Tag Archives: time management

Which Story Should You Write First?


by Lillian Csernica on August 28, 2017

44384633-creativity-and-imagination-concept-open-book-with-magical-city-inside-ship-palm-trees-tropical-islaYou’ve got two or more ideas in your head, fighting for your attention, demanding to be written.

It happens.

What do you do? How do you prioritize them? Maybe you really can write more than one story at once, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Everybody’s got a process. It’s good to know and respect your own. If you’re still somewhat new to writing narrative fiction, you might want to concentrate on one story at a time.

But again, which one?

The answer depends on knowing exactly what you want.

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Are you after the money? Go with the idea that’s most marketable.

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Are you out to make a statement or address an issue? Go with the idea that really sets your heart on fire, be it with anger, grief, or joy.

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Do you have what seems like a really cool idea but you’re all caught up in the worldbuilding and you can’t seem to make the characters behave and there’s all this research? Let that one sit. It sounds like it might be a novel. If you don’t have enough experience yet from writing short stories, writing a novel might be biting off more than you can chew. Do I know this from personal experience? Oh yes.

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When you get to the stage where you see ideas everywhere, that’s when you have to adjust your own settings as a writer. By doing so, you’ll be able to concentrate on the ideas that show up most strongly on the radar of your imagination.

How do you adjust those settings? Ask yourself these questions:

Do you have a deadline to meet? If there’s a submission window open and it has a firm deadline, that movies it up the priority list.

Is the idea time-sensitive? Seasonal themes often require submitting the story several months in advance, so keep an eye on guideline updates.

Do you have a particular word limit in mind? It might seem obvious to think flash fiction can be written in a shorter time frame than a novella. Shorter is often harder, because every word has to do that much more work. If you have more than one work-in-progress, the time factor is an important consideration.

Cost/benefit analysis

Will Idea A yield benefits that outweigh the costs of time, effort, marketing, etc.?

Opportunity cost

What else could you be doing instead of developing Idea A into a story? Maybe Idea B would yield more in the way of benefits long term.

If you want your writing to be more than a few random thoughts jotted in a personal journal while sipping a latte in the local coffeehouse, then this kind of analysis is very important. It may seem too cold and clinical to evaluate a creative effort in these terms, but hey, life is short. Make hay while the sun shines or the storms will come and all that hay will rot in the field. All that opportunity will be lost.

Regardless of which priority you choose, once you have settled on a project, there is one ironclad rule:

FINISH IT!

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Filed under creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, historical fiction, Horror, publication, research, Small business, steampunk

How to Plan For Success


by Lillian Csernica on January 2, 2017

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I’ve been doing a lot of research lately. The marketplace for writers is more competitive than ever. There are plenty of articles and blog posts and other advice venues full of tips on how to get where we want to go with our writing. It gets confusing, and not a little overwhelming.

As I’ve said in other posts, I’m not a fan of making New Year’s Resolutions. Too much pressure, especially at a time of year when we’re all recovery from the mad dash of the holidays. I do believe in setting goals and making plans. With that in mind, allow me to share with you my plan for 2017.

To be successful as a writer, I must make a daily effort in each of these three areas:

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WRITING

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EDITING

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PROMOTION

I’ve been reading up on the work habits of some of my favorite Big Names, such as William Nolan, who says he writes for three hours a day. Some years ago when I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Zelazny, he told me he sat down at the keyboard four times a day and wrote at least three sentences each time. During at least one of those times his writing would take off and he’d get a satisfactory amount of work done for that day. Esther Friesner and Janet Evanovich have also provided some excellent guidance about figuring out one’s optimal work habits.

On January 9th, school is back in session here in our neck of the woods. On that day I will launch my new work schedule. My office hours will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., with the exception of days when I’ve scheduled appointments.

Now here’s the breakdown of my work time, a division of labor which I hope will lead to making progress on several fronts:

10 a.m. until noon — Writing fresh material.

Noon to 1 p.m. — Editing short fiction from what I call my Mending Pile. I may well write more on these projects as well.

1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Pursuing the noble art of Shameless Self-Promotion. Blogging. Tweeting. Researching markets. Trading reviews. I must promote my own work, but I also have a duty to do my share of promoting the anthologies that include my stories.

My boys come home from school around 2:30 p.m. I want to be available for help with their homework, listening to how their days have gone, and in general being a good Mom. It’s very easy for me to stay shut away in my Ivory Tower while I’m working. That’s not OK. I can do that later after the boys are asleep.

I also want to be sure I have time during daylight to get out for a walk. I need more exercise, more time in the sun, and more contact with my neighbors. I may be an extrovert by nature, but the writing life tends to encourage being a recluse if you have a passion for research or you get your hands on a good book and lose all track of time.

Wish me luck! I will keep you posted on how well my plan is working.

 

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Filed under editing, Family, fantasy, Fiction, Goals, historical fiction, Lillian Csernica, mother, parenting, publication, research, special education, steampunk, Writing

How to Escape Giving Negative Critiques


by Lillian Csernica on August 23, 2016

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Whether or not you’re involved in a writing group, there comes a time when one of your fellow writers will ask you to read his or her manuscript. If this person has already done you the favor of reading one of yours, you are more or less honor bound to return the kindness.

If you and your colleague are at a comparable level in your writing skills, this could turn out to be a very pleasant and profitable exchange of ideas and perspectives.  This is the best case scenario, and the reason why I urge anyone seriously considering joining a writer’s group to bear in mind these potential issues.

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Sooner or later, the moment will come when you are faced with the terrible prospect of reading a manuscript that is so bad that every page is absolute torture.  No amount of cheery and euphemistic commentary can conceal the fact that this particular stack of paper besmirched with little black ink marks is really, really bad.  Your eyes ache, your fingers are cramped from making copy editing marks, and you’re left with the unhappy knowledge that reading this mess has taken up hours of your life that you will never get back again.

What can we do to protect our sanity, our writing time, and the integrity of our relationships with colleagues while still sparing ourselves the ordeal of forcing ourselves to endure really bad writing?

Honesty  There are some types of fiction that do not appeal to me, so I rarely read them. Regency romance. Westerns. Space opera. Really gruesome horror. Since I don’t read much in these genres, I’m not a very good judge of what works and what doesn’t according to the usual reader expectations. Therefore I can step aside with a clear conscience.

Time  Life gets more and more crowded every day. Finding the time to do our own writing and editing can be difficult enough. Making time for additional critiquing may not be possible. If one has a standing commitment to a regular writing group, that’s one thing. That commitment must be honored. Outside of that, however, a judicious application of the word NO might be essential.

Referral  If you know somebody in your circle of writing acquaintances who might be willing to take on the burden of this critique, present your appeal with full disclosure.  If your colleague agrees, make the connection between the owner of the manuscript and the willing victim, give them your blessing, and exit stage left.

What do you think? Am I being reasonable here? Or am I being to harsh in declaring some manuscripts way too much of a not very good thing?

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Filed under Conventions, creativity, editing, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Goals, homework, Lillian Csernica, publication, romance, science fiction, steampunk, Writing

A to Z: Another Year, Another Adventure!


by Lillian Csernica on May 3, 2015

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/

Time now to look back on the 26 days of reading, writing, thinking and replying.  I’d like to begin by saying thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog.  A special thank you to the folks who hung out with me, added their observations, and made the whole adventure that much more enjoyable:

Alex Hurst

Jazzfeathers at The Old Shelter

Sue Archer at Doorway Between Worlds

Sourcerer

Lori MacLaughlin at Writing, Reading, and the Pursuit of Dreams

Pat MacEwen at Bone Speak

Sanch at Living My Imperfect Life

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What Worked:

1) A crazy topic.  I suppose I could call this “a unique theme.”  I had no idea so many people out there enjoy bad sword & sorcery movies as much as I do.  Now we know about each other, so we can form a support group.  LOL

2) Good graphics.  Some of the movies I chose were rather obscure, which made finding graphics for them more difficult.  That in turn made such content more valuable.  Some of those costumes really have to be seen to be believed!

3) Replying to all comments, even if I just hit “Like” now and then.  Give and take is what it’s all about during the A to Z.  It’s just plain polite, of course, but running around seeing what my new friends were creating made this experience organic and exciting.

4) Links.  Good links, informative links, links that lead somewhere worth the click time!

What Didn’t Work:

1) Not getting enough posts written and scheduled ahead of time. I started off with a week’s worth of posts ready to go.  That kept my head above water until around mid-month when my other writing commitments began pushing the blog posts down the priority list.

2) I couldn’t do justice to these movies in really short posts, so it would have been wiser to plan ahead and budget my time accordingly.  The real pleasure for me in talking about these movies comes from the behind the scenes trivia, the little details about special effects snafus, and the consistency errors.

3) Finding the graphics.  This is a two-edged sword, har har.  It sucked up a lot of time, hunting down the graphics, finding the right sizes, and tinkering with the posts until the layout looked just the way I wanted it to be.

4) Toward the end of the month time got tighter and tighter, so I did not make it as far down the list of participants as I’d hoped to go.  The flip side of that was the problem with several of the links I did visit in the lower 1/4 of the list.  Often the links didn’t lead anywhere, or the blogs hadn’t been updated in ages.  That put a dent in my enthusiasm.

I know people are posting their stats and measuring the traffic on their sites.  I respect that, and I pay attention to those numbers when I’m thinking in terms of business and self-promotion.  The A to Z Blog Challenge is something I do for fun.  Last year my theme was chocolate.  This year, bad sword & sorcery movies.  I’ve made some new friends, found some great resources, and I reached my goal of completing the challenge.

Thank you to Arlee and Alex and all the folks who helped out in the A to Z.  I’ll be back again next year!

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Filed under Awards, bad movies, Blog challenges, Family, Goals