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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I don’t have the time!!

I recently appeared as a guest blogger on a fellow writer’s site and mentioned the trouble most writers have of juggling their busy lives in order to actually get a few thousand words down on the page each week.

A few commented how impressed they were by my juggling – and others shared their stories of what does and does not work for them. The more heated the debate became, the more I couldn’t help thinking this is a great topic for further discussion. And if nothing else, hopefully it will inspire others writers out there to keep chipping away at that ninety thousand word novel they’re working on until it’s done!

Okay, so I’ll go first and then you guys can share your stories until we work out an infallible way to achieve at least the perfect target of five hundred words a day. Why is five hundred words a day the perfect number, I hear you ask….

Because it’s a very achievable figure and it will mean you have written a minimum of one hundred and eight-two thousand words this time next year! Yes, one hundred and eighty-two thousands words which is more than three category length novels or two single title novels. How fabulous is that?!

I love breaking my writing down like this, it gives me the motivation to write something, anything. every single day – and another vital piece of advice?


When I read this somewhere (I can’t remember which writer said it first – but I’ve heard so many said by so many since!) – my whole perception of my writing changed. I write and write and write my first draft without stopping and the words flow – I guarantee they will for you too! Even if you know in the back of your mind the scene you are writing isn’t quite working, the characters aren’t sounding true to themselves or you hate the scene’s purpose…let it go. You can fix it on the second, third or fourth draft. The aim here is to get to The End.

So how do I work my minimum five hundred words into each day?

- Get up, get kids to school – walk dog, while walking kids
- Write a minimum of two hundred and fifty words before going to the day job at 9.45 am
- 3 pm – Pick kids up from school (while walking the dog a second time), housework/homework
- 4.30 pm – minimum of one hundred words while making dinner
- Dinner, bath, kids slump in front of TV
- 7pm – write remaining one hundred and fifty words

See? Done!

The weekends are the same - building in the words around everything else – one and two hundred words stints are surprisingly easy to achieve once you try. I promise! I’d love to hear your stories….

Rachel’s latest release is a novella-length tale, and part of the Wild Rose Press Class of ’85 series.

Here’s the blurb and a short excerpt….

In a desperate bid to escape the bitter reality of her children accepting her ex-husband’s new – and younger – fiancée, Lisa Cavendish travels from the UK to accompany her friend to a high school reunion. Forced to dress as Madonna in her hey day, the last thing she expects is to fall in love with the school’s coach, who seems to hold as much regard for his child as her ex did when he walked out…

Aaron Taylor can’t believe his eyes or ears when he is introduced to Lisa – sexy and funny, she has no idea how her accent enhances the heartbreaking wait he endures waiting for his daughter to call him back to the UK. But after spending just three short weeks with Lisa, he sees the answer to his pain in the eyes of the most phenomenal British lady he has ever met…

“Hi there, Madonna. What can I get you?”

Lisa turned, tipped her head back. And took a breath. Holy mother of...

His eyes were the color of the fields at the back of her house in high summer--emerald, dotted with hints of lime. Once her heart kicked back into place, she smiled. “A white wine would be great.”

“Coming right up. And your friend?”

Lisa stared at him. “My . . . ?”

Courtney nudged her in the ribs. “Friend. Me. Remember?”

Lisa snapped her head round to find Courtney staring back at her with eyes alive with mischief. “Did something or someone distract you from remembering I am here?” Smiling, she turned back to the hunk of burning love behind the bar. “I’ll have a glass of white wine too, please.

His smile revealed perfect teeth except for the slight turn of one that Lisa had the sudden urge to lick. She pulled her shoulders back so fast they clicked in indignation. What the hell was she thinking? Since when did she want to lick men’s teeth? Clearing her throat, she focused on what Courtney was saying.

“So, you’re still here. What’s that all about? Scared to leave Summerville High and go out into the big bad world?”

The bartender's smile stretched to a grin as he topped off their glasses before holding them out. “I teach here now. Physical Education. But before that, I spent five years in the UK. Biddestone to be exact.”

When Courtney turned, drinks in hand, the mischief in her eyes darkened to almost manic proportions as she wiggled her eyebrows while shoving a glass into Lisa’s newly clammy palm. “Well, now. The man lived right around the corner from you.”

Smile frozen in place, she glared at Courtney, certain she likely looked like Madonna high on LSD rather than the sex-bomb she’d being aiming for when she’d left the house. She took a sip of her wine and met his eyes once more. Phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal.

Buy Link:


Mona Risk said...

Rachel, my system is almost the same as yours. Except I don't have small kids to take to school or a day job. I left that to my past life, but I have a lot of other commitments. So I challenge myself to five-hundred words per day. But I make sure I revise and edit the previous day's writing before I start a new scene, and I regularly send my chapters to my CPs. By the time, I type The End the book is really finished and polished.
Nice excerpt.

Jannine Gallant said...

I'm with Mona. I start my writing day by editing what I wrote the day before. It gets me into the grove and sets a quick pace. I shoot for 1000 words per day 6 days a week. I also have kids to cart around to various daily activities, but currently no day job. That may change soon along with my word count! I find that I can get 1000 words written in about 3 hours if I don't have any interruptions. The edit as you go method also means final edits only take a few days to complete.

Great post, Rachel, an inspiration to us all!

lizarnoldbooks said...

Genius. Never calculated it like that before. I'm starting "write" now. Great post as always, Rachel. Happy, productive writing!
Liz Arnold
Stories you will love.
The Wild Rose Press

Becca Dale said...

This is great advice. I try to shoot for a paragraph or two daily and a min of a 1000 three times a week. It is hard to get a thousand in so I basically set myself up for failure once or twice a week. It would be much easier to get in 500 a day. So do you count editing/revising days as your writing for the day then? If not, how do you squeeze that in?

PatriciaW said...

I find that if I don't edit the day before's output--after all that can take up precious writing minutes--I can get more done. I don't necessarily shoot for 500 words a day, but rather simply the discipline of writing every day.

I've celebrated 12 words as much as 2k+. It all depends on how much time I'm able to squeeze out around a schedule that requires me to leave home at 7:30 AM to drop kids off, head straight to work, and then not return home usually until about 6:30 PM, after which I then help out with dinner, any remaining homework and put the youngest two to bed, complete with bedtime stories and prayers. I don't come up for air until 9 if I'm lucky, often closer to 10. And I haven't sat down and taken even a few minutes to simply breathe yet.

So for me, if I put in even 10 minutes of writing on a given day, I'm happy. On weekends, when you think I'd be able to do more, sometimes I can and sometimes I can't. But whatever I do, I'm happy with. With some effort, I knocked out nearly 20k in October, writing only 5 days a week. If I do even half that every month, I'll have 120k words in a year.

Wow, hadn't gotten to the point of drawing that final conclusion. Thanks, Rachel.


Tanya Hanson said...

Great hints, Rachel. I need better time management, that's for personal blogs take such a beating. But I have five deadlines through June. Already today I've spent so much time on two guest blogs and going through e-mail that I haven't written a word. Grrrrrrrr. Thanks for the helpful reminders.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Rachel, I admire anyone who can work a day job, care for their kids, and find time to write. Merline Lovelace once said that if you write five pages a day, you write five category books a year. She should know! Some days I achieve that or pass it; some days I write zero. I wish I were better at time management.

P.L. Parker said...

I work full time, 8:30 to 5:00 every day. Fortunately, I have a wonderful husband who fixes dinner every night. My sons are adult enough to take care of themselves if we aren't around in the evening. I write on my breaks at work and during my lunch hour. About the best I can handle. I try to do my promo in the morning between 7:00 and 7:30 and then spend about 45 minutes in the evening as well. Sometimes it is so hard to keep the schedule, but such is life and I love the writing.

Mariposa Cruz said...

I also work full time and have kids, so weekend mornings are my dedicated writing time. Balancing current projects with promo has been a learning experience for me. I like the idea of small daily writing goals. Great post!

Rachel Brimble said...

Hellooo ladies!!

So sorry for checking in late - my first excuse?? Forgot I was supposed to be here...(Guilt!!) until 10.45 last night and then thought it was a bit late to boot up the laptop, LOL! Never mind, here I am now when I suspect you guys are sleeping...

So great to hear all your time management stories! Aren't we all so dedicated to our craft? I cannot believe how much we all juggle but still get those words down. A lot of people who don't write ask me how I can juggle so much, but what they don't understand that for a lot of us it is a compulsion and there's no choice about it!

It's funny, I used to edit what I wrote before but this last book (which I finished on Monday, yay!) I just wrote and wrote until the end. And then went back to the start, it worked really well. I hope. We'll let the editors/agents decide first! LOL!

Lovely to talk to you all xx

Jana Richards said...

Hi Rachel,
I'm of the "Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft" school of thought. I might spend a little time rereading and tweaking what I wrote the previous day, but I find if spend too much time revising over and over, I never get to the end! Every writer has a method that works best for them.

I wish I were as disciplined as you. You've really got that schedule down!