Tag Archives: organization

How to Get Up Early to Write (7 Tips From a Former Night Owl)

by AprIl Davila

Get up early?

I started getting up early to write when I was working full time and my kids were little. I didn’t want to do it, but I absolutely could not find any other time to write.

As a die-hard night owl, the adjustment was rough. I’m not gonna lie.

It took me about eighteen months to settle in, but that was because I went about it all wrong.

Here are seven things I wish I had known when I started:

1. You don’t have to be a morning person.

I was absolutely NOT a morning person when I started. It was painful, no question about it, but eventually, I got used to it because I had to. If your writing is important enough, you’ll get used to it.

2. Coffee.

If you own a coffee maker, it probably has a delayed start function. Take 10 minutes, google the make and model to find the owners manual, and read up on how to set it to start brewing ten minutes before your alarm goes off. You want the coffee to be ready to drink when you drag yourself out of bed. Hot coffee can be a powerful motivator.

3. A quick foot massage.

I know this sounds strange, but sometimes, when I was too tired to get up and even the promise of hot coffee wasn’t enough, I would pinch and roll each toe between my fingers for a few seconds. Somehow this quick little foot massage helped drag me into consciousness. Try it. I swear it works.

4. Do it (almost) every day.

For the first year, I thought I was going easy on myself by only getting up early to write every other day. What I know now is that it is actually much harder to do every other day. Do it every day, or at least every workday. Just put it in your head that this is how you start your days. It will be a drag at first, but eventually, you will adjust. It will get easier.

I struggled terribly with early mornings until I started waking up at 5 am six days a week. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s easier to settle into it if you do it (almost) every day. (For the record, I’m a big believer in having one or two mornings a week to sleep in. It gives you something to look forward to. Trying to wake up at 5 am every morning forever will just lead to burnout.)

“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have.”
Lemony Snicket

5. Establish a routine.

When you wake up super early to write you will be groggy. You will not want to think about anything too much until the coffee kicks in. To overcome this, you will need to establish a routine and make time for it. So if you only need ten minutes, you can’t just set the alarm to go off ten minutes earlier than usual. You have to figure out what routine will bring your head to your writing and then set the alarm so that you have enough time to do the whole thing. 

My routine consists of pouring my mug of coffee and sitting down with my journal. I aim to fill one page of the journal with whatever comes to mind – seriously anything. It usually takes me about half an hour, and I notice my pen starts to move faster as the coffee kicks in. Then, I close the journal, set the mug aside, and attack my writing. This means that to get an hour or writing in, I have to get up an hour and a half before my kids. I just do. If you’re only writing for 10 minutes, you may still have to set the alarm to give you a full 40 minutes. Accept this as part of the deal.

Support 10 Minute Novelists

6. Go to bed early.

Depending on how old you are, and how demanding your days can be, getting up super early on a regular basis will start to wear you down if you don’t compensate by going to bed a little earlier. As a night person by nature, I never used to get tired until after midnight. But I knew I needed sleep, so I started brushing my teeth and getting into bed earlier. For many weeks I would sit up and read until my usual crash-out time, but eventually, the exhaustion caught up and I started falling asleep earlier. It’s embarrassing for a self-proclaimed night person to admit to going to bed at 9, but you’re a writer, dang it, and you’re doing it for your art.

7. Set an end time.

For me, writing time ends at 6:30 or when the kids wake up. Whichever comes first. If you’re a mom, and/or if you’re working a full-time job, you will need to set an end time. Write as much as you can in your allotted time and then pat yourself on the back. Whatever else happens that day, you wrote. And that is a glorious thing.

“It sounds plausible enough tonight, but wait until tomorrow. Wait for the common sense of the morning.”
H.G. Wells

For the New Parents

As a quick side note, if you are the parent of a very young child (or children), you may have to wait a few years to implement this, but take heart, the time will come.

I remember, when I was nursing, I felt like the exhaustion would consume me. There was no predicting when those ravenous babies would wake. My advice: don’t stress. Write for a few minutes while they’re napping and know that you are in the throws of a unique and precious time. Get some audiobooks to listen to while you fold endless loads of laundry and soak up as much story as you can. As a writer, you can totally count that as honing your craft (for real).

Happy writing!


If you liked this post, you may also like 

Finding Time to Write (With Toddlers in Tow) or

6 Practical Ways To Plug Time Leaks For More Writing Time


April Dávila lives and works in Los Angeles with her husband and two beautiful children. By day she blogs and works as a freelance writer. By the light of early, early morning she chips away at her first novel. Check her out at http://aprildavila.com

How To Handle Other Commitments As A 10 Minute Novelist

By definition, if you are a 10-minute novelist, then you are time-crunched.

You have commitments to your job, your family, and your social life. Because you are a 10-Minute Novelist, you have to find pockets of time here and there to get those words down. But even with all the best intentions, it’s hard to do this.

How To Handle Other Commitments as a 10 Minute Novelist

How do you find 10 minutes here and there if you have so much else to do?

Take stock of where each second of your day goes.

You may have time leaks. If you do, look at this blog post on how to plug them. If you’re really serious about making the most of your time, you need to track it. This isn’t any different that tracking finances if you are trying to get your money under control. This isn’t any different than tracking calories if you are getting your weight under control. Pardon the pun, but tracking your time leaks is time-consuming and difficult. But at the end of the exercise, you’ll be able to see where your time actually goes. This may be discouraging, but you’ll be able to assess honestly your time leaks and make informed choices on how to plug them. Some of your commitments are rigid and you can’t get out of them — like going to work each day. But some are flexible. Use their flexibility to your advantage.

Consider how efficient you are with certain tasks.

Are there ways that you can speed everything up? Can you do all your shopping once a week? Perhaps you can go a little faster in cleaning your kitchen? Perhaps you can store paperwork more efficiently so you aren’t overwhelmed by it? Many household tasks can’t be avoided, but they can be sped up to their most efficient. As tempting as it is, you can’t really write and cook dinner at the same time. (I know, I’ve tried.) So instead, come up with ways to speed up dinner, like making freezer meals, cutting vegetables in advance, or putting something in the crockpot earlier in the day. Eating and cleaning are commitments that you can work around without sacrificing what’s important to you.

Can you eliminate some tasks?

If you have assessed your time, you may find that you are spending time on the unnecessary or redundant. If you don’t enjoy gardening, then don’t plant one this spring. And if you don’t like fussing over what to give your relatives, then buy gift cards and call it done. No task you do should be without scrutiny. Often we say yes to commitments because we don’t think we have a choice, but we do. I suggest re-evaluating some of the decisions you ‘ve made and eliminating or simplifying them to maximize your time.

Can you delegate?

Delegating is my all-time favorite method of saving time and I explain why here. Is it possible for you to give some of your household responsibilities to others? Can you step back and encourage them to participate without micromanaging? Can you be grateful for extra help? Many hands make light the work. While explaining to your family or roommates what needs to be done takes time, you will save time in the long run.

Can you get up earlier or stay up later?

I am often surprised at how much I accomplish when I get up early. And while I would have never called me an early bird, to have some daily tasks done before 8:00 AM is encouraging and motivating. Can you give yourself an extra half hour, at either end of the day? It is possible to squeeze in bits of time between your other obligations.

Support 10 Minute Novelists

Can you be more organized?

Could you sort the mail as soon as you pick it up instead of leaving it in piles? Can you put similar things together in your pantry? Could you give certain tasks certain times of the day or week so that everything can get done in an orderly fashion? We often lose time by not grouping tasks together. Consider how you can meet your household requirements swiftly so that you can block more time for yourself.

Do you need to communicate your needs?

Could it be that the other people in your household could do more to help your productivity? This may be the hardest thing to do on this list, but it could also be the most life-changing. Can you discuss your needs with the people you live with? Or can you delegate chores? Can you start good habits of order? Could you model responsible, non-whiny attitudes about new policies and order?

Are you wasting time?

Where do you put all of your time? Do you dawdle? Are there too many cat videos in your life? Do you catch yourself playing too much Candy Land? You may find it helpful to identify these time wasters and figure out a way to limit yourself. You’ve probably heard it said that life is short. It is. Why would you want to waste it on the trivial or uninteresting?

These could be radical changes for you.

 But if you really want to make time for your dream, you’ll have to look at your commitments in a way that could be difficult or painful.

But you have a dream to write, or you wouldn’t be here.

You can do a lot in 10-minute increments.

Find more of them.

Your dreams are worth it.


If you liked this post, then you may also like:

Wasting Time: Seven Hard Questions To Ask Yourself, Or,

Six Must-Haves For The Time-Crunched Writer! 


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Quick Decisive Moves That Will Help You Get Organized

 

In her book, Organize Your Life and More, Christina Scalise said, “Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.”

 I totally agree with this. I think that to be organized, one should make decisions, sometimes quickly. Sometimes painfully. To get rid of your clutter, or to get more organized, I suggest you take one of these ten actions.

Quick Decisive Moves That Will Help You Get Organized

Okay, so organizational tips don’t have anything to with writing directly. But we are more than just writers, we are parents, employees, adult children and citizens. Staying organized is good for us.

I'd like to suggest though, that the more organized you are with your stuff, the more time you'll…

Here are 10 decisive moves that will help you get organized:

Make a decision. START The act of starting has power. Even if the idea intimidates you, set a timer for 10 minutes. Even if that’s too much, start with five.

Pick the most obvious thing. Maybe it’s all the trash all over the floor. Maybe it’s the big stock pot that’s been soaking in your kitchen sink for days. Maybe it’s the clothes thrown everywhere. If you work on that one thing for ten minutes, you will see a DRAMATIC difference. Because it was the most obvious thing, and you dealt with it, then it’s gone. You’ll be energized to do more.

Make a tidy list, but don’t make it too long. Say, no more than  five things. Then tackle an area of your house for 5-10 minutes. You will be amazed at what can get done in such a short time.

Divide and conquer. If you have to clean out your garage, for example, the wrong thing to do is think, “THE GARAGE!” You’ll be so discouraged that you won’t make a move to do anything. Instead pick one manageable task in the garage, like gather the recyclables. That’s it. When that’s done, go for the trash. Then stack those bins. I’d even suggest that if you work in the garage for 10-30 minutes a day, you’ll see significant progress and you’ll be motivated to do more.

“You’re the boss of clutter, not the other way around.”
Monika Kristofferson

Think fast. Everything you touch needs to have a decision about it. Don’t pick it up if you don’t know where it goes immediately. Those 2 year old magazines that you never will get the articles from? They go in the recycling big. Let’s be honest, everything you need in life is on the internet. That birthday card your Aunt sent you last summer? Put it in the recycling bin too. The space it’s taking isn’t worth it and your feelings for your aunt won’t change if you throw it out. That broken refrigerator magnet? Throw it out. You don’t need a project.

Simplify your paper. Go paperless as much as you can with bills or other monthly activities. Create only one calendar that the family uses. Cancel those subscriptions you don’t read anyway. Keep a trash can and recycling bin near where you sort the mail, so it can go from your hand to either a to-do basket or the waste. Keep only the most meaningful stuff from your kids’ art projects.

Dispose of what was meant to be disposable. This means empty tape containers, cheap pens, too small pencils. Go through your junk drawer and keep one thing for ever five you throw out. Go through your family’s clothing for the stained and worn out and just throw it away.

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”
Wendell Berry, Farming: a hand book

Be realistic about the future of an item. Let’s say that bag of yarn has been sitting on your living room floor for six months because you think your sister, who lives two states away, would like it. You’ve left it there so long that you feel guilty about doing anything with it except your original intention. Make a decision. Either box it up right now and get it to her, or throw it out. Now you may not have a bag of yarn, but you probably have lots of things sitting around that you intend to give away. Give yourself a half hour and collect as much of this stuff as you can in one place. Give yourself another 10 minutes to make a committed decision — deal with it or pitch it. (Here’s a hint: pitching it in the trash takes less commitment.)

Identify those overstuffed cabinets and cupboards. It’s likely you have too much stuff. You buy more products because you don’t know what you have and you don’t want to run out. What you need to do is purge the old and nearly empty containers. Then you’ll see what you have and what you need to buy. Set a timer for a half hour, put a sticker or a sticky note on those closets, cupboards or cabinets that need a going over. Then, systematically, one day at a time, choose ONE and ONLY ONE cupboard to clean out. Be brutal. Throw out as much as you can. Make a note of what you need to replace. When that one cabinet is done, you’re done. Do one more tomorrow and each day after that until each area is done.

“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
Eleanor Brownn

Delegate your responsibilities. Nothing helps me stay organized better than giving clear, reasonable chores to my family. We’ve worked together to figure out what each of them can manage. They know what is expected of them daily and weekly. I gently hold them accountable. I find this freeing. This is especially helpful when everyone knows that all the stuff has a home. If you can’t put it in it’s home in sixty seconds, it goes in the trash.

Excessive stuff drains you soul. With a little effort, you can stay on top of your stuff.

 I believe that when we choose to be decisive, we can stay on top of our stuff and we save time for what really matters.


Did you like this post?

You may also like:

Eleven Truths I Learn When I Delegate Responsibility

Or,

6 Practical Ways To Plug Time Leaks For More Writing Time


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Eleven Truths I Learn When I Delegate Responsibility

If I didn’t delegate my household chores, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

To delegate responsibility means to give a task to someone else. In a way, by allowing someone else to do something, you’ve doubled your efficiency. (I have five kids. This means I can do a lot more than double mine!) To delegate means more than just getting more work done. Delegating also brings people closer.

11 Truths I Learn When I Delegate Responsibility by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve learned since I’ve chosen to delegate my household tasks. Here are a few:

Trust builds relationships. When you hand off a job, and allow someone to work for you, you’re saying, “I trust you. Show me what you can do.” Around the house, the stakes are low, so it can be easy to build trust. (I don’t suggest you take this approach with an inexperienced electrician.) Ideally, a volunteer with a job to do will be grateful for that trust. I believe, that given the right situation, they will rise to the occasion and do well because of that trust. With the completion of the job, the bond between the two parties strengthens. This is how teams are build. The joy that can come out of good relationships is far more valuable than the completion of the task.

People are more important than tasks. It is easy to get so wrapped up in the job that needs to be done, that you snap at others. A bad manager will be overly critical or shame workers. Often, this communicates to them that they are unimportant or replaceable. In your delegation, stop and consider how you can communicate to your volunteers that they are valuable regardless of what they contribute. This feeling of acceptance will help insure that they will want to help again.

“If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate.” 

—  Richard Branson

By giving someone something to do, you’re inviting them in on your mission. Of all the reasons to delegate responsibility, this is the best. “Do you want to help?” is a question that, if asked correctly, can be an invitation. The reward for saying, “Sure!” should be shared thanks, credit for a generous contribution and satisfaction for a job well done. When my children were small, I tried to use the word, “blessing” when it came to doing chores around the house. “It blesses me when you pick up your toys.” Or, “when you ask to help, it’s a huge blessing.” Or, “who wants the blessing of doing something for the house?” I wanted to communicate to them that sharing responsibility was a good thing. To this day, they do their chores cheerfully. They are still on mission with me and receive the full reward of it.

People learn by doing. All the verbal instructions in the world can’t substitute for holding something in your hands. If I’ve learned anything in my years as a homeschooling mother, it’s that learners need to see processes and instructions a variety of ways before it clicks. Some are quicker learners than others. A good teacher will be happy to demonstrate, explain and review. Agreed, it does take time to do this well. But this little investment of time can pay off big later. If you delegate responsibility, you’re taking advantage of a teachable moment.

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.”

— Eli Broad

Few mistakes are fatal. If I am really honest, then I have to admit my tasks are not life-threatening. If they don’t get done, the worst could be is that we’re inconvenienced. I need to communicate this to my helpers. They need to know that I value them, I value their contribution, but their mistakes are rarely upsetting. If a mistake is a critical one, then I try to handle it calmly and reassuringly. I don’t want any mistake they make to taint our relationship.

Others may have a better solutions than I do. Little kills a spirit more than squashed creativity. I’d love for my helpers to come up with good, creative solutions for the tasks I give them. I always retain veto power, but by letting them have a chance to create, I’m demonstrating trust and good will. They may show me ways to change how I do things.

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.”

— Andrew Carnegie

 I need to separate myself from the task at hand. After good instruction and proper tools, I need my helper to feel free to be themselves in the task. I need them to be confident in the job. I believe the more freedom they feel, the better they’ll be. Even if they mess up, I want them to see the whole task as a positive experience so they’ll be willing to help me again. I believe that my separating myself from the task supports this.

Short term tasks are rarely as important as long term vision. I want my kids to participate in the household responsibilities cheerfully, but more importantly I want them to always feel like they are loved unconditionally by me. This means that I can’t risk losing my cool with them over their mistakes and negligence. I do confront it. I do correct it. But I don’t say hurtful things that might damage our relationship for the future. Short term tasks are important, but certainly not the most important. 

 “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.

— George S. Patton

I have it in me to fire others. Sadly, I’ve had to pull people aside and give them a good talking to. Sometimes they haven’t responded well. Sometimes I’ve had to let others go. This is not something I enjoy. Despite my hard work to be diplomatic and gentle, I don’t like firing people, especially volunteers. But I’m very proud of the fact I can do it.

 I really do need others. I’d love to think that all of my accomplishments are mine alone. No, I’ve had lots of help. Because I chose to delegate some of my responsibilities to willing parties, I’ve come to love them more deeply. I need them not just for the tasks at hand. Others encourage me when I am down. I need to do the same for them.  We are bigger than the sum or our parts. If I played the Lone Ranger game with my life, I’d be pretty miserable.

“I don’t have a problem with delegation. I love to delegate. I am either lazy enough, or busy enough, or trusting enough, or congenial enough, that the notion leaving tasks in someone else’s lap doesn’t just sound wise to me, it sounds attractive.”

–John Ortberg

Efficiency is a poor teacher. Sure, I can always do things faster myself. But that doesn’t teach anyone anything except to get out of my way. It’s far better for me to guide my teams now, teaching them as I go. When they get the hang of it, I’ll have someone to do work for me. I’ll have gained a lot more in the long run.

I’ll need to work myself out of a job one day. This is especially true with children. By asking them to take responsibilities around the house they are gaining practice for adulthood. They are learning more and more about how to function in the world. Someday they’ll have to make their own meals and do their own laundry. That transition is hard enough, by having skills, at least it will be easier.

I want my people to go on without me. If I do all the work and never allow them the chance to work, then that makes me irreplaceable. While I do want to be irreplaceable in their hearts, I don’t want to render my survivors helpless. If they share in the responsibilities then when I’m gone, temporarily or permanently, they’ll be able to function. I want this for them. I want my purposes to last.

“The really expert riders of horses let the horse know immediately who is in control, but then guide the horse with loose reins and seldom use the spurs.”


– Sandra Day O’Connor

Everyone should share in the glory of a task. I like it when my kids beam when I say, “I couldn’t do it without them.” This glory basking is a sweet thing to share. I want their team experiences to be pleasant ones. Taking all the credit is a pretty lonely task. I’ve found it only feels good for a second. But sharing credit sows seeds of goodwill that will reap big rewards later.

Micro-managing doesn’t suit me. I feel icky when I constantly correct someone in how they’re doing something for me. I them to volunteer to do it again, so I feel like micromanaging what they do tells them that I don’t want them back. If I micro-manage, I tend to slip into neurosis and I’ve never thought this was an attractive look. Whenever the urge to micro-manage strikes, I try to step back and remind myself that the relationship I have with this person is more important than any detail.

I have five children and live in a modest home.

I have lots of other responsibilities and goals. Because I chose to delegate tasks to them, I not only have met my personal and professional goals, but I’ve also seen them grow into responsible teens and pre-teens. I’ve learned much about the value of delegating. As my children grow and move away, I’m taking these same lessons into other parts of my life and seeing similar success.

By delegating my responsibility, I have become more efficient with my to-do list.

But, in truth, my team has given me much more  than a list that says “Done.”

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals

We can’t be the writer we want to be if we keep doing the things we’ve always done.

This is the time self-involved, sensitive writing types, think about how we can make this upcoming year the best ever. Especially if we are participating in Nanowrimo. This is an exciting time of year and it’s also kind of scary.

We’re going to have to make some changes. Sigh.

This week’s list is the Top Ten Tricky Things You May Have To Do In Order To Achieve Your Goals.

Top 10 Tricky Things You May Have To Do To Achieve Your Goals by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

1. You may have to say no to the expectations of others. This is tricky because in the past you may have said yes too much. You may not have been firm with your boundaries. You may not be known for taking time for yourself. If you are a 10 minute writer, then it is very reasonable to request that the people around you allow you that little bit of creative time.  I want to encourage you to love yourself enough to say no. This is an excellent article from PsychCentral about how to reclaim your boundaries and take care of your own needs. 

2. You may have to write down a plan and stick with it. This is tricky because in the past, you may have given up on things too early. You may remember the sting of failure. You may remember the times that having goals did nothing but taunt you because it didn’t work out. But writing down goals and keeping them visible often create a hope in us to keep going. Here’s another list of 10 — 10 Simple Strategies for Sticking to Your Goals. This is good advice.

“Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.”
Louisa May Alcott

3. You may have to go to bed earlier or get up earlier to find time to write. This is tricky because sleep has a way of claiming us. Setting an alarm means we have to take action. Being disciplined often isn’t as much fun as late night television. But your writing goal will cost you. I’d like to remind you that if you can find an extra ten minutes each day to write, and you write 500 words in that 10 minutes, that’s 3500 new words this week. That’s 14,000 new words this month. That’s 168,000 words this year. All you have to do to get those kinds of numbers is set your alarm. Here’s another encouragement to do this from Write To Done.

4. You may have to make writing a priority even though you’ve never treated it as one. This is tricky because this means you may have to face your fears. Some aspiring writers aren’t writing for legitimate reasons, like say, their fingers are broken, or their computer was smashed by an angry toddler. But some non-writing aspiring writers don’t write because they are just afraid to sit down and do it. They fear failure. They fear disappointment. They fear rejection. The difference between a writing aspiring writer who is afraid and a non-writing aspiring writer who is afraid is that the first one is sitting on their butt, putting words down.  All of us are afraid. Write anyway. Find a way around your broken fingers and record your voice instead. Get out a sharpened pencil and notepad while you wait for your computer to get fixed. Despite your fears, write for 10 minutes today. I bet you’ll want to keep going. 

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.”
Albert Einstein

5. You may have to change your expectations for time spent in other areas, like housekeeping or meals. This is tricky because we have to live. I understand this. There are seven people in my household and they’re under the impression that they should wear clothing and eat occasionally. I believe that all of your required, general life tasks can be made more efficient so that you can find little pockets of time here or there. My favorite ways include doing my errands all on one day, or making meals in my crock pot and rice cooker. I also delegate most of my household chores to my children. Take a day or two to think through exactly how your time is spent and come up with a plan. It’s likely you’ll find pockets of time that will make all the difference.

“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” ― Karen Lamb

6. You may have to apply yourself to learning about craft and then be teachable. This is tricky because beginning writers often have a lot of confidence. Or worse, they have well-meaning relatives who sugar-coat what the aspiring writer. If you’ve never been in a critique group, taken a writing class or workshopped your story, you may not know where you need to improve. If you are serious about pursuing your writing dreams, then you need to be serious about learning. Here’s a list of cheap and not-so-cheap ways to learn to be a better writer. Here’s a list of ways to meet other writers so you can know your work is “good”. And then, of course, a link to the coolest writing group on Facebook. 

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”
Fyodor Dostoyevsky

7. You may have to express your needs to your spouse or significant other. This is tricky because your determination to write will definitely affect your relationships. You may have to communicate your needs. Some spouses and significant others will jump at the chance to help. Others may not be so enthusiastic. Take the time to express how much you need space to work and time to work. Come up with practical solutions that create minimal interference in others’ lives. Make sure that you are reciprocating and supporting them in in their goals too. Jeff Goins has some great stuff to say about this. 

8. You may need to learn a new organizing tool or system in order to reap the benefits. This is tricky because if you’re like me, you’re lazy. If you’re like me, you don’t get excited about learning curves. If you’re like me, you believe that the old ways are good enough. They may be, but if you’re in the habit of losing your work, then you need to find a better system. If you follow 10 Minute Novelists on Pinterest, then you can use our board on apps and software that can make your writing life easier. Good organization is critical for good performance. Don’t let laziness or reluctant learning get in the way of you being your best.

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

9. You may have to lower your expectations on social media. This is tricky because everyone tells authors that they need a Facebook page, a blog, an Instagram account and a million other things and they all take time to keep up with. I suggest that you pick 2 or 3 social media platforms that you are the most comfortable with, and get the most excited about, and only do those. I have a blog, I lead a group on Facebook and I try to maximize Twitter and Pinterest. Are you leaning toward Twitter, but you don’t know how to make it work? I can help! 

10. You may have to go easy on yourself in some areas. You may have to kick yourself in the pants in others. This is tricky because every day is a battle. We have to overcome our inner selves to face the tasks in order to achieve the goals. Every day we have to make the little choices that will add up to the big choices. Every writer faces this. You are not alone. I’d like to suggest that the most important step you take in becoming a writer and pursuing your dreams is knowing who you are. Once you know, or at least have a hint, then it will be far easier to make all the changes I listed in steps 1-9.

The creation of words, at times, can be the expression of the inner workings of our soul. The more secure we are on the inside, the more excellent our words will be on the outside. 

You may have some tricky things to do now. 

 Do them anyway. If you fail, keep going.

Your dreams are worth it.

Top 10 Things I Do On A Daily Basis That Make Me More Productive by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

I am NOT perfect. I make a LOT of mistakes, but one of the biggest things I did right was decide that I would make time for my dreams.

(I wrote a book about it too! Look over there on the right!) 

I realized that if I was going to actually write in 10 minute increments, I would have to organize my life. Now, I’ve been doing this 10 Minute Writer/Novelists gig for nine years, so I’ve streamlined my procedures pretty well (and THANK GOD, my kids are older!)

But I still have 10 Things I think about on a daily basis that makes my organization and productivity possible.

Top 10 Things I Think About On A Daily Basis That Make Me More Productive by Katharine Grubb

 

1. I know where everything is.  I minimize clutter, assign places for everything and have no trouble throwing things away. Need help with this? Check these top ten blogs for organizing! 

2. I have a plan every day. Most of the time I keep it in my head — but I also write lists and keep a calendar. I’ve also discovered that daily schedules have to be flexible, especially as my family’s needs change. Passion Planner has the coolest free stuff for people who want to keep lists too! 

3. I know how long each task should take me. I figured this out when I was devoting my housework to 10 minute increments. Ten minute tasks include: starting a load of laundry, folding one basket of clothes, starting  meal prep, cleaning the bathroom, emptying the dishwasher, emptying all trash bins, vacuuming one floor of the house. Having this information helps my plan my day. I owe one person for this method. I love you, Flylady! 

4. I communicate my time needs to my family. I started training my children when they were young that I would need 10 minute increments to work. Generally speaking, they understood it. Now that they’re older, they have no trouble respecting my need for some alone time. Need a list from a great resource? Try this! 

5. I model good attitudes to my children regarding staying organized. This is the most important item on the list. If I whine and complain about anything I do, my children will, most assuredly echo me. If I want them to be happy cleaner-uppers, then I need to whistle while I work. It’s cheesy, but it works. Need a song? Try these! 

6. I set a lot of timers. Thank you Apple! My iPhone has what I need: alarms, timers, and world clocks to tell me if my friends in the UK are up to talk! Oh, I kid. I’ve now graduated from my microwave timer to my phone, which is better because my microwave didn’t fit in my pocket. How about this one? 

Great gifts for writers
Mug says, “In the time it takes to drink this coffee, you could have written 300 words.”

7. I plan my meals in advance. Generally speaking, I know what we’re going to eat every meal of the week. I also cook the same things every weekend. I love to be creative in the kitchen, but the “old standbys” go faster. I have a couple dozen recipes that I always have ingredients for and I’ve practiced cooking them so often, that I’m pretty fast at it. I also couldn’t function without my crock pot and rice cooker. Wanna go a little crazy? Try once a month cooking! 

8. I don’t waste time shopping or doing other errands. I keep orderly lists and go out as little as possible, combining as many errands as I can. If an item didn’t make the list, then it has to wait a week. It’s brutal, but that’s why we buy four gallons of milk at a time. I use this app to create my lists. 

9. I multitask if possible. I use down time to get stuff done, but I also understand when multi-tasking isn’t such a great plan. Like for all of these reasons. 

10. I delegate household tasks. This is my secret weapon. My kids have always had a lot of responsibility around the house and the older they get, the more jobs are given to them. Some people think having five children is hard work, are you kidding me? Because I do have five, I have an army that cleans the house every Saturday morning, tidies every afternoon and cleans the kitchen twice a day. How do small families do it?

 

All of these took practice, but none of them were too difficult. If you’re  new to the idea of working in 10 minute increments (and perhaps a little intimidated) pick one of the things on this list and practice it for a few weeks until you gain confidence. Then pick up the other one.

know you can find time to pursue your dreams.  Even in as little as 10 Minutes a Day!

The Writers’ Guide To Time Thieves A Guest Post by Elaine Bayless

As 10 Minute Novelists, we live life in the margins. Ten minutes here, ten minutes there, a few word sprints, and boom we have a novel! So it makes sense that we would be excellent managers of time, right?

Ah yes, I can hear some of you laughing right now. Managing time is like nailing Jell-o to a wall. And to complicate matters further, we must contend with Time Thieves.

What are time thieves? Those sneaky critters that sneak into our daily calendar and steal away our precious 10 minute writing increments! Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim. Here are four of the most common time thieves and how to combat them.

Writers' Guide To Time Thieves by Elaine Bayless
Writers’ Guide To Time Thieves by Elaine Bayless
1. The Squeaky Wheel: It’s true that the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Emergencies pop up, accidents happen, and sometimes we run up against a deadline and must neglect some tasks to complete others.

We do need to attend to those squeaky wheels, but we also need to give attention to the other three wheels. Patching one flat tire does no good if the other three tires have worn away their tread. The worst thing about this time thief is that it is totally valid. Emergencies do have to be addressed and deadlines must be met. But as writers, we have a shared dream that we know is equally valid. Make your writing a squeaky wheel.

– Enlist your community in your writing goals: Kids, spouses, roommates and friends all need to know what you’re up to. When they understand your priority, they can be enlisted to handle some of the squeaky wheels in daily life.

– Set an alarm. For extra fun, make it the sound of a squeaky wheel. Whenever the alarm goes off, do a word sprint.

2. TV Streaming services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, get behind me, you time thieves!

You innocently sit down and think, “Hmmm, maybe I’ll check out this Parks and Rec show that everyone is talking about.” Three hours later you look up in a daze and wonder where the time went! Save the marathons for special times – like pregnancy bed rest, surgery recovery, a sick day, or a very special date night. Otherwise, decide BEFORE you turn it on exactly how many episodes you’ll watch.

Expert tip: half hour shows are typically only 22 minutes long and hour shows are only 44 minutes. That means if you decide to sit down and watch 2 half hour episodes, you have 16 minutes you can use to write. Yes, I’m serious! Open your WIP, set a timer for 8 – 16 minutes and write. Then reward yourself with the TV show of your choice.

3. The Shoulds: These are the external expectations that steal time from your day.

You should get to work on time. You should work late more than once a week. You should cook. You should have a clean house all the time. You should get up early to exercise/meditate/read the paper. You should look sexy/confident/put-together every day. You should volunteer at your kid’s school. You should respond thoughtfully to every Facebook post you read. You should make every blog post a miniature work of art that Elizabeth Gilbert (or Danielle Steele, or Truman Capote) would weep over. These “shoulds” work their way into our unconscious mind and leap out whenever we have 10 minutes to spare. So instead of writing our novel, we wipe down the kitchen counters, or trim our nose and ear hair. Whenever you hear yourself say the word “should,” take notice and pause. Ask yourself WHY the task in question “should” be done. You may find that many such tasks are completely optional. Or, if they aren’t optional, they may just be less important that using that time to write.

How can I get my family to leave me alone?
I mean, pretty please, with sugar on it?
4. Smart Phones/Tablets: Oh my goodness, these are tempting, aren’t they?

We check the weather and then glance at our Twitter newsfeed. We find a super fun game and suddenly we’re addicted. We look up one simple fact on Wikipedia and get lost clicking through from one related link to another. As with TV streaming, decided in advance how much time you’re going to give to this toy. Then set the timer on the phone and put it down as soon as the timer goes off. If you’re using the Internet for research, still set a timer. If you don’t find the answer before the timer goes off you can always add more time. Alternatively, disconnect from the wi-fi while writing (and put the phone is airplane mode), and just jot down anything you need to research. Then later, when you’re NOT writing, do the research.

Elaine Bayless is a member of the 10 Minute Novelists Facebook group. She wrote Birds, Bees and Church Trailier Thieves and is the mother of a lively toddler.