writing advice

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time

Want to Write More? My 5 Tips to Get More Time | Writing Between Pauses

There are lots of reasons we get too busy to write. Housework. Real jobs. Kids. Stress. The book that's calling your name that you need to finish. Social plans. If you love to write, writing is easy to push to the side.

Why? Because it's hard. Writing is hard! Let's just admit it!

Society tends to think of writing (in the broadest sense) to be absolutely easy. We all write every single day. Text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, Instagram captions. We all write, so how hard is it, really, for someone to string enough sentences together for a book or a poem or a blog post? 

The truth is, writing is hard. Mentally, it's an exercise in patience to try to squeeze what you see in your brain out onto the page. And physically, it can be challenging; you're in one place for a very long time, with 100 distractions, having to concentrate very hard and type. 

Honestly, why do any of us do this? 

So, you've come to the conclusion: you want, no, you need, to write more. It's paramount. But you've got a toddler, or you've got a full time job, or you've got a million other things on your plate and that great idea you had for a short story or a poem has been languishing for so long that the spark of inspiration isn't just a dying ember, but a little piece of charcoal. 

Here are my five tips to sneak in writing. 

1. Say it out loud

Oh yeah, you heard me. Writing: it's about sitting with a notebook or a computer and getting it out on the page. Or is it? What's to stop you from recording voice memos on your phone of lines you think of while you're in the grocery store, or waiting in the pick up line at school? Record it, save it, and return to it later when you have more than 30 seconds. 

2. Carry the notebook

This is, truly, every writer's least favorite tip, but it's true: carry the notebook with you. Honestly, just carry it. It feels pretentious, to have that little notebook in your purse or in your back pocket, but when you're waiting for coffee and get an idea--you'll think me. You'll have somewhere to put it. 

(If you don't love tiny notebooks, you can also use the Notes app on your iPhone or equivalent smartphone.) 

3. Get up earlier

The birds are singing, the sun is starting to rise earlier than before. You have more daylight hours. So why sleep through them? Waking up at 5 or 5:30 isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you don't leave for work until 8:30, then why not spend an hour in the morning writing? Isn't that an extra hour in your day to achieve something you really, really want? 

4. Maximize the time you do have

You set aside an hour or two in the evening to write. But some nights, you spend it watching TV, browsing Twitter, or doing something else. You know you need to write, but the couch is so comfy. 

Listen, routine is everything when it comes to developing habits. If you actually want to spend the time your kids are in bed, or you don't have work responsibilities rearing their heads, then you actually have to make the habit. So, even though the couch is comfy, fix your favorite drink and head to the computer. (Just make sure your drink is on a coaster far away from your keyboard!) 

5. Ask for Time

You have a roommate who watches TV while you do the dishes, or a husband that starts working again right when he gets home. You want time to write, but you find yourself picking up the slack of others. Let me tell you: that's not going to work. Ask for the time. It's easy. "Honey, I would like an hour to go get some writing done. Can you watch the kids?" or "Hey, can you finish these dishes so I can go finish up something I'm working on?" takes 5 seconds. If asking doesn't work, demand it. "I need an hour!" you will say, going into your office and closing the door. 

If the toddler destroys the living room, you'll deal with it later. 

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5 Tropes Romance Novels Need to Drop

I love romance novels. I never thought I would write that phrase, because I used to hate them--but I don't anymore. Romance novels can be fun, little escapes that are nothing more than pure fun. Nothing serious happens. The heroine always gets the guy. It's all great. 

But the more romance novels I read, the more I realize: some of these tropes are just plain bad... but also so sickeningly common. It feels so easy for romance novels to keep writing the same formulaic story over and over and over... and over... and over... again, for years! It's easy to forget that times outside of the story have changed. 

So here are 5 tropes that romance novels seriously need to drop. If you're a romance writer, avoid these things like the plague. 

1. The controlling, alpha male lead with a tragic past. 

This tragic past conveniently always allows the heroine to forgive him for his downright shitty, abusive behavior. I recently read a romance novel (that I reviewed, rather unkindly, on Goodreads) that featured a romantic lead that was just plain abusive. He was mean; he refused to let the heroine eat if she showed up to dinner late (!!); and he treated her like trash. But when she found out his tragic story, she instantly forgave him. Oh no, no. That's not how life works. Let's drop these male lead characters, shall we? I'm only here for romances that feature diverse, compassionate, kind romantic leads from now on. 

2. The delicate, tiny, virginal heroine, also with a tragic past. 

The heroine in romance novels is always described a very specific way: she is slim, she is tiny, she is long-legged, she is either blonde or has "honey-colored" brown hair (she's never dark-haired, or dark-skinned, or short, or on the plump side). She is also a doormat, universally, with a tragic past that she hasn't received therapy for, but has moved on from pretty quickly. She's also always, always virginal. I'm over it. I'm done. Give me diverse, dynamic, powerful lead, please. 

3. The appropriation of other cultures. 

If I had a nickel for every time a female lead in a romance novel donned the traditional dress of another culture and "pulled it off," I'd have more nickels that I knew what to do with. Can we just drop this trope immediately? If you're lead is a white woman, please don't let her put on a headdress for Coachella, a Cheongsam for a fancy party, or anything else. She can wear a gown or some denim shorts like everyone else. 

4. The insta-love storylines. 

"He touched my hand and it burned through my body." I'm sorry, I know this is fantasy, but no. That's not how it happens. I want storylines where they are "meh" about each other for a while, or where they become friends first and then fall in love. I want storylines that are more about building something, rather than finding something already built and just stepping into it. Less insta-love, more actual romance. 

5. Everyone is rich (everyone).

50 Shades of Grey did the world many disservices, but the number one disservice is introducing the world to the idea that, oh yeah, everyone in a novel can be billionaires! A novel I read recently featured a rich ranch owner who took in a... secretly rich girl who was also a ranch owner. It removes any requirements of plot from the author; when your characters don't have to worry about money, they can spend all their time focusing on the romantic lead. That's boring. I need drama! Less billionaires, please.