la·gniappe (lnyp, ln-yp) n.
Chiefly Southern Louisiana & Mississippi
1. A small gift presented by a storeowner to a customer with the customer's purchase.
2. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit.
I hope these entries give you a little something extra with posts about this southern gal living in the north, about writing, author interviews, new releases, and occasional photos from my photography sojourns.
Thanks for reading!
In January I added over 25,000 new words to my current work in progress. For some writer’s that may be a drop in the bucket or a common
occurrence, but it was a huge increase for me. Below is a list of things I did.
Maintaining a consistent daily writing schedule proved to be the biggest
benefit to getting words on the page.
Look at your daily schedule as objectively as possible and
assess where you can make some beneficial changes. Take what works and modify
to make your schedule more effective.You’ll be more successful if you’re doing what works for you.
Rest assured, not every one of my days looked like the
schedule below. This is what I strive for
and on the days I can achieve this, I’m a productive writer. That is, words get
typed onto the page and the story advances. And on the days I miss the mark, I
allow myself the grace to enjoy what I’ve exchanged for my writing. And I
simply say as Miss Scarlet did, “Tomorrow is another day.” I pray you’ll give
yourself the same grace.
Daily Writing Schedule
The night before when I’m planning my day, I write down how
many words I’ll write the next day. By writing it down the night before, my
brain has time to accept that task for the next day. It’s also a way to
convince myself that writing is just as important as anything else on my
schedule. Also, letting family members know you’re writing schedule helps keep
your writing commitment. They’re more likely to respect your time if you’re
specific. For me, writing after Bible study is crucial. If I write when I’m
fresh in the morning, I seem to be more productive. But not everyone works best
in the morning. Know what time works for you and guard it like a Mama Bear
guarding her cubs. Which means turn off the phone, emails, social media, or
anything else that can distract you during that high-productivity time.
Yes, shed the PJs and slippers and put on regular clothes. Your
brain will believe you are ready to conquer the day. Remember it takes approximately
28 days to make something a habit. So make a conscious effort to do this. You’ll
be amazed at how much better you’ll feel. Besides this is your business, take
it seriously. Even changing into sweatpants, a shirt without stains or holes,
and tennis shoes will make you feel better.
3.Have a Neat
A working surface where you can find what you need with your frequently
used reference books readily available can save time. Nothing is more
frustrating and a time killer than to spend thirty minutes looking for your
favorite pen, folder of ideas, or reference book. This is time that can be
added to your writing account.
After I’ve let the dog out and gotten my coffee/tea. I
spend time with my Lord. He is the reason I write so it’s only fitting that I
should visit with Him before I write one word. This sets the tone for my day.
Mentally, I’m in a much better place to work or tackle anything that comes along.
Words seem to flow much better when I’ve gone to Him first. This for me, is
putting one of my “Big Rocks” in first. For those of you who don’t know what
that means, here’s a link to the popular time-management concept: http://www.csub.edu/tlc/options/resources/handouts/teach_strat/putinrocks.html
During one of my devotion times the Lord reminded me very clearly:
“I can’t write through you unless you write.”
When I begin research or planning a story, I create a notebook that
includes the following forms and keep it on my desk while I’m writing this
a.Character Sketches b. A list of all the character
names (this is usually ongoing as I write)
c.Basic plot and location ideas
d.A List of Chapters (this is created as I write)
e.Edit Ops (Editing Opportunities).
I pull the Edit Ops sheet and a blank piece of
paper (an idea sheet) out of the notebook and place it next to my computer.
The blank sheet is used to jot
ideas for today’s writing direction (see Step 6)
Ideas for edits are jotted on the Edit Ops sheet as I'm writing. Later, when editing this story this idea sheet is helpful.
As I complete a chapter, the
chapter number and a brief description is written on the List of Chapters form.
This helps to find specific things quickly in the manuscript and also serves as
a rough synopsis when the story is finished. This form could be used for
writers who plot each chapter.
For a copy of my Story Development
Documents, see my website:
Upon opening to my current Work In Progress (WIP), I skim the
previous chapter (no editing) to get back into the story. Here I take a few
minutes to decide where the next scene/chapter is headed. Taking this few
minutes to really think about the story helps the story flow. I jot a few ideas
on the idea sheet.
This has been the best writing strategy for me. Thanks to a
recommendation by a fellow writer, Robin
Carroll, I’ve increased my word count substantially. The concept is that
our brains can be most creatively effective for 45 minutes and then after that
we lose our effectiveness unless we recharge. I set a timer for 45 minutes. At
the end of 45 minutes, I do something non-creative for 15-20 minutes such as a
load of laundry, unload or reload the dishwasher, play with the dog. Something
away from the computer and that doesn’t require creativity. After that time, I’m
recharged and ready to tackle another 45 minutes of writing. I’ve found that in
two 45-minute sessions, I’ve written more than when I’ve spent hours without
taking a planned break.
Songs from the August Rush
Soundtrack (the instrumental ones only)
The Last of the Mohicians or Randy Edelman
Radio on Pandora.
Dances with Wolves
This new idea came from a writer friend, Carrie
Turansky’s blog and I’ve found that it really helps. Wearing headphones
whether or not you’re listening to music has two benefits. 1) Blocks out
distractions/background noises. 2) Provides a visual reminder to family members
that you’re writing and should not be disturbed.
write. No editing—
Let the words flow. Editing and writing use different
parts of the brain. It’s easier to keep the creative flow going if you refrain
from editing as you go along. (Again everyone is wired differently, this works
well for me, for others this may not be the case. Try both methods and embrace
what works for you.) Write for the full 45 minutes. Nothing else matters but
word count during that time. You can plow through even the most unruly plot or
character for 45 minutes. Imagine that you can only write for 45 minutes and the
life of your children depend on how many words you write. Okay that’s a bit
drastic but you get the idea. Write with wild abandon. Let the creativity flow.
Give yourself permission to be messy. You can fix it later.
I write down my daily word count on my calendar. This gives me a
visual of my progress and helps me set the next day’s goal. Some people use
electronic word progress widgets. Use what works for you, but monitor your
daily word count. It’s encouraging to see how much you’ve added to your
manuscript at the end of the month.
of An Accountability Group
The best gift you can give yourself is to join an accountability group where you can set a word count goal for the
month and send daily word counts. It’s amazing how encouraging it is to state
to others a monthly word goal and to send in that daily count. ACFW’s Novel
is such a group or gather a group of serious writer friends who will commit to
setting goals and daily accountability.
Time in Nature—
Research has found that spending time in nature stimulates
creativity. Recent studies have found that disconnecting from technology for a
period of time and spending time in nature, boosts productivity. Read more at:
It used to be a writer’s only job was to write. In
today’s publishing climate writers do much more. They edit, market, network,
hone their craft, design, and well, network some more. It’s no wonder I’ve
heard the question asked time and again:
When can writers find time to write?
With the changing face of the publishing world, the role of
the writer has changed. There’s more demand for the writer to market their work
and that requires time. Especially for the typically introverted writer.
more than ever, writers need good time management skills.
There are still only twenty-four hours in one day.
That hasn’t changed.
Let's look at a day as a bank account. Everything I do
costs me in the payment of time.
Is trading my minutes to do something going to yield
something worthwhile in return?
I must admit I’ve spent two hours of precious time watching
some movies that I wish I hadn’t. Those 120 minutes are gone forever and what
I’ve exchanged them for may have actually lowered my IQ. Not the best exchange
for my time. The same is true for Social Media. Don't get caught in this CyberSpace Bermuda's Triangle.
1.Is what I’m spending these minutes on giving me something of value in return?
a.Am I wiser? Am I learning something new that
will make me a better writer? A better person? Be more sensible in managing my household?
b.Am I Wealthier? By managing my time am I saving
money because I’m able to prepare meals at home instead of eating out? Am I saving money some other way?
c.Will I save time in the future by doing this
now? Meal planning, prepared blog posts, house cleaning, chapter outlines. The
list here is endless.
If the answer to any of the above questions is no, think
seriously about spending those minutes. With Internet access and so many social
networking venues, families, and outside obligations it’s easy for writing time
How does a writer stay on track with SO many
Define and guard writing time. The first step in defining writing time is to make it a
priority and set specific writing goals.
I usually set my overall goals for the year at the end of
January or the first of February. Maybe it’s the rebel in me, but there’s
something about setting goals on January 1 that doesn’t work for me. I’m
usually worn out from the holidays, hung over from eating all the food I don’t
typically eat, or just unable to focus.
Once I’ve had time to settle into the new year, overcome the
effects of the holidays, and assess what’s priority for the coming year as far
as writing goes I can set reasonable goals.
I’ve simplified the goal writing process. You can find much
more comprehensive processes. But I’ve found that if I keep it simple, I’m
likely to write manageable goals that I’ll actually achieve.
To Set Writing
1.Make your goal specific and defined. And
most importantly DOABLE. Don’t set yourself up for failure. PLAN TO SUCEED by making your goals reasonable and possible.
I will write XX words this month.
I will finish XYZ story with 60K words by the end of XXX Month.
I will participate in an online group or solicit my friends to keep me
accountable for my word count.
I will edit XYZ story from xx/xx/xx to xx/xx/xx and submit it to XYZ publisher/agent by XX/XX/XX.
Outline or Develop Character sketches for New Story. Etc…
You get the idea.
2.Reward Yourself—Not only are you setting
goals, you’re deciding how you’ll be rewarded when you meet each goal. It can
be that new writing book you’ve wanted, a manicure, a new novel, a day of
shopping. Be creative. Whatever spurs you onward.
3.Write each specific goal on a separate 3 x 5
card along with the reward for completing that goal. Put the cards in the order
of date/timeframe for completion.
Once you’ve completed each card, place the cards on your desk with the
first card visible and where you can see it daily.
Once you’ve reached that goal, capture your reward and then flip the card
behind the others. Your next goal is visible.
Continue until you reach the first goal again.
4.Reassess on June 1st. Add,
change, or remove goals as needed.
Next Tuesday, Part 2. A review of daily time-management writing tips and daily writing goals to work toward achieving your yearly goals. If you'd like to be notified by email when I post again, please sign up in the right margin. Until next Tuesday, happy
I’d like to hear some of your specific writing goals if you’d
like to share.
Do you have a creative reward for reaching a writing goal?Please consider sharing. Provided it’s rated
G of course!
Happy Mardi Gras!
Thanks for visiting Lagniappe
I pray that you find "a little something extra" in each of your days.