Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bust 4 Myths to Gain More Writing Time

Writing a novel isn't a quick exercise. It takes a mountain of time, discipline and perseverance. Consequently, the phenomenon of never having enough time is a common one. Whether you have a single hour to write per day or twelve, this is what inevitably happens:

In the early days of a project, even if it's not easy to make time, your enthusiasm and positivity are enough to keep you going. When you reach the middle, that energy begins to wane. You'll read through your draft of genius and realise how much more work you need to throw into your project. You'll ask yourself, 'How will I ever get it done?' You'll begin to doubt your chances of reaching that end goal. And so enters the first myth:

Myth #1: I don't have enough time to write.
Sure, you may not have a full day of freedom to write, but when you love something, you make time for it--regardless of the surrounding chaos. If interruptions are a problem, then find a writing nook you can close yourself away into. Make sure your family members understand the time you've set aside for writing is important to you and unless it's an emergency you don't want to be disturbed. If noise is a problem, then try music to help you focus. Scheduling in specific writing time is a great way to gain the kind of discipline needed. Achievable goals are another. To allow for unforeseen circumstances, I set myself a weekly writing goal rather than a daily one. What I can't achieve on one day I can make up for on another. Flexibility is key.

Myth #2: I need a large block of time to write.
When your day is full of commitments that can't be ignored, and your schedule falls by the wayside, it's easy to think writing isn't possible. But there are ways around this. You can still write in thirty minutes, ten minutes, or even in snatched seconds (as I did for part of this post). You can carry small notepads around with you during your day, or one of countless high tech devises to record your words. If you are out and about, you can still write.

Myth #3: I have to be in the right mood to write.

Mood is not a prerequisite for writing and neither is inspiration. Allowing mood to sway your decision to write will only hold you back. This is why schedules work for me. I give myself a set time to write and, regardless of mood, inspiration or anything else, I write.

Myth #4: Other commitments are more important than my writing.
Women in particular have a knack for putting themselves last in their list of priorities, especially when they have a family to look after. If writing is more important to you than just a little side hobby, then you should treat it better than you would such a hobby. It's a matter of priority.

In summary:
Don't make excuses. If you are struggling to find the time to write, then do something about it. Prioritize your day and make a schedule which includes some writing time. Make sure your loved ones understand how important writing is to you and ask for their support. And don't wait for your muse--just write.

How do you find the time to write?
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Announcements:
1. The Fourth Writers' Platform-Building Campaign has begun. Head on over to check it out and sign up for the fun. It's a fantastic way to meet new friends.

2. One of my posts was picked up by the Everything Author website. The article is on the advantages of writing a fast first draft. Feel free to check it out.



87 comments:

  1. I make myself ignore all the other pressing things I need to get done and just sit down to write everyday for at least an hour. Otherwise I would never find time to do it.

    I'm a fellow Fantasy campaigner. I signed up for scifi and urban fantasy too. Nice to meet you!

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  2. No excuses! Dr. Wayne Dyer just wrote a book on that a year or two ago.

    I find time here and there. Sometimes, early in the morning, or on the weekends. I'll sneak to the library.

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  3. I get at it almost everyday. Yesterday I had an all-day commitment, so got up uber early to get my writing work done. Setting deadlines and sticking to them helps keep me motivated. Cool on your article getting picked up.

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  4. *love*

    Love this. Too true. I write sporadically through the day... here and there, between the chaos. It's something I've adjusted to--and a great quality, being able to snap in and out of my story with ease. I think sometimes we might *might* look for excuses... it's easier to validate that we didn't have enough time rather than admit that we didn't make the time... easier on our conscience :D

    Great post!

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  5. Yep, consistency is the key. I only write on weekdays, not the weekend, but I hate to miss a weekday. I don't have a special writing place, I write in the kitchen where everyone is always coming in and out, so it's the weekday mornings when my daughter's at nursery. I don't even think about any errands I have to do, they all wait til after lunch, unless I have to make an important phone call or something, then I get it out of the way first. I don't like to miss any chance to escape into my own little world! I think people who say these "myths" haven't made a commitment, or maybe just haven't found the passion yet.

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  6. if the first one really is a myth than me is a mythological creature :) I really never have time for anything...

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  7. Nice post, really am working hard to trying to make time for my needs, hubby and kids are not always happy about that :)

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  8. I have no problem with #4. I've let my family know they're on their own if I've got a revision due or I'm in the middle of a scene that's going really well. :))

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  9. I'm guilty of all these! I say I don't have the time to write and when I do find the time to write, I spend it doing something else and then I say it's because I'm uninspired and just not in the mood! I'm terrible! Oh dear!!

    Take care
    x

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  10. Great tips. So true. Nobody "has time to write"--unless they're in solitary confinement--so we have to make it.

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  11. Great post. I still have a problem with putting family things before my writing. I also have a problem with getting text messages throughout the day. Setting specific hours for writing would probably take care of that.

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  12. Congratulations on the article! I do write everyday. It's like an addiction at this point and I don't want to be cured:) My biggest distraction is my blackberry going off every 5-10 minutes for emails and work related stuff. I do mute it sometimes, but the darn red light flashes - at that point I just flip the phone over so I cannot see it and that helps.

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  13. It's all a matter of making a decision!

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  14. Great post! I try to write daily and I find that setting a specific word count (500 words) and not stopping until I hit it is really helpful for me.

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  15. I'm fortunate that I have no one to answer to so I can write whenever and however much I want. On the other hand, that doesn't leave me any excuses...

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  16. I think all of these are great and at times totally necessary to hear! :) Although there are times in life that other things DO have to come first. For example: UNIVERSITY! ACK!
    However, you're right. I can usually find time if I look hard enough. :) Great post!

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  17. Great post. It's like you are speaking directly to me. I have two small children, so interruptions are an issue, so is time to myself, and mood (usually tired). I still managed to get one novel done and have a good chunk of the second one.

    BTW: I'm a fellow campaigner in the sci fi category. :)

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  18. This is a great post. It's hard with a toddler and no family around to help. Yet when he's awake, I can take a minute to write a note or scribble a few lines. Then I can write when he's sleeping. That's my scheduled time. I'm not writing as much as I would like, but I'm still writing and that's what matters.

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  19. Great post! Love list and ways around our excuses.

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  20. inspiring tips. thanks for sharing your blog!

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  21. This is very helpful. I'm guilty of all but trying to work at it.

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  22. Congrats on your post being picked up by the Everything Author website! And thanks for this post. Great advice as usual, Lynda. Everything you say in here is true. I need to remember your myths and make time for a little bit of writing every day, no matter how wiped out I'm feeling. Take care!

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  23. I work a day job, and still push myself to write at the end of the day. I don't write immediately when I come home...I get this second wind around 8 pm. I take it until my eyes won't stay open.

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  24. Sherri, great to meet you too. Personally I think speculative fiction is the coolest category ;)

    Miranda, yep, it's all about finding what works for you.

    M Pax, I work best when I have a deadline too.

    Morgan, hehe yep, I agree with that.

    Nick, sometimes it truly is unavoidable to miss some writing time, but that's when catch-up writing works well.

    Dezzy, bah, you have time to do translations, time to visit your fav blogs, time to bake, time to maintain an awesome hollywood goss site. You have PLENTY of time... at least, you use your time well.

    Siv, some times we need to train our loved ones as much as we need to train ourselves.

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  25. Luanne, yeah, same here. It's good to get that kind of support.

    Old Kitty, I think we are all guilty of these at some time or other. ;)

    Anne, believe me, even in solitary confinement, it's amazing how many distractions could come about.

    Susanne, I hope you give scheduling a go. It doesn't work for everyone, but it's worth a try.

    Marta, hehe yep, emails are a huge distraction for me too.

    Alex, exactly

    Alessa, that's fantastic you've found what works.

    mshatch, I'm curious to know if you use or abuse that freedom.

    Bethany, ah yes, uni. I'm glad I've left those days behind ;)

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  26. These tips can't be repeated too often! I've been much more productive since I set a schedule and made an effort to stick to it. If I want to write, there are no excuses not to!

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  27. Jen, that's so brilliant that you've managed to write a novel and a chunk of another with all that going on. Yay for another scifi writer!

    Christine, absolutely! If you keep writing, you'll keep progressing.

    Lynn, thanks so much. It is difficult to get past the tiredness some days, but I usually find once I've started writing the tiredness washes away.

    Loree, that's brilliant and an inspiration. It's great you've found what works for you.

    Wendy, yes, I'm the same. When I didn't have a writing schedule, I didn't produce many words at all. It really made a difference.

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  28. I write in small or large snatches and my time is late at night or early in the morning. It's peaceful and I have no excuses. I've also been doing all my housework during an allotted time, so since I'm on a schedule for that I can't say I have to stop and clean to write.

    I joined the campaign, so I'll see you around for that.

    I'll check out your article.

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  29. oh yes I have fallen for every single one of those!

    I love to write in 15 minute bursts. Anyone can find those 15 minutes in a day. Also write everywhere, keep a notebook and pen handy. I even wrote while waiting in line :)

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  30. I think this could be applied to so many other aspects of life. People like to make excuses.

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  31. Oh so true! All of these are good to keep in mind (especially #4, for me at least!). It's all about making time for the stuff you love!

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  32. I hardly ever write anymore, I do all of this stuff! Great post.

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  33. Funny - my post today was about my excuse yesterday. I set weekly goals too. I can always make time on Sundays if things get it the way at any point during the week.

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  34. #2 ruined my creativity for so long. It is a myth and a stupid one. I implore writers not to fall for it. Adam Purple was telling me he first started to write by thumb typing on his smart phone. That's passion. Writers should write all the time. On computers, in longhand, on napkins or smart phones, it doesn't matter.

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  35. I like the the myth, "I'm not in the mood to write." When I'm not in the mood to write, I write. I have a system. I drag myself to the laptop, plug in some iPod tunes through my ear buds, and then start typing. It's that easy. You just HAVE to do it. Thanks for the post! :)

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  36. Couldn't agree more! You take what time you've got and you make it work. After all, there's not really any other alternative:)

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  37. Hey, just wanted to stop by and introduce myself. We're in the same campaign group! Looking forward to getting to know you and all the others.

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  38. Way to go, Lynda! You myth-buster, you! :)

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  39. Wonderful advice! Only one way to finish a manuscript. Stop making excuses and just write it.

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  40. Hi, I'm a fellow campaigner. I agree with what you said about those myths and I'm certainly not innocent from falling into them, but I am doing better about it. Just got to force yourself to sit down and write sometimes.

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  41. This year, I'v been writing a rough draft five pages a day, five days a week. Instead of checking my inbox first, I open my Word document and write. Once I do my five pages, I can move on to other things. (I'm not stopping for research, etc. If I come to a spot that needs help, I make a note and move on.)

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  42. Found you in the science fiction list on the campaign. I believe I have fallen prey to myth number three many times. However I guess that's no longer an option for me :)

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  43. Hi Lynda, nice to meet you, and happy campaigning! I find that the only thing which has worked for me is to pry myself out of bed excruciatingly early in the morning, before the family wakes up. I sip hot coffee and write or ponder my outline.

    Now that I've set out to construct an online platform, I find that I must further resist the Trinity of Timesucking Evils: Web Browser, TweetDeck, Android Phone. Some mornings they still win, such is the power of NEW.

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  44. You are so right. I've been saying this stuff for years. But a month ago, I wouldn't let myself have excuses. I write every lunch break, even though I only get 20-30 minutes. It's about 800 words per day. They're adding up!

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  45. I think it's so easy to make excuses--especially the one about not having enough time, and needing large blocks of time to work in. I do have better flow if I have a larger block of time, but I CAN revise/write in even little snippets of time!

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  46. Great list!

    I especially needed that reminder about not needing inspiration; I've been slacking due to the lack of it lately.

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  47. My most difficult writing time is the summer, when the kids are out of school. It's the interruptions, or even the threat of interruptions, that gets my brain in a snarl. But you are right that it can be done, and I have the other 9mos of the year to make maximum productivity out of the time they are in school! :)

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  48. I think the "large block of time" is more true of fine art where you have to set up all your paints and so on. With writing, I just turn on my laptop and go! (after pouring myself a glass of something nummy, at least)

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  49. I like "No excuses", and graft on "No fear". Writing is a habit, and habits lead to writing. The question to be asked is "What is stopping me from writing?" Usually the answer is "Me."

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  50. These are great. We all need to move past the "I can'ts" and get to the "I will."

    Happy writing!

    Angela

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  51. Cool about your post being picked up, and great advice! I do have a problem battling my preference to have a large block of time, but I have been working on conquering that lately. If I have something I need to do in X amount of time, it tends to hover over me and make me feel like I don't have time for other things. That isn't true, but sometimes it's hard to beat the bad thinking. Thanks for the post!

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, co-host of the 2012 #atozchallenge! Twitter: @AprilA2Z

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  52. I admit it. I'm totally guilty of #3. I don't know what kind of mood I have to be in exactly, but it has to be the "right" one.

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  53. I finally figured the truth about these myths around 6 months ago. My life is much better now for this revelation. Great post, Lyn!

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  54. Such true words. It wasn't until I started to treat writing like a 'job' that I made myself carve out time every day - before the dishes and the laundry :-)

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  55. Get in the habit of writing immediately when sitting down (or standing up) to write. That becomes a habit. Soon, the whole concept of waiting for the right mood falls by the wayside.

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  56. Sometimes, I am guilty of all four. But nowadays I am forcing myself to write with or without my muse.

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  57. I've tagged you! Drop on by and get 11 random questions to post on your blog, fellow campaigner!

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  58. I love this post. It came at a perfect time for me, too. Thank you! New follower from the campaign, btw.

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  59. This is good advice. I think some people who constantly cannot "find" time to write may be in the wrong business.

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  60. I think I used three of those excuses this week, lol. Just popping over to say hello from the Campaign. Nice blog!

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  61. It can be very tough! I tend to mostly get snatches of 10 or 15 minutes lately. Since before Christmas actually. Then my computer went belly up... But I've taken up pen and paper and am still plugging away. And having more fun than I expected :)

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  62. I prefer to have at least an hour to write and I have to be some place quiet. Usually it's not a problem for me to motivate myself to write. It's getting me NOT to write that is the challenge. ;)

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  63. Medeia, yes, scheduling housecleaning helps enormously for writing.

    Sylvia, it's great to train yourself to write anywhere. It does make a huge difference to your writing.

    Ben, absolutely!! I've used a smart phone as well for typing in an outline for a story while I was out and about. Love today's tech!

    Julia, music motivates me as well.

    Prerna, welcome!

    James, yep, grim determination will keep you writing.

    Stacy, smart move to leave the inbox until later.

    Andrew, yay for another scifi writer!

    C.J. Parmenter, lol, they are terrible distractions. Terrible! I regularly struggle with them.

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  64. Theresa, that's so brilliant. And yes, they do add up.

    Carol, those snippets made a huge difference once I learnt to take advantage of them.

    Susan, totally agree that summer is the hardest time to write, even if there aren't any kids around. It's summer here in Oz but we are getting a wet and chilly one so it's easy to stay indoors and write.

    Trisha, the nummy is essential ;)

    Susan Kane, well said.

    Shannon, you definitely need to find a system that works for you. And never give up.

    Sarah, yes, and treating writing as a job doesn't take the joy from it.

    Kaylie, thanks for the tag :)

    Yvie, welcome!

    Jemi, it IS a load of fun, Plus I love my pens and papers. I can't access the internet that way ;)

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  65. All very true things. Myself, I've gotten a lot of writing done just from bringing a netbook or alphasmart with me to work and writing on the bus! Those half-hour trips add up.

    It's great to meet you, Lynda - I'm in the sci-fi Campaigners group!

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  66. Hi Lynda! We share at least one campaign group, so I'm just making my rounds through google reader :).

    That's some excellent advice you have there, and #4 is definitely the one I struggle with the most. I'm going to have to get my family to the point that they realize if I'm not answering the phone, it's not because I'm dead >_<.

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  67. That's some crucial, no-nonsense advice right there.

    Also, stopping by to welcome you to the A to Z Challenge April 2012!

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

    #atozchallenge

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  68. I keep my netbook in my purse. When I'm waiting in the carpool line for an hour to pick up my daughter at school (crazy long, I know!) I usually start typing away!

    Just wanted to pop in and say hello! I'm in your Group 3 YA! Can't wait to read more from you. :) (New follower too!)

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  69. Prioritising is important. You might find it helps to make yourself strict rules. It worked for me: http://47-5.blogspot.com/2012/02/productivity-rules.html and still going strong since I posted that.

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  70. I messed with my MS so much during the process that I wasn't getting anywhere. Then I decided to just finish and not try to edit during the writing. That worked much better. Now I have a completed MS to edit - I probably wouldn't even have a first draft now if I hadn't done that. I enjoyed your article:)

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  71. Re Myth 3: A lot of people seem to think they need a muse to write or that creativity is something you're struck with. No! It's amazing when the prose hits your brain faster than you can write it, but let's face it: writing can be a slow, frustrating journey when you're not "in the mood" or if you're feeling blocked or just having trouble articulating something. But that's no reason to avoid it.

    Your myths are all excuses and I feel they are all psychological, based on insecurity and other things.

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  72. Thanks for reminding me to write no matter what. It's so easy to come up with excuses, but I love to carry around notebooks and make notes like you said.

    I'm stopping by on the campaign trail (in the YA All genres). Looking forward to getting to know you.

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  73. Great post! Thanks for following my blog, I'm now following you from the YA campaign group. I've tagged you to answer some questions about yourself!

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  74. Awww, but I like all my excuses not to write. Especially #3 - whoo boy, do I trot that sucker out all the time. :-) Seriously, this is such a great reminder to quit talking about writing and actually sit your butt down and do it.

    Saying hello from the YA Campaign group.

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  75. Great insights for a habitual procrastinator and excuse-finder. Makes me want to re-think things here.

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  76. Hello! Just popping in to say hello from the campaign! ^_^ (Fantasy Group)

    -Cindy

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  77. Love your great list, Lynda! So true!

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  78. Excellent points. I know someone who always makes those excuses when I talk to her about her writing and my heart breaks for what she is misses out on, but I don't say anything because she must decide when she is ready to write, though I feel like printing these points off and giving them to her.

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  79. I avoid going out at night, that is my writing time... Now I need to discipline night time distractions of social media!
    Xx

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  80. Kelworthfiles, hi, nice to see you again.

    Rebekah, lol, yeah, I used to have that problem as well re family and phones ;)

    Alynza, welcome!

    Gwen, that's brilliant to hear.

    Ashley, well said. I know it took me a while to learn that one.

    Tia, welcome

    Melissa, oh, another tag! Cool! I'll check them out for my Thursday post.

    Jocelyn, lol, sorry to ruin those excuses for you ;)

    Madeleine, it is hard to watch those excuses in action in someone else. You are right, though. Each writer has to work it out for themselves.

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  81. Hi, I just subcribed and I'm stopping by from the Campaign (SF.) Drop by my site.

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  82. Hello from the campaign! Just letting you know you've been tagged ^_^

    -Cindy

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  83. Love this post. I'm working on being a MYTH BUSTER in regards to my writing. Especially #3, as I discover, getting my BIC, gets me in the mood.

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I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.