Thursday, September 1, 2016

How Do You Do It? by Susan Tuttle

Life has been crazy busy around my house lately. August raced past in a blur, and September has slammed me in the face. With our new schedule starting, I’m forced to find a new way to organize my time. See, I just returned from ACFW where I was rejuvenated and energized in my writing. In fact, I had the time there to brainstorm a new series I’m starting. But…it’s September and homeschool along with extracurricular fun is also starting. Whether you work full time, have kids starting school, or are watching your grandchildren, the writing life can be hard to squeeze in around the demands of our day-to-day life. So how do you do it?

During one of the lunches at ACFW, I had the chance to sit with two women who use planners. I loved this idea! They purchase a planner with a layout that works for them and then build in time for everything from grocery shopping to exercise to plotting. These blocks of time are what they follow as closely as they can, readjusting on a weekly basis to accommodate any changes. With their days scheduled at a glance, they don’t waste time wondering what task to tackle next. It keeps them focused and moving forward.

However you choose to block out your time, guarding it is important. As writers we often don’t have offices to commute to, and that means we are writing in the same space our family is living. Laundry piles can call to us. Kids can knock on our bedroom doors. A favorite television show can blare from the other room. While distractions come in all shapes and sizes, it’s up to you to guard your writing time. That may mean giving up on something else you love to do so that you can reach your word count for that day or week. Your book won’t magically transform from your mind onto the page—I know, I’ve tried many times. It takes time at your computer, pounding on those keys.

Once you’ve planned your writing slot and guarded that time, attack your manuscript. Sit down and write. Even if it feels like a boulder instead of a block stunting your creativity, put words on the page. You can always, always, always change the words later. And without a doubt, even when they are unsalvageable, you’ve learned more about your story by simply writing them. A nugget you didn’t know about your character. A sentence that suddenly steers your plot in a new direction. Or a big neon sign that says NO, this isn’t the way your story should travel. Whatever the wisdom gleaned, words on a page are never wasted.

So there you have it! And since I’m at the plotting stage of something new, I’d love any advice you’ve found works for you. Happy writing, friendsJ

Susan L. Tuttle lives in Michigan where she’s happily married to her best friend and is a homeschooling mom of three. She’s firmly convinced that letters were meant for words, not math, and loves stringing them together into stories that inspire, encourage, and grow women into who God created them to be. Romance, laughter, and cookies are three of her favorite things, though not always in that order. You can connect with Susan at her blog, Steps, Facebook, or Twitter.