Writers, have you discovered the Pomodoro technique? #amwriting #timemanagement

Are you a full time writer?

I’m not, so like a lot of others, I have to fit my writing time around my full time business. And my business is VERY full time – I train and judge competition dressage horses at National and International level. It’s a fabulous job, but very time consuming, not to mention sometimes exhausting.

This is me in my day job

When people glibly tell me that there is always time to be found in the work day, I know they have NO idea what my life is like. I can often be on the road by 7am, and not home until 10pm, having been either driving or working the entire time. Please tell me where I am supposed to find time to write in that schedule?

I’m not complaining, no sir, I’m just making a point. Not everybody’s life lends itself to a regular writing routine. Mine certainly doesn’t.

So what is my point?

Well, I recently followed a short writing course, largely because it had a great module on plotting (guess who is trying to learn more about plotting vs pantsing?). But what it also had, was a section on time management.

My first thought was, ‘here we go again, I’ve heard it all before’.

But I hadn’t! This course introduced me to the POMODORO TECHNIQUE.

If you haven’t come across it yet, it is a time management approach developed in the late 1980s, and named after the Pomodoro kitchen timer.

 The reason I found this so useful?

Because I have always felt that there was no point starting to write unless I had at least a clear hour available. Anything less than that seemed to me to be unproductive, and I hate to get started only to find I have to give up.

The nub of the Pomodoro technique, though, is that you work for exactly 25 minutes. Not more, and not less.

If you have that magic hour free, then you can fit two sessions in, with a small gap in the middle for coffee making or similar.

I guess, now I think about it, that this is at least partially based on the knowledge that we (humans) can only concentrate fully for 20 minutes at a time, so the 25 minutes stretches that just a touch, followed by the short break, and then back for another 20 (or 25) minutes work.

What it has meant for me, personally, is that my next book is coming along much quicker than previous ones, because I can often find 25 minutes spare, where I might have to wait days to find one of those precious hour gaps.

It has enabled me to give myself permission to write for just 25 minutes, and without guilt that I didn’t get that full hour of work in.

Crazy, huh? But it’s working for me.

I’ve finally realised that my one hour rule is yet another of those dreaded procrastinations we writers are often so prone to.

How about all of you, how do you manage your time?

Even if you are a full time writer, with all the guff that goes with it these days, how do you arrange your productive writing sessions?

Does anyone else have a favoured minimum writing time?

Deborah Jay

Mystery, magic and mayhem

Join me at:

http://deborahjayauthor.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DeborahJay

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7172608.Deborah_Jay

Amazon author page: http://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay

 

 

 

 

From Pantser to Plotter, or Maybe Plantser? #FabulousFridayGuestBlogger

Marcia asked me to share this post with you all. It’s one I wrote recently for the Alliance of Independent Authors, on the need to occasionally revisit the pantser/plotter question as we progress through our writing careers.

From Pantser to Plotter, or Maybe Plantser?

by Kassandra Lamb

For eight years, I’ve been a die-hard pantser. No outline, no character sketches… just sit down and write.

But now I’m going over to the other side, or rather straddling the cusp.

I’ll always be grateful for my pantser roots. I didn’t successfully finish a manuscript until I realized I was a pantser. For years, I’d write the beginning of a story, outline the rest and then the whole thing would languish in my hard drive. I’d lost interest. The story had already been told.

In 2009, I sat down to once again tweak the opening of a novel I’d been playing with for fifteen years. (Yup, fifteen years!) But I couldn’t find the outline. Somehow I’d lost the file. So I started writing, and six weeks later the first draft was finished.

cover of Multiple Motives

My first finished novel, 15+ years in the making. Now it’s the permafree first book in a 9-book series.

Now it’s 2017. That book, Multiple Motives, is the first in a nine-book mystery series, and I’ve recently released Book 3 in a new series. But in recent years, it’s been like pulling teeth to get through a first draft.

While writing this last story (The Call of the Woof; Woof for short), I finally identified the problem. My motives for writing have changed.

Initially, the ideas arrived, the words flowed, and I wrote for the sheer pleasure of seeing what happened next.

Then the first-drafting process became more challenging. My editor said it was because I was a better writer. My stories were more complex, my characters had more depth, etc. She’s probably right, but something else was happening as well.

More and more, I was writing to a schedule, especially after I started the second series. If too much time passes without a new release, sales droop. The pressure is on to pump out more stories to keep readers interested.

Don’t get me wrong, this is good motivation. How can you not want to produce stories for your adoring fans?

But it wasn’t the same. I still loved the writing process—when the words were flowing. But all too often they weren’t. Before, the scenes would unfold in my mind as I went along. Now, I’d get to the end of a scene and think “What’s next?” And no answer would come. Often that would be the end of new words for that day.

With Woof, as I got closer to the end and had a clearer idea of what scenes still needed to happen, the writing pace picked up. Instead of forcing out a few hundred words a day, I was breezing through several thousand.

The story was flowing and I was having fun again!

Then I thought about the next project coming up, and felt nothing but dread as I faced the void between the opening and the climax. So I experimented with outlining. While Woof was “resting” before the editing process, I did a bare-bones outline for that next story.

And I’m excited about writing it! Indeed, I found myself stealing an hour here and there to pluck away at it, when I was supposed to be editing Woof (and I love editing).

With the plot points already thought out that will get me through the murky middle, all I have to do is enjoy the flow of the words.

I doubt I’ll ever be a full-blown plotter with character sketches and beat sheets (not even sure what those are) and such. But if I have a better idea of where I’m going, I think I will get there a lot easier and faster in the future.

And have more fun doing it!

k - IMG_0004 lighter-on1

Kassandra Lamb is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer who spends most of her time in an alternate universe with her characters. The portal to this universe, aka her computer, is located in North Central Florida, where her husband and dog catch occasional glimpses of her.

She is the author of the Kate Huntington psychological mysteries, set in her native Maryland, a new series, the Marcia Banks and Buddy cozy mysteries, set in Central Florida, and a guide for novice authors, Someday Is Here! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing and Publishing Your First Book.

cover of book

This easy-to-read, how-to guide is full of both practical advice and emotional support. Psychotherapist turned successful mystery writer, Kassandra Lamb takes novice writers by the hand and walks with them on their journey, pointing out pitfalls along the way, some of which she discovered through stumbled-head-first-into-them experience.

From the decisions to be made before setting pen to paper to whether to submit to agents or self-publish, from the basics of writing craft to the nuts and bolts of copyrighting and ISBNs, from promotion strategies to the perseverance needed to make your writing business a success, this overview of the writing and publishing process is a must-read for new authors who aren’t sure what they’re getting themselves into.

 

Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 2

Sound the Bugles!
The Cavalry Arrives!

Nearly a week after Hurricane Irma raged across the Atlantic, giving us a love tap on her way by, I finally found a tree service able to help us. The crane arrived first, then the bobcat and a crew of 15 men in two other trucks.

They closed off the road, and got to work, much to the entertainment of the neighborhood. (Folks set up folding chairs across the street to watch the production, though sadly, I have no pictures of the audience.) You can get an idea of the size and scope of this job from this shot. (That’s my husband, Mark, on the left side of the roof, keeping a sharp eye on the proceedings.)

You can see in this next  picture that there is a huge portion of the tree resting on the ground in front of the garage window. That’s what kept the garage walls from being crushed completely flat, as it supported a much of the weight of this huge laurel oak.

The process begins! Men swarmed our roof and yard,  sawing huge sections of tree trunk and smaller, but still giant, limbs away from the main trunk. Continue reading

#TheEmissary is Live on Amazon! #wwwblogs

I’m very excited to announce my newest book, The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella, is now available for download on Amazon! Don’t ask me how, but I managed to get all the last bits and pieces put together, and spent most of yesterday trying to coax my formatting skills into life again, just so I could have that blissful moment of glee as I watched it go live on Amazon. For a while, all thoughts of smashed garages, and crushed cars, and hurricane clean up went away. It was joyous!

BLURB

An angel’s work is never done–that’s part of the gig. But angels hadn’t been created to deal with such a vastly over-populated planet, rife with misery, suffering, and general chaos. Helping souls in peril has become a nearly impossible job, and even angelic tempers are frayed.

The archangel Azrael has had enough. He believes he’s found a way to ease their burden while saving jeopardized humans, too–hired help.

When Jake Daughtry lost his life rescuing a total stranger from certain death, he was on the fast track to Heaven. But that was before Azrael pulled him right out of line at the Pearly Gates. Now, as an Emissary to the Angels, Jake is taking to the highway in a quest to help souls in trouble. But the innate stubbornness of human beings bent on self-destruction is a challenge unlike any he’s ever faced.

It’s up to Jake and Azrael to bridge the gap between humans and angels. Will they ever convince the Council of Angels this endeavor is worthwhile? Can Jake ever figure out how to play by Azrael’s complicated rules? Will Azrael ever master the use of contractions in general conversation?

To find out the answers, hop on board Jake’s big, red-and-white semi, and travel the roads from the Florida Keys to north Georgia on an adventure that will make you laugh hard and cry harder.

The Emissary: A Riverbend Spinoff Novella

 

 

“Vicious Circle” in Quantum Wanderlust

Staci Troilo is part of a new time travel anthology. You can download “Quantum Wanderlust” for free, too! Check out Staci’s post for more information and a great excerpt.

Staci Troilo

Quantum WanderlustThe time travel anthology I’m part of released last week. It’s currently doing rather well, but things could always be better. It’s totally free, so a download costs you nothing but a few seconds of your time.

If you want to write a review, though, that would be really helpful. And really, it won’t take too much longer than the actual download does.

Let me tell you a little about my story, “Vicious Circle”.

Picture, if you will, a man who is holding onto his sanity by one frayed, tenuous thread. He’s struggling with everything—physically, personally, professionally. He’s got one last chance to turn things around. It’s a long shot, but he has to take it. If only he knew what was going to happen. It would make things so much easier to plan and react.

Quantum WanderlustCan you imagine his surprise when he’s transported into the future and gets a glimpse…

View original post 516 more words

#NewRelease #DonkeyBoy&OtherStories by #MarySmith

Many thanks to Marcia for letting me take over her blog to tell her 3,600 dear friends about the release of my short story collection, Donkey Boy and Other Stories.

The ebook is already up on Amazon at the amazing, introductory price of 99p (which I think translates into $1.34 – still cheaper than a cup of coffee. The paperback will be out in a few weeks.

The cover, which I love, was designed by Melissa Priddy of Creative Station.

donkey boy book-cover-k v1

It’s a slim collection of stories which will entertain, amuse, and make you think – and there are little touches of humour. The reader will meet diverse range of characters in a number of different locations. A donkey boy in Pakistan dreams of buying luxuries for his mother; a mouth artist in rural Scotland longs to leave the circus; a visually impaired man has a problem with his socks; and a woman tries to come to terms with what may be a frightening gift – or a curse.

Here’s a sample story as an appetiser:

Such Soft Hands

Everyone admires her husband’s hands. They’re delicate with long, tapering fingers, the nails beautifully shaped. They might have been considered effeminate on another man but they’re all of a piece with Jonathan’s overall elegance.

Moira’s own hands are broad with stumpy fingers, the nails cut short. The backs of them are brown from hours spent in the garden. A few liver spots have appeared. She folds her arms, tucking her ugly hands under her armpits and turns her attention back to her husband on the television screen.

The camera focus shifts to his face, away from his soft hands, gently cradling a porcelain bowl. No-one had expected a programme on the history of porcelain to be such a hit but the camera loves him. Viewers – mainly women – adore his sexy voice and shiver at the sight of his beautiful hands caressing rare and delicate objects; they write in to tell him so. Continue reading

#CoverReveal #TheEmissary

I really shouldn’t be doing this yet, but since I only have a few minutes to post today, I thought I’d use it to share a sneak peek at the cover of my latest book. Shhhhhhh. This is very hush-hush. Just between you, me, and 3600 of my dearest friends! 😀 (Okay, blab all you want. I’m pretty proud of this cover and very excited about this Riverbend spinoff novella. Feel free to spread the word as far and wide as you can, and you will be the first to know when the book is published. Hopefully, within the week.)

But for now . . . TADA! The Emissary is on the road! Jake and Azrael are looking for troubled souls from Key West to Atlanta, Georgia! (And believe me, they find them, too!)

Now how gorgeous is that? *happy sigh*
(You may now resume your regularly scheduled programming.)
😀

Anatomy of a Small(ish) Catastrophe – #HurricaneIrma Part 1

10:00PM, Sunday, September 10, 2017

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night . . .”

. . . when Hurricane Irma decided to pay a call. The knock (on the roof) occurred at about ten o’clock, well before the witching hour, but not before the witch–that being Irma–decided it was the perfect time to say hello.

When we answered the door, we found a tower of greenery on our front steps and got a face full of driving rain, as well. Mark figured he’d go out through the garage, instead. Upon opening the door between the laundry room and the double garage, however, he was brought up short by a pretty grim sight. Eeek! (That bright light is from a fluorescent ceiling fixture laying on the car, because astonishingly, we never once lost power!)

It seems that scamp, Irma, had chosen to drop a tree on our house, ripping a hole through the garage roof, rafters, and attic floor, and dropping a large percentage of all three on top of our 2017 Honda–with a few goodly sized bits and pieces landing on Mark’s vintage 1967 VW van, Victor Willie. Lucky us. Over the course of a week, btw, the damage worsened as the tree settled and boxes of stored items fell out of the attic and onto the cars. Plus, rain continued to pour into the garage off and on for days. Continue reading

Good Morning, and a Quick Apology

The Little Statue That Could
The tree trunk landed on top of this, and she is wedged
in good and tight.  Her hat is dented on one side, where the
oak is bearing down on her, but
she hasn’t succumbed to
the pressure yet. I’d really like
to save her, since she seems
to be trying so hard to
save US.
~~~

Things sure look brighter after a good night’s sleep. Well, except for where an entire tree is blocking the light from my windows and front door, of course. But that’s all been turned over to the insurance company, and I’m expecting them to send out an engineer to take charge (and get a general contractor on this) soon. We will need a tree removal service, mason/block layers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, and roofers. Ack! This will be a slow process, but at least it’s underway. Sort of. And of course, once they have tarps in place and the tree removed, there are sure to be homes more severely damaged that will be a higher priority for a little while. But it’s moving forward, and I can breathe again.

I do want to apologize if I miss responding to any of your lovely, supportive, and encouraging posts, either on the blog or on Facebook. I have received hundreds of emails, too, and while I’m trying to answer everyone, everywhere, I fear some might be missed in the process. Just know how very much I appreciate all your love and support. There’s something strengthening in knowing others care, and I am blessed to have you all for online friends. Continue reading

Video of HONKIN’ BIG STOOPIT TREE on my HOUSE!!!!

IF anyone is interested in seeing what a tree can do to your garage, you can check out a short video on my FB page here: Video. The orange looking things on top of the roof, right under the tree, are rafters. Half of the garage rafters are reaching for the sky, the other half are sticking into vehicles. The entire attic floor has collapsed on top of our cars, and workbenches, etc. And the door will never open again. It looks like at least the top layer of concrete block will need to be replaced, if not ALL of the garage walls. And the whole house will need a new roof.

And Mark wondered why I was so scared of this particular storm. I had a BAD feeling about Irma from the get-go, hence my obsessive storm-watching for a week. Who says women’s intuition is a myth? LONG days ahead, cleaning, getting contractors out here, wrangling insurance agents, etc. But I’ll do my best to keep things interesting on The Write Stuff, in spite of it all. I’d miss you guys too much, if not.

And hey. I’m still standing, after all these (73) years, and Hurricane Irma, too!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

NOTE: If the link doesn’t work, its’ something with WordPress. Just search Marcia Meara on FB, and choose the one that DOESN’T say “writer” for my personal blog.