Writing Advice

Writing Tips: Finding Time

Time is such a valuable commodity. We all have the same amount. None of us gets more hours in the day, unless you have one of those cool necklaces Hermione had. If you do, can you send me one?

So assuming you’re an ordinary person without magical powers, you have the same 24 hours I do. Most days it doesn’t feel like enough. Especially when I’m on a deadline and anxious to get a few more things done before the school bus gets home. Or before the kids wake up. Or before my favorite show comes on.

We have to have priorities, right?

If you’re adding writing in as one more thing to do in your day, you’re probably wondering where you can find the time to write.

Here’s the secret… you don’t need much!

Yes, a book is not something you can finish in a day. It’s going to take you a while. But you don’t have to kill yourself to make it happen.

Personally, I like to write in thirty minute blocks, or longer. But this is my full time job, so I have all day. If you’re looking for some time, you can find it in small places.

Can you get up thirty minutes earlier? Trust me, I hate this suggestion. It’s one I balked at for years and years and years. I’m not a morning person. At all. But I decided over the summer that I was going to do it because I wanted to. Because I wanted more time to dedicate to my work. I’m not as tired as I thought I would be, and I’m getting more done.

What about at night? Can you stay up a little later? Again, same rules apply. You don’t need much time, and if you think this could work for you, turn off the TV (my big issue with it because I never did) and write.

What about, you’re going to laugh, in the bathroom? Let’s face it, we all have longer breaks in the bathroom at one time or another through the day. Can you write on your phone? Not a whole book, but for five minutes? You won’t get much done, and you’ll take a really long time to finish a book if you only do this, but it’ll add up. Just make sure you don’t lose track of time!

Waiting, for anything. Just like above, there are going to be times in your day when you’re just waiting. Doctor’s offices, grocery lines, carpool, commute, anything. Can you, again, pull out your phone for a few minutes and write a hundred words or so?

Can you write on your lunch break? Some people can’t, but if you have access to a computer during your lunch break and your company will allow you to do something non-work related, write for thirty minutes. You’ll be shocked how much you can get done in that amount of time.

Try it!

I think the best thing is to give yourself a week or two and try a few different options. Try getting up early or staying up later for a week. Try sitting in your car on your lunch break with a notebook or a tablet and writing. Try five minute bathroom breaks. See what works for you, then keep doing it.

For me, I have to have a schedule. When I first get up, I check my email so I know there isn’t anything sitting there waiting for me to answer it. After the kids are on the bus, I start writing. I write until lunch, and then get back to it afterward. But if I need to do something during the day, like a doctor’s appointment, I like to schedule it in the morning so I don’t mess up my flow. Figure out what works for you and start writing!

What tips do you have for finding time to write?

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

Writing Tips: Find Your Niche

Welcome back for another tip for you as a writer!

I want to talk today about your niche. It’s common in business to look for a niche. A small section of a market you can serve. You want to be able to set yourself apart so people can find you.

Writing isn’t much different.

I write contemporary romance. That’s not very specific. There’s well over 100,000 contemporary romances available for sale.

I write small town contemporary romance. That’s not much better.

I write small town contemporary BBW romance. We’re getting a little better.

When I tell people what I write, I tell them I write small town contemporary romance based on ordinary people you’ll want to be friends with doing extraordinary things for love that will give you hope.

That’s kind of a mouthful, but it gets the point across.

When you write a book, you need to be able to tell people what you do quickly. You’d be surprised how many people lose interest when you say you are an author. They insist they don’t read, so you need to hook them before they assume your book isn’t for them.

Which goes back to your niche.

What books do you love? What books grab you? What books have you walked away from knowing they changed your life?

Harry Potter, all of them, were books that changed me. But I knew I didn’t want to craft an entire world.

Emily Giffin was one of my favorite authors when I was younger. There was something about the emotions and the way she drew me into a story that I loved.

Jill Shalvis is a favorite now. She’s basically my idol for romance novels. I taught myself what a good small town contemporary romance novel was by reading Jill Shalvis. I knew that was what I wanted to do.

The only problem was my niche was really a mansion. There’s nothing tiny about it, but I found my niche when I started writing about women I could relate to. Women who were overweight. Women who wanted love and friendship and cupcakes. Women I wanted to be friends with.

BBW romance is still a huge niche. But like I told a friend recently, if you go too small, you won’t have enough readers.

How do you find this though? How do you know when you’ve gone small enough? Or not small enough?

Unfortunately, I think you just have to keep trying.

Write a book. Write some more books. Never stop writing. Advertise, promote, and tell everyone you know. The right readers will find you. When you start to see that happening, you’ll know you’re in the right niche. That it’s the right size for you to be found.

Here’s my warning… Don’t go into a niche that you can’t get out of. You might love to write single dad romances, but you might not want to write them forever. Or food romances or military romances or any other different kind. It might be a niche that’s popular now, or that you like, but make sure it’s something you’ll still want to write if the popularity diminishes. Or in ten years. Maybe you won’t know, but at least think about it before you jump in.

If you want to write, at the end of the day, write. You will find your readers. They will find you. But make it easier on both of you by finding a niche that you love, and it’ll come across in your writing.

If you have a question, about writing or anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

All New: Writing Tips

Well, I’ve been doing Q&A Sunday for a little over a year. I had tons of questions! But they’ve kind of fallen off. So, I decided to start on something new. If you have a question, I’ll still answer it here, but when I don’t have questions, which is more often than not, I wanted to offer something to aspiring writers.

The romance community is simply amazing. The number of people willing to share their knowledge and expertise always astounds me. In 2018, I’m going to start offering workshops for authors, and it only makes sense, for me, to start writing about writing!

I’ve answered a few reader questions about writing, but when I started out, I had more questions than people I could ask. Some of these posts will go deeper than others. Some will be more general. Some will make you think, and some will give you ‘homework.’ Overall though, I want to help you, the aspiring author, to make you you, the published author!

Ready?

The first thing I think every author needs is a healthy love of reading. I’m not talking you read a couple books a year, or you pick one up every once in a while. I’m talking you should be so anxious to start reading a new book that you twitch! Well, maybe not that bad, but you have to love it. It should be almost like an addiction.

I have a Pinterest board called I Dream of Books. There’s a reason for that. I really do! When I was battling cancer, I had a horrible time sleeping. I was always a poor sleeper, but it was even worse during that time. I would use that time to read. I was awake anyway, and reading a book helped to calm my mind and alleviate some of my worries. Or at least forget about them. When I would read at night, I’d frequently dream of the book I was reading!

I still read at night, although not usually as late as I used to. I still dream about books I’ve read, and books I’m writing.

I think you need that if you want to be a writer. You have to love books. You have to have a list of authors you love so long that you could spend your entire paycheck on them. Of course, you don’t, but you could.

Now, does what you read have to be what you write?

No!

But they should be related.

What I mean by that is if you absolutely love reading fantasy, you might not write Inspirational YA as well. If you love contemporary romance, writing historical paranormal might not work out so well. If you love both, then yeah, go for it. But if you don’t enjoy reading it, you’re probably not going to love writing it. Let’s face it, you can read a book in a day. It takes a month, or sometimes many months, to write a book. If the topic isn’t one you love, you’re going to hate your job. And that’s no fun.

If you’ve thought about writing a book, ask yourself if you love what you want to write about. If not, think about writing something else. I have friends who read paranormal for their guilty pleasure, but write (and read) romantic suspense or contemporary. I’ve started reading some historical, but all the research that goes into it is too much for me. You have to figure out what works for you. But make sure you love what you write!

If you were going to write a book, what genre would you choose? 

If you have a question, either about writing or about anything else, send me an email (mary (at) maryethompson (dot) com) with Q&A in the subject, or post it in the comments below, and I’ll answer your question right here on the blog!

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