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!
Marian P. Merritt - Lagniappe
Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Writer’s Write. Right? – Time Management Tips for Writers. Part 2 of 2
Part 2 – Daily Schedule
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: