Finding the Time To Write…
by Author Kelli A. Wilkins
My name is Kelli Wilkins and I’m an eclectic writer. That means I write everything—short horror fiction, steamy full-length romance novels, science fiction, and even non-fiction. People are always asking me, “How can you write in so many different genres and styles?”
It’s really not that difficult. Why? Because the basic mechanics of good storytelling are universal, no matter what genre you write. Every fiction story contains the same ingredients: an interesting and engaging plot, characters the reader cares about and roots for, supporting details, and background that draw the reader into the story.
I’m often asked: Where do you get your ideas? How do I get published? How do you write a book? What advice do you have for writers who are just starting out? Do you have any writing tips?
I’ve answered these questions many times in interviews and addressed them in guest blogs, but I always wanted to say more. One day, I started thinking about everything I’ve learned over the years, and inspiration hit me: Why not write a book on how to write? The result? You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction.
This fun and practical book walks you through the story-creating process step-by-step: from getting a great idea to meeting your characters, developing a plot, and on to writing, revising, and submitting your work.
Each easy-to-read chapter is based on my years of experience as a writer, advice I’ve received over the years, and the technical “know-how” I’ve gained in writing classes and workshops. I also included helpful tips all writers can use, plus writing exercises to get you motivated. Once you have the basics down, you can write—really!
Here’s an excerpt from the book. This chapter is all about tossing aside excuses why you can’t write and gives you pointers on making the time to write.
I Want to Write, But…
What’s your excuse for not writing? No ideas? Not enough time? (This one is very common.) Not sure where or how to start? Afraid your friends or relatives won’t like what you write? Whatever excuses you have, it’s time to address them and work through them—that is, if you really want to write.
One Day, I’ll…
Let’s face it, the world is filled with people who like the “idea” of being a writer, but who don’t actually write anything. These people stare off into space and say, “One day I’ll write a book.” or “I’ll start writing when…” and they put the whole thing on hold, waiting for “someday” when they have more time, or when the kids are out of the house, or they’re retired, or (fill in the blank).
Most of these people never put a word on the page despite all their good intentions. And if they do start a project, they lose interest in it (it’s too hard, it was taking too long). Even fewer people see a project through from idea to published story. But they sure like to talk about it.
Do you know the difference between a “wannabe” and a “real” writer? It’s simple—and it has nothing to do with being published—writers write. They don’t talk about writing, they actually do it. If you ask three writers about their projects, each one can tell you where he or she is in the process (first draft, Chapter Four, editing) and actually show you words on pages.
If I had a quarter for every time someone told me, “I want to write, but…” and “Let me tell you my story idea…” I’d be a billionaire. Seriously. Writing is hard work and it takes a lot of self-discipline. Nobody will come to your house, plop you in a chair and make you write. Writing is something you have to want to do. You have to motivate yourself to stick with it through each stage of the project.
EXERCISE: If you could only write one story in your life, what would it be? Write it down and describe it in three to five paragraphs. This is the story that will motivate you to write.
Writing is like anything else you do in life. Suppose you want to learn how to surf. You won’t learn how to ride the waves by talking about it. At some point, you have to hit the water and get wet.
Writers must be self-motivating. Nobody will force you to write a novel. So how do you find the time or get motivated to write? First, if you like your idea and are excited about it, that in itself should be a motivating factor. (“I’ve got this great idea for a ghost story and can’t wait to write it!”)
Second, you need to schedule time to be creative. A writing schedule keeps you accountable for your time and helps “train your brain” to get used to the idea of writing at certain times. It may sound silly, but it works. You schedule time for other things in life like going to work, hitting the gym, etc., so if writing is a priority, why not schedule it, too?
Aim to write for an hour a day. It doesn’t matter how much or what you write for that hour, only that you put in the time. You can use the hour to brainstorm ideas, create character profiles, make an outline, or work on a few scenes.
Of course, it will be easier to write on some days rather than others, but push through any initial reluctance or procrastination, and keep going. When you’re fully engrossed in writing, time flies. You may find hours have vanished, you’re hungry, and it’s time to use the bathroom.
On days when you can’t write because you’re sick or it’s your birthday, don’t beat yourself up. When important life events happen, your writing time can (temporarily) shift on the priority schedule. Writing is a creative, mental process, and not everyone can write on demand every day. It’s okay to take a break when you need to, as long as you go back to your project as soon as possible. (That means within a day or two.)
EXERCISE: Create a writing schedule. Get a piece of paper (or use an online organizer) and write down the days of the week and your waking hours in the day. Fill in the spaces for each hour of every day with existing commitments (work, picking up the kids from band practice, eating, etc.) and see how many hours that leaves “open” for writing.
Give yourself a mini-reward for sticking to your writing schedule: have lunch with friends, buy new music, go to a movie, or do something that makes you feel good about achieving a goal. As you get used to writing on a daily basis, it gets easier. Soon, you’ll look forward to your writing time—and maybe increase the time you’ve blocked off to work on your story.
TIP: Limit distractions. Let friends and relatives know your writing schedule and ask them for privacy during that time. Turn off the phone and let calls go to voicemail while you write. Find a quiet place and get to work.
You can make time for writing by cutting back on watching TV, playing computer games, and trolling social media. You might be surprised at how easy it is to replace an hour of TV reruns with an hour of writing. If you sleep until 10 a.m. every weekend, set the clock for 9, get up, and write during the “extra” hour. Try it for a few weeks and see how it goes. Everyone on the planet gets 24 hours in every day—how you use them is up to you.
The bottom line is… all the writing advice, tips, books, and support groups won’t help you write anything if you’re not going to put in the time, energy, and effort to do the work.
Only you can write the story in your head, and if you are motivated and determined to get it written, your excuses will fall away. Work on your writing a little every day and before you know it, you’ll have a finished story—and that’s a worthy accomplishment.
Are you motivated yet? Here are three bonus writing exercises to get you writing:
EXERCISE: What do you want to write? Take a few minutes and think about the types of stories you like to read. Odds are, you’ll start writing in the same genre you read. Do you love cozy mysteries? Hardboiled detective stories? Spicy historical romances? Do you want to start with a short story or jump in and try a full-length novel? (If you only read short stories because novels are “too long” to sit through, the answer should be obvious.) Make a list of what you like to read and what you want to write.
EXERCISE: All characters want something, whether it’s a cup of coffee, a new car, to escape from jail, to eat lunch, or to finish a big project. Brainstorm five things your character wants, large or small. Here are some examples: woman wants to escape her abusive husband; man wants to bury a body; private investigator wants to find a blackmailer; fifth grade kid wants to get away with cheating on a math test.
EXERCISE: Write three to five dialogue exchanges where two characters meet for the first time. What do they talk about? What is happening in the scene or around them?
Happy Reading (and Writing!)
Kelli A. Wilkins
You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction
If you’ve always dreamed of writing and getting published, but have no idea where or how to start—THIS is the book for you!
You Can Write—Really! is an easy guide designed for beginner writers who need a boost of motivation and simple instructions on how to get started.
Award-winning author Kelli A. Wilkins takes you step-by-step through the writing process, covering the basics of plotting, editing, revising, and submitting. In addition, she explores ways to get your creativity flowing, explains where authors get ideas, and shows you how to create interesting characters for your story.
Helpful tips and fun writing exercises throughout the book get you started!
Title: You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction
Author: Kelli A. Wilkins (www.KelliWilkins.com)
Release date: February 2015
Genre: non-fiction/writing fiction/creative writing
Length: 167 pages/40,000 words
Page Foundry: http://www.inktera.com/store/title/45c76c76-adec-4670-aa02-9273d44f172b
24 Symbols: https://www.24symbols.com/book/x/x/x?id=1061945
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 100 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.
Her paranormal-comedy, Beauty & the Bigfoot, was published in September 2017.
Kelli released Trust with Hearts, a contemporary romance, in July 2017. Her third gay romance, Four Days with Jack, was released in June 2017. Kelli’s trilogy of erotic romance novellas, Midsummer Night’s Delights, Midwinter Night’s Delights, and Ultimate Night’s Delights was published in spring 2017.
Loving a Wild Stranger was published in January 2017. This historical/pioneer romance is set in the wilds of the Michigan Territory and blends tender romance with adventure.
Kelli’s third Medallion Press romance, Lies, Love & Redemption was released in September 2016. This spicy historical western is set on the Nebraska prairie in 1877.
Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative guide filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.
Kelli posts on her Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins and Twitter: www.Twitter.com/KWilkinsauthor.
She also writes a weekly blog: http://kelliwilkinsauthor.blogspot.com/
Visit her website, www.KelliWilkins.com to learn more about all of her writings, read book excerpts, reviews, and more. Readers can sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb.
Here are a few links to find Kelli & her writings on the web
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/kelliwilkins
Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/HVQqb
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKelliWilkins
Facebook Contemporary Romances: https://www.facebook.com/Contemporary-Romances-by-Kelli-A-Wilkins-1965702023664339/
Facebook Gay Romances: https://www.facebook.com/GayRomancesbyKelliAWilkins/
Facebook Historical Romances: https://www.facebook.com/Historical-Romances-by-Kelli-A-Wilkins-1703805359922371/
Medallion Press Author Page: http://medallionpress.com/author/kelli-wilkins/
Authors Den: http://www.authorsden.com/visit/author.asp?authorid=61801