Saturday, June 4, 2016

Edith Maxwell/Maddie Day: Writerly tips for productivity #bookgiveaway


-->HALLIE EPHRON: We know she gets up early! And she's incredibly prolific and productive and a terrific writer and a great pal to the Jungle Reds. Today we're welcoming Edith Maxwell, back again to the front of the blog. She has news... and some smart insider tips for those who want to try to match her output.
And... she's giving away a book each to two commenters.






EDITH MAXWELL:
Wait, wasn’t I just a guest here? Yes, but I have two more new books out: Murder Most Fowl, book four in the Local Foods Mysteries, and Grilled for Murder, book two in the Country Store Mysteries. That’s what happens when you have three contracts with two different publishers.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m living my dream. It’s just tricky to manage sometimes, and Hallie was nice enough to ask me back to my favorite blog.

More than one person has asked me how I’m able to be so productive. How do I meet three book deadlines a year without going nuts? The first thing I say, only partly in jest, is that panic is a great motivator. I have deadlines! I have three deadlines, and it isn’t only the release dates that bump up against each other. This year I had books due January 1, March 1, and May 1. Yikes!

So Hallie suggested I offer my top ten tips for getting and staying productive. These tips work for me, and I hope they will for anyone. Mind you, I left my day job as a tech writer three years ago, so writing fiction is now my full-time job. Some of the tips might be a little harder if you’re writing around the edges of gainful employment elsewhere.

Ten - Make lists. Every day I jot down a list of the things I want to accomplish for today. The first thing (every day but Sunday) is always, Write. The long-term-goals list is on my white board: stuff I want to be sure I don’t forget but that I don’t have to do today.

Nine – Sprint. Every morning Ramona DeFelice Long posts a sprint thread on her Facebook page before seven AM. Bunches of us from all over grab our first, or next, cup of coffee and check in, then we all ignore each other, turn off the internet and the phone, and work steadily for an hour. It’s a writing club, a mutual support group, and a fabulous technique for working without interruption. I take a break at eight, and then do another sprint, and often another before I meet my word count goal for the day.

Eight – Work on one series at a time. I try my best to immerse myself in one setting, one set of characters, one story, whether I’m in first draft or revising said draft.

Seven – Finish what’s due first. Except #8 blows up sometimes. I’ll be in first draft mode on the organic farm and copyedits will come in from 1888. Or I’ll be revising a Rose Carroll mystery and page proofs will arrive from southern Indiana. So then I operate on the First Due principle. I knock off the proofs or the copy edits, because they are due in a week or two, so I can get back to the longer work. The problem with doing that, of course, is that I have to reread the whole work in progress up to where I left off so I can re-immerse myself in that world. But that’s a good exercise, anyway.

Six – Take time away from the desk. By about eleven I’m toast for creative work, so I usually go for what I call my plotting walk, especially if I’m writing a first draft. I talk out loud to myself, ask questions about my characters, and soon enough the next scene or the plot problem has become clear. I happily dictate an email to myself and keep walking.

Five – Separate creative time from admin time. I’m most creative in the early morning, so I do my writing then. A corollary is, Keep creative time sacred. I don’t schedule anything else for mornings – not exercise classes, not doctor appointments, nothing. I try to keep writing blog posts, scheduling author events, book-keeping, and all the other businessy stuff for the afternoons.

Four – Work ahead. Per my comment about deadlines colliding (and in 2017 I have books due January 1 and February 1, gulp): I work ahead. I started to write my January-deadline book this week. I’ll have the first draft done by the end of summer, then I’ll start the February-due book.

Three – Outsource what I can’t do. I’m miserable with art and graphics, so I barter with a friend who is an artist and has not only Photoshop but an eye for color. She makes my bookmarks, I give her a book. I hire someone to do my taxes. Why waste time on things it would take me forever to do and rob me of the hours I need to do what I’m good at – writing stories? And even though I love growing food, my little organic garden out back is getting smaller and smaller, and we have three fabulous farm stands within a couple of miles.

Two – Stay healthy. I always have a full Amesbury Police Department mug of water on my desk. Fluids in, fluids out makes me get up and move around every hour or even more often. I try to eat lean fresh foods, and I get regular exercise even if it isn’t the hearty gym workout I really need. And the exercise doubles as creative time - see #6!

One – Butt in the chair, fingers on the keyboard. This is really the most important one. If I get distracted, schedule other things, or simply don’t do the writing, then...I’m not doing the writing. And that’s my job. Of all the varied jobs I’ve held (pump jock, teacher, farmer, doula, tech writer), I’m lucky and blessed to have this last one be the one I love the most (well, besides my favorite job – being a mom). And I am staying sane, mostly.

Readers: Add your tips! What works for you, in whatever your endeavor is? Edith is giving away a copy of each of her new books to two commenters today, so if you think she doesn’t know how to find you, please add your email address.



Agatha-nominated and Amazon best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries, the Local Foods Mysteries, and the Country Store Mysteries (as Maddie Day). A former farmer and doula, she also writes award-winning short crime fiction. Maxwell lives north of Boston with her beau and three cats, and blogs



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88 comments:

Joan Emerson said...

Congratulations on your newest books . . . .

What a comprehensive list, Edith.
The only thing I can think to add is to be good to yourself on those occasions when things don't go smoothly, when your day suddenly turns crazy and those good intentions and best-made plans go awry . . . .
[ae215jfe@aol.com]

Karen in Ohio said...

Thanks for the tips, Edith! You make it look so easy, but I know there's a lot of good old-fashioned stick to itness going on, every day.

I'll need all I can get, now that Rhys has given me so much inspiration !

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Joan. That's so true - and that definitely happens sometimes. Actually this winter a dear friend of mine entered hospice and died. I provided a lot of support to him and his wife and lost a couple of weeks of productivity. I finally asked my editor for a month's extension on my May 1 deadline because I foresaw not being able to make it. Since I've never missed a deadline yet, he was understanding and let me have it. I sent that book in on Wednesday!

Karen - you're welcome, and you're right, of course. Glad you found inspiration in Italy!

Grace Koshida said...

Congratulations on your double book releases this week, Edith! Making lists is a necessity as my memory is becoming hole-y, and it's rewarding to cross off completed items. The other thing I recommend is saying "NO" to new requests. I know this is hard for many women, including me, but I need to remain focussed to complete items on my essential "Things to do" list.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Grace. So true about saying, "No."

Kim Gray said...

Great list, Edith! I am always amazed by the amount of work you put out! I am printing out your list. I especially liked your "long term white board." It has made me rethink my own list. Thanks!

Korina Moss said...

This couldn't have come at a better time for me. I just (yesterday) moved into a new house and I just (day before yesterday) had an agent invite me to revise and resubmit my ms to her. And my son is getting out of school in a week and a half. So I'll have to get creative with my time as well as my manuscript! I'm going to follow your lead and hope for a summer of productivity. Thanks for the useful tips.

Betsy Bitner said...

Wow, Edith, you always inspire me with your creativity. I have no trouble with the "panic as motivator" technique - I need a deadline - it's the working ahead part I haven't mastered yet!

Lucy Burdette aka Roberta Isleib said...

thanks Edith, we still think your output is magical. Do the ideas never refuse to come?

I can't start sprinting that early but there's no excuse for not carving out a block of time to write!

Karen, I hope we'll hear more about the retreat!

Korina congratulations--you go girl!

I like deadlines as motivators too. I never was the kind of student who waited to start something until the night before--too terrifying! I bet Edith wasn't either:)

Karen in Ohio said...

Lucy/Roberta, I'm claiming the late June spot on the blog schedule for a report. With photos! All the participants gave permission for their photos to appear.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Kim!

You can do it, Korina. Isn't that what Hank's mom told her? "If you want to, you will." I love that.

Deadlines, hmm, Betsy. For me the long-term deadlines are just as motivating. And actually, Roberta, I have definitely had times earlier in my life when I saved a task for the last minute. But now I just can't or my writing wouldn't be worth publishing!

Hallie Ephron said...

Yay koruna! You are on the cusp! Karen be sure to blog about the food, too. Edith you're amazing. Any strategies for revising ... Not copy editing but reworking plot? I just got editors comments back on You'll Never Know, Dear and of course my editor sees all the issues I knew were there .

Hallie Ephron said...

Ack Korina (I'm on the rods doing this on my cell and not so good at it)

Edith Maxwell said...

Hallie - revising. When I get those kinds of comments (I always do) and I have to rework a scene, I enter the Tunnel of Despair for a little while. I knew it was a problem but I don't want to rewrite! Sometimes a "plotting walk" helps - an idea for how to fix the problem always arises, and often away from the desk. Good luck with yours! And thanks for having me over today.

Ramona said...

Your output is amazing, Edith! Such practical advice, and it clearly works for you. It is a pleasure to sprint with you in the morning - it's the reason I don't sit out on my deck all day!

Edith Maxwell said...

You keep us accountable, Ramona!

Ann in Rochester said...

How I wish I had the ability to write and the discipline to make it happen. However I have that butt in the chair thing down pat. If I should be considered the lucky winner of one of your books, e mail is aemrn@aol.com. Yes, AOL. What can I say? It is my first and only address. It is so lame as to be cool.

Edith Maxwell said...

Ramona has a great blog, folks, with all kinds of writing tips, if you don't already know it. She had a post about making lists, too. https://ramonadef.com/news-and-musings/

Triss said...

Thank you for sharing so much of your process, Edith. So very helpful as well as encouraging. Best of luck with both new books.

Liz Mugavero said...

Love this, Edith. I'm printing it out as a reminder! :)

Edith Maxwell said...

You're welcome, Triss! You're recent questions to me were a help in compiling this.

Liz - cool!

Susan Elia MacNeal said...

This is a fantastic list. I can't believe you do three books a year! Off to check out Ramona's blog....

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks so much, Susan!

One of the series, the Local Foods Mysteries, is up for renewal this summer - I just turned in book five, the last under contract. So the number might go down to two... Unless you all go out RIGHT NOW and buy Murder Most Fowl and tell all your friends, to, too! Just kidding...sort of. Another quote from Hank: "It's only my career." :^)

Mary Sutton said...

Great list Edith and congrats again. I wouldn't say I approach your level of output, but fore me sprinting and protecting that sacred writing hour (another of Ramona's phrases) is essential. I was just talking about this with another writer. Woe to the person who interrupts my writing hour!

And I think you know where to find me. ;-)

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Edith you are an inspiration! My question… What's on your whiteboard?

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

And I am In awe of your early-morning work! If I had to write in the early morning, my head would soon be clonked on my keyboard.
However! At midnight I am rocking.
But it does show that we each have to discover when our writing sweet spot is. And then to protect that. ( i'm usually good starting about 2 PM-- so I am happiest when I start at 10 and I'm done for the day by three !
Hi Betsy, Hi Korina, hi Ramona! Great to hear from you!

Deborah Romano said...

From DebRomano:

Edith,

I sometimes suspect you've found ways to get around the limits of time and space! And we are all happy about that! You could probably give classes on organizing. I'll need to create a chart just to keep up with all your books and personas. Whenever I think I'm caught up on your books, I hear about another one!

Deb

Ann Mettert said...

I don't know that I've got any tips right now. I'm just now starting to feel like I can write after my mom died. I think one thing that has helped a tad is going to writing related stuff. A writer's group, a panel on writing, even going to local history talks. These things seem to stimulate that part of my brain. I just got second in prose and first in poetry in a local writing contest so something helped. ��

pmettert@yahoo.com

S.W. Hubbard said...

I need to join the sprint group. I fritter away too much precious morning time reading the newspaper��

B Key said...

Edith, Great list -no wonder you are so very productive! key2117@aol.com

Grandma Cootie said...

I like your Sprint tip, will try to incorporate that into my routine, add some focus. Now that I'm retired, with nothing to do but read all day of course, I think I might have a little understanding of the self-discipline required for writers. I still have deadlines but no one is checking up on me but me. Unexpected health issues (family members, thankfully not me) since retirement mean that now I have a lot of appointments and things to keep track of for 2 people and a lot of interaction with a third, so for me lists and calendars (online, 1 paper for me and 1 wall for them) and prioritization make things lot easier.

Am awed by your productivity and thoroughly enjoy all your series. Looking forward to the new reads. Thanks for the giveaway.
sallycootie@gmail.com

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Edith! You, my dear, are the Energizer Bunny. Thank you for these tips and on making all your deadlines for your fabulous books!

M. Johnston said...

I can say that you are definitely organized. I keep lists, but yours is awesome. I need something like Ramona's sprint to get my mental juices started on the right path in the morning, else I'm doing crosswords. Thanks for the inspiration and best wishes for great sales and reviews with the new books. Marilyn (aka cj petterson)

Rhonda Lane said...

Thanks, Edith! I need to hone my list-making. I use lists, but I need to be specific about what I'll write: "Revise chapter 22. Fix old synopsis. Etc." Thank you for the tip.

Edith Maxwell said...

Hank, on my whiteboard is:

Allan book (son's birthday coming up)
Fantasy agent (Guppies project, don't want to forget to do my part)
Summary to Amy (synopsis of the book I've already started writing)
Finish wills (groan)
Local Foods proposal (for three more books, due mid-summer)
Henery giveaway (June 13, again so I don't forget)
Pack for Tiger's (going on retreat at Tiger Wiseman's VT home next week - yay!)

So they are all things not on my list to do TODAY, but in the next few weeks.

Plus a few intesting historical names I want to remember - Ursula, Rowena, Adoniram, time of sunrise and sunset in MA in early Nov (when current book is set), a couple of possible future titles: Compost Mortem and Crimini and Punishment (dibs!), and misc other stuff.

Edith Maxwell said...

Hey, Mary! Yes, woe to the sprint interrupter.

So true, Hank, about how we all find what works best for us.

Funny, Deborah. You have until February to catch up now!

Join us, Sue! Ramona will be happy to have you.

Thanks, B. Key!

Celia Fowler said...

I love the idea of your plotting walks -- do you think out loud or have your phone or something you can use to record your ideas? I can't think of a better way to come up with ideas! bobandcelia@sbcglobal.net

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Grandma. Being organized is key in a situation like that.

Donnell - thanks! You should see my sister and I walking - two white-haired short people walking faster than anybody in sight. ;^)

Marilyn, crosswords are great for the brain. I often work on one with my lunch.

Rhonda, of course, a very specific task list. So important.

Edith Maxwell said...

(Doh - violated my own pet peeve. Of course I mean "my sister and ME walking" - not I!)

Edith Maxwell said...

Ann - I have always found inspiration in being around other writers!

Celia - I always carry my phone on my walks anyway, in case I trip and hurt myself (I can trip on air, so...). I open an email and press the microphone icon and dictate it. I used to have a notes app I used, but then I'd have to remember to go find my notes. I definitely talk out lou to myself and by now I think people know to just ignore me (crazy old lady walking).

Connie Hambley said...

I've printed your list and checked it twice, noting you're both prolific and nice. (Hmm, there's a holiday song in there somehow.) On top of it all, you are an active and generous supporter of various writer groups! I admire your focus and drive and you are my 'go to' source for great writing tips. Love your technique for dictating an email to yourself. Me? I tried that once and spent too much time laughing at the translations from voice recognition. (I won't mention how researching a "suped-up Volvo model" as a getaway car appeared.) Do you have any good ones you could share?

Normajean linza said...

You brought back memories of college. Free writing, drafts, structuring, etc
I used to take my malamute for a walk every evening around 8 pm
in my pocket was a voice recorder. I kept it handy in my pocket because in the still of the evening I often came up with ideas or reasoned something out. Also, in the car, while driving on long stretches of road.
Thanks for sharing
njlinza@yahoo.com

Normajean linza said...

You brought back memories of college. Free writing, drafts, structuring, etc
I used to take my malamute for a walk every evening around 8 pm
in my pocket was a voice recorder. I kept it handy in my pocket because in the still of the evening I often came up with ideas or reasoned something out. Also, in the car, while driving on long stretches of road.
Thanks for sharing
njlinza@yahoo.com

Kathleen Chrisman said...

Thank you for the great tips. I know some of them will help me get back to writing.

Becky Richardson said...

Congrats on your new books! I love that you make lists, as my whole life is on paper! brichardson0056@yahoo.com

Julia said...

I'm just like you Edith, except rather than meet three deadlines every year, I meet one deadline every three years.

Please come to my house and make me productive?

Deborah Crombie said...

Hi Edith! Thanks for the great tips. I'm going to check out Ramona's blog, too. I like your whiteboard idea but have no where to put one. I do keep a running to-do list in a spiral notebook, but then the notebook gets covered up with writing stuff and I don't look at it for days:-) I do sprint, but mine first one is ten to twelve--not an early morning person. And, like Hank, I'm often writing until midnight.

I've tried so many things to organize the daily writing, digital, paper, etc. But what seems to be working really well for me is my "accountability book." This is a Quo Vadis planner, two days to a week, with room on the right-hand side for notes and to-do lists. Every day I write what chapter and scene(s) I need to finish that day, plus a word count goal. Then I track my progress for that day.

Now, my trick is going to be keeping up the "accountability" once this book is finished, so that I don't get behind on the next one! Edith, you're my hero!!

Sheila Lowe said...

If only I could find the discipline to regularly shut down email and Facebook. It's become such an ingrained habit that I completely forget, and get sucked down that hole for at least the first two hours of every day.

As others have said, Edith, you are an inspiration. I'm going to change my evil ways!

Pat D said...

Edith, you are so organized I want to hide under a rock! I'm convinced I have adult ADD, hence the condition of my house. When I worked as a CPA in a former life I had to have lists, prioritized lists, in order to keep on track and meet deadlines. So my professional life was organized and my personal life was its usual sloppy self.
I'm a night owl so the dream of getting up early and accomplishing everything before noon is just a fantasy. I'm glad you've found what works best for you.
patdupuy@yahoo.com

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi everyone, great to hear from you all…
Ann, thinking of you....xx

Debs, I to use the running to do list on spiral notebook method :-). It is embellished with stars. Some days though, I have to make a day- of to do list, with actual times that I have to start and finish things.

All good though! What a joy to have a long to do list, you know?

Ruth M McCarty said...

Edith, you're amazing. And I'm happy to see that when you attend Crimebake, you party just as hard as you work! Can't wait for this years Bake!

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks, Connie! Yes, I have learned to say "the wife" or "the victim" instead of the character's name. And I used to WORK in speech recognition! I do speak carefully and word by word - and I'm on Android, so Siri isn't available to me (but the technology behind her stems in part from the company where I used to work).

Ah, voice recorder days, Normajean! At least phones are lighter and the battery last longer these days.

I hope so, Kathleen!

Becky, I would be nowhere without lists. Really.

Kait said...

Printed! What a great list. Still working the day job so no Ramona for me in the mornings, but I'm thinking of doing a private sprint when it works well for me. I love writing in the night, something about no distractions I think.

Edith Maxwell said...

I'll be right up, Julia. Or...you have the Top Ten right in front of you! That said, I cherish your writing, even if your books do come along less frequently than I'd like. So maybe your schedule is working for you.

Oh, pshaw, Debs. Nothing heroic about trying to make my latest career get off the ground. Really. Sounds like your planner is working for you, which is all that counts. I keep my word count goal in Scrivener, and otherwise just keep charging through.

Man, Sheila, I hear you. I try very hard to type [CHECK THIS] when I'm in a first draft. Because if I take just a little second go out into the vast wilderness of the Internet ... I might not be back for an hour!

Wait a minute, Pat. I didn't say ANYTHING about the condition of my house! And I can't afford a cleaning lady, either. Writing is my profession a life - and if the rest of it needs to slide, it does. ;^)

Ruth - that part is true, and is something I neglected to mention. At the end of the day, I'm right there on the deck with a glass or three of wine. And a dancing party? I'll be first on the floor and last off (as you can well attest). It's important to reward ourselves for a day's work well done.

Edith Maxwell said...

Correction to my reply to Pat: should have read "Writing is my professional life..."

AliasMo said...

Thanks for your tips, Edith! I have five weeks to whip my very rough WIP I've been picking at for years into shape to submit for critique. I'm working on saying "No" with the caveat that every human being should say "Yes" to some things to give back and be a better person, as with you and your friend on hospice. The other reality is that homes don't run themselves, so I'm finding ways to schedule tasks like laundry--good for a short break; appointments and activities which have to be done during the day--group together as much as possible; and cleaning--sometime before DFS would take away my kids. This also may be my last blog comment anywhere for two months!

Pat D said...

Ha. Thought you were trying out a dialect. And I'm not pointing fingers about housekeeping. No maid here either and it shows.

Tonette Joyce said...

All wonderful pieces of advice...for those who aren't trying to schedule around others.My life is going to change, it seems, so I will have more control over the time I have been relinquishing to family members.Wish me luck getting back to pumping work out!

Kathy Reel said...

Edith, I am truly in awe of your productiveness. Writing three great series is no small feat, and I am completely hooked on your latest, the Quaker Midwife series.

Your tips are so practical and to the point. I especially like the making lists one. I am a list maker for sure, and I rely on them. I've seen Ramona's Sprint time mentioned on FB quite often by those who participate and on Ramona's page. What a great idea! Although, I'm with Hank on the early morning hour not working for me and being in favor of a midnight hour sprint.

One of the things you fail to give yourself enough credit for, Edith, is your cooking. You mentioned your garden, but what I look forward to in the winter is your posts about your yummy cooking that you're doing or have done. You are a woman of many talents.

Edith Maxwell said...

Kait - definitely do a private sprint when you can. Whenever you can fit it in.

Sound like you have a plan, Mo! And a five-week deadline - I'm glad to hear it. You can do it!

Tonette - good luck!

Kathy, I'm so glad you liked Delivering the Truth. Let's hear it for lists! And thanks for the cooking compliment. I do love it. I'll try to remember to include some summer recipes and pictures this year, too.

Donamae Kutska said...

I like the list making the best, I need a list!! It's had to get things done!!

Deborah Crombie said...

Just wondering, Edith, since you've done a lot of research for your Quaker midwife series. Did people have to make lists then to get through the day?

ptclayton said...

Just love your writing and also loved the first book in the Quaker midwife I can't wait to read the next and review ! ptclayton2@aol.com

Edith Maxwell said...

Donamae - I need lists, too, very important.

Debs - I guess I haven't done that much research. But I can't think why they wouldn't use lists.

Ptclayton - thanks so much. I'm so pleased you liked Rose Carroll and her adventures.

Anonymous said...

I love your books & I look forward to your future books to come. Loved the interview it gave me a lot to think about. Thanks for this generous giveaway. Linda May lindamay4852@yahoo.com

Dianne Casey said...

Thanks for the great tips. I seem to get distracted easily and have to stay focused on the task at hand and not put something off until another day. Looking forward to reading your new books.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Dianne Casey said...

Thanks for the great tips. I seem to get distracted easily and have to stay focused on the task at hand and not put something off until another day. Looking forward to reading your new books.
diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks so much, Linda May and Dianne. Focusing can be tough!

Reine said...

Edith, I love lists, and I couldn't get along without my writing group that I muchly-moochly love and adore. I also love my early morning sprints with Ramona accompanied—or not accompanied—by the others who all ignore each other. Sometimes I'm just getting ready for bed when sprint time rolls around and sprint later when my morning decides to happen. Then I check in and it feels like they're there, because who can tell if they are or aren't when we all ignore each other anyway. Do you think we might be introverts?

Love you, Edith!

Edith Maxwell said...

Love you, too, Reine! Support groups are so important, aren't they?

JudyinBoston said...

Edith,
I am in awe of your discipline. Thinking maybe this writing in the morning-everything else in the pm might work. I do an 8:00 a.m. Tuesday workout that I couldn't do without, but everything else is flexible. How do you work around house guests, unexpected events, crises, etc.?

June Shaw said...

Edith, your blog comes at the perfect time. I find that I've been too easily distracted while working on my latest book, but now I am taking your ideas. Thank you so much! jushaw@bellsouth.net juneshaw.com

Patricia Stoltey said...

"Panic is a great motivator!" I live by that rule. :D

Warren Bull said...

A friend of mine once asked what I was doing later in the day. I told him I would be writing. He answered, "Good. I'll call you then since your won't be doing anything." He didn't understand or respect my writing so I had to.

Sasscer Hill said...

Edith, thanks for a cornucopia of excellent tips. It is interesting about time of day. I used to be morning, but in the last year or so (and my production speed has increased!) I find myself starting around 11:30 a.m. and writing until dinner time. That seems to work for me, at least for now.

The action that has always works for me when I don't "feel" like writing, is to trick myself. My inner coach says, "Just read over what you wrote yesterday and write one new sentence or maybe a paragraph." Next thing I know, I've been caught by the page and I'm happy about it.

Marci Konecny said...

Thank you for the wonderful tips. Discipline is hard to come by somedays...like today. I vow to put down the computer and make my list the moment I press enter.

storytellermary said...

Impressive organizing and work ethic! Yes to lists. My first boss after college stressed not making one's brain do what a piece of paper could do more reliably. She taught me to make a "tickler" file of folders for months, weeks, days, something that my iCal does now. Lists were probably the first use of writing, and Post-Its one of the best improvements on written reminders.
I read an essay once about Hamlet making notes in his notebook, and through the wonder of Google, saving me from trying to remember and explain the erasable daily notebooks/PDA of the past, here it is! http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2002-06/uop-pps061302.php
I had longer lists when teaching six classes a day, and one of my best strategies was to take care of things immediately, not wait for a deadline and give myself a chance to forget. Now, retired, with a "broad margin" there is still the need to keep track.
I'm going to focus on more water as well. A friend says she drinks extra water at family gatherings, and can thereby escape to the restroom more frequently. ;-)
A dear friend just pondered that introvert/extrovert conundrum, sometimes feeling one way, sometimes the other, and concluded that she might just be . . . human. <3
I just started _Grilled for Murder_ and wonder about the yarn on the cover . . .


Leslie Wheeler said...

Didn't know about Ramona's sprint time on Facebook, but will probably have to pick a later time, 8 or even 9ish. I keep lists, but as someone else commented, need to be more specific re what I'm trying to accomplish with my writing. One thing you don't mention is allowing time for research. Does that belong in your writing time? Also, you don't mention that in addition to your three series, you also manage to write short stories, so how do you fit those in? All in all, I'm in awe of your productivity, Edith--like everyone else. And thanks for sharing these very helpful hints.

Robin Burcell said...

Thanks for outlining your top ten, Edith! Something that worked for me when I was still working full time on a 10 hour workday with an hour commute, was talk out scenes as I drove. Then, when i got home, I was ready to write the next scene. It really helps when you have a very limited time to write. Now that I'm writing full time, I'm amazed at the amount of writing time that gets frittered away on the shiny things that catch my eye. (FB, email, looking up a character's name, shiny objects out my window...). I am learning to say no. It's hard, but I've had some limited success. The biggest thing that helps me is the Project Targets feature on Scrivener that shows my daily word count and days to deadline. Oh, and when I'm stuck on a plot, to talk it out loud, whether to myself, or a trusted critique partner.

Lisbeth Mizula said...

Thank you for sharing your working process. Even though I keep changing my mind about where the heck I'm going, it's a gift to get a look at your map.

Unknown said...

Wow, your schedule sounds intimidating! I'm only just starting out and that sort of organization sounds impossible from this vantage point. You're my new hero! (And that Murder Most Fowl cover is just about the most adorable thing I've seen today.)

Edith Maxwell said...

Whoa, bunches of new comments!

Judy, you asked how I work around house guests, unexpected events, crises, etc.? Of course if family visits, I spend time with them. But with most, I'm usually guaranteed a early hour or two in the day do write before everybody else gets up. Crises - see my earlier comment about when my friend Richard died this winter. Everything else slides, of course, when I'm confronted by a crisis or unexpected events. But then I try to carve out a weekend intensive solo retreat somewhere so I can catch up.

Thanks, June! Best of luck with your new project.

Sasscer, I love that interior coach! Mine does that too, sometimes telling me to go sit in my office rocking chair with a pen and paper to brainstorm what needs to happen next. Works every time.

Patricia - my "panic-motivated" sister!

Warren - isn't it amazing? By now my friends and family know not to bother me in the morning!

Edith Maxwell said...

Go for it, Marci!

Mary, I love your friend's water solution to boring relatives... And you'll see why the yarn, I hope - anyway, Kensington does the covers, not me! Thanks so much for reading it.

Research seems to fit itself in, Leslie, although I still have yet to make a visit to the Mass Historical Society and want to. I've just stared writing the third Quaker Midwife mystery, which has a women's suffrage subtheme, and I'm doing a lot of reading for that. As for short stories, in May I had a couple of weeks "break" and managed to turn out and polish two shorts.

Robin, I'm going to have to find the Project Targets thing in Scrivener. I agree, talking plots out loud with helpful people can help immensely.


Lisbeth, you're welcome!

"Unknown" - don't be intimidated. One step at a time. But thank you. My Local Foods Mysteries covers are by the very talented Robin Moline - I have loved every single one!

Mary M-S said...

Great list, Edith. I especially like the sprint - I'm going to play with the concept to find a version that works for me. I also like your creative walking. Both these tips will help me get out of the chair - sitting stiffens joints and probably brain cells - and moving stimulates everything. I definitely get stale if I try writing for longer than, usually, an hour or two. Btw, I enjoyed A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die and look forward to reading more in the series.

Edith Maxwell said...

Thanks so much, Mary! Definitely get out of that chair.

Libby Dodd said...

Some people are just built for efficiency! Others of us, not as much.
She is a great example of peak efficiency and we all benefit.

libbydodd at comcast dot net

Edith Maxwell said...

All righty - congratulations to our winners NormaJean Linza and PT Clayton! I'll be emailing you about where to send your books. Wish I had enough for everyone who stopped by to comment here. And happy productivity to all of you.

Judy said...

wow! How productive!