By Leeann Betts (excerpt from Nuggets of Writing Gold)
I keep promising myself that one of these years, I’m going to enjoy summer. Instead of spending the months of June, July, and August cooped up indoors writing and revising and researching, I’m going to spend the time in a mountain retreat, on the front veranda, surrounded by trees and a babbling brook. Writing and revising and researching.
So I guess the truth is, it isn’t the work that I resent as much as the being indoors. Seems such a waste of great weather not to be outside enjoying it. I don’t have any problems staying indoors in the winter. I am not a fan of cold and snow. But summer….
And then I heard those words from my agent, Terrie Wolf, that every writer longs to hear. “Take some time off. You’ve been working hard lately. You deserve a rest.”
My mind raced. Which mountain did I want to go to? Which tree would I sit beneath? Which babbling brook would sing to me, inspire me as my fingers flew across the keyboard?
Nothing came to mind.
Okay, maybe I don’t need a mountain. Maybe I need a cruise. Sitting on the deck, the sun warming me from the outside, my story plot heating up inside. Perfect.
Except I’m prone to seasickness.
Okay, how about a quaint bed and breakfast retreat in a sleepy little town. Where do I want to set my next book? Let’s go there.
I’m drawing a blank.
And then I realize my problem. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas of what to write next. I do. Dozens of ideas. It isn’t that I can’t choose a mountain or a town or a cruise — my problem is I like to write in my office in the basement. I have a peaceful moss green paint on the walls along with peaceful pictures of the outdoors.
I have a great desk and a comfy chair. I can have music on in the background, or not. I can stop and pop in a load of laundry or stir dinner in the crock pot. Or not.
And so, despite my agent’s advice, I’m going to stay home. And write. And outline. And research.
Sure, I’ll go out once in a while and see what I’m missing. Sunshine. Flowers. Heat.
I’ll take pictures and keep writing.
Maybe I’ll write a summer story. That way, I don’t miss anything.
It’s not about where you write, but that you do write.
1. Make a writing date for yourself. In ink. On your calendar or schedule or whatever you use to keep track of things. Be reasonable. If you aren’t already in the habit of writing every day, schedule in every other day. If you work a full-time job, don’t commit to writing for three hours in the evening or all day Saturday. Instead, commit to spending twenty minutes at your computer with the email turned off.
2. If you struggle with finding time, make time. Get up twenty minutes earlier. Go to bed twenty minutes later. Don’t watch any television in the evening until you’ve spent your twenty minutes at the computer.
3. Pretend you have a deadline. Maybe not for a full book. Try setting a deadline for a chapter. Call a writing friend and tell him you commit to having a chapter written by _________. Tell your friend to hold you accountable. Then sit down and write.
Leeann Betts writes contemporary romantic suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical romantic suspense. Together she and Donna have published more than 30 novellas and full-length novels. They ghostwrite, judge writing contests, edit, facilitate a critique group, and are members of American Christian Fiction Writers, Writers on the Rock, Christian Authors Network, Pikes Peak Writers, and Sisters in Crime. Leeann travels extensively to research her stories, and is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.