues at lunchtime the year I was a mentee, I used that 25 minutes every day to grade, copy, and plan. I’d try to stay a bit after hours, too, if it meant I could go home mostly unencumbered and have more minutes for revisions once the kids were in bed.

6. Give yourself a break. Don’t go for mom/dad of the year or employee of the month, right now. You’re trying to write/revise/publish a BOOK. That’s enough—because you will instruct, inspire, and entertain through those words. Your book may save someone in some way you may never even know about. You are already doing a valiant, noble, and very cool thing. So if it’s mac and cheese for the third time this week, so what? It’s just food. The living room’s a mess? More important things. You skipped a volunteer activity? Catch up next month. Many, many people say they should write a book. Many of them start trying to write one. But you and I and a small (by comparison) community of other writers are actually following those words up with the continued, forward-moving action that could lead to fulfillment and success.

One time as a mentee during PW revisions I tweeted the mac and cheese thing, out of wry guilt. Several awesome fellow writers sent links to quick meal ideas and make-ahead recipes. You’ll hear it over and over—writers comprise a highly supportive community. If you stress and struggle with time, you are not alone! Trust yourself that you too can become a skilled time-turner, and keep moving forward.

Can’t wait to mentor this year…don’t worry, future prospective mentee. We’ll both make the time.

Posted in Uncategorized

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

Joining GUTGAA‘s Blogfest party a bit late… but excited to be here!

Amazing lineup Deana has put together, don’t you think?

I’ve had luck publishing my literary essays and a couple how-to pieces, but the search for an agent for my fiction continues. Before momhood and work-from-home freelance editing, I was a high school teacher of literature, writing, and Gifted. I’ve tried YA, historical, picture books, and women’s fiction, but I’ve found the most fulfillment (and had the most requests) with an upper MG adventure with fantasy elements I’m currently querying.

I enjoyed Deana’s questions:

Where do you write? I have a white desk in our dining room with a view into the yard. Occasionally the computer here gets hijacked by my almost-8-year-old and more recently my 4-year-old, but I claim the early hours daily — 5 to 7 a.m. most days — for the best writing. (Which answers Favorite time to write?.)

Look to the left, what do you see?    The kitchen timer, which I brought to my desk on Saturday so I wouldn’t miss Pitch Madness on Brenda Drake’s site. Haven’t taken it back to the kitchen yet. Probably will leave  it here til Friday at 11 a.m.!

Drink of choice while writing? Starbucks French Roast from the Keurig early….Green tea mid-day….And a bit of Shiraz after the kids are in bed.

Complete silence or music?  Silence preferred, but can usually work with a modicum of background household activity.

Latest inspiration? My new WIP (started last night, in honor of both kids heading off to school today!) is a MG historical with threads of magical realism. I caught an ad for an upcoming documentary on PBS and the whole idea just entered stage right.

Best advice? Try something new, like a pitch contest. Take yourself on an outing to the bookstore, to hold real published books in your hands (it’s easy to lose perspective with so great a focus on the screen). And read Bird By Bird by Anne Lamott for a good just-go-write-something-already kind of kick. (I’ve profiled that awesome work below–check it out!)

Thanks to Deana and all her volunteers for a great opportunity, and good luck to all!