Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time Wasters or Brain Fuel?

Christy here. I've found I can't just wake up and write. I have to have something to get me going.

The first thing I have to have is coffee. It's definitely brain fuel for me, although lacking in nutritional value.

Then, I go to email. That usually prompts me to visit Facebook. I can't ignore what photos were tagged of me and reply when someone has commented on my status.

On a good day, these two evils are brain fuel. Then, there are days when nothing is going as planned and I find myself on email or Facebook way too long. Next thing I know, three hours has passed and I haven't even opened a Word document.

How badly do I want to work at being published if I'm willing to spend so much time on the computer, on an application that is not furthering my education or adding paragraphs to my page?

I believe we must have a balance. Email, blogs, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, all of these can be evils, but they are necessary to promote when the book finally comes out. So for those of us who are unpublished, we really need to protect our writing time and not spend as much time on these media hogs. Here are some things I'm utilizing to help me find balance for writing and entertainment:

1) Set a timer -
whether it's an egg timer or a reminder attached to your email program - use this timer to set aside fifteen minutes to an hour to blog, tweet, or facebook. When the timer goes off, get to work.

2) Treat writing like your job.
If you are supposed to clock in at work at 8am, you won't be late. If you're late, your pay could be deducted. You could get the evil eye from your boss. Since most of us want to put our best foot forward on the job, why not do that for our writing? If you've already checked email, visited your favorite blogs, etc, then give yourself an assigned time to start writing. If that time is 8am, then be at the computer, rear end in chair, at 8am on the dot. Don't be late!

3) Reread what you've already written.
This always helps me get back into the groove of the scene. Sometimes, if someone has critiqued my work, making updates based on the critique will give me the motivation I need to press forward.

4) Stuck?
If I am stuck in a scene, I've found getting up and getting active helps. If it's a pretty day, take a walk. Sometimes, you need that fresh air to rework a scene in your mind and being outside can give your brain the stimuli it needs to produce more.

Many times, I let the clutter in my house irritate me when I'm trying to write. Sometimes, I'll take one room and start to straighten it. If I'm really having a bad writing day, mopping the floor will help. Clean bathrooms. Nothing gets me back on my writing like cleaning. After all, I'd rather be writing.

Call a friend. A writing friend is good to brainstorm and help you get over the hump of writers block. However, if I have neglected returning calls, taking this time to do that helps me get back on track for my writing. I'm less stressed because I've returned a call and I can get back on writing.

5) Join a writers group.
This is my last tip, but the most important.
I've never been a part of a critique group online, but having been a part of email loops with other writer friends, I can see how this can motivate you to write.
I prefer meeting with other writers in person. Nothing can motivate me to write more than meeting with writers, telling them what I write and hearing what they are writing. You find other people have the same struggles you do. You hear people with praises and you hear from those that have had rejections. Regardless of the news, it seems being in this atmosphere is electrifying. I've never found conversing with other writers a waste. Instead, it is fuel! For your mind and spirit.

What about you? What are some examples of brain fuel and time wasters in your life?


  1. Ouch, you zinged me Christy. And, I can totally relate to what you're saying.

    Part of my problem is what to do when those time hog activities are necessary activities that must be completed on a schedule, such as work and/or business obligations. That's when I resent not being able to write the most.

  2. Yeah, I sure need my coffee to get going. I also get caught up in emails, blogs, facebook, etc. when I should be writing. When I take my laptop with me where I have no internet access, I get a lot more writing done.

    I love the timer idea! I'll do that. I put the kids on a timer when they play Webkinz on the internet. I should do the same for myself.

    Great tips. Thanks. :)

  3. Hmm, don't know much about brain fuel, but I can think of TONS of time wasters :-)
    Two times when I can usually come up with some of my best ideas though are A) doing the dishes--Don't get that one at all-- and B) when I first go to bed at night and the house is quiet. Often times it's the first time I'm able to hear myself think all day.

  4. Dianna,
    Keep that notebook with you at all times. I find some of my best ideas come to me in the car and even at work! Be prepared to record that great line or great story turning point!

  5. Amanda,
    That's been key for me too... turning the internet off.

    I have tried going to the library to work with my laptop. I found I had a harder time getting acclimated to my environment and that delayed me in writing. That is really frustrating because I was there to write! Some people can write in a coffee shop, etc, but I've never tried it. I'm not sure I'd be successful based on my library experience, LOL!

  6. Thanks Jenn!

    Mindy, that is so funny about you getting your best ideas while washing dishes. I bet there's not a dirty dish in the house :)
    Talk about multi-tasking!

  7. During book-in-a-week (and now that I'm nearing the end of my manuscript), I have coffee, then make myself work on the book before signing on the internet. Of course, I didn't do it today! But I had to check on another blog I'll be on this week. (I know, making excuses!)

    So I'm going now... ;)