Individual Writing Tips

And It Was Just Right

Twisted Plots

One Perfect Rose

Don’t Skin the Cat!


Becoming a Hero

Climbing Up to Kaboom

Rise up & Commit

Foiled Plans

Lights, Camera, Kickoff

Fixing the Most Common Intermediate Mistake

The Most Common Intermediate Mistake

The Art & Necessity of Critique

Set up & Pay Off

A POV Footnote

Single Spy to a Teeming Hoarde

Tense Persons


High Concept

Scoring in the Elevator

Show and Tell

Taking Out the Trash

Tale of Two Synopsises

Rising to the Occasion

Middle-of-the-Novel mud

Doghouse on Malibu Beach

Taking Away the Easy Button

Pitching to the Pros

Hunting for an agent

Playing for higher stakes

Exploding writing myths

Are you the next American Idol?

A Time to Write

TV or Not TV

What Colour Hat Does Your Universe Wear?

How Big a Hammer?

The Irrational Optimism of Writers

The Pesky Typo Hunt

A Point of

Making Your Reader Believe

The Art and Necessity of Critique: Part 2

The Art and Necessity of Critique: Part 1

Writing the Other

Beating the evil TV

Badge & Handcuffs

The Editor is Never Wrong, Mostly

Do You Want a Cookie?

But What Do the Trees Say?

Writing the Dread Synopsis

Writing Children's vs. Adult Books

Writing tip for Winter '05/'06

A time to write
:how to phrase your New Year's resolution properly.

It will be after New Year's Day when you read this (my resolution should be to get these tips written in a more timely fashion!) but today is December 29th, and three days hence a lot of people will resolve to find some time to write in 2006.  And a lot of them, as the year passes, will fail.

Why is it so hard to find time to write?  I think the first reason is that "finding" time is almost as rare as finding money.  Very few people have spare hours drifting around in their days, and on the rare occasions when you do come across a patch of free time, you're usually not prepared for writing.

Like money, time has to be made.  And since the time bank in that old commercial, where you could drive up to the window and buy a few hours, doesn't exist, to get the time you need to write you have to give up something else.  And since you can't avoid all the stuff you have to do (by definition) to get the time you need to write, you have to give up something you want to do.  You have to give up something fun and/or relaxing.  You have to give up some of your play time.  Ouch.

And further, you're exchanging your play time for work.  It's interesting work, sure.  It's an ever-changing challenge, and when it goes well it leaves you with this incredible, creative high.  As jobs go, it's probably the best there is...but it is work.

There are lots of other reasons to put off writing.  I once listened to a lunch speech where a fellow writer listed twenty-something reasons not to write a novel.  The one I remember best was "you're a research slut," and I remember because of the way a member of my writers group (who produces wonderful, meticulously well-researched historical fiction) winced before she started to laugh.

There are probably a number of reasons, excuses, and explanations for why you're not writing as much as you'd like.  And the sad thing is that many, maybe even all of them, are valid.  Carving the time to write out of a full and busy life isn't easy.  But if you want to get your stories out into the world, there is no other way.  So if your New Year's resolution had something to do with finding time to write, maybe you want to consider revising it.  (Writers are always allowed to revise.)  This year I will give up X and use that time to write instead.

Will giving up X be painful?  Damn straight.  It always hurts when your X gets gored.  (Yes, that's a horrible pun—get over it.)  But if you can surrender just one thing, especially if it's something that has a preset time slot in your day/week, the time to write will be there.  And though the difficulties of making time to write are very real, the rewards of writing are myriad and splendid.

So for my New Year's resolution: I resolve to get my writing tips out in a timely fashion.  Except when I really can't.  Or when I forget it's due.  Or when the time just gets away from me...