Or as I like to say, how I made the most of interrupted time.
Think back to June. Was this you?
“I have an incredible writing project planned for this summer. I’ll write a first draft. Complete revisions. Write, query, get the book published, and go on a worldwide book tour. All before school starts in September.”
Well, that did sound a bit like me (minus the book tour. Do you think I’m delusional?) I set a deadline of August 30th. to finish revisions on my WIP. The timing was perfect. It had been resting for weeks (per Stephen King), I was dreaming about the characters and plot holes, and I gave myself almost three months to complete them. What could go wrong?
Monday, the second week of June, CBS This Morning just finished. I skipped to my writing desk and opened my laptop. Aaahhh. #amwriting.
Son#2 stomped downstairs.
“Good morning,” I said.
“Smshidhgehisld,” he said. I translated it as good morning, and since I was in such a deliriously happy mood, I may have imagined he said I love you. Unfortunately, it was most likely “why is it so bright outside?”
But to be honest, I was too excited to get to work to make sense of it.
I sipped coffee, ignored Teen Titans Go on TV in the family room, and opened chapter one. I reworded the first paragraph.
Son#1 shuffled downstairs. He’s not a morning person.
“We have no milk!”
As a kid lit writer, no milk was something my main character would complain about, but duh, summer! I sipped more coffee, took a deep breath, and turned the computer off. There were more important issues to tackle. Really, the thought of cereal without milk, or having to eat waffles for breakfast, was inconceivable. Right?
Between taking care of every day needs, vacations, hanging out with the kids until they remembered I was an adult and therefore boring, and the unexpected houseguests (which came in the form of a copperhead snake that sent my son to the hospital), I realized revisions would not be possible. But that didn’t stop me from trying, getting frustrated, and trying again.
Then sometime toward the end of June, a light bulb went off. I actually saw stars and it was not from being hit in the head sparring. I realized there was writing time during the summer. It was just in five or ten minute intervals.
Instead of saying what the hecks, packing up my writing materials, and being completely unproductive this summer, I learned how to make the most of those cherished minutes I found during the day.
Here are a few activities I did during those times:
- Writing exercises. Fifteen minutes, or five. There was no rule. I found writing for even a few minutes energized my creativity and brought out the joy in writing.
- Catching up on writing articles. I read and took notes on the dozens of saved newsletters, links to blog posts (like the amazing ones from The Winged Pen), and Facebook posts about writing.
- Making notes for future stories. Just because I was deeply involved in one story didn’t mean ideas for future ones dried up. I wrote them down as fast as they came and expanded on a few when I had extra time.
- Research. I scanned the Internet, books, and watched TV. I talked to people about subjects, places, and names. All of which will help me dive deeper into my WIP as well as future stories. How else would I have learned about phillumenists. I had no clue there was a name for a person who collected matchbooks. What a unique character quirk.
- Read. Of course that goes without saying.
So this summer, instead of being unproductive, which to me meant cranky, I did a little bit of everything. And all those tips will make the revision of my WIP even better.
I would love to hear what you did this summer and how you found ways to be productive. Please leave them in the comments below.
A third degree black belt in taekwondo, HALLI GOMEZ teaches martial arts and writes for children and young adults because those voices flow through her brain. She enjoys family, outdoors, reading, and is addicted to superhero movies. You can find her on Twitter.