Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Time Tips for Writers by Karina Fabian

Yesterday Karina Fabian was here to tell us about her new book WHY GOD MATTERS. Today she is back to offer some encouragement for writers on how to manage our time. Welcome back, Karina. Take it away.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How do you find time to write?"

I've been writing steadily since since my daughter was about a year old--14 years--when I was an Air Force Reservist and mother of two. At that time, I wrote a couple of short stories and two articles a month for the Wyoming Catholic Register. Over the next 14 years, we'd have two more children, move five times and build a basement ourselves. My husband, now a Colonel in the Air Force, often has jobs of long hours and big commutes, plus short-stint TDYs (away from home, but not deployments). In addition, I have homeschooled my kids, helped found the Catholic Writers Guild (of which I've been an officer for 4 years), coordinated four writers' conferences, and started Kickstart Marketing, a service to teach authors to market their books.
However, in those 14 years, I have written for local newspapers and national magazines, edited three anthologies, wrote six novels and one devotional and have written various short stories.

Writing can be done. Here are some of the tricks and attitudes I've used to make it happen:

1. Set realistic goals: In Colorado, my mother was able to watch my kids, and we needed extra income, so my goal was to work part time reporting, and I got a regular job at the local weekly and did some freelancing on the side. Later, we moved and I started homeschooling, with two first graders, a toddler, and a baby, I made myself one promise: Not to go to bed unless I wrote one sentence on my novel. Naturally, there were times that one sentence led to more, but I always wrote at least one. I finished my first novel that year. (Mind Over Mind is under contract with Dragon Moon.) My last book, Why God Matters, was written with my father, Deacon Steve Lumbert, took six weeks--including several intense evenings of e-mailing each other stories and discussing them over IM.

Some people like to set time goals; others quantity goals. You know what works best for you. The key is to make the goal something you can reach. You feel good about succeeding, and when you surpass it, you feel even better!

2. Make time! You will never "find" time to write, especially if you have a busy life. If writing is important to you, you need to carve some time out of your day (or week) to dedicate to it. Get up early one morning; stay up late at night. Give up TV or XBox in favor of time at the computer over the weekend.

3. Isolate yourself electronically. Do not open your internet browser. Do not check e-mail. Turn off your IM. If you're planning on a long stretch of writing, set a timer and give yourself 10 minutes of internet for every 30 minutes of writing, if it drives you crazy.

4. Cut distractions. The enemy of writers--especially mom-writers--is the house. The dishes call to you. The fridge tempts. Suddenly, that unmapped floor is weighing on your mind. Resist! Writing time is for writing. If you must, leave the house and write with a laptop or pen and paper until you get into the habit of concentrating on writing.

5. Get help. If you really are overwhelmed by things that you have no time for writing, then it's time to say no to requests, delegate tasks to family, or get someone to give you the break you need to take time for writing. Even if writing is a hobby, you deserve some time just for you.

Finally, I want to suggest time most important tip: Stupid First Drafts. Sometimes, the problem is not finding time, but finding courage. Words won't come because we can't figure out how to write them perfectly on the page. Give yourself permission to write schlock. Tell yourself, "Get it out, fast and messy. I can't make it perfect until it's on the page."

Now, quit reading this blog post and go write something!

For more information about Karina, her books, and writing in general, check out her blog.


  1. Thanks for letting me share some of my tips with your readers, Teresa! I'd love to hear what ideas they have, too.


  2. Karina - you continue to go higher on my admiration scale. Your determination to fit everything in as a busy mom is an inspiration.

    I like your line "Give yourself permission to write schlock." That's so important and so true.

  3. Anonymous9:19 PM

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  4. 老天爺賦予了強者的能力,就是要他比弱者多擔待..................................................

  5. Karina: These are wonderful tips--thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.