Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writing In The Real World - A Recipe For Success

As a professional writer, it is important to spend time EVERY day to work on your craft. This might be writing, editing, reviewing, reading or researching. And yet, I often hear a lot of authors complaining that this is impossible. I do have to say, however, that, althought the real world does indeed get in the way sometimes, the two can indeed coexist.

As many of you know, my life is pretty darn busy. With 3 kids, a dog, a horse, a turtle, and so forth, I tend to be pretty busy. Add in dealing with submissions, prepping for presentations, working with current authors, judging finals for writing contests (yes, I am actually judging 2 categories in an upcoming contest since another judge had to back out), and writing this blog. I AM BUSY. I have to say, this is one reason why I love going to conferences since I can have a "vacation" every now and then. But I can get through this material. Why? Not because of coffee or lack of sleep. It comes down to some basic critical thinking skills. I do believe many of you can use these skills to help out your career.

FLEXIBILITY - This is a big one for me. Although we would all want time to write every day, sometimes the actual writing cannot happen at the computer. So, what do you do? Add in some flexibility. If you cannot take the computer with you, pull out that old legal pad and work on it the old fashioned way. Even if you are sitting at an activity for the kids, you can still bang out a few scenes to keep you on track. What you may have wanted to do that morning might not be possible by the afternoon. Don't throw the whole thing out. Adapt and do something else, or a tweak of that original project.

PRE-PLANNING - The simple truth is that planning does work. Knowing what you have to get done, the priority level and so forth will allow you the time to get more things done. If you only have an hour to work, you can either do 3 smaller projects or 1 big one and not finish it. Deciding what task to do comes down to that pre-planning. Knowing what you have on the horizon will make your life a lot easier. This is especially true when it comes to writing deadlines. If you know your editor will be sending a round of edits shortly, you certainly don't want to start a new project right in the middle of it. Work on those smaller things.

MULTI-TASKING - This is espcially important for all of you "stay at home" people. At the moment I am writing this blog, I have the dishwasher going, one load of laundry in the washer, one in the dryer, the dog is taking his afternoon (I will explain the time delay in just a second) nap, my son is sitting next to me working on his history studies... I think you get the idea. You can take this to the same level with all of those other activities we talked about in the flexiblity section. Why can't you work on your edits while the kids are at their soccer game?

Now, in terms of the "time delay" issue I mentioned. I will be very honest. This week, I am AMAZINGLY busy, but on Sunday (which is the day I wrote this blog) I had some time. I guess this is what I love about Blogger. We can time delay the starts of your writing. In all honesty, if you are not doing this, you are missing out on a great feature.

Look, the deal is you CAN mix the real world with your writing. A lot of authors do this. We have seen a lot of strategies even some such as the infamous "treadmill work stations". Thee people found ways to make it work.

What are your methods?


PS. Now here is a helpful tip for cooking that might help with that writing success.

My family loves those roasted chickens that many of the stores are now doing. We pick those up on a busy day when cooking might be tough to deal with. But I don't just stop with that meal.... Thus, Scott's Chicken Noodle Soup.

1. Immediatly after dinner with that roast chicken, take the entire carcass and put it into a large pot (I have one of those 10 quart pots). Toss in everything - bones, skin, bacon, drippings etc.

2. Add cold water to just cover the carcass.

3. Add chopped carrots, celery and onion if you want.

4. Get it to a boil, turn it to simmer and let the magic begin.

Once the stock gets to a nice dark golden brown, turn off the heat, put a lid on it and let it sit overnight.

5. The next morning, strain it. Toss out all of the bones, carrots, celery, and onion. Pick off the good pieces of meat still on the carcass.

6. Return the stock to the pot again.

7. On the way home from work that day, pick up a bag of the frozen, pre-cooked chicken breasts and a couple bags of the frozen egg noodles. Feel free to pick up more vegis if you want to. My family isn't big on this so I leave these out.

8. Return your stock to the stove and get it boilng again.

9. Once it is boiling, dice up the chicken and toss that in. Sometimes I just toss in the breasts as is and then dice it up later.

10. Add the egg noodles and enjoy.

HINT - The soup is always better the next day.

Now think about this. A good meal and you will have time still to keep your writing going.


  1. Good advice. I think it's very important to stay connected to something "writerly" everyday whether that's research, editing, writing itself short story or novel length, etc. It's all part of the big pot of writer's soup.

  2. Scott, I can picture you as having 10 arms and legs, all going at the same time with vacuums, mops, crying babies, open notebooks, laptop, spatulas and soup spoons! LOL And thank you for the recipe. I guess I never would have thought it safe to leave a grocery store chicken in a pot on the stove overnight.

    Compared to some, I guess I'm not that energetic but I consider Reading an important activity associated with Writing and happily carry a novel or history book in my purse at all times. :D

  3. Practical advice AND a fabulous recipe. Love it!