A Little Can Go a Loooong Way

by Jean Drew

Author Jean Drew
Copyright © 2000, Jean Drew, and reprinted with permission from the September 2000 issue of the Mid-Michigan Mirror

       Many things can encroach on your precious writing time if you let them. Working full time takes up a huge chunk of your day, as does bringing up children, housework, and the thousand and one other things constantly demanding your attention, none of them moving you toward you goal of being published.

       One multi-published author told me that getting published is ninety per cent--and you'll have to excuse the colorful phraseology--sheer bloody-minded determination.

       I agree.

       Being wishy-washy about your dreams is not the way to make them happen. The bottom line is--no one is going to write the book for you.

       No time to make your dreams come true? Life getting in the way? Well, it's time to tell life you'll do things in your way, thank you very much, and not let it shove you around, drifting from one day to the next with nothing to show for yesterday.

       Take life by the throat give it a good shake and tell it what you will have.

       Wherever you are, keep a notebook and pen/pencil handy. Those small jotters cost only a few cents, so you can keep one in every room in the house and on the passenger seat of your car. Chances are, by the time you get to the office, or find something to write on or with, that fleeting idea will have flown right out of your head. Ideas are famous for their fickleness. If you don't write it down, you could have lost it forever.

       By the way, I'm not advocating writing while driving. Stopped at the traffic lights will do.

       There are plenty of times like that during the day that you can put to good use. Waiting outside school to pick up the children. Waiting for the repairman. Morning/afternoon tea break. Lunch break. There may be several times in fact which can all add up to that hour or two you didn't think you had for writing. It's amazing when you look back at the day, how much you can accomplish.

       Here are a few suggestions I've gleaned from other authors, some of which I've already put into practice. Believe me, they work. Only got 20 minutes? No problem. There's a lot you can do. In that short space of time, or less, you can:

  • Write a paragraph
  • Write a snippet of dialogue
  • Line edit
  • Check spelling
  • Check grammar
  • Look for typos
  • Character sketch
  • Character charts
  • Write some scene detail
  • Listen to conference tapes
  • Read a how-to book. Your mind retains information better in small doses.
  • Brainstorm ideas.
  • Plan you next scene. Pre-planning can save you a lot of time when you come to do the acutal writing.
  • Carry your chapter or synopsis and some colored marker pens. Then check for repetitions. How many times has the hero snarled, glared, or grinned?
  • Go to bed an hour later/Get up an hour earlier

       What's the most negative phrase in the English language? "Yes, but..."

       You'd be surprised how many people use it as an excuse to do nothing. It can often be cunningly disguised. Don't you fall into the "yes, but" trap.

       Pinned on the corkboard in my office, I have a quote from Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut. Its heading stands out in big, bold lettering and challenges me constantly.


       "The most important quality I have noticed in successful people is that they have a dream. They want to be someone or something. They want to have something. They want to go somewhere.

       "They think and work towards that dream every day.

       "I often ask people who tell me their dream, 'What did you do today to move closer to your dream?'

       "Eight-five per cent didn't do anything. They're planning to do something next week, they're just too busy today.

       "These eighty-five percent will probably never see their dreams come true.

       "Ask yourself the same question: 'What have I done today to make my dream come true?' If the answer is nothing specific, then you probably won't make it unless you change. "

       Work towards your dream constantly or one day you might look back and say, "If only..." Little bits of time can go a long way to changing "if only" to "I did it!"

Jean Drew aka Jean Adams' first book is due out in February 2001 from Starlight Writers Publications She is founder of Romance Writers of New Zealand and a long distance member of MMRWA

Read BETWEEN THE COVERS with: Jean Drew

Copyright © 2000, Jean Drew, and reprinted with permission from the September 2000 issue of the Mid-Michigan Mirror. All rights reserved. Please do not reproduce without written permission of author.

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