Book Review: Time to Write

This book gets 3/5 stars for feeling somewhat disorganized and repetitive.  The writing kind of felt like a long magazine article rather than a book.  Much of the material comes from author interviews, but it feels as if Ms. Stone tried to organize her book around the material from her interviews, resulting in some material that didn’t seem to fit neatly into her categories.   Also, the writing style used is very fact-driven, and I felt like I never really heard the author’s voice.  Despite all of the information presented, there wasn’t much ground-breaking material (in fact, I didn’t star or underline anything until I was 100 pages in), but I did come away with a few new ideas and some important reminders:

  • Writing doesn’t have to happen at a desk.  It can happen inside your head while you are driving, when you have a conversation and get a new idea, when you are falling asleep thinking about your characters, or even in your subconscious while you are sleeping.
  • Carry a notebook with you so you are always prepared to write down an inspirational quote, a piece of dialogue, a character insight, an interesting word, or a plot idea.
  • Post your writing schedule in a prominent place so that you and your family are constantly aware of your writing commitments.
  • Write down a plot or character question before going to bed and see if your subconscious answers it while you sleep.
  • If you have a hard time getting started with a new story, try writing character descriptions, outline your story, or write a synopsis or treatment.
  • Take advantage of the times you are feeling uninspired to do less creative tasks.  Use this time to edit your work; reviewing your work may provide you with additional inspiration.  Or, use these non-creative periods to work on self-promotion tasks.
  • Keep a list of any distractions that keep you from your writing schedule.  If you can identify what is getting in the way, it will be easier for you to restructure your life in order to fulfill your writing commitments.

One of my favorite ideas from this book has nothing to do with the topic of finding “Time to Write.” An interviewed author offered the idea of marking up your outline as you revise your first draft, rather than the draft itself.  Then use your revised outline to revise your draft.  I really like this idea because my brain operates best with a lot of structure, and revising my story to match a new outline seems like a very organized way to go about the revision process.  I am filing this idea away for future consideration (when I actually have something to revise…).

3 CommentsLeave a comment »
  • January 16, 2013 Reply
    Lisa said:

    “Also, the writing style used is very fact-driven, and I felt like I never really heard the author’s voice.”

    This is likely why I’ll never write a novel, that is is totally my writing style.

    • January 20, 2013 Reply
      Virtual Pilgrim said:

      I think most good non-fiction writers have a voice. And you definitely have one. 🙂

  • January 21, 2013 Reply
    Lisa said:

    Haha! I guess I do and it gets me in trouble quite often. 😉 I also liked this tip and have been thinking about it all week, “Post your writing schedule in a prominent place so that you and your family are constantly aware of your writing commitments.” I can think of a few different things for both of us that this could apply to and create less miscommunication and frustration around here: Stephen is planning to do computer work at these times, I am going to do a sewing project at this time, etc.

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