How To Write When You Have No Time

Joe’s Post #92

spoonsSpoons, baby, spoons.

It’s something I heard a lot about when my wife was trying to fight cancer. It’s basically how much energy or time you have. On some days, she’d have a lot of spoons. A spoonful could be eat breakfast. Another might be Go for a 15 min walk. I’ve heard people with Lupus use this as well.

For me it’s about time as much as energy. In About A Boy, the protagonist measures his life in 30 minute units. It’s a funny-ass book, but one that rings so true to me know.

With my new life, I have to find a spoon here and there, 30 minutes taken from something to be able to write.

If I assume a spoon is 30 minutes of time, I need to grab about 6 to able to do my blogs. I’m getting faster at doing them, finding pictures for them, solving problems that crop up and, of course, writing them. Practice may not make perfect, but it does make you faster.

Eye_of_CthulhuSo, today, wrote one blog while eating. That’s an easy multitask. I’ll give up a long walk since it’s raining like hell. That’s an easy one. That gives me about 4 spoons. I’ll be with the boys tonight so I’ll not play a game with them and get the last blog done. That should about do it.

Is my day any worse? No. I may be a bit fatter. I may miss a cool boss fight with the boys, but I’ll get my writing done. It’s all doable.

But now, what about the other things? Queries. Each one takes about 20 min, more if I have to research the writers they represent so I can say, yeah, so like I write like shakespeare who you represent. Say 3 in an hour or 2 spoons. Learn more about social media. Say 2 spoons. Write new novel. A good 4 spoons a day. So, that’s 8 spoons or about 4 hours.

Now how the heck am I supposed to do that and get the house ready for sale, spend quality time with the boys and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, watch Game of Thrones, email everyone, exercise, look for a house, laundry, dishes, and research and being with friends and…

First… TV that’s crap. So, so long Survivor. Goodbye Will Ferrell movies on PVR. Adios Frontline news shows.

Then… sleep. No more sleeping 10 hours a day. 8. That’s all I can afford, (which is actually all I need). No more lying in bed. Up and attem!

It’s not like this is a tough life. It’s not. But it’s a matter of moving some things around, find a way to multitask when I can, and give up the things that are less important than me writing.

It’s what needs to be done.

Here are my latest blogs. At least one is pretty good. None have any nudity.

Traveling With Kids


How much I think Game Of Thrones Rocks: A billion times. And if you haven’t checked this out, please do… (spoiler alert) GOT Honest Trailer

Pages Written on New Novel: 0

Outline Complete: 60% (might be 62%) I’ll get the tires kicked on it then start.

Blogs Written This week Lots and lots.

Queries out this week: 0 (only so much time)

Rejections for the last week: 0 (has to be bad news. I may need to move the 5 out there to 5 rejections)

Queries Still Out there: 5

How Much I Agree With Karalee’s last post: 100%  Hey look at CSI, that’s full of so much wrong stuff, (I mean, seriously, lab techs doing interviews, chasing down bad guys, having perfect hair, it’s all crap.)

Hope Meter: 70/100.  Holding steady. No longer posting her on a daily basis, though.

Does a writer need to be right to write?

Karalee’s Post #72

Okay, so I’m a perfectionist. As a writer I often feel that this is a disadvantage.

It makes sense that to lead a balanced life everything should be in moderation. This means everything from food intake, exercise, work, play, cooking, hobbies, etc.

But it’s extremes that make a story more interesting. Take Helga’s last post for instance, and how experiencing the (extreme) unexpected was refreshing and added energy and interest to her desire to write. Readers want those extremes in stories they read too.

Does that mean that writers need to know the extremes of what they want to write about? In my opinion I would say no. Not at first. Rather, what writers need to know or research to understand, are the norms.

Then start asking the age old jump-start-your-ideas question, “what if?” Keep asking the question and pushing the normal until you get an extreme that excites you and you can build your story around.

So what’s my problem? Why do I feel being a perfectionist is a hindrance to me?

More often than not I feel such a strong urge to “make sure what I write is right” that it often prevents me from getting out of the starting gate. How can I push the extreme unless I know exactly what it’s all about or how it really works?

Is this a form of writer’s block?

I read the blog The Kill Zone today and it was about this subject and Joe Moore’s opinion about what is behind it. I tend to agree a whole lot with his view.

So no, I don’t have writer’s block, I have writer’s fear. Fear of being wrong about my concept, scientific details, geographic details, etc., etc. It does stop my progress, or rather my beginningness!

How do I overcome my tendency to want to know everything before I start? Are there other writers like me out there?

Research is important, sure, but one can’t research forever, and if you are like me, research will never be enough to soothe me since there will always be more details to learn.

I’ve been working hard on personal issues and growth the last year or so and it has come to light that my reluctance to dive in and expose myself to writing something that might be “wrong” is due to childhood issues of never being good enough, and it has fed a negative loop I’m finding hard to break.

I’m a bright person and can use this to my advantage. I know what this “extreme” feels like and I can use it in my writing. And, as for not knowing “everything” before I start writing, the details I don’t know need to be put into perspective. From the experience of writing my first two books, I know that the details that need to be fixed are usually minor, or an expert can help me with that particular event to make it “real.”

In effect I really don’t need to know it all. Or even very much of it!

The secret is to simply WRITE. Don’t let not knowing the in-depth details of something stop the writing in progress. Leave a blank and keep going. Leave lots of blanks or put in details you think will work and review it later. It doesn’t really matter when you are in the middle of creative output. What does matter is to keep writing!

Fill in the blanks or make changes later. Some plot points may need to be altered, but the important thing is that good progress has been made AND I now know exactly where/what details I need to find out about. In effect, my research has been narrowed down!

I find it very interesting that the blanks are often minor details that are important, but won’t take all your time (days, weeks…) of research, most of which I don’t need to use or know about.

If you are looking for interesting tips on developing your writing skills, I find the following blogs a great read: and

Also, for interesting extreme behaviours and/ or life circumstances, you may want to watch the Dr. Phil show!



Happy writing!




Only in California

IMG_3443Helga’s Post #75:  This is highly unusual for the 5/5/5 blog – every one of us (or at least four) are, or have recently been, traveling at the same time. Me included. Regrettably, unlike fellow poster Joe, I did not have a laptop with me. Hence no blog posts while on the road. My thumbs are just not deft enough to type a whole post on the iPhone.

Since the theme du jour has largely been travelling, I feel inclined to add one of my own. A little anecdote.

I am always amazed how a change of scenery, an absence from my usual surroundings, influences my writing after I am back home from a trip. It must be that hunger for new experiences, the interest to observe and take in every small detail, and our natural curiosity in all things new that makes our imagination shift into high gear.

That’s what I have been experiencing just now. Having traded my familiar surroundings of Canada’s cool west coast for California’s dry and hot desert for a few weeks, I am in awe of just about everything. I feel like a kid in a candy store. I lap it all up like a dog in a butcher shop. Not only the weather, or the almost surreal blue sky. Not just the awesome mountains and palm trees and Bougainvillea wherever you look. Or the mid-century modern architecture. I could go on.

But it’s the people that are infinitely inspiring.

To give you a sense of what I am experiencing: We are on picturesque Highway 111 somewhere between Palm Desert and Indian Wells in southern California, cruising comfortably in the middle of three lanes. At the red light I peek at the car to our left – a huge fancy Bentley. Shiny black. A tycoon’s toy. Curious, I am wondering who drives this masculine icon of über-wealth.

“Don’t stare,” my husband says. I ignore him of course and lean ever so slightly forward to take a discreet peek. I expected a forty-something driver, a strong-chinned poster-boy CEO on his way to a board meeting.

But it was nothing like that. I blinked, trying to make out the driver. At first I didn’t see him at all. As it turned out it wasn’t a man. Hunched over the steering wheel, chin almost touching, was the tiny head of an older woman. A white turban, reminiscent of the fashion of the early fifties, crowned her withered face. A huge gold hoop hung from her ear (I assumed from the other too, but I could only see her profile). She peered over a pair of gigantic sunglasses perched on her nose. Her hand on the steering wheel was at the same height as her face. Huge rings on every finger.

So I was right about the icon of wealth, but the image of that tiny old woman sure blew me away. How she ever managed to see the road ahead of her and to operate this massive car remains a mystery.

I could not have made her up in my writing. She was that unusual. But now that I know she exists, I realize she has made me a gift. The gift of inspiration. I couldn’t take a photo of course, but she is firmly planted in my mind. I hope I will find a place for her somewhere in my novel. And spin an interesting yarn about her life. Perhaps she could even become a main character in a new novel. The possibilities are endless.

But that’s not the only head-shaking surprise I got at that same intersection, waiting for the red light to change. “Look to your right,” my husband offers, “just be careful. Don’t stare.”

Not another Bentley. Not a luxury car of any kind. A beat-up badly bruised jalopy of indeterminate colour, windows down (if in fact there were any), rocking back and forth as a result of some movement inside. Tobacco smoke oozing. Curious, I turned down my own window. Tobacco smoke it was not. It smelled strong. Reefer-like. Maybe something stronger. The sound of hard rock – really hard – and four figures rocking in tune. Rocking hard. Making the jalopy sway. The four figures – I assume they were guys but I am not sure (remember, I wasn’t allowed to stare) looked like cartoon Photoshop versions of the wildest hippies I have ever seen.

Only in California.

I will not go into more detail about their hair or body piercings, but here is another example of what could make a great scene in a novel. Not just the hippy car, or the Bentley, but the fact that these two cars on either side of ours, their owners surely worlds apart, stopped at that same red light and shared this particular moment in time.

And I happened to witness it. I was part of that moment, observing from the middle lane. Only a few seconds, but a splendid writers’ moment.

So, while my writing took a backseat while on the road, both in terms of my novel as well as posting to our blog, I arrived back home loaded with lots of memories and images. Some pretty quirky ones. I am sure a few will find their way into my novels, because they are too amusing and precious not to share them.

Stay tuned. There will be more.


Social media


Joe’s Post #91 How much social media is too much, how little is too little?

It’s hard to figure out how much time to spend on social media. Am I building an audience or is this just narcissistic me shouting at the world to pay attention to me, dammit, pay attention?

Karalee wrote a great post about Twitter and I was lucky enough to hear her thoughts and advice on that form of connecting with people.

gotThing is, I love connecting with people and groups online. Hello, Game of Thrones fans! ‘Sup fellow writers. What’s happening, Sandra Bullock, why the restraining order, why, why, why?

But it’s like research. It can consume your writing time. Two blogs a day takes time. Adding the links to other media takes time. Making posts on Twitter, well, you get the idea.

And time is the one thing I’m short on at the moment. That and chocolate. But I can go buy chocolate, I can’t buy more time. So, if I’m to get my book started on the 14th, if I’m to finish it up in three months, AND still blog AAAAND still get queries out, and help my writing friends, and be a good parent, and a good partner, then something has to give.

It may be a bit of social media.


Days Until Game of Thrones Starts: None. It was amazing. Love the Hound. Love this too, I laughed my ass off… (spoiler alert) GOT Honest Trailer

Days Until I Start My Next Novel: Date has been set. It’s April 14th. That’s, errr, next week!!!!!!!!

Blogs Written This week: 14 new ones. Maybe more. I kinda lost count.

Queries out this week: 0 (See, this obsession with social media has to stop)

Rejections for the last week: 0 (has to be bad news. I may need to move the 5 out there to 5 rejections)

Queries Still Out there: 5

Hope Meter: 70/100.  Up +20. Loving that I have a few more readers on my blog. LOVE LOVE LOVE blogging. Thanks for my fellow 5/5/5 writers for letting me go nuts on this site.

Seven ways for writers to use Twitter

Karalee’s Post #71 — I met with my fellow 5Writer Joe this week. He asked me to share what I knew about using Twitter. It’s not that I know a lot, rather my husband David Greer is a computer geek that has embraced social media of all kinds since, well, forever. He’s an early adopter and for some reason Joe feels that since I live with a geek, some of the geekiness will rub onto me.

It has in some ways and I want to share what I know about Twitter and how writers can use Twitter in an interesting and engaging way (rather than it being a complete chore) that also increases your profile and the number of potential readers for your books.

Within the last year Twitter put the brakes on the automated following and unfollowing programs many people were using to obtain literally thousands of new followers in a short period of time. I had used one of these automated programming interfaces (API’s) too and the number of followers seemed to be what everyone was after. But, to me, it didn’t make much sense since none of those “people” knew me, or me them. Thousands of tweets flew by on my timeline every day and I really didn’t know what to make of them and how they could help me with my writer’s profile in a marketing sense.

So how do I interact with all these followers, and without API’s, how do I continue to gain followers?

Talking to my geeky husband that is also a marketing expert, he enlightened me that I need to let the Twitter world know who I am on a regular basis and offer something that is interesting and useful to my followers.

How do I do that? Does that mean that I need to be more selective in who I follow? These are my helpful hints you may want to consider:

1. Find the type of people that you want to follow and that you want following you. Twitter search subjectFor writers that could be agents and authors, but it is also important to follow people that have other interests of yours such as gardening, photography, pets, etc. This encourages more potential readers for you. To find them, do a search in Twitter and look at profiles and follow people that interest you. Note: this does take time.





2. Tweet something interesting every day. Many people develop a tag for themselves such as  using a quote, sending a picture, a daily suggestion, etc. This is one way to let your followers get to know what you like or how you think, etc.

3. Twitter your own blog posts.

4. Read other people’s blogs and discover ones that interest you and are professional and well-written enough for you to want to tweet them. You can set up an automatic tweet for all the new posts from their blogs. (My geeky husband did this for me. Thanks!)

Note: you can also set it up to automatically Facebook to your friends too.





5. Reply to people that retweet and/or favorite one of your tweets. These messages are found under Twitter’s ‘Notifications.’

twitter notificationsThis is a great way to establish a relationship with individual followers. In turn it encourages them to retweet your information to their followers, which increases the potential for more followers for you, etc, etc.






6. Retweet your follower’s tweets that interest you. This helps to connect with your followers too and adds to the potential for new followers (refer to number 5 above). For writers this is a great way to connect with agents, and if they are using Twitter as a connection point in the social media world, they will become aware of you.

7. Take time every day or so to look at the profiles of new people following you and see if you want to follow them too. To find your new followers, look under ‘Notifications’ as in number 5 above. Also look under ‘Me’ and scroll down and have a look at ‘Who to follow’ since the Twitter app suggests people with similar interests.

To help make tweeting a habit for you, you may want to check out Becky Robinson’s blog called Weaving Influence. In her Resources section she has a book to help you increase your Twitter traffic and it is also available on Amazon.

Product Details

Becky works with authors and leaders to increase their online influence and promote their books too.

Happy tweeting!