Writing Rewind #10: Wings of Fate Chapter 7 Part 1

Whoo boy, we’re getting into the thick of things now! Last time, Heiwa was feeling discouraged about the mission until he met a mysterious girl on the deck of the UNMEI. Determined to help her, Heiwa has the bright idea to hide the girl in his room for the remainder of the mission, but inspection day is looming, which means the secret probably won’t last for long…

Let’s examine Wings of Fate Chapter 7: The Mission Revealed!

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe
Green highlight – switch/move

ch7p1

Poor, poor Heiwa. Naturally, his plans have all gone to shit. But they don’t need to fall apart in such…wordy fashion. Time to take out the shears!

ch7p1changes.PNG

Good lord, that sentence about Shirotaka in the closet is unbearable. “Brightly pigmented eyes” might be the most cringe-worthy phrase I’ve encountered in this piece thus far, which is saying a lot. Also, a lot can be chopped off and some other things can be reworked to improve the flow.

ch7p1fixed.PNG

Much slimmer, and it still gets the point across.

After the disastrous inspection, Shirotaka is whisked away and Heiwa gets sent to Sector One to meet with Major Tango, where he will presumably be assigned a punishment. But once he gets there, he encounters some trouble in the form of Major Leiter, who seems to be exactly as Daisuke described her. But when he asks for help, she doesn’t appear to be listening…

ch7p2

Well. Major Leiter has quite a temper. And this passage has quite a few errors to fix!

ch7p2changes

Major Leiter’s outburst and Heiwa’s shocked reaction don’t need to be so dense; it can be pared down and reworked to make it less clunky, while still giving insight into the type of person Major Leiter is.

ch7p2fixed

There – much cleaner! The interaction flows better and doesn’t have so much needless fluff. Honestly, I think half of this entire story is fluff… but regardless, let’s move on…

After his encounter with Major Leiter, a young woman offers to help Heiwa, but Major Tango is late meeting him and he starts to grow worried. Which means it’s time to shoe-horn in a surprise introduction!

ch7p3.PNG

This is another interaction that doesn’t need to take freaking FOREVER TO GET THROUGH. I mean really. Really. Obviously, I intended the reveal of Tango’s identity to be a “super cool” moment, but when it drags on for ages, the moment loses some luster.

ch7p3changes.PNG

UGH, THE CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS. Hair and eyes don’t need to be so DRAMATIC. Also, women as high-ranking officials shouldn’t be a shock anymore, so Heiwa’s reaction is a tad overblown, but I did write this as a high school freshman, so I’m giving myself some leniency here.

ch7p3fixed

There; the Tango reveal takes less time and some of the cringiness is gone forever, never to be seen again, while other bits have been reduced and spruced.

So, Major Tango takes Heiwa to his next destination… and do I catch the whiff of a romance subplot?

ch7p4.PNG

WHY. DO. I. SPEND. SO. MUCH. TIME. DESCRIBING. MATTHIAS? WHYYYYYY????? *bangs head on desk* Seriously, he’s a cold dude – it’s obvious by now.  He’s basically the abominable snowman at this point, and we already have a pretty clear picture of his character, so it doesn’t need to be repeated OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

ch7p4changes.PNG

So, there’s a lot of description to be removed here. And some general rephrasing, as well.

ch7p4fixed.PNG

So there we have it! Chapter 7 is a pretty dense one, so I’m halving it – this time, we get two new major characters, and next time, in Part 2, we finally find out what the mission of the UNMEI is! Over 50,000 words into it and we’re just now getting to the point. It’s been a bumpy ride, and trust me… it’s gonna get bumpier.

SIDENOTE: I’m taking my YA novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour later this month! Details HERE!

Writing Rewind #9: Wings of Fate Chapter 6

On the previous installment of Writing Rewind, Heiwa got into trouble with his superiors for spacing off during training aboard the UNMEI. Will he be able to get it together in this upcoming chapter? Nope! But will something dramatic and life-changing happen? Yes! Let’s dive into Wings of Fate Chapter 6: The Girl.

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe
Green highlight – switch/move

First off…

ch6p1

That first bit and the last bit aren’t awful, but that middle section…. dear GOD. The shame I currently feel is insurmountable.

ch6p1fixed

More of the usual. Reworking and cutting out. And removing that entire atrocity in the middle. It is an entire paragraph of unnecessary dithering and a pitiful attempt at humor, and it must be DESTROYED.

ch6p1changes.PNG

There; the chapter is still being set up, but it isn’t bogged down by pointless blabbering. No gingerbread houses. I don’t even know why I put that in there in the first place, considering I hate gingerbread.

Next up…

ch6p2

So, Heiwa has continued to get in trouble with his commanding officers because he can’t stop spacing off during training. Honestly, at this point, it’s a bit ridiculous that he can’t focus when the situation calls for him to pay attention. I actually agree with his superiors – he needs a good smack upside the head.

ch6p2changes

Lots to cut and lots to rework! This is still kind of a “set up” portion of the chapter, recapping the difficulties and frustrations Heiwa is having, but it still doesn’t need to be so long, since the real “meat” of the chapter hasn’t happened yet.

So here is the result…

ch6p2fixed

There; the fat has been trimmed, and the passage still conveys Heiwa’s irritation and impatience, as well as the concern his friends have for him.

And now… the real adventure starts…

So, to set up this part, Heiwa is out “swabbing the deck” as a punishment for his behavior, when all of a sudden, something, or someone, falls out of the sky…

ch6p3.PNG

Alright! Things are getting real! Real ridiculous, that is…

Anyhow, this portion of the story is where Heiwa’s dream of “adventure” starts to come true, but this set up and description of the mysterious girl is still mega tedious and needs to be adjusted.

ch6p3changes

These character descriptions can be so much more succinct and far less clunky, nor do eye colors needs to be mentioned seventeen thousand times. It’s an introduction, not her life story.  So the usual rework/trim, plus a sentence needs to be moved to another point in the passage.

And here is the fixed version:

ch6p3fixed.PNG

There; we’ve introduced our new character and got a physical description that’s a bit less wordy, so it doesn’t detract from the actual point of the chapter, which is the mystery of the girl, not what she looks like.

Next…

ch6p4.PNG

Okay; clearly this girl is going to be tied to Heiwa’s thirst for adventure, but I think the reader can put those pieces together without it being stated outright.

ch6p4changes

Okay, so I want to punch myself in the face for using the phrase “cloudy gray yonder” to describe the sky. That is a thousand different kinds of terrible.

Otherwise, it’s more of the same. Awkwardness needs to be addressed and needless words and sentences must face the axe.

ch6p4fixed.PNG

There – the changes help to improve the flow of Heiwa and the girl’s first interaction with one another, and Heiwa’s not monologuing about fairytales and such, since the reader can understand that well enough by the circumstances. And “cloudy gray yonder” is GONE, NEVER TO RETURN!

For our next selection, Heiwa has named the girl “Shirotaka” and has decided to sneak her inside the UNMEI and keep her in his dorm with Daisuke! Because that’s a great idea.

ch6p5

I mean, Heiwa’s poor decision making skills aside, this portion could use some sprucing up. It’s not as bad as some previous segments, though, which I consider a tiny, near-minuscule victory.

ch6p5changes.PNG

Dare I say, since I only pinpointed a few major changes, this section shows minor signs of improvement? Nope, it’s definitely just a fluke. The usual issues with awkwardness and wordiness are still popping up and must be fixed.

ch6p5fixed.PNG

There; for some reason, Daisuke agrees to Heiwa’s ridiculous plan in a less awkward and wordy fashion.

Lastly, after successfully smuggling food to their dorm for Shirotaka and Heiwa;s first night sleeping on the floor of his room, our heroes get a surprise the following morning…

ch6p6.PNG

Ah, yes… how could the boys forget about Inspection Day? Because the plot demanded them to, so we could fabricate some suspense!

ch6p6changes.PNG

Really not much to do with this portion either, at least compared to previous selections. The cringe is at a minimum! What a nice way to close out this post… but obviously, it’s not perfect and still needs some tweaking. What would one of my old passages be without some awkwardness to fix?

So, here’s the fixed version…

ch6p6fixed.PNG

And there we have it! Chapter six is at a close, and a new character has been admitted to our ranks. Next time, we’ll meet some majors… both officers and problems, that is. Will our brave heroes be able to keep Shirotaka hidden during their inspection? Probably not! But will her presence on the UNMEI be a vital key to discovering the secrets of the mission? Who knows, but the next chapter is called, “A Mission Revealed,” so I’m thinking it’s probably a safe bet that Shirotaka is somehow involved.

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m taking my YA novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour with RABT Book tours at the end of August! Info HERE.

Writing Techniques: Multitasking

I’m going to admit this straight up; I cannot multitask. It is a persistent challenge for me.

I also don’t know how people can multitask. I’m not talking about multitasking in everyday life. Like, I can juggle laundry and chores with life stuff and all that…. on a good day, anyway. But I cannot do other things while I’m writing. Like, this is my screen right now:

screen.PNG

I’m watching a UK panel show while writing this blog post. As such, it is going to take me approximately 489 hours to finish this post, because I will inevitably watch something else after this video is done, which will reduce my writing pace to a crawl. And for maximum productivity, I have found that I cannot multitask like that if I want to accomplish anything.

I used to watch TV or Youtube or Netflix or whatever while I was editing or working on a manuscript, but I’ve come to realize that I can’t do that if I want to get things done. I end up paying too much attention to one thing and not enough to the other, and it flips back and forth and back and forth until it destroys my concentration. Even if I do manage to slog through an editing session while catching up on my stories, my attention is never focused 100% where it needs to be, which makes for less than satisfactory results. I can pop on some music to help fuel the inspiration; anything else and I’ll be working at a snail’s pace with frequent distractions. Some people might be able to multitask like that, or watch a movie while working on writing, but I cannot divide my attention in such a way and still produce my best work.

Multitasking by juggling multiple writing projects at the same time, however, is a different story – but still a challenge. Inspiration is fickle, and the well of ideas can run dry after being dipped into too often. For example, I currently have a primary project that is in the revising/pre-query stage, but there are times where I feel burnt out on it; like all my motivation is spent and I can’t muster the right level of attention needed to achieve my best work.

To combat this, I can’t throw myself into a massive new project – if I do that, I’ll get too focused on something new, and alas, I am not an octopus capable of extending eight limbs to divide my efforts in multiple directions. When motivation starts to fray, I either walk away for a bit to clear my head, or I’ll draft out some blog posts. Sometimes, to help encourage myself to return to that main project, I’ll jot down some freewrites about the characters to examine situations in a different way, especially when I hit a wall and don’t know which way to take a particular plotline. Sometimes I’ll re-imagine a scene from a different perspective, to gain new insight on characters and relationships. Occasionally, I’ll work on preliminary stages or snippets for a new project, but I won’t go too in-depth with it – just the framework, to try and get creative juices flowing again. It’s like being a spider with multiple webs, but more work is put into fortifying one web until it is complete, while the others come together at a different pace.

Even if I am juggling multiple projects at once, which is generally the case, the majority of my focus remains on one of those projects… the danger of multitasking can stretch my attention too thin, and have a negative impact on my writing. I do wonder how other writers deal with multitasking – it might be a challenge for me, and effortless for another. But I do know for sure that if I want to do my best, I need to put emphasis on focus, and must minimize potential distraction in any way possible.

SIDE NOTE: I’m taking my novel I’m With You on a virtual book tour via RABT book tours next month! Stay tuned for updates!

Writing Rewind #8: Wings of Fate Chapter 5

On our last Writing Rewind excursion, Heiwa and Daisuke discovered they were roommates and Heiwa took a tour of the UNMEI with Sergeant Kahler. Now, the real adventure is about to begin… with training! Will Heiwa’s first training session go off without a hitch? Probably not!

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe

CHAPTER 5 P 1

Sigh. Again, the set up for the chapter doesn’t need to be so… tedious.

CHAPTER 5 P 1 CHANGES

Too much inner and outer dialogue, and can easily be rectified with some slicing and dicing. And the remains of the slicing must be reworked in order to flow better.

CHAPTER 5 P 1 FIXED

There! Set up is effectively pared down and not such a drag. However, there should be a comma after “training” in Daisuke’s second bit of dialogue; didn’t notice that until now. Reading over things multiple times is important, folks. Clearly, I am a bad example.

Next up, Heiwa’s having a jolly old time as training starts under the supervision of Lieutenant Kurokawa and Colonel Berkmann… and by jolly, I mean miserable.

CHAPTER 5 P 2.PNG

*sharpening axe*

So clearly, our protag is having an awful time. But we don’t need to hear about it ad nauseum. Really.

CHAPTER 5 P 2 CHANGES.PNG

The usual changes are emphasized here; less talk, and more clarity.

CHAPTER 5 P 2 FIXED

Much better! Though, really, I should scrap the ComBoards idea.., since tablets are a thing. But they weren’t a thing in 2005, so cut me some slack.

CHAPTER 5 P 3.PNG

Heiwa’s suffering at the hands of Colonel Berkmann goes on for like, 2 pages. So… that needs to be addressed. Because it definitely does not need to encompass 2 entire pages. I am not a sadist.

CHAPER 5 P 3 CHANGES.PNG

I think even more could probably be chopped off here, but basically, we’ve got more of the same old, same old. Colonel Berkmann’s dialogue can be curbed and Heiwa’s self loathing can be slimmed.

CHAPTER 5 P 3 FIXED

Much cleaner, still as mortifying for our hero, and nothing of note lost. I mean, not sure if “drop and give me fifty” is still a relevant punishment, but I’ll stand by it.

Next up, some more suffering for our dear hero, as Colonel Berkmann has pieced together who Heiwa’s father was…

CHAPTER 5 P 4

Blah, blah, blah… again, doesn’t need to be this long.

CHAPTER 5 P 4 CHANGES

Petition to never use “orbs” as a way to describe eyes ever again!!!!!!!!!! GAHHHHH. I dread how often this is going to recur, though I know for certain it will rear its ugly head again…

CHAPTER 5 P 4 FIXED

So, Heiwa’s suffering is much more concise, now! And Colonel Berkmann’s alleged “cruelty” remains intact.

After the disaster that is the first training session, Heiwa and Daisuke set off for lunch. Naturally, everyone is pissed at Heiwa for his behavior, but one lone wolf strays from the back to befriend them – a young woman named Robin. And they get to talking about the mysterious mission they are on…

CHAPTER 5 P 5.PNG

Repetitive and repetitive, said the New York Times…

CHAPTER 5 P 5 CHANGES

We know about Heiwa’s dreams already – it was discussed in the first couple of chapters. We know Heiwa wants adventure and he believes in myths and legends. That bit doesn’t need to be dredged up again and again in the same way; the reader knows it.

CHAPTER 5 P 5 FIXED.PNG

Better – it illustrates the differences between Heiwa’s and Daisuke’s perspective, without beating the dead horse too much. Plus, some new info gets passed on thanks to our new character!

Last up,

CHAPTER 5 P 6.PNG

The foreshadowing doesn’t need to be so… prominent. It’s already been hinted at, but the point of a hint is to be subtle, and this passage is not subtle.

CHAPTER 5 P 6 CHANGES.PNG

Short and sweet is the key! Most of this segment can be hacked away…

CHAPTER 5 P 6 FIXED

Dun dun dun! What could Dr. Black mean in this shorter, and much more effective section? WHO KNOWS? We won’t find out next time, I can tell you that much. But we will find out eventually!

Next time, Heiwa meets someone very, very interesting… someone who may hold the key to the adventure he longs for.

Worth 1000 Words #10: Reese

On a Wednesday night in 2007, I received a cryptic text message from my older sister while watching the latest episode of Lost. The message contained only one word.

Meow.

Some time later, I was dozing off on the couch when my sister returned home and deposited something furry onto my lap. I opened bleary eyes to see a small, mewling tortoise-shell kitten blinking at me.

That is how we came to own Reese. Technically, her full name is Reesie Lynn (my sister is to blame for that abomination of a moniker, we had exactly 0% input) but we have more or less only ever called her Reese. Sometimes, I call her Kit-Kat. Just to be contrary.

IMG_20170629_102725_202.jpgI think Cat People are Cat People for a reason. Cats are often thought of as fuzzy companions who don’t require constant attention; they’re adorable, not terribly messy, and can provide some warm, cuddly comfort on bad or rainy days. But Reese apparently has never read a single page of the “cat manual” because she doesn’t act like a standard cat at all; though Reese does provide ample fodder for my instagram, because she is cute, if nothing else. And if you think I can’t babble on and on about my cat for 1000 words, then think again!

Reese has never been much of a cuddle-buddy; the only time she ever feels like snuggling is at night, but only for about an hour before she gets bored, and she typically only solicits one person to cuddle with before departing back to the bowels of the basement so she can get the couch covered in fur. She loathes being picked up, and in order for us to trim her nails, I have to wait until she is asleep or groggy, then scoop her up when she is vulnerable – often, this results in being kicked in the chest/nose/throat when she inevitably rebels. She refuses to meet strangers, and I suspect some family members might not even know we have a cat, since she won’t show her face in the presence of visitors. My best friend house/cat-sits for us whenever we go away for any length of time, and during a 10 day absence, it took 4 days for Reese to be in the same room with her, and even then, she rubbed her head against my friend’s hand while hissing at her. So, claiming that Reese is fickle would be a drastic understatement. When I went away to college, it took several days during each school break to get her used to me again; I had to endure lots of dismissive tail swishing and scrambling away before she deemed me worthy of her good graces again.

She loves to sit outside on the enclosed patio and cackle at birds and bunnies, either because she wants to be their friend, or she wants to eat them, I’m not entirely sure. She greets me at the door every day when I get home from work or wherever, usually meowing her head off as she gets my black pants covered in her fur. I like to think that it’s because she misses me when I go away, but I’m fairly sure it’s because she’s just hungry. And boy, she’s perpetually hungry. She expects to be fed at around 5/6AM every morning, since there’s a couple of super early-risers in the family, so now, she’s accustomed to a schedule and there’s almost no chance of everyone being able to sleep in – not if Reese has anything to say about it. When she’s hungry, she is vocal. And then, even after breakfast, she expects snacks. Several of them. She also thinks she can trick us into feeding her more if she begs and whines at each person in the family, but fortunately, we are able to see through her ploys. It’s a wonder she isn’t shaped like a bowling ball with how much she tries to eat, though we’ve managed to regulate her diet well, despite her best efforts. Reese also loves to distract me while I’m trying to write; at the moment, she is sitting beside her food bowl and staring at me. She will not break me, though. I am steadfast – I can resist the food-mongering wiles of any cat, no matter how cute! Though, I must admit, she is especially “awwww”-worthy when she chases the laser-pointer around the living room.

A few months ago, I bought Reese a new bed; a nice quality one that I was able to snag at a great discount. Did she appreciate my generosity? NOPE, she actually prefers the comfort of a cardboard box, or a plastic bag laying on the floor. Her idea of a five star resort would be a kingdom of boxes and bags. We actually have fashioned a “cardboard apartment” of sorts for her to use, and she loves it. She’s a creature of simple comforts, I suppose… she did eventually warm up to her new bed, and it is now positioned on the floor beside my bed, so when she gets fed up with me, she has somewhere to escape to.

Reese is not a typical cat; but she’s my cat. She doesn’t like cuddles, but to be totally honest, neither do I, so it works out well. She’s an introvert, and can sometimes be downright obnoxious with her constant appealing for food, but she occasionally shows off her softer side. If I scratch behind her ears or she rolls over to let me pet her tummy, she might even deign to purr a bit, like a fuzzy motorboat. Sometimes, during her rare affectionate moments, she will rub against my legs, even when I’m trying to walk up the stairs… I refuse to believe it’s because she wants to trip me, though, sadly, that wouldn’t be much of a shock. I often suspect she’s the furry offspring of some feline version of Satan, but even if that’s true, she’s my furry offspring of Satan, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Writing Rewind #7: Wings of Fate Chapter 4 Part 2

Let us continue our slog through my decade-old manuscript! Our unlikely hero Heiwa has bid goodbye to his family and is now aboard the UNMEI, still hoping for his chance of a lifetime! Who will his roommate be? What are the rest of the commanding officers like? Let’s not tarry… it’s time to resume our ADVENTURE!

We’re picking up right where we left off, with Heiwa venturing to his room assignment.

KEY/GUIDE:
Strikethrough = cut out
Highlight = rephrase/reword/awk
Blue highlight = minor additions
DANGER RED HIGHLIGHT= massive cringe

ch4 p2 p1

*eye twitches* So much needless detail and suspense for literally the smallest thing. Heiwa discovering that his roommate is Daisuke should not take half a page.

ch4 p2 p1 changes

Ah, it’s axe time! My favorite time! Some of this dialogue also needs to be shaved down and reworked, as Heiwa and Daisuke don’t need to be saying the same thing a bajillion times. And that awful reference to Heiwa’s “jade eyes” is going in the trash heap.

ch4 p2 p1 fixed

Honestly, I could probably trim even more from the first paragraph, but this version still builds on Heiwa’s anxiety without going horrifically overboard. The dialogue is pared down, and cleaner. And let’s not mention the odds of Heiwa and Daisuke actually ending up as roommates… I took some liberties. Stranger things have happened.

Next up, we’ve got…

ch4 p2 p2

Alright, alright… there is no way that Heiwa and Daisuke would be permitted to just sit on their beds as the airship is taking off. That can’t be appropriate safety regulations in any instance.

But, along with that, there’s a myriad of other things to change! GOD, WHAT FUN!

ch4 p2 p2 changes

Trim, trim, trim, cut, cut cut, and tweak, tweak, tweak! There’s a lot of clunky wording to be reworked, and details to be changed.

Also, I’ve got a recurring issue with dialogue tags having a descriptive adverb , when a new word can just be used. So, “said excitedly” can become “crowed” or something similar, and it gets the same point across in a more effective way.

ch4 p2 p2 fixed

Ahhhhhh, much better! And boy howdy, I am going to get sick of changing the “V” in “von Schneider” to lower-case every single time it comes up, but it must be done. This is my penance.

So now, the safety regulations have been somewhat addressed, and the whole take-off process is condensed down into a more succinct passage.

For our next selection, let’s go to…

ch4 p2 p3

I’m not sure Sergeant Kahler got his point across well enough. He only said the same thing four times.

The main issue here is wordiness, per usual, so my proposed changes are…

ch4 p2 p3 changes

The last bit dwells too much on Heiwa’s thoughts on Dr. Black, just like Sergeant Kahler dwells too much on his threats in the first bit. Plus, the same issues that crop up again and again need to be fixed…

ch4 p2 p3 fixed.PNG

Much better! Shorter, sweeter, and to the point… er. I guess. Anyway, it’s shorter; that’s the main point.

Lastly…

ch4 p2 p4.PNG

What a SHOCK!!!! There’s a female commanding officer!!!! God, so progressive. Anyhow, point is, the shock needs to be toned down, because it isn’t a huge deal in a futuristic scifi epic – it should be expected, or, at the very least, not a massive, jaw-dropping stunner. It shouldn’t even be a big surprise today, honestly.

Plus, lots of other things need to be amended.

ch4 p2 p4 changes

So much to fix… exhaustion setting in… we’re in the final stretch of this chapter, now. Must. Not. Give. Up.

Here are the changes in place!

ch4 p2 p4 fixed

Daisuke’s oohing and aahing is toned down a bit, the wordiness is rephrased, and some of the other dialogue is tweaked. Also, no red highlights this time! That doesn’t mean much, though… there’s still plenty of cringe here, just on a smaller scale.

Alright, so that wraps up chapter 4! Next time, we get to officially meet Colonel Berkmann, and Heiwa attempts to make a good first impression during training. Will Colonel Berkmann have some kind words for Heiwa? Probably not, but you never know! Stay tuned next time for Wings of Fate, Chapter 5: The Colonel’s Words.

Writing Techniques: Time

I think most folks can agree that there isn’t enough time in the day to accomplish all the tasks that need to be done. But – and I’ll admit, I’m biased – I think this is especially true for folks with creative careers/ambitions.

Like many aspiring writers, I have to work a day job. I do full-time shift work in a field that is totally unrelated to writing, so my schedule varies from week to week and shifts from day to day. For example, this week my start times are 7AM, 5AM, 5AM, 3PM, 4PM. Sometimes I have to work overnights, then flip it around to dayside right after. There are occasional bouts of consistency, but it’s hard to develop a routine when just about every day I have to adjust what time I wake up, go to the gym, prepare meals, do chores, etc, in addition to a work schedule that frequently changes.

So, the struggle becomes finding time to write. My schedule is obviously not as demanding as some, but it can still be difficult to find the appropriate work/life/other work balance. I’ll admit, it isn’t often, but there are days where I’m on the go from 5AM-6PM and by the time I get home, eat dinner, and take a shower, exhaustion takes over and the last thing I have energy for is cracking open a Word document and trying to put competent thoughts down into writing.

Weirdly enough, it was easier for me to schedule writing time when I was in college and writing I’m With You, even though I worked 2 jobs for the majority of that time along with a full course load every semester, and a partial course load in the summers and winters. Fortunately, my schedule, while busy, was consistent from week-to-week, so for the entirety of my senior year I didn’t have to scramble my plans and obligations around to find a solid chunk of writing time. For a while, Fridays were also dedicated to writing from about mid-afternoon on; my most productive writing sessions occurred during that window. Friday nights were also dedicated to being in my pajamas by 5PM, having cereal for dinner, and watching at least 2 episodes of Hoarders, but that’s irrelevant…

I can imagine that it is hard for a lot of people to schedule time for writing; but it’s important to do so, especially if your days are hectic. “Oh, I’ll do it later” all too easily turns into hours passing by unnoticed, and suddenly, it’s 11 at night, your alarm is set to go off at 5AM, and you haven’t written so much as a word all day, and that is the worst kind of feeling.

My personal strategy to combat this is simple; set aside a designated time (15 minutes at minimum) depending on the day. A white-board weekly calendar hanging above my desk assists with this. It’s such a basic plan, but writing down my schedule for the day makes it much easier to visualize the breakdown of the time I do have, so I’m able to set aside a specific block for “writing time.” This doesn’t work 100% of the time, due to unforeseen circumstances popping up or last-minute plan/work schedule changes, but that’s the great thing about white boards! You can erase and start over, good as new!

Ideally, I try and fit at least a couple of hours of writing into each day, be it a blog post like this one, character development, free writes, actual drafting, or just dabbling with an outline or some new ideas. On my days off from work, I can sometimes spend an entire day at a Word document, pounding out potential content or shifting between a couple of different projects. Some days are more productive than others, and that’s fine. I might (and by might, I mean, I definitely do) look back on previous writing and cringe at how poor it is, even if I only jotted it down the day before. It’s all fine; it’s all part of the process. As long as I get something of substance down on paper or in a Word document each day, I chalk it up as a victory. Journaling also helps with this, because it ensures that I do at least a bit each day, even if it’s just a sentence or two.

And when those “unproductive” days happen – where my schedule allows for no writing at all – I try and do better the next day instead of calling myself a failure and wallowing in despair. I mean, I never shut my brain off, so when I can’t fend off a sudden brainstorm or have a stroke of creativity, I whip out my phone and text the idea to myself. On my phone, I have a massive text chain to myself that is just random snippets of dialogue, scenarios, or descriptions, and it’s actually been very helpful when I’m on the go and only have a few seconds to jot down an idea. This tactic really helps when I conjure up bits of dialogue and want to remember it exactly, because lord knows if I don’t make note of it immediately, I will forget when I sit down to formally type it out later. You can’t control when inspiration strikes; I find that I have to write it down quickly, in a text or scribbled on a sticky-note, unless I want to lose it.

So, the gist is, even when there’s no time, never stop trying to make time for writing. I know that when I don’t write for any notable length of time, I feel unfulfilled, and it makes it so difficult to build or maintain momentum. There are never two non-writing days in a row, ever. Life does get in the way; but it can’t be a permanent obstacle.