How to Accomplish Twice the Writing in Half the Time

Many writers struggle with time management, but I’ve taken this dilemma to a whole, new level. In this post I want to talk about how I’ve learned to accomplish twice the writing in half the time.

Twice the Writing in Half the Time

Some writers have a set schedule. They work the same time every day.

Lucky them.

Others, do not. They must sneak in tiny chunks of time with their pages — five minutes here, another 15 minutes there.

Nothing wrong with that, either. Just try to be consistent.

Here’s an interesting fact I’ve recently discovered about myself. In talking to others, they’ve admitted they do this, too.

Twice the Writing in Half the Time?

With writing deadlines, you tend to accomplish the same amount of work, no matter how much extra time you have.

This is true for contest cutoff dates, turning in a copy-writing project, reading a new chapter to your critique partners each week.

If I have four hours to complete a blog post, I’ll use it and finish. If I have ninety minutes to crank out the same blog post, I’ll use it and finish.

Writing quickly doesn’t destroy quality either. My critique group says my fast-draft posts are stronger because they’re more conversational. I’m not over-thinking it.

Less Time Can Make You More Productive

For the past year, I’ve set aside all my fiction after losing my literary agent in the Fall 2013 (she quit the biz before we tried to sell my novel). It broke my heart, so I turned to blogging (I couldn’t give up words altogether, they’re in my DNA). This was the right decision for me because the simple act of helping other writers—connecting with them and becoming part of community of like minded spirits—led me back to my fiction.

Since my writing time is divided between my novel and blogging these days, I have fewer hours to devote solely to one or the other. Oddly enough, I’m actually accomplishing more.

Why?

I don’t have time to procrastinate. I’m not going to drop the ball for Joe here at The Write Practice, but also don’t want to lose my momentum towards publishing my book.

Even if you aren’t juggling both fiction and nonfiction, many writers struggle between balancing their writing time, social media and other personal responsibilities.

How to Maximize Your Writing Time

* Divide and conquer – Depending on how much writing time you have each day, split it appropriately: write when you’re most productive,  save social media, platform building and chores, for later. If I have two hours to write, I spend an hour on my novel and an hour on my posts.

* A change in attitude – It’s hard switching between fiction to nonfiction (or from folding laundry to plotting novels), but you can find your stride after about 5 – 10 minutes.

* Don’t let fear stop you – Rather than bemoaning how you can’t go deeper into your writing, celebrate what you are doing. You don’t have to write full-time to be a published author. That’s just Fear trying to trick you..

* Take charge – Since you never know what your writing sessions will be like, focus on what you can control: make an effort to get more sleep, eat less crap and move your body through exercise everyday.

Do What Works Best for You

When I shared my new routine with a non-author friend, she said, “Well, you’re actually not writing more in half the time. You’d be more successful if you just focused on one or the other for awhile.”

Clearly, she doesn’t understand the brilliance creativity of a writer. For now, it energizes me to take small steps every day for both my fiction and nonfiction.

No matter if you’re juggling multiple writing projects, or just life in general, stick with it until you find the right balance for you.

How do you maximize your writing time?

PRACTICE

Write for fifteen minutes about any kind of haggard artist (writer, painter, dancer) struggling to integrate their passion into their everyday life.

When your time is up, share your practice in the comments section. And if you post, please be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.

About Marcy McKay

Marcy McKay is the “Energizer Bunny of Writers.” She believes writing is delicious and messy and hard and important. If you’ve ever struggled with your writing, you can download her totally FREE book, Writing Naked: One Writer Dares to Bare All. Find her on Facebook!

  • I love this Marcy! My writing time is quite limited as a mom to two young kids and so I make sure to use my best time for my words, not someone else’s. Thank you for these wonderful reminders!

    • Yep, young children definitely forces you to prioritize. Good for you, Dana, because I know you’re diligent to make EVERY word count!

    • Yep. Two of those, hobby farm (that always seem the most inopportune), 40 hour work week, my own writing group, and somehow I can still churn them out. That’s why I don’t believe people that say they can’t do it. You either want it bad enough to make it happen, or you don’t.

      I just enjoy it, so I make room for it.

  • Natalie

    Great article, thank you for posting. You can also learn how to rewrite in 30 day, 10 day, 1 day, 3 day and 3 hrs time frame for your deadlines here: https://screenwritingu.clickfunnels.com/optin1147421?inf_contact_key=211fe0a32b20977ac67dcd99d85fca16a3dcb5ceab7d0403684fcffa227a6330
    Best, Natalie

    • Thanks for sharing this, Natalie. I checked it out and that’s cool info.

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    How on earth do you always pen articles that speak to my current predicament? LOL I love you so much, Marcy #HUGSS

    I didn’t check the author’s name before reading this. However, midway through the article, I stopped and wondered whether this was written by you – because my heart jumped excitedly, like when I know YOU are the author – an I WAS RIGHT! WOOHOO

    I came across the Parkinson’s Law recently, which is a ‘restatement’ of your epiphany – the more time you have to complete a task, the more time you will take to complete a task.

    This is most definitely true for me. LOL

    I have two articles – one of which has been eating me alive since March – that I have decided to stop researching and just create two shabby first drafts today! 😉 I need to impose a ‘one hour of no distraction’ edict before penning each one of them though – Wish me luck 😛

    I LOVE YOU <3

    Kitto

    • OMG, Kitto! I’ve never heard of Parkinson’s Law before and just googled it and you’re 100% right – that’s what this is! (where were you when I was writing this post)?

      So many writers share the same joys and frustrations, it’s EASY to find our commonalities. It’s just harder sometimes to find ways to improve our dilemmas.

      You’ve already found your answer. You need one hour of no distractions. Good luck and go do it. xo – Marcy

  • politicalatheist

    Great tips, Marcy…I just started doing number one this week and you’re right…it does help. I saw an author in the library last week and one of the things she mentioned – and I’m sure every writer has heard this because it’s so true – is that if she didn’t write one day it took her longer to get back into than if she hadn’t missed a day.

    I worked on a flash fiction and short story last night after my client work was done and plan to do the same again to see if I can get a streak going!

    I suppose it comes down to this…do we love OUR words as much as our clients’ words? We should!

    Have a blessed day, Marcy!

    Anita

    • Hey Anita,

      You bring up such great points (love the Joseph P. Thompson quote, btw). I’d like to add it’s not just do we love our words as much as our clients?

      Are we willing to be committed to our writing, despite our responsibilities to family, friends, chores, etc?? If we let, EVERYTHING can get in the way of our writing.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • Thank you so much, Marcy! I needed this post. You are always so encouraging! Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom and encouragement with us all. <3
    I love this line–"I don’t have time to procrastinate."
    Writing takes a lot of creativity, but it takes discipline too. The challenge is striking the balance. I don't want to rush my story, but I know that I could be far more productive than I am. It's all a journey…This week I am devoted to defining the plot and character sketches for my book, and next week I dive back into writing a rough draft once again. It will be interesting to see how the story changes as I write.

    • Hey Joy,

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. Thanks for saying so. You’re 100% correct. Writing is a balance between both creativity AND discipline.

      It sounds like you’re making definite progress with your story. For years, I had this WEIRD quirk that somehow all my work didn’t count toward my novel unless I was actually WRITING. Research, plotting, character development…somehow, they didn’t count. I had to be cranking out the words.

      That’s such ridiculousness and I’m so glad I’ve beyond that limited thinking. Good luck with your story!

      • Thank you, Marcy!

  • ” (I couldn’t give up words altogether, they’re in my DNA)” — This is so true; we will always find a way to write!

    • Clearly, we have similar DNA, Christopher. No matter what, a writer WRITES. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Kieran Meyer

    Two weeks. It had two weeks since he had written anything, and his editor was starting to notice. Patrick was supposed to publish twice a week, according to his contract, yet
    nothing had come to him in two weeks. He couldn’t chalk it up to being sick anymore. This was his first contract with a creative writing journal; he absolutely couldn’t screw this up.

    When Patrick was a boy he had ideas bounce around in his head all day, every day. Stories of heroism, where the good guy beats the bad guy and gets the girl in the end,
    where justice is served. Patrick knew how to write the stories that everyone had heard, yet people always wanted to read them because they were familiar, comforting, interesting. His first story for the journal was just that. Two chapters a week for six weeks straight, and the readers absolutely adored it.

    Now, however, his editor was asking for something different. It wasn’t about the readers, his editor said, it was about Patrick as a writer. He wanted Patrick to explore other styles of storytelling, branch out a bit, really reach into a darker area of writing.

    It wasn’t that Patrick hadn’t tried to tap into the dark parts of his life, it was that he couldn’t find them. Patrick had grown up in a comfortable suburban home with Mom,
    Dad, and his older sister Kylie. He had been surrounded by a great group of friends since elementary school, attended outstanding schools, and landed his dream job right after college. There had definitely been rough patches: friends went their separate ways, a couple breakups, even a death in the family, but in the long run Patrick had come out on top.

    Patrick needed darker inspiration, and he needed it fast.

    • Wonderful, Kieran. First – Patrick is one of my all-time favorite guy names, so you had me right there.

      Isn’t interesting that Patrick has achieved such success, but he still struggled because he hadn’t yet connected with the dark side? And, it doesn’t matter that he grew up happily in suburbia — everyone experiences pain. It’s part of the human condition.

      You really put an interesting twist of this. I enjoyed the subtlety of it. Thanks!

  • Stop goofing off half the time!

    Napping, twiddling a pencil, complaining, and such don’t get the job done.

    I’ve found a consistent 30 minutes to an hour everyday, as close to the same time as possible, creates a routine of “time to write”. Trash that routine, and you’ll find you aren’t as productive.

    Try writing long hand. Editing in progress becomes more difficult, and you don’t spend all day fixing typos, perfecting your sentences, and staring at a half blank page.

    • Marlene Samuels

      Thanks so much for this helpful post. I defintately agree – 100%! It’s tough not to get bogged down with editing on the way to writing the complete sentence, a huge problem for me and many other writers. Too often, I’ll agonize about a single word, substitute it with a synonym, backspace to change something before I’ve even finished the thought. The “cut-paste” function is my enemy.

      Three weeks agoin, in an effort to combat my counter-productive writing pattern, I’ve switched to writing by hand (nice pens help) in my notebook. Next, I purchased the newest version of Dragon Speak, “voice to text” software to help me transcribe my handwritten work into a Word document. It’s been a major boost to my productivity.
      I’ve rediscovered how productive I can be writing by hand but also rediscovered how much motivation beautiful paper and elegant pens provide.

      • Wow, Marlene. What a GREAT story. I love how persistent you were in finding what works for you. Totally cool.
        For my fiction, I ALWAYS write the first scene by hand. If I try to do it at the computer, I freeze and get no where. Beautiful paper and pen won’t work for me here either. I buy the big 5-subject notebook I used in high school and cheap BIC pens that flow fast. I rip through those pages to get the words onto paper. I go back and reread it and transfer what I like onto the computer.
        I’m glad you found the creative boost you needed. Thanks your comment.

        • I almost always write the first scene by screen. I usually have a good idea of what I want and I want my first scene to strike me as really good so I’ll want to keep going.

          So funny that what works for one person, won’t work for another. Everyone should try different things and different combinations of approaches to see what works for them.

      • On the computer, I spend HOURS just staring and thinking and drawing blanks. When I’m writing by hand, I never have time to stop and think. My writing is sloppy and hard to decipher because my hand can’t keep up with my brain. I’ve crunched out over 3500 words in a couple of hours. I finished a novel in 2 months.

        I used to try keeping up with my typing. Now I just type it out once I’m done with the novel. It comes out great, and I count my first typing/editing as a draft. That means I’ll finish my second draft TODAY! I’m so excited!

    • You’ve got it, James!

      I also write about the same time and it’s like an unspoken message to my brain: TIME TO WRITE.

      Thanks for nailing the essence of my post. It was great.

  • Love the tips in this article, Marcy. I find writing after the kids are gone, in the quiet house is the best time to write. Once I start writing I typically cannot stop and time stands still. On the other hand, if I procrastinate and drag my feet about writing the process is excruciating. Typically, I hit a pothole and struggle to find a way around the problem with my piece. In these situations I will look for any and all distractions. Once I stop being silly and write the pieces comes together.

    • Love this…my favorite line of yours was, “Once I stop being silly and write the pieces come together.”

      100% true and I can’t add anymore brilliance to that. THANK YOU!

      • Thank you, Marcy! I enjoyed your piece very much. I am purposing myself to set aside time to write each day. Thanks for that!

        • Just keep thinking small steps. It’s so much easier to think, “I’m going to write 20 minutes (or whatever) everyday,” than, “OMG! How am I going to write a novel (or whatever)?”

          • My first response to starting a novel was “OMG! I don’t have 300 pages of story in me! I’ll have to fluff the CRAP out of this book.” I hit 750 pages some time ago and I’m STILL not finished with it. I wrote another novel just as a break! Almost time to get back to it!

    • I always identify what I’ve got a problem. Why am I not excited about this scene, approach, etc? I remember on my first novel, I wrote a number of scenes being told by my dwarven character. I tried to “medievalize” what I’d written, and I HATED it. I didn’t want to do it.

      It took me a few days to identify why. I was getting rid of all the good description, details, and words I chosen for something too simplistic. So I brought it up a notch, reading into Old English, playing with different wordings to avoid turning my writing into simplistic garbage. I LOVED it then. I’ve got several people that like it in my Sky Writers group. And everyone tells me they have NEVER seen anything like it done before.

      My group even calls it the Dwarven Language.

      It can be worthwhile to figure out why you’re holding yourself back. Sometimes you’re just bored or tired, other times your subconscious is telling you there is a better way.

  • Thomas Furmato

    The blood was puddled up around the body. He checked to see if the outer edge of the darker scarlet curve was harder, drier than the rest. This usually gave him an idea of how long ago it happened, a big heads up before it was ever determined by the coroner. Besides, he hated having to deal with corpses, let alone when they were mutilated on a stainless steel table. People milled around, some he knew, some he didn’t.

    There was a thin blonde haired woman in a business suit, she looked like the sister of the victim. She stood cross-armed and stared at nothing in particular, whereas most everyone else was busied with conversation, taking notes, or dusting for fingerprints. She had a worried look on her face and one hand was lifted towards her ear, toying with her earlobe.

    He took out his pad as he walked over, and when he stopped in front of her, reached into his pocket of his tan overcoat for a pen, but couldn’t find one. ‘Where’, he thought, patting self down, as though he were the suspect, ‘did that thing’, his hands darting here and there. This happened quite often, but it trained him to memorize small details, like loose ends. A pen appeared in front of him, held by the soft fingers of this strange woman. He noted the resourcefulness and took the pen. “Thank you, M’am” stumbled away from his unshaven face. This woman really fit the part.

    He was not looking for her, but here at this crime scene, was the heroine of the story he had trying to write. Elegant, chiseled features, resourceful, long legs, yea, she’d probably make a good chase scene. But how would a gun look in her hand? He pictured her fingers previously touching with gentleness the softness of her lobes. Things were getting confusing for him again, as always, he probably looked disheveled, but it was a cost he was willing to pay. Detective work was good to pay the bills, but writing about detectives, that had brought him bigger rewards. Getting sleep for two hours a night, on a couch, probably hurt his presence as a lieutenant, but it had already brought him one successful novel, and a contract for two more. Worlds were getting fuzzy as he navigated the realm of fiction and real life.

    He asked her a few routine questions. She seemed distracted. He turned to walk away and stopped, where was his mind now? Did he just step into the page 54, or did he see something that reminded him of his first book. There was a glimmering object off to the left, just barely visible under the hemmed skirt of a recliner. He absent mindedly patted his overcoat pocket again, and then turned back to where he left the bereaved sister. He glanced at her innocent looking face and her perfectly structured ear, looking as if only recently that it held an earing pressed into it. “Just Food is a funny thing. At least it seems funny to me in the way that so many people have so many rules and traditions about it. I was just looking over pasta fagioli recipes with my wife, and in saying that I can tell you two things: some of you might be asking what in the world pasta fagioli is, and some of you might have visions of what you suppose it to be. I can tell you this, because that is what food is, mushy ideas that it’s very easy to have concrete standards of.

    When my wife hears pasta fagioli she’s thinking soup, as might many of you readers. When I hear it I hear literally “pasta” and “beans.” Now sure, I grew up in an Italian home, where it was served quite often, and it was pretty much standardized, and it was mostly soupy like. But, we were not rich folk, I’m one of twelve children, and my father was not Rockefeller. If for some reason there was not a particular ingredient my mother would not have ran out to the local A&P to grab it, unless of course it was pasta, beans, or tomatoes. All of which I can not remember a time that we were ever without. A miracle of a resourceful dad.

    What I’m getting at though is that, as with any food that is truly Italian, there has to be allowances for variation. It’s part of the heart of soul of Italian cooking, what else would they have to fight about. I’m saying all this because it has taken me a while to realize the changeability of our plates. This is right up there with the day I realized it was okay to put pineapple on pizza, (my Dad was not so okay with that,) or that I didn’t have to finish every morsel on my plate – two other huge revelations.

    So I told my wife I wasn’t expecting her to run out and get the ingredients she was missing, unless of course it was pasta or beans. That it would be okay, permissible, even enjoyable, to make due with what we have on hand. Pasta fagioli wasn’t created by a chef in a master kitchen, it was made by poor people who had nothing else to eat. That’s the attitude that I’d like to develop more of now that I am aware that it’s not only allowed, but the fabric of food, especially Italian.Food is a funny thing. At least it seems funny to me in the way that so many people have so many rules and traditions about it. I was just looking over pasta fagioli recipes with my wife, and in saying that I can tell you two things: some of you might be asking what in the world pasta fagioli is, and some of you might have visions of what you suppose it to be. I can tell you this, because that is what food is, mushy ideas that it’s very easy to have concrete standards of.

    When my wife hears pasta fagioli she’s thinking soup, as might many of you readers. When I hear it I hear literally “pasta” and “beans.” Now sure, I grew up in an Italian home, where it was served quite often, and it was pretty much standardized, and it was mostly soupy like. But, we were not rich folk, I’m one of twelve children, and my father was not Rockefeller. If for some reason there was not a particular ingredient my mother would not have ran out to the local A&P to grab it, unless of course it was pasta, beans, or tomatoes. All of which I can not remember a time that we were ever without. A miracle of a resourceful dad.

    What I’m getting at though is that, as with any food that is truly Italian, there has to be allowances for variation. It’s part of the heart of soul of Italian cooking, what else would they have to fight about. I’m saying all this because it has taken me a while to realize the changeability of our plates. This is right up there with the day I realized it was okay to put pineapple on pizza, (my Dad was not so okay with that,) or that I didn’t have to finish every morsel on my plate – two other huge revelations.

    So I told my wife I wasn’t expecting her to run out and get the ingredients she was missing, unless of course it was pasta or beans. That it would be okay, permissible, even enjoyable, to make due with what we have on hand. Pasta fagioli wasn’t created by a chef in a master kitchen, it was made by poor people who had nothing else to eat. That’s the attitude that I’d like to develop more of now that I am aware that it’s not only allowed, but the fabric of food, especially Italian. “Just one more thing,” he said to her.

    • Gary G Little

      Thomas, I liked “Pasta Fagioli”, actually I do like pasta fagioli, but I do believe I just read “Pasta Fagiloi” twice, which I think the second time here was a simple cut and paste issue. It could be an “interlude” of your protagonist, just random thoughts he had while looking at the crime scene. But doing it twice kinda makes the protagonist obsessive compulsive. If that is the intent, you’re walking the right path. 🙂

      Nice work though. My only mental hiccup was the multiple use of “Pasta Fagioli”.

      • Thomas Furmato

        Hahaha, I don’t know how that attached itself. That’s probably how memes get their start.

        • Gary G Little

          Ok, now my own obsessive compulsive self is satisfied. I still like it. There was a place where using “been” would help it read easier, but I can’t find it now. You might have edited from under my keyboard. Good work.

    • Clever, Thomas. There were so many unique aspects to your practice. I like that you didn’t just make him a writer, but he’s a detective who also writes crime novels. I love that this woman from his everyday life matches the heroine in his story. I loved how his two different lives were bleeding together, leaving him more and more confused.

      Really great work! Thanks so much!

      • Thomas Furmato

        Thank you for the article and encouragement.

  • Marcy: Great ideas, as usual! I always gain at least one benefit from everything you write (usually more than one, though.) The reviewer you suggested finished my ms and was very kind in her observations. Thanks for sending her to me. It helped lift my confidence level. I’m in kind of a funk right now, writing wise. But, I know the urge will return. Maybe it’s the after-effect of finishing something I’ve worked so long on. :

    I write better in the evening, after all the business and thoughts of my day are done and gone. Don’t know if that’s good or not, but it has become my habit.

    • Hi Rhonda,

      Congrats on the positive responses to your manuscript. The funk you feel is 100% natural and understandable after letting up from such intensity as completing a book. You’re exhausted and unsure what to do with yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself as you decompress and readjust to your life.

      I know MANY writers who write best at night, at the end of the day. If that works best for you…keep it up. Good luck!

  • Stephanie Sanchez

    Twisting and turning. Leaping and bounding. The music is all around me. Tiptoeing forward then grunting to a halt. Stop and go, stop and go. I make one beautiful bound forward and two miserable rolls backward. Sweat is beading down my forehead, falling to the ground. My toe aches from the constant pressure, but I push to go and push to stop. I look at my surroundings, willing the images to move faster.

    My breath comes in short huffs as heat overwhelms me. Air brushes against my neck, ever so softly. I take time to look out the window overlooking the ocean. Birds glide with the wind. They sing with seeming glee as they dip into the water to grab a wiggling morsel. The song that played comes to an end and someone starts talking. I can finally stop fretting…

    You’d think I was a dancer the way I weave in and out.

    Being a Taxi Cab driver can really keep you on your toes!

    • Ha! Thanks for the smile, Stephanie. I really did think this was a dance (or some musician) at first, so I enjoyed the GOTCHA at the end!

      • Stephanie Sanchez

        I guess ‘gotchas’ are my passion struggling to integrate into my every day life. 😉 -Stephanie

    • Gary G Little

      Totally unexpected venue. I was expecting plies and instead get a cab driver. Like the opening sequence; just short brush strokes.

      • Stephanie Sanchez

        Gary, I don’t know why, but I like trying to describe situations and then apply it to other (often unexpected) things. I do it often with my daughter when we are talking or in poetry. I am not sure that many people like it. I just think it is amazing how certain words and descriptions can be implied, yet due to different perceptions, result in polar opposites. I feel like it opens the mind to infinite possibilities. It’s like art, we will NEVER see it how the artist paints it, not truly. We only see it how our mind and emotions process it. Anyway, sorry about the off ramp, thanks for replying.- Stephanie

        • Gary G Little

          No no. I liked that off ramp. Very well done.

  • Shirley Corder

    Some good thoughts, thank you. I need to do the Take Charge thing! Distractions are too easy to follow!

    I’ll be back to read this blog again, but I’m currently distracted, err, busy . . . with the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

    Shirley Corder from
    Out of Africa – Topics from A to Z

    • Thanks for stopping by, Shirley. Good luck with the A to Z Challenge!

  • Thanks for this! I have so much writing that I need to get finished, and a pile of editing to do. Reading this will help me manage time more efficiently.

    • Wonderful, Morgan. Congrats that you actually have a pile a writing to complete and I hope my tips do help you get them done.

      Bottom line, the trick is….just do it!

  • Gary G Little

    How to accomplish half the writing in twice the time. No wait, that’s twice the writing in half the time. I do like the article, and the ideas presented. Some of them are new to me, since I am rather new to this genre. This I think followed half-life in the opening sentence. It took all week to do and it ain’t that long. Maybe I just had to get the curmudgeon involved.

    I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Hey I’m retired and it is amazing how much time you have during a day that you want to fill with SOMETHING, so Facebook is my filler. You don’t like that? Well frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn. From Facebook I got this bug in my muse to write something, and guess what it is: The Good Old Days. However, for those of us past 65, and depending on our meds, it might be daze. Anyway, here is the latest Facebook-share-a-thon I have encountered:

    The Good Old Days. “People born in the 50’s have lived in seven decades, two centuries, and two millenniums. We had the best music, fastest cars, drive-in theaters, soda fountains, and happy days. And we are not even that old yet. We’re just that cool.”

    I cannot dispute the time frame, though I have it beat by a decade. I’ve lived in 8 decades. However, I do take umbrage with the rest. I’m 68. Am I old? I don’t know, my minds eye always sees me in “now”. I know things hurt today that didn’t hurt yesterday. My hair is now becoming a glorius grey instead of the dirty blonde it used to be. Wrinkles? Gottem a plenty, and they ain’t laugh lines. They are the hash marks of campaigns, I wear them with pride and dignity because they mean I’ve been places, done things. I’ve seen lines for polio vaccines and I’ve ducked under my three quarter inch laminated desk that was supposed to protect my “good old days” butt from an H bomb.

    Best music? Really? So you eschew Sinatra and Crosby for what? Rickie Nelson? The Beach Boys? John Denver? Simon & Garfunkel? Glenn Miller? What makes the Beach Boys better than Glenn Miller, or Glenn Miller better or worse than the Beatles? They have all written, played, and or sung fantastic music. It’s realtive, folks. You don’t like Sinatra most likely because mommie and daddie liked Sinatra, and you like Elvis because mommie and daddie didn’t like Elvis. I’ll take A String of Pearls over Round Round I Get A Round any day of the week.

    Fastest cars? My Dodge Seneca was a fast car? When? Ok, yeah maybe I could get it up to 65 driving from Amarillo to Plainview on a down hill stretch with a strong tail wind. Those gas hogs of the “good old days” weighed twice as much, and burned twice as much fuel to do the same thing. Personally, I prefer my Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, at 37 mpg, over my Dodge Seneca, at 17 mpg, with five quarts of oil in the trunk because every time I filled up I had to add a quart of oil.

    Drive in theaters? Oh yeah, wonderful things. Sit in your car with a barely workable speaker hung from your window and watch “Guys and Dolls” or “Godzilla”. What I remember most about drive-in theaters is that the one on the north end of Andrews kept blowing down. They’d rebuild it, and the next storm would blow it down again. Oh wait, I bet you weren’t watching the movie were you!?!?

    Soda fountains? Really, I only have on thing to say about those: DAIRY QUEEN Blizzard.

    Happy days? Is that a time frame or a situation comedy on television? The problem is that happy days, without the Fonz, are totally relative. Our happy days are not our grandparents happy days, nor our parents happy days, nor our kids happy days. Our grandkids will one day refer to today as “the good old days” when telling tales to their grandkids. You know the tales they tell, those “Why,” pregnant pause here, “I had to walk five blocks, up hill both ways, to school when I was a kid.”

    We were just that cool? We had no idea what was on the way, but we were cool? DVR, iPad, smartphones, Bluetooth, WiFi, laptops, email, Twitter, Facebook, and X-Ray imaging using WiFi, now those are cool. My iPhone has more memory and computing power than the entire world had in the “good old days”. Now THAT is cool. We, us generations born late 40s and 50s, were cool? We had saddleback shoes, hula-hoops, flattop haircuts, roller-skates, one 17″ black and white TV with an antennae that pulled in three channels on a good day, and one phone in the house.

    I’d rather have a puppy on my lap, kick the recliner back, and watch “North by Northwest”, DVR’d three days ago on my 46″ flatscreen TV. Now THAT is cool.

    • Curmudgeons are always welcome, Gary and you just hang out on Facebook as much as you like. If it’s not interfering with your writing….DO IT!

      • Gary G Little

        Yes ma’am. Roger wilco over and out. 😀

  • Eliese

    Aria lays her chubby cheek against my shoulder as I sing, “Good morning, good moooorning. It’s so nice to see your smiling face.” The song revives her, and she bounces in my arms. Our musical day begins.

    The next tune plays from the speakers at full blast. We sing at the top of our lungs about wheels turning on yellow busses all the way to day care.

    “Goodbye, I love you.” I whisper in Aria’s tiny ear, then leave a part of my heart to play with the other little humans.

    At last, I turn on my music and let my voice free. At times I sing with the artist, and at others, I harmonize. This is what I meant to do, even if it is only in the car. For now.

    The day comes to a close. Aria lays her head on my shoulder once more. She smells of lavender laundry detergent and sweet toothpaste. I kiss her forehead then softly sing, “Good night. Good night. It’s been so nice to see your smiling face.”

    • Lovely, Eliese. A working mom, pursuing her dream as a singer. I love that she both loved singing with her daughter, as well as it breaking her heart to leave her child behind while she goes out to pay the bills.

      Nice. work.

      • Eliese

        Well, this made me very happy. 🙂 Just what I needed. Thanks!

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  • Prince A.

    Really like this post and got inspired to take on this kind of mindset! I had been finding myself struggling to make time with school and everything, but there is time. Thanks and hope you enjoy the story:

    Beep! Beep! Beep!

    A hand swept from under the sky blue bed sheets as it thrashed the clock from the desk into the wall. Slowly drawing the cover down revealing his face to the morning sun,
    his eyes slowly opened while he released a stressful moan.

    Looking himself in his sleep-deprived eyes in the mirror, the young man sighed out, “Jake, why did we decided to get a job again?”

    Jake put on his work attire ungracefully in a rush, and in no particular order, which included worn black shoes, the black company shirt, the red visor with The Prey logo, and his name tag on his left side of his shirt, above his heart.

    “Hi and welcome to The Prey where we have the best fast food! Have you tried our newest chicken meal?” Jake struggled to get a genuine smile in the robotic sentence to an
    uninterested customer who took the longest time to decide what their stomach would want to order.

    Entering his break time, Jake sat at one of the booths with a chicken tender meal he purchased on his employee credit. Looking through his school bag, he realized he was in such a rush this morning that he forgot to pack his notebook so he can write during
    his free time.

    “Shit!” Jake confined to himself. “The whole reason I got this stupid job was to be inspired
    to write stories and be around people who could make for interesting characters.”

    He ran up to the condiments area and began to hoard all of the napkins he could use as a paper substitute. The middle school kid next to him was playing with the fountain machine, mixing up the sodas into a cup, pouring it out and repeating.

    An old gray-haired man with a cane approached Jake for some coffee.

    “Sorry, but I’m on my break,” Jake said with what little patience he had left for any customer.

    Jake’s manager saw this and asked Jake, “Can you please assist him? We’re short on staff. In fact, cut your break and get back to work afterwards.”

    Confused and trying to not show how pissed off he really was, “Um, but I was just about…”—

    “You can get a free meal after your shift,” his 30 year old and balding manager interrupted. “Now, be quick about it please.” He turned his attention to the boy playing with the sodas, “Hey! You at the fountain!”

    After assisting the old-timer, Jake’s stomach let out a growl.

    “Haha. Someone’s looking hangry,” his co-worker Tom chuckled.

    Tom was a blue-eyed, blond jock who was also a classmate. He was an easygoing guy, who also hated his job even though his smile wouldn’t show it to customers.

    Jake passed Tom a napkin that read fml.

    “That bad a life, huh? What’s your deal?” Tom was curious and still amused.

    Jake threw his head onto the register as if having gave up, “I just wanted time to write something.”

    • Hey Prince!

      You may be struggling to juggle school and everything, but you MUST make time to write. I REALLY enjoyed this…felt Jake’s frustration @ his crappy fast-food job, then laughed out loud when I real, fml.

      Great job. Keep writing.

      • Prince A.

        Thank you! I’m glad it was enjoyable. Writing and applying what your post had suggested was really helpful.

    • Great write. It has so many beautiful details, especailly documenting life at a fast food place. You did a great job connecting with your readers. I especially like the last line very much. I makes me both empathize as well as sympathize with the young man who only took the job at the fast food place to get inspired to write stories, but was unable to write anything that day, because his break was cut short. I wanted to cry for him. I could actually feel his pain.

      • Prince A.

        Thanks! I was concerned that it lacked in detail, but I just tried a different type of storytelling from my usual approach. I could relate to him because that’s what kept me working in fast food, that it’ll help me create better stories. Guess it did lol.

        • Years ago during my college days, my college creative writing professors all told me, “a great writer writes what he or she knows.” And you did. Just keep following the rule of thumb I mentioned, like you did writing the above story, and you can’t go wrong. As I said, I really enjoyed it. I can relate to what the character in the story is going through. Many years ago, back in the late eighties and early 1990’s, I was a full time college student, and an employee at a fast food restaurant. Every time I could find a free moment, I’d jot down my story ideas or poems either on pieces of paper towel, tray liners, or napkins. There were times when I was at the counter in the process of jotting down a story, when I was interrupted by my manager telling I needed to attend to the approaching customers.

  • I Usually integrate My Writing Passion With My Other Responsibilities
    By Kiki Stamatiou a. k. a. Joanna Maharis

    I usually integrate my writing passion with my other responsibilities in life by starting my day doing the assignment for the 500 word writing challenge. I completed Day 105 this afternoon.

    I’d like to start my day several hours earlier than what I do. I get up at 8 a. m. to have my protein shake for breakfast. I then go back to sleep, because I have been unable to stay awake. If I were able to stay awake once I have my breakfast in the morning, I
    would do more and be even more productive throughout the day. I’d like to be more active in the morning. However, lately I’ve been getting up around 2 p. m., because my grandmother keeps everyone in my household up all hours of the night with her crying, complaints, and babbling. It’s usually due to her aches and pains, or because she doesn’t want to go to bed at the time the rest of us do. My aunt gives her pain reliever
    medication to alleviate the pain, but my grandma still continues to cry.

    If I didn’t have my grandmother to contend with, I’d be more rested by the time I wake up in the morning to have my breakfast protein shake.

    I also have to balance my time for writing with my household responsibilities such as doing my share of the laundry, helping out with the cooking, and the rest of the household chores.

    I also have to put time aside each day to spend with my family. My aunt requires my help with transferring my elderly grandmother who is wheelchair bound.

    In between doing all the things mentioned above, I squeeze in 15 minute intervals of writing. I usually put in between 30 to 45 minutes a day for writing. On my best days, I get up to four pieces of writing accomplished consisting approximately between 2 to 4 pages each. On average I can get at least nine typed pages typed per day.

    I’d like to get in more than 45 minutes worth of writing accomplished per day, but it’s not easy for me to do. With my other responsibilities to contend with, I also make an effort to put in at least 15 minutes per day doing exercise to get my heart rate up, through dancing to music on my CD player. I also do other stretching, strengthening and conditioning exercises.

    In addition to my writing goals, I have the goal for achieving my weight loss goals, and getting even healthier than I already am. My goal is also to get off of my diabetes medication.

    I also strive to put all of my experiences into my writing.

    In addition to writing in the afternoon, I also make time in the mid to late part of the evening to write while my loved ones are watching television. Generally, the television
    doesn’t faze me. It’s not distracting to me, but rather the opposite. I find having the television playing in the background to be soothing and relaxing. It helps keep me in my zone at night when I’m writing.

    I’m sure if I could go to bed earlier than I usually do at night, perhaps I would be able to get up earlier in the morning and start my day. Or perhaps my results would still be the same as they are right now. I can’t control my grandmother or her actions. I can only control the decisions I make for myself.

    © Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015

    • Prince A.

      Really like the narrative feel of this. It’s like the narration that happens in the beginning of a movie or something I would imagine be written in a diary. I can’t relate to the television. I myself have to close the door on people to leave me alone with my thoughts lol.

      The ending was an interesting observation of the narrator because it was something I thought myself. If she was able to go to sleep on time, would she be more well rested. There’s a nice familiarity with this story of wanting to do more of what you enjoy and even letting us know that writing isn’t the only thing on her radar.

      I would like to know what she does with her family. Is it quality time? Does she try to get out of it or skip it somedays? Also, how does she help transfer her grandma? I feel like answering these questions could answer other questions for me as a reader. Right now, I want to say she’s in high school and perhaps this is summer break. Though the protein shakes could make her a bit older, college age.

      All in all, nice story with a good range of things other’s can relate to and connect with the character.

      • Thank you so much. I’ll definitely consider your suggestions for adding more details to the story.

  • Matt O’Berski

    Again I’ve seen that writing – even just allowing the mind space or freedom – begets a story that I had no idea was in me. It’s fun. It’s also begging for more.
    ___________________________________________________________________________

    It was everywhere. He couldn’t get it out of his mind, and therefore
    couldn’t stop his mind’s eye from seeing it. When Thomas woke in the morning,
    it was the sensation tickling his ear membrane – his alarm clock – that brought
    him to life. Just the same, when he sat down only 93 minutes later at his
    work-desk, it was the music of life, the life that he had just encountered on
    the subway commuting to work, the shuffle bustle of the busyness, the woman and
    her baby, the husband coming home too late, the child always waking up too
    early. This was music.

    Yet in the same way, on that very same Sunday in September, Thomas woke
    the sun whispering slowly, “sleep no more”; he saw the clouds awaking and
    parting just for him, waving their goodbyes to the evening and their hello to
    the dawn of a new day. It was hope, and it always returned. Light. Refreshing.
    Joy. Anew.

    Now Thomas didn’t always bound out of bed, ready for the day. No he was
    much more like you and me. He would set his alarm the night before… he would
    actually set multiple alarms. One the pre-alarm alarm, literally labeled ‘start
    waking up’ — the next 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence would help him to
    wake up correctly — and then the label of ‘get your ass up!’ would do just that
    for him. Remind him the world is calling, the bees awoke hours ago, the early birds
    have long since gotten and eaten their worm.

    His job forced him to see life like this. ‘Forced’ is a rather strong
    word. He thrived in the necessity, ruminating in the requisites of life. Of
    work. His work was an artist. Nondescript. Non-employed, even. Yet he saw art
    everywhere. Frequently he would take turns into the nowhere of his city for a
    new landscape, a new mindscape — a new scape for his mind as they crossed the
    land together.

    People. People are art, he was always saying. He was also always saying
    a quite parallel truth: art is messy. It doesn’t have a backspace button. It
    learns from its mistakes. It paints over them. Painting over creates more art
    and more character. Layers. Layers upon layers upon layers of mistake upon
    character being built in each and every person. Why is it then that society
    would have us believe that it is so important to be simple. Straightforward.
    Does not it understand its own art? We the people enjoy at least hints of
    confusion, if not downright mind-fuckery. Now, fuckery is a word with many
    layers. Add a noun before it and it is merely the adjective describing a
    different way of looking at something. Like hacking, almost. Hackers are
    brilliant people who have long decided not to be constrained maintained
    restrained by rules or guidelines: to hell with the pirate code.

    And so today, Thomas didn’t listen to his alarm. In fact it started the
    night before. He didn’t even set one. Or two, for that matter. He was done. For
    too long he had been writing about an unconstrained way of life whilst living
    constrained all the while. It was no longer good enough. He paused: had it ever
    been good enough?