Monday, June 4, 2018

How do you make time for writing? (With McCall Hoyle!)

Stephanie here! I'm so excited to have McCall Hoyle with us this week on Go Teen Writers!

McCall writes great, clean contemporary YA for Blink/HarperCollins. Plus she's a wonderful, sweet woman who loves young writers. You can read more about McCall and learn about her books on her author website.

Let's get on to today's panel question!

Other than the phrase, “You make time for what you care about,” what do you say to people who want to write a book but struggle to find the time? How have you made time in your schedule for writing, especially early in your career? 


McCall: Honestly, it is *exactly* like exercising. I read somewhere when I used to run a lot that just putting on and lacing up your running shoes greatly improves your chances of getting out the door and hitting the trail. And I've found that to be true with writing too. If I set a designated time to write each day and force myself to sit in front of the computer, I'll write something, even if I don't feel like writing. When I used to train for marathons, I always had running buddies. If I told them I was going to meet them early in the morning, I had to get up and go. I couldn't leave them out there alone waiting on me. It's the same with writing. Find some other writing friends and hold each other accountable with weekly check-ins. 

The good news is that just like exercise, it does get easier with time. You do build stamina. When I first started writing, my goal was 250 words per day. I eventually increased that to 500 words a day and grew from their. But sometimes you have a setback just like you have injuries in running. (I'm really going with this extended metaphor here.) There was a time when I was really struggling to write anything, and I gave myself permission to write 100 words a day. That's not many words, but it was enough to keep me in the habit until the ideas started flowing again. 

So lace up those metaphoric writing shoes, people. Hit the pavement, and keep putting down one word after another. 

Stephanie: Uh, what McCall said! Sometimes, frankly, people are far more enchanted by the idea of writing a book than they are the actual writing of a book. I think a lot of times that is the real issue behind why lots of talk but very little writing is getting done. I have sometimes found myself guilty of this too!

In a way, it was easier in the beginning of my writing career. When I started to pursue publishing there was no social media and very little blogging. So I was lonely and uneducated, but I was very focused on getting my writing done!

One of the best things I ever did for myself as a writer was to set aside specific time for writing. I work best in the morning, so I decided that I would get up a little earlier than I had to and use that as designated writing time. I didn't do that consistently until after I graduated high school, but it really helped me become more productive.

Shan: Acknowledging the truth is key: none of us have time to write a book. 

Time comes in limited quantities for us all and if we’ve finished a novel, we’ve sacrificed something to do that. For me, it’s an ever-evolving process. When my kids were little, they were home with me all of the time and that felt impossible, but from the time I signed my first contract, I signed off on three books in 18 months. Now with my children in school five days a week, you’d think I could pump words out like a machine, but we tend to fill those hours with other, important things. At some point, you have to choose which obligations you’re willing to sacrifice on the altar of creativity. I recommend starting with dishes and vacuuming first.

Jill: When I started out, I had three little ones at home, two of my own, and I was babysitting my friend’s daughter. The only time I could write was if everyone napped at the same time. It worked, most of the time, but not always. But I really looked forward to it, and while the word counts weren’t amazing, they added up. That’s how I wrote my first book. 

What about you, writers? How do you make time for writing?

19 comments:

  1. Time for writing? Ha!

    I work five days a week and those five days are different each week. When my shift starts later in the day, I try to squeeze in an hour or so of writing in the morning. If my shift is earlier in the day, I have to do it when I get home in the afternoon. Right now, it's stressful because I have a very serious self-imposed deadline, but I'm almost there and I'm excited! My book is even up on Goodreads right now because I'm trying to publish in August.

    I definitely needed this post!

    ~Ivie|Ivie Writes

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    1. Good luck with your self-imposed deadline! I need to get back to early morning too! <3

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  2. I schedule it;) I get up early and get my reading in so it doesn't distract me later. I get my writing done throughout the day, but I concentrate on it in the evenings after chores are completely out of the way. Also, we have an outlet in our van, so if the trip is at least 20 minutes, the laptop is coming with me!

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    1. Oh my goodness! So many early morning writers here on this blog. I totally need to get back to the early morning writing schedule. Thanks for sharing. <3

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  3. I definitely needed this post! I'm on an uber-tight deadline right now, and I'm having a bit of a hard time reaching my word count every day, haha. But this post was super helpful! Thanks for being here to give us advice, McCall <3.

    ~ Savannah
    Inspiring Writes

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    1. I love being here, and good luck with your deadline! <3

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  4. I write 6-7 am in the morning (sometimes I get up earlier to get a bit more writing done). I clean houses, so I can't write the rest of the day. I write Sunday afternoons. I don't write Saturdays (my sabbath). And the evenings or for family/ eating/ blogging/ etc. I usually write 1000 words a day (or I have been doing so since last NaNo). Somedays if I have to be to work earlier I'll write more like 800-900 words.

    I really like the running metaphor!

    keturahskorner.blogspot.com

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    1. I used to be an early morning writer AND totally need to get back to that. <3

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  5. I really appreciated the running metaphor, especially the part about having to take a few steps back and regain stamina. It's an encouraging thing to remember during the tougher seasons of life. Thanks for the reminder!

    I usually try to write in the morning because that's when I work best. If I haven't met my goals for the day, I try to get a little more work in after I'm finished studying in the afternoon if I have time. It's working for me right now. We'll see if that continues.

    A great post to start the summer season! Thanks for your advice and thoughts, ladies!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, and I'm so impressed by all the early morning writers here. <3

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  6. I really like how you compared writing to exercising. For me, I try to make time to write in my day when I know I'll have free time or by making it by waking up earlier or deviating from my normal schedule to work if I haven't done it by evening. Finding time to write can be difficult, but you make a great point, Mrs. Hoyle. Usually, once I've started, it's so much easier to keep on writing, and I forget that I had struggled to start.

    ~True // atruewriter.blogspot.com

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  7. I've had many times where I carried a notebook everywhere. If I got to class a couple minutes early, I would write. If I had five minutes to wait before an apoiappoint, I would write. I crammed it in every miniscule space I could find. I would get up early to do my homework because that is when my left side brain work and then I would devote my evenings to writing. It took a while, but I was able to finish more than one book using that system. Right now I have some demands on my time that don't even allow for those moments. It can be frustrating, but I have to remind myself that to everything there is a season and a time under the heavens. Right now isn't my season for writing, and that's okay. This too shall pass, and I will get to write again. As long as I don't get discouraged and give up, my time will come in and I'll be ready and excited to dive in again.

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    1. Wow, Katymarie, I love the idea of the mini-writing moments and hope your schedule slows down so you can get back to them. <3

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  8. I definitely needed this post! Half the time it seems that summer is much more busy than the rest of the year. I like how "set aside time to write" was the main point. It can’t be stressed enough!

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    1. Hi Rachael! I'm struggling with the "summer is busier than the school year" thing myself. But I'm trying to put writing first starting today! Good luck to you! <3

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  9. Thank you so, so much for visiting with us, McCall! Your answer to this question is fantastic. Writing IS exactly like exercising!

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    1. Thanks, Shannon! Speaking of exercising and writing, I need to be doing both right now! :)

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  10. These are all such great answers!
    I try to get up early and do some writing, because my brain is better that time of day, but sometimes my toddler decides to wake up with me, in which case I try to get all my housework done then when he’s awake, so when he takes his afternoon nap I’m free to do my writing then.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Maddie, and enjoy that precious toddler. They grow up so quickly! <3

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