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Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW

Internal Conflict: Digging Deeper #WW Jillkemerer.com/blog

One thing I love about internal conflict is that a character recognizes she is emotionally protecting herself from something and thinks she knows why, but as the story progresses, she realizes the reason goes deeper. Until she’s willing to be vulnerable and admit the emotional walls she’s erected are stifling her, she won’t be able to emotionally grow.

Does it matter if she grows?

YES! When I’m reading a book, I fall in love with characters. I WANT to see them succeed. I want them to become their best selves and live full lives. If a character ultimately stays the same and shows no growth, I’ll be disappointed.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the character starts off with massive flaws that turn everyone off. No one will stick around long enough to read about her growth!

Internal conflict starts with a deep emotional need. This need has been complicated by previous experiences. The character has convinced herself the need will not be met because of the past complications. Throughout the story, this belief is challenged until she chooses to be vulnerable enough to have the ultimate need met.

Here are some questions to dig deeper with internal conflict:

  1. What happened in the character’s past that caused him to erect emotional walls?
  2. What reason does he give himself to emotionally protect himself?
  3. What deeper fear underlies this explanation?
  4. How can the plot further challenge and develop his conflict?
  5. How do other characters force him to question if he needs to continue to protect himself?
  6. What will be the catalyst for him to acknowledge the deep fear keeping him from living his best life?
  7. What decision will the character make to tear down the emotional wall for good?

Let’s take an example. We’ll look at Lauren’s internal conflict in my book, Hometown Hero’s Redemption.

  1. A former social worker, Lauren feels she failed to protect the two boys she’d been assigned.
  2. She can’t forgive herself and doesn’t want to work with troubled kids ever again, lest she repeat her failure.
  3. As a former foster child, she was shuffled to different homes and as a result, grew a false belief that she had to be perfect to be loved.
  4. She is asked, refuses, and is finally convinced to babysit a kid who has been emotionally devastated. Being around Wyatt challenges her beliefs–at times she feels like she’s failing him, other times she knows she’s helping–and it confuses her.
  5. Drew, Wyatt’s guardian, thinks she’s amazing. And as they grow closer, she opens up to him about her regrets. He helps her see herself in a more accurate light, and as she spends time with him, she starts to realize her emotional walls aren’t just because she failed the boys. She unpacks her childhood and sees how she’s equated being perfect with being worthy of love.
  6. Wyatt vanishes. In Lauren’s mind this proves she was right–she should never have worked with a troubled child. And it reinforces her fears that this is the proof that will drive Drew away. He’ll see she’s not perfect. She failed him and Wyatt and is not worthy of their love. She pushes Drew out of her life.
  7. Lauren comes to terms with the fact she’s not perfect, never will be, and doesn’t have to earn anyone’s love.

Internal conflict is rooted in fear. The character doesn’t want to face this fear and often tells herself a half-truth to explain it. But as the plot progresses and her beliefs are directly challenged, she is forced to acknowledge the real fear holding her back. And ultimately, she chooses to be vulnerable, allowing this deep emotional need to be met.

How do you deepen internal conflict? I’d love to hear YOUR best tips!

Have a terrific day!

Teasing the Reader to Continue Your Book #ww

Teasing The Reader To Continue Your Book Jill Kemerer

Last Thursday was a bad writing day. After lunch, I threw my hands in the air and suppressed a scream. I knew where the story needed to go, but I wasn’t sure how to get there. I had several scenes to write before my next “sure” scene. Everything inside me wanted to open a browser and get lost in Pinterest or Facebook or my Twitter feed, but that’s a no-no during my writing time.

I sat there. My eyes glazed over looking at the blinking cursor.

I will NOT have a soggy middle. I’m not going to write something boring just to meet my word count goal.

Soggy middles…I shuddered.

What could I do to tease the reader to continue reading?

Well…

What story questions remained unanswered?

I swiped a piece of scrap paper and jotted down all the story threads I hadn’t wrapped up at that point in the manuscript. There were a LOT of loose ends, but I couldn’t tie them up yet or the end of the book would be ruined.

So I popped a butterscotch candy in my mouth and thought for a while.

Real life is messy. We don’t always get neat answers tied up in a bow. Instead we make impressions based on information we gather. Why shouldn’t it be the same for my characters?

I quickly brainstormed ways to provide the characters with answers that weren’t necessarily true. Two scenes jumped in my head to introduce misinformation to one character while conflicting information was presented to the other one.

Not only were the scenes fun to write, they make the book more fun for readers. They know two different answers exist for the same story question, and they can come to their own conclusion. This teases them to keep reading…to find out if they were right.

If you’re slogging through the middle of a story and not sure how to get from one major plot point to another, think about the story questions you’ve introduced.

  • Can you make the characters think they have a problem figured out while giving the reader clues the characters are wrong?
  • If you answer one story question, can you introduce another immediately?
  • If you’re not ready to answer a story question, can you lead the characters to believe they’re close to having the problem solved even if they aren’t?

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How do you tease readers to continue your book? And how do you combat the dreaded soggy middle? I’d love to hear your strategies!

Happy Valentines Day!!

 

 

Using Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to Meet Writing Goals

Meet Your Writing Goals Using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

Last weekend I was blessed to speak at Maumee Valley Romance Writers, Inc. Every January we have our annual goals discussion. The first half of my talk was about basic goal-setting: taking time to think about professional, health, emotional and personal goals for the year and deciding how and when to achieve them.

During the second half I shared how we can use Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies to meet our writing goals.

We had a frank discussion, and I was thrilled to learn we had writers ranging in all four tendencies. I was surprised to learn some of the solutions I thought would work for one type clearly wouldn’t. And I loved hearing these writers share what would work for them.

 

Meet Your Writing Goals using Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies

 

If you’re not familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s new book The Four Tendencies, you can read about it HERE. Basically, Ms. Rubin studies human nature (she’s the author of several New York Times best-selling books, including The Happiness Project), and she divides people into four groups according to how they respond to expectations.

  • Upholders meet inner and outer expectations readily.
  • Questioners meet inner expectations easier than they do outer ones.
  • Obligers meet outer expectations more readily than inner ones.
  • Rebels struggle against both inner and outer expectations.

In other words, Upholders tend to get things done that are important to them personally as well as what others expect them to do.

Questioners tend to get things done that make sense to them. If someone expects them to do something they don’t agree with or see the value in, it won’t get done.

Obligers tend to get things done when someone is depending on them. They find it difficult to meet personal goals.

Rebels want to do things in their way and in their time. Standard advice for meeting goals does not work for this tendency!

 

*If you’re not sure what tendency you fit in, take the QUIZ (linked). It’s short and sweet.*

 

Here’s what I loved about having this discussion with fellow writers.

Upholders are planner geeks, and we (yes, I’m an Upholder!) love time management tools. We can be rigid and too-rule-follow-y, but we get things done and that’s good. Setting daily/weekly/monthly writing goals works for Upholders.

Questioners who struggle to meet their writing goals need to keep asking questions about the goal until an answer clicks in that makes sense to them. For example: I’m going to write for one hour every weekday morning before work. You might then ask, why the morning? and you’d remember your nighttime routine is exhausting. But what if I wrote right after dinner? But you already decided to walk on the treadmill at that time. Face it, my creative energy is gone by 8pm.

At that point, you see the value in dedicating an hour in the morning. But you might have to keep questioning why writing every weekday is important until you get to your gold.

Obligers don’t want to let people down. If you fall into this category, you might put off writing until a hard deadline looms. Sure, you know you need to write or you’ll struggle to finish the book, but you struggle to feel the urgency. In this case, an accountability partner or group can make a difference. If you decide to physically meet someone at the library or a coffee shop to write for two hours, you’re much more likely to actually write at that time then if you marked those hours on your calendar to write at home.

As far as the Rebels out there, I urge you to throw out all the “expert” advice about planning and goal setting and do your own thing. Experiment. Get creative. And keep trying new methods of getting and keeping your butt in the chair until you find what works!

I’d love to hear how you find success in meeting your writing goals! Please leave a comment!

Have a terrific day!

A Tech-Challenged Author in a 21st Century World {Guest Barbara M. Britton}

Jerusalem Rising

I’m so pleased to have author Barbara M. Britton as my guest today! Barbara writes Christian fiction, and her new book Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey releases December 1! More information is below. 🙂

How a Tech-Challenged Author Navigates a 21st Century Marketing World

I’ll be honest. Technology scares me. I grew up with carbon paper and copy machines. My typing skills are hunting and pecking on steroids. Woe to the registrar who put me in freshman biology instead of typing class. Who knew I would someday be an author in the world of social media. How do I get the word out about my books? I work within my comfort zone and rely on friends to help me with the rest.

Remember the world I grew up in? We had phones, but we didn’t have texting or instant messaging. I love to talk on the phone. I use that to my advantage. I call reference librarians in my area and tell them about my books. If the library is nearby, I show up—in person. A local author in the flesh. As a youngster, I went door-to-door selling Campfire Girl mints. If I could talk to strangers when I was ten, I can do it now.

With my limited graphic design skills, I create a simple information sheet about my book. This sheet includes my cover art, blurb, ISBN, distribution channels, publisher information, and a short bio about me.  This sheet is something I can e-mail to a librarian or book store. I also carry them into places of interest. My sheet isn’t the fanciest, but it relays the necessary information about my book.

When I need swag (bookmarks, postcards) or advertisements, I hire my friends to create the designs. Some even do the printing. Does this take money? Yes, it does. I tell aspiring authors who have limited tech skills like me, to save those tax refund checks, or scrimp away funds for the day you will need some help. I wish I had the ability to change advertisement dimensions or place graphics and text on small bookmarks, but I don’t. The money I spend for awesome-looking graphics, saves me a technology meltdown.

Remember those Campfire mints I sold? My mom would wrap boxes for Valentine’s Day and take me to the BART station. We would sell chocolate to forgetful husbands. Did this increase sales? You bet. Today, I show up where booksellers and readers are waiting to hear about books. I find out about local book festivals or library conferences and reach out to see if I can show up and teach a workshop or talk about the publishing industry. We can call this skin-on marketing. Building relationships with people who love books is setting a foundation for future interactions—and possibly future sales.

I still engage in social media marketing, but I do the ones that I enjoy, and the ones that I have time to manage. After all, writing my next book is a priority. Staring at a computer screen, no matter how full of pretty pictures it is, eats away at my writing time.

Use the strengths God has given you to promote your stories. May you enjoy your writing journey and make new friends as you launch your books into this high-tech world.

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Barbara M. Britton

 

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. Barb writes romantic adventures for teens and adults in the Christian fiction and Mainstream markets. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little known Bible characters to light in her stories. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate.

 

Jerusalem Rising

 

Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey

When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.

Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?

Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.

Purchase Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey  now! Click HERE

Check out the trailer for The Tribes of Israel series–wow!

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Do you consider yourself tech-challenged? What is your best marketing tip?

Have a terrific weekend!!

Reminder: I’ll Be Home for Christmas, the bestselling, four-novella collection of inspirational romance I contributed to, is only 99 cents! Click HERE to buy it!

2 Tricks for Pacing #WW

2 Tricks For Pacing #WW

You’re nearing the end of a writing session, and you’re in the zone. The words are hopping onto the page–it’s as if they’re writing themselves. Isn’t that the best feeling? Zone writing is fast and delicious. But it often lacks layers, and these layers affect the pace.

When I write fast, I’m typically writing action and dialogue, but scenes need more than words and actions. The reader needs the subtle clues in between to propel them to turn the page. Pacing that’s too fast will leave the reader unconnected to the characters. Pacing that’s too slow will make them stop reading the book.

Pacing isn’t easy to identify. If you want to check your manuscript for pacing, here are my top two tricks.

 

2 Tricks for Pacing #WW

 

1. Do the sight test. Skim a few chapters (or more) of your manuscript.

Are there long paragraphs with no dialogue for pages on end?

If the scene only features one character, make sure you’re breaking up her thoughts with movement. What is she doing in this scene? Show her doing it. And make sure the actions are furthering the story. Showing her brush her teeth will not rivet the reader.

If you’re writing any genre of romance, make sure the dialogue is interspersed with action beats, internal thoughts and sensory details to help the reader flesh out what is happening and feel connected to the characters.

If the scene seems dialogue heavy, how can you dot in sensory details, reactions and thoughts to make the story come alive for the reader? Just don’t overdo it, or the dialogue will fall flat.

Here is stripped down dialogue (which can be effective in small doses).

“I can’t believe you did that.”

“Why not?” Jane said. “You drove me to it.”

“Next you’ll be telling me I drove you to steal from me, too,” Sam said.

“You said it. Not me.”

Here is fleshed out dialogue (sorry it’s cheesy!).

“I can’t believe you did that.” Sam slammed the door of his truck and stood, legs wide, facing her. How could he have ever loved this psychopath?

“Why not?” Jane got up in his face. “You drove me to it.”

“Next you’ll be telling me I drove you to steal from me, too.” Snow flurries carried the scent of winter, reminding him he had better things to do than argue with the woman responsible for his frozen heart and empty bank account.

“You said it. Not me.”

Every scene has a rhythm, whether fast or slow. But scenes also need balance. Readers get bored with pages of a character thinking about a problem. And, unless they’re reading a genre such as suspense or thriller, they get whiplash with chapter after chapter of nonstop dialogue.

2. Are your scenes starting and ending with a hook?

  • When you begin and end a scene with a hook (something that entices the reader to keep reading), you automatically help the pace.
  • To check for hooks, copy and paste the first line and the last line of each scene into a new document. Read through them. If you were a reader would you keep reading based on these sentences? If not, rewrite them to give them more oomph.

I still review the opening and closing lines of each scene before submitting my work. I almost always change at least three lines. It keeps me from getting lazy.

I’ve  only touched on two aspects of pacing. If you’d like a more in-depth discussion, go to “7 Tools for Pacing A Novel & Keeping Your Story Moving at the Right Pace” by Courtney Carpenter at Writer’s Digest.

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Have you ever read a book you’d describe as slow? Chime in!

Yesterday I was the guest blogger on Seekerville. Check out “10 Ways to Balance Your Writing Life” (Linked) to learn how I’ve lost weight, increased my writing output and reclaimed time for things I enjoy!

Happy November!!

Writing Roundup: October 11

Writing Roundup October 11, 2017

 

Writing Roundup October 11, 2017

 

I’ve read several great blog posts about writing lately. I’m not always great about reading blogs, but when I do, I’m amazed at the timely content. I figured you’d be interested in them, too, so I’m sharing them here!

Amy Green, fiction publicist at Bethany House Publishers, was a guest on Seekerville Monday. She shares her “Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About.” While all ten are terrific, I was drawn to Writing in Community and Time Management. Both are dear to my heart. I’ve linked the full article below. And stop by Seekerville all of October for chances to win prizes. They’re celebrating ten years of blogging with a month-long party! (Happy birthday, Seekerville!)

“Top Ten Writing Industry Issues You Should Care About” by Amy Green via Seekerville

 

Novelist Peter Leavell discusses how to find an adoring audience in “Gather a Flock” at Seriously Write. It’s a clever, true post, and I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. The link is below!

“Gather a Flock” by Peter Leavell via Seriously Write

 

And, last but not least, author Jody Hedlund shows how reviews–good AND bad–are helpful in “Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive,” at Inspired by Life and Fiction. I especially like Jody’s points about how readers need reliable reviews and how feedback keeps authors from growing complacent.

“Why Getting Some Negative Reviews Can be Positive” by Jody Hedlund via Inspired by Life and Fiction

 

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Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels

Yesterday, I wrote “Fuzzy Blankets, Warm Drinks and Novels” for Ladies of Love Inspired. Pop on over for a few book recommendations!

Do you read blogs? Have a favorite? Please share in the comments!

My Favorite Books on Writing #WW

For Writers: Books On Writing Downloadable List

Today we’re talking about continuous learning. I’ve studied dozens of books on various aspects of writing, and these are the ones I return to again and again. I’m always on the lookout for new books to help my career, and I’m happy to share. If you’re interested in taking your craft up a notch, try one of these!

 

Books on Writing Downloadable List

Revising/Editing:

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King

 

Plotting/Outlining:

Take Off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing: Revised Edition by Libbie Hawker
Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

 

Grammar:

The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition by University of Chicago Press Staff
The Chicago Manual of Style Guidelines (Quick Study) by Inc. BarCharts
Essentials of English Grammar: A Quick Guide to Good English by L. Sue Baugh

 

Writing Faster:

2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing More of What You Love by Rachel Aaron

 

Indie Publishing:

*Indie publishing changes often, so some of the information may be outdated. It’s still a good read.*

The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing: Update and Revised Second Edition by Jana DeLeon, Tina Folsom, Colleen Gleason, Jane Graves, Debra Holland, Dorien Kelly, Theresa Ragan, Denise Grover Swank, Jasinda Wilder

 

Writing Romance:

Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance by Kate Walker

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If you’re anything like me, six months from now you’ll be wanting a new book on one of these topics, but you won’t remember where you saw this list. That’s why I created a downloadable/printable PDF with links. It will be available on my FOR WRITERS page under the EXTRAS tab.

On a personal note, we dropped our daughter off at college last weekend, and my son begins his sophomore year or high school today. How did the summer fly by so quickly? Yikes!!

I would love to hear YOUR favorite books on writing. Drop me a comment! And have an awesome week!

Jill Kemerer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. This does  not affect the price of the product. Jill receives a small commission when you purchase a product through these links.

Why Research Changes My Stories {Writer Wednesday}

I just started writing the second book in the upcoming Wyoming Cowboys series. I had a strong grasp on the general plot before typing the opening line, but there were many things I didn’t know (and still don’t!) about the story.

As I brainstormed possible scenes and reasons for them to happen, I kept Google open and researched questions as they came up. I always do this when starting a draft. Each article I find gives me insight into the issue and it usually changes my story.

 

The reason? I’m not an expert on anything. I have limited knowledge of many of the themes and situations I tackle in my books. One thing I love when I’m spiraling into research is when I realize I was wrong about something, but the article/book gives me an even better idea. For instance, the plot in my work-in-progress has a church youth mentoring program. My initial thoughts on how this would play into the story weren’t feasible due to the age of the little girl involved, but it allowed me to have the characters agree to a private arrangement, which serves the story better.

This type of thing happens all the time when I’m writing. It’s one of the reasons I really enjoy researching. You’ve probably read the advice to push yourself to come up with unique ideas by coming up with a list and using one of the final ideas you write. I’ve tried this method, but I don’t always find it to be logical. I want the story to be believable! Research helps me push the limits to find believable situations.

Whether you’re a writer or not, how do you feel about research? I love it!

Have a terrific day!

{printable} Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

2017 has been a year of changes for me. Most of the changes have been little, but hey, small steps equal steady progress. One of the things I’m doing is tracking my progress in two areas. I created a year-at-a-glance spreadsheet that can be used for any goal. I’m tracking my exercise habits and how many hours of “important work” I accomplish each day.

Below is a snapshot of it. Notice there are spaces for each day of the week as well as notes. For my health spreadsheet, I use my own code. FY stands for Foundation Yoga. BC stands for Boot Camp. GS stands for Green Smoothie. 2W stands for two miles I walked. Obviously, the number changes with the miles. This allows me to see my consistency over the course of an entire year. It’s been motivating!

 

Weekly Progress Spreadsheet

For my Important Work spreadsheet, I printed the exact same form, but each day I simply jot a number in the slot. The number represents the amount of hours I spent doing things on my Important Work list. (You can see my list below.)

By important work, I mean tasks that directly contribute to my income, which is based on writing and selling books. I got this concept from Cal Newport’s excellent book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. I don’t track my “deep work” hours because some of the things I consider important do not fit the Deep Work philosophy.

Your list will look different than mine. We all have our own concept of the most valuable tasks in regards to our work. The things I don’t include on my Important Work list are necessary parts of my job, but I place less value on the because they don’t directly contribute to my income based on writing and selling books.

Things I track as Important Work:

  • Doing research for a book
  • Plotting a novel
  • Outlining a nonfiction book
  • Creating a synopsis
  • Writing the actual book
  • Revising a manuscript
  • Any editorial tasks required
  • If Indie publishing, any cover research, formatting, uploading
  • Setting up promotion for a new release

What I don’t track as  Important Work:

  • Reading and responding to emails
  • Being active on social media sites
  • Administrative tasks (income/expense report, etc…)
  • Volunteering to judge contests, help writers, etc…
  • Writing blog posts

Again, the things I don’t track are necessary to my job, but I don’t log the hours I spend doing them.

If you’re interested in tracking any aspect of your life, feel free to print your own Weekly Progress Sheets. Just click on the link below! I’m also including this pdf file on my For Writers page if you’d like to print more out in the future.

Click for the printable PDF Weekly Progress Spreadsheet.

I find this especially helpful for reluctant writers. If you find yourself going days on end without writing, try this. It’s evidence of how much or how little time you actually spend working on a manuscript.

If you’d like to track your Important Work hours, spend a little time determining what equals important work to you. Enjoy!

Does charting your progress motivate you? Have you ever tried a year-at-a-glance weekly spreadsheet?

Have a terrific day!

Scheduling Creative Sessions {Writer Wednesday}

Scheduling Creative Sessions

Creative Sessions = Dedicated time to problem solve, plot, explore ideas.

In the past two weeks I’ve read two nonfiction books that made a big impact on me. The first was The Wright Brothers by David McCullough and the second was Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport. Although very different books, they shared a common theme–focus. The Wright brothers devoted much of their free time to solving the dilemma of human flight. Their passion helped them focus, and they spent hours, weeks, months and years experimenting and problem solving. In Deep Work, Cal Newport puts forth a compelling argument why anyone who wants to excel in their field needs to be deliberate about what they’re spending their time on. In other words, excellence requires focus.

 

Scheduling Creative Sessions

 

Writing, like inventing, involves a LOT of creativity. And creativity is a form of problem-solving. Fictional characters don’t always behave, and plots get off track. And then there’s the issue of what to write next.

I have many ideas I’d love to explore, so many books I want to write. Time always feels like the deciding factor. But over the past couple of years, I’ve broken free from my belief that producing a higher volume of quality books requires putting in massive overtime hours.

Last year I was tired of constantly setting aside a pet project to work on my contracted books. It hit me that if I didn’t schedule time for it, I would never finish the project, let alone publish it. I had to figure out how to work on it while fulfilling my contracts. I sensed that I could accomplish far more than I thought possible, but I didn’t know how. So, I read several time management books, prayed, talked to trusted writer friends, and finally decided to go for it.

Through trial and error, my beliefs shifted. I reworked my daily schedule, limited the frequency of social media breaks, silenced my phone and pushed myself to meet daily and weekly goals. I also added more time to studying the Bible and praying each morning which had a direct impact on my day by giving me the boost necessary to believe I could meet my goals.

In 2016, I plotted several books, wrote two category length books, a novella and a nonfiction book, promoted two novels, and organized my writing business. This was far more than I’d produced the previous year, and yes, sometimes this meant working overtime, but overall, I fit these projects into normal working hours. How? By deciding in advance what I would work on each day, devoting 30-60 minutes to my nonfiction book (the one that kept getting neglected), and limiting distractions.

The great thing about revising my schedule? My writing continues to grow. I’m confident about the books I’m writing because I’m making the time to thoroughly plot, write, revise and polish them. If my only goal was to publish more books, I’d be tempted to use shortcuts and skimp on the quality. My goal has always been to write the best book I’m capable of and that means no skimping.

One thing I’m adding this year: scheduling regular creative sessions just to think and jot notes. These time blocks will be used to plot, work through a current book problem, explore ideas for new books, and creatively solve any business issues. Setting aside 2-3 hours a week, or even 30 minutes a day, to just “sit and think” seemed absurd until I realized my brain does so much heavy-hitting for me beneath the surface of my consciousness. Scheduling regular creative sessions is another tool to get more work done in a limited time frame. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Do you ever sense you could accomplish more in the limited time you have? What strategies do you currently use to make the most of your hours?

Have a lovely Wednesday!

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