• Kamy Wicoff
  • How To Turn Wishes Into Words -- What's Your Plan?
This blog was featured on 09/01/2016
How To Turn Wishes Into Words -- What's Your Plan?

It was so wonderful to read all of your wishes in response to my birthday post for She Writes, where I shared my hopes for the my upcoming writing year.  I especially appreciated the encouragement and support you offered me and one another (and loved your idea, @RYCJ, of checking in with ten of the other writers on the thread mid-year to see how they are doing!), cause guess what?  I'm gonna need it!  It's been nine days since I declared my wishes for the upcoming writing year, and, you guessed it -- I haven't written a damn thing.  

Part of it is that She Writes still dominates my days, and my two little boys dominate the rest of my time.  But I know that's not a good enough excuse.  I have to get more hardcore about carving out writing hours and making them absolutely untouchable.  I have to find a place to work that shields me from distractions and good a way to manage my other obligations -- to She Writes, and to my kids -- that doesn't prevent me from doing the work I love most.  (The first thing I'm going to do is re-read the posts Rebecca Rodskog, coach and time management expert, did when working with our Passion Project winner Monique Fields -- and potentially hire her!)

So: HOW?  How do you do it?  In 250 words or less -- so that I can get through the comment thread in order to learn from all of you -- how do you schedule, protect and defend your writing time?  When do you work?  What kinds of rules do you set up for yourself, if any?  (I visited a cool writers space in NY the other day, The Brooklyn Writers Space, and couldn't help laughing at all the flyers for various tools that make it IMPOSSIBLE for writers to access the internet even if they desperately want to.) How do you balance your writing with the other pressing tasks of life, like taking care of others, take care of yourself, and, of course, earning a gosh-darned living?

I'd love to know.  And I promise: I will use what is written here to map out my day tomorrow.  It's a banner day -- not one single sodding meeting or phone call on the books.  

I plan to make the most of it.

Let's be friends

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  • Anna Marie Valden

    I'm 50 and raised three daughters to adulthood so during those years I wrote in carpool lines. My fourth daughter has special needs so I will forever have a child at home. I've learned that I must seek help. I have a list of people, my village, that range from my other daughters to a hired nanny to give me blocks of time. I use to say do the dishes then you can sit and write, now I say write 25-50 pages then you can do the dishes. I meditate even if it's a few minutes a day, it helps my patience and my focus. I keep a detailed list of what I need to accomplish and when. That way I don't get on the internet and turn into a mindless computer zombie, I work more productively. Good luck, my fellow writer.

  • I once believed that I couldn't write unless I had a block of time. I thought it would be too hard to interrupt the flow. And for the most part, I was fortunate...I worked as a nanny so in-between families or when my family didn't need me because the mom was on maternity leave, I wrote. (I also went into debt, but that's another story).  But when I got my next nanny position, I realized I wasn't going to have a break for quite a while and I decided I would find 15 minutes a day, no matter what. I knew I could do one spontaneous free associative writing as taught by Natalie Goldberg in 15 minutes. My routine was to put the kids down for a nap, then clean up the kitchen from lunch and put away toys and straighten up. I knew every day they would nap for at least 1/2 hour (often 1 1/2 hours) so I decided as soon as their little heads hit the pillow, I would write. Then clean up. I didn't care if the writing was not my best and would need lots of revision. To my surprise, I was able to complete a 300 page novel this way...and it didn't need so much revision. My brain began to accept this as my writing practice/rythmn and to be able to continue on from the last page.



  • Kathryn Edgecombe

    I like the idea to avoid going on line instead of writing.  That seems to be what I am doing this morning.  Usually I spend a couple of minutes reading something about art and then comment on my reaction to it in a journal which seems to prime my pump and I am ready to again focus on my book.  Although I like writing late into the night I do find that maybe it is better for me to start my day with my writing.  When I do that I am often tempted to continue writing for a longer period of time.  Since I am now 64 I do not have the restrictions that plagued the rest of my 'writing career'.  It is also important to listen to what our subconscious mind has brought forward for us to work on - I am always amazed at the work that part of my brain is able to do when I am not paying attention.  Often it is as if the piece is fully ( or almost so) formed and I am surprised that I had wanted to say a particular thing until I see it on the page.  That is when writing is the most fun for me.  And I realize I want to write and write on this page and I think instead I will get back to work on my book as I haven't visited it for a few days.  Been away and distracted.

  • Angie Spoto

    Great ideas Jackie, thanks!

  • Jackie Lee

    I'm 40, have a 5 year old, and run two blogs and am currently working on my first book. It can be tough to get all the writing done but here's a few things that work for me. 


    1. Identify your "best" most creative time. Set that time aside and use it to write. 

    2. My kiddo has now learned that writing = work... she's lucky enough to have a mom who works from home, but mom still works. We set up something for her to do during that time, crafts, movie, projects whatever... and she does her "work" while I do mine. 

    3. Don't think you have to do it ALL today... for my book I'm giving myself 500 words a day ~ just so I can get it done. As I get into it I may up that number, but for right now it is creating momentum to be able to get that amount done. 

    4. Write for real. Marion Roach Smith talks about writing with intent, and not doing "exercises" when you barely have enough time to write in a day... when you write, write for real. That definitely works for me.

    5. Set aside even 10 minutes for quiet reflective time... that seems to be the time I really start putting the words together in my head. That time makes the actual writing time much easier... this also works while doing dishes, washing a kiddo's hair, or doing laundry. :)


    Hope that helps. Glad to be here. 


  • Diane Hendricks

    I'm over 50 but always had the desire to one day write a book' I have no idea how to get started' any advice out there on where to start? Or can share their experience in writing first book? I'm anxious these days to write (:


  • Fi Phillips Revising

    This is a hard one. My normal writing slot is filled with children over the summer holidays. I write for a living and I write for myself so really I need a double slot.  I once blogged about the August Monster eating my writing time and it doesn't get any better each year. Until school starts in September, I will be writing in the evening (after the children have gone to bed). After that, I'll get back to my morning writing rota. I do have one rule that serves me very well though. I write for at least 20 minutes a day - doesn't matter if it's complete waffle. 20 minutes keeps my writing muscle fit.

  • Sandra Miller

    My heart goes out to you and others like us; I am married and a mother and step-mother of 2 boys so I know how difficult it can be to crave out time to write. I also work a full-time job, which requires me to maintain a certification. Writing gives me so much joy, and for me not to write is like having that joy taken away from me. So it's no wonder my first project was the book: "Balancing Blessings and Obtaining Order."

    My advice to you is to carry a notebook everywhere you go, whenever an idea comes to you take time to quickly jot it down. Just because you live a busy life does not mean ideas are only going to come to you when you're sitting in front of your computer and ready to write. My second advice is to find contentment with where you are now in your life; you are gaining life experience that will someday add value to your writing.

  • MCatherine

    Any chance setting a timer for two hours a day that will be dedicated to your own wish list?

    When I was going through cancer treatment I used the timer to allow myself 10 mintues for crying, punching pillows and writing in my Journal, which I subsequently sent to Paris with no return address...too bad now...it might have been a good resource for future blog posts! Ahhhhh the 20x20 clarity of hindsight!

  • Anand Querying

    It is easier now because I'm unemployed, and in any case, my parenting days are in the past (27 and 19.) When I was working, it was a one hour commute (each way) work, return home and settle in to write. The time I put in is directly proportional to my emotional involvement in the story subject. No outlines for writing or doing daily tasks for me, it is all by instinct.

  • Anne Congleton

    I had been struggling to find a purpose for writing. I started several projects and lost interest. Recently I combined my passion of writing with my passion for animals and the stories are pouring from my soul. These will be complied in an anthology with others and part of the profits will go to non-profit rescue organziations. My chores(mowing, laundry, etc.) were an excuse not to write. But those can wait. The animals cannot. 

  • I journal first thing every morning.  Freewriting warmup for my WIP.  My big rule is do NOT go online till I'm done with my pages for the day.  Also it's important to me to allow myself to write without editing as I go.  Sometimes I have to keep knocking that editor off my right shoulder, "NOT NOW! You can always do that later."  Closed Door, definately.  And no going off to Mr. Coffee or Mrs. Refrigerator, etc.  Butt in chair.  Be present for whatever shows up to be written down.  The carrot on the stick for me is reminding myself how wonderful I will feel that night if I write.  Yay!  Inspirations are: Bird by Bird, and S.Kings, On Writing.  They always fire me up.

  • This is so wonderful, everyone!  I really appreciate you taking the time to share your process, and to give me some good advice on keeping it all in perspective. :)  Off to write today!

  • RYCJ Revising

    Awll, Kamy, having 2 little boys, YOU are excused. They are your priority right now. Do not feel guilty about missing writing days to care for them. A part of being able to write is being able to mentality escape.

    However, if I didn't have a 9 to 5, and had two small children (especially 2 little boys;-), I would focus on my children... and SheWrites during the day, but in the wee hours of the night I would set aside that time to write.

    That out of the way... here's how I break down my actual novel writing time.

    I come up with several premises. A premise is no more than a sentence. I outline each...either formatted in a spreadsheet, or visually. Today I do visually. And then I challenge myself by saying I'm going to spend one week, during the wee hours I set aside to write each draft...without looking back to check my work. When the week is up I must move on to the next.   

    I promise you'll surprise yourself.


  • Angie Spoto

    Since I'll be graduating from undergrad this year, this is my last summer, so I decided to kick my writing into gear. I wrote up all my writing goals (and taped them to my wall) and decided to write/research for 10 hours a week. This plan gives me the flexibility to write two hours five days a week, or bust through 10 hours on a Saturday, whatever I'm able to do. By not feeling obligated to do a set amount each DAY, I feel less stressed about getting my writing in...and as a result, I've been writing and researching even more than planned!

  • Do freewriting everyday! As Julia Cameron recommends, at least 3 pages everyday. You freewrite your thoughts down, make a list of to-do tasks to relieve some anxieties, and for at least 15 minutes, you work on your story through freewriting ~ ask questions about a character, write out a scene, or do an honest q&a with yourself on how this story is going, which areas need fixing ...


    When I can't concentrate, I pack my books (freewriting book, a reading book, a scheduler etc.) and head to the library. It helps that that library is one of my favourite places in the world! The greenery out there. The coffee at the library's cafe ... and the books behind my seat all cheering me on to producing something worthy to join them soon.


    I don't bring my laptop along cos the Internet will drive me nuts, and I don't bring a music player along ... cos I don't have one, haha!


    My earnings depends on the amount of work I produce. So ...

    Good luck, Kamy! You will find your routine soon. =)

  • B.A. Webster

    Here's a thought:  Recently, a potential client, who I don't know, asked me if I'd consider meeting at a coffee shop at 8 pm so he could put his boys to bed first.  No, "he" was not a typo.  I was happy to do it, I just wish I'd had the guts to speak up like that about my scheduling needs when my girls were small (too afraid of appearing unprofessional or getting mommy-tracked).

  • Being disciplined about writing is, for me, far easier than editing, and much more pleasurable. Writing grabs me and I lose myself (and my sense of time passed) in it, but with editing I am easily distracted, whether by sentence constructs or hops onto the net to "check just one thing." I suppose writing is just like anything else (exercise comes to mind), requiring motivation, discipline, routine, and maximizing the little windows of opportunity. I do use "Freedom" to block internet at times, and have my little mini motivating routines (no second espresso until XX minutes of work, etc.). I also believe that it is critical to get my hands on my WIP each day, if only to sit in front of it and think, otherwise I lose track of my story and it makes it really difficult to get my head back in it. <--- which is where I am right now, summertime has wreaked havoc on my writing routines, for better or worse.

    If there are any secrets or quick fixes (especially on how to stay in gear when summer calls) please share! :)

  • My goal when I was teaching 9 am to 12 pm was to put in two hours between 5 am and 7 am and it worked! After classes, I took care of my 88-year old mom.

    I was proud of my productivity. HOWEVER, once I began my two-months break, I fell off the writing wagon. Reasons: tired, not feeling well, wanted to do nothing for a while. etc.

    Now, of course, I need to rein my lazy alter ego in and get back to finishing next-to-final drafts of my memoir.

    Not sure what these lapses say about my motivation, but sometimes I just need some down time....ummmm.

    I am always thinking about content for my blogs, Twitter, professional website.

    My fellow writers here in Vegas producing and I want to emulate their dedication.

    Getting edited and published (or self-publishing) are my immediate goals.

  • Marisa Labozzetta

    When I'm stuck, especially after a time away from writing, I find that reading (in my case it's fiction) gets the words flowing. When the kids were young, I hired a sitter for several hours 2 or 3 days a week and ignored the phone and household chores. In the evenings, I prepared for the classes I taught at local colleges. Now the kids are grown but are still very much in my life; aging parents also demand more time. My advice: schedule appointments very early in the day or as late in the afternoon as possible; limit teas or lunches with friends to one a week;  don't answer the phone unless it's about your kids; stay off the social networks including email while you're working; let the gardening and cleaning go a day; put a load of laundry in the washer and give yourself a good chunk of time--at least 3 hours--to work, whether it'sone day a week or five.

  • Patricia Woodside

    I don't know about "schedule, protect and defend".  I should be that structured.  I plan to write every day.  It’s a great week if I write 3 out of 7 days.  Lately, I've been up to more like 5.  I hope I can keep going.  


    What's helped me to increase my writing is a check-in through the American Christian Fiction Writers.  ACFW has a quarterly writing loop.  Writers post their goal and then share their daily progress.  Something about setting that goal, communicating it publicly, and then being inspired by others who are making progress each day pushes me.  I also use the #amwriting and #writegoal hastags at Twitter.  Again, there's something about writing in community, even while writing in solitary, that is energizing.  


    Finally, I write mostly after the children go to bed or during filler times, like while waiting in a doctor's office, at art lessons or even at traffic lights.  I write longhand, always having a notebook with me, and transcribe, not allowing more than 2 days of work to linger. My creative juices flow more easily with pen and paper, and I get a preliminary edit done as I type, which satisfies me to move on rather than go back during for the first draft.  What I'm still working to figure out is how to get my freelance time, which requires a different kind of effort for researching, querying and then writing, into the mix.


    Thanks for getting us fired up via our wishes, Kamy!

  • Write something every day -- even if it's not the 'big project.'  Write.  That's my writing plan.  Even if it's writing this.

  • Marcia Fine

    I wrote 1000 words yesterday and nothing today! Bummer. But I did think through a scene in my head. I know there's no points for that. I'm half-way through a novel and only need 30,000 more words! If I did nothing else and wrote as much as yesterday then I'll only need another month. Reality check: Not going to happen. Writing vacation ends soon.

  • June Phyllis Baker

    Hi Kamy,

    I have started writing  everyday between 10 and 12.  time  It's  a good habit to g et into. and it onlly takes 3 weeks to use to  I schedule every thing around my writing.  If I have a doctors appointment I make it  before 10. I'm determind to stick too my plan.

  • Janis Seminara

    I had been on a writer's roll from May through two weeks ago, when I finally did finish my manuscript. Then somehow, I found myself off track. It didn't help that a family member became very ill, then one day of no writing, then another. I am trying to recount how I did it from May till now, and the simple truth of it was, I sat in front of my manuscript and didn't let myself get up till I hit it. Some days were better than others. Reading this thread has encouraged me to to get back in the saddle. Ye-haa fellow she-writers, I will check back in a few days!!!