Life is complex. Writing is complex. And writing while maintaining a life outside of writing is double-complex. If you’re reading this and you’re a fellow part-time novelist (to quote an excellent article by Mike Duran), then hats off to you for continuing on!
If you’re reading this and you’re a full-time writer, then you might be on a different playing field, but I’m a (sorta) full-time(ish) writer in summers, around the odd summer camp gig and preparing for the next school year, so I know that those swaths of time can fill up all too easily. Plus, it IS important to eat as well. Sometimes. Hats off to you as well!
My life is crazy busy right now, what with being a full-time teacher and catching up after a fantastic play season with the largest cast I’ve ever directed (and The Plague hit during final rehearsals). So here are some tips on how to make writing work in the trenches of Real Life:
1.) Make Time to Brainstorm
It’s counter-intuitive to the whole NaNoWriMo ‘get words on the page every day’ mentality. But hopefully, you got into writing for the enjoyment, not just for those monster paychecks just waiting around the corner with the pink unicorns and Capri Suns that open without squirting. Even if you’re on track to crank out novels quickly, if you’re not having fun and coming up with awesome ideas to turn into awesome stories, guess what? The lack of fun will translate into your writing. Readers pick up on those things. The brainstorming brings the fun, and the fun brings the spark that makes your work uniquely you.
2.) Don’t Be Afraid of Diversity
Katie Morford at Crosshair Press did a great article on Culture, Racism, and the Christian Storyteller. While I’m not about quotas, I am a fan of using diversity to make fiction memorable and reach more readership. One of my mantras in world-building is to go for unique and different. As I mention in Creating Dynamic Characters With Contrasts, contrast makes characters shine in their differences. AND contrast is one of the easiest ways to create conflict, which pushes plot and adds interest. So really, a little diversity in terms of age, race, nationality, ethnic background, culture, (dis)ability, etc is a quick way to amp up your writing (if it works with your story). It takes more research and respect for others, but neither of those are bad things. 😉
3.) Cut Unnecessary Complexity
Half of writing and world-building is knowing when to add–and when to subtract. Oh dear, there’s math. Anyway, many, many moons ago I had this crazy idea to make sixteen original races for an epic fantasy world. Guess what? The story never got off the ground because I was too busy painstakingly world-building each race. And if that’s your thing, then go for it. I still have to fight my urge to over-plot and over-build. But as much as I love world-building, I love reading and writing actual stories way more. Don’t be afraid to cut out things that are confusing to your beta readers (or to you). It takes humility, but it’s worth it. Spoken by a writer who changed an “bodyguard-turned-renegade-turned captive-turned-savior-turned ruler” into just an actual heir to a throne who happens to have excellent weapons training. In my case, it made things a LOT easier for my readers and allowed me to explore the character in depth, instead of just piling on complexity like excessive adjectives.
4.) Read Books
I’m not always so great at this one, and I know some people cannot read while drafting or editing. However, if you can read at all? Please do. I download eBooks on my phone and go through them in snatches of time. It refreshes my mind and inspires me to keep on with my own writing to get to that place of publication. I got into writing because I love books and I wanted to join the party. The great thing is that by continuing to read, you can join the party sooner! And then you can leave a review on Amazon or other websites and share the love.
Time for me to head back to work! Here’s a last-minute update:
- As part of Amy Brock McNew’s blog tour for Rebirth, expect a review next Monday!
- World-Building From the Inside Out is set for relaunch under Uncommon Universes Press! I’m expecting a box of textbooks and workbooks soon, and I’m excited to give some away at an upcoming Facebook party in June. Also, if you’ve already read the book, feel free to leave a review! Republishing did a number on the reviews, and if this book has helped you, share those thoughts with others. I know reviews help me a ton in deciding on reference books.
- Blood Mercy: Houses of the Dead is heating up! Check in for this free online serial — only a few more chapters until it’s finished, and then it disappears into Final Edit and Proofreading world for publication.
- Missing a book review? Magic and Iron has a new review of Chasing Lady Midnight, a superhero cozy mystery!