5 Easy Ways to Make Time for Writing

We live in a world where everyone is busy all the time.  We’ve all got places to go, social media accounts to manage.  I’m a college student with a boyfriend, sorority, and now and online job.

With the start of Saving Flight 926, my newest novel, I’ve started making the excuse that I’m “too busy” to write.  Well, that’s partially true.  I am pretty busy, but there are ways to cut out time.  Here are 5 of those ways:

1. Cut the Netflix:

I struggle with getting lost in a show, especially not that my boyfriend lets me use his Netflix.  Try watching just one episode instead of two…or five.

2. Waiting Time

I did this a lot over the summer at my job.  If you have some waiting time before an appointment or class, take out your phone and use a note taker to start a chapter.  You can always email it to yourself later.  I could write entire short stories in-between customers.

3. Travel

I fly from home to school a lot.  Instead of watching a movie for the plane, car, bus, or whatever ride, try taking out your laptop.

4. Stay Away from (a little) Social Media

Things like SnapChat, Facebook, and Yik Yak can be super fun, but sometimes we can spend quite a while reading posts when we could be doing something, well…far more important.

5. Brainstorm During Busy Times

When I was in high school, I’d plan out the details of a chapter while walking down the hall.  It might not work for everyone, but brainstorming beforehand could lead to a lot less staring at computer screens when you get home.

Critic vs. Critique

Being someone who is in the desperate race on Wattpad to gain followers as I near my longtime goal of 1,000, I am once again running a critiquing service.

Time and time again, I see people, some as old as 16, mess up the word “critic” and “critique”. This got me thinking. Maybe it’s not stupidity, but just a common mistake.

So, to eliminate ANY confusion for anyone out there, here are the actual definitions for these two words from the Webster’s Dictionary:

Critic (noun): one who expresses a reasoned opinion on any matter.
Ex. She is a harsh critic.

Critique (also a noun): a careful judgement in which you examine the good and bad parts of something.
Ex. Hans gave a critique on Elsa’s meatloaf. He said it was dry and salty.

Another example: I am a critic who leaves critques on fiction stories.

So please, never ask someone, “Can you please leave a critic on my story?” Or post an advertisement saying that you “will critic any genre.” These are two different words with two different meanings.

Are Any Ideas a Waste of Time?

Talking to my boyfriend about a story idea I had this weekend had me thinking. As writers, we always get super excited about a new idea. We were sitting in the kitchen of my dorm on Saturday talking about Gasparilla, the Mardi-Gras-like pirate festival that takes place every January here in Tampa. People come from all over Florida to get extremely intoxicated and catch beads at the parade. Celebrities even show up. (This year I got to see Mario Lopez!)

Anyway, during whatever we were talking about, my brain suddenly exploded with this big huge idea: a normal college freshman (Jasper) goes to the Gasparilla festival with her friends. She gets separated and encounters a man in a pirate costume, who she thinks is one of the actors. It turns out, he is actually a ghost from the ship. For some reason, he hands Jasper a map to where Captain Gasparilla’s long-lost treasure is hidden. She finds it, then has to figure out who to tell/what to do with it.

My boyfriend’s response was, “Don’t make it about the media! Make it about the treasure hunt!”

I was very surprised that he didn’t like the idea. This has been a frequent pattern with many of my stories/ideas. This got me thinking: are some ideas a waste of time? Should some stories just not be written?

My advisor told me this. To not go back to stories which might not work. I disagree. If you have writer’s block and can’t think of anything else, why not write? You’re gaining more experience and practice.

Main point of this post: no. Nothing you write is going to be a waste of time.

Writing a Great Beginning (Part 2) First Sentences

If you ask me, the first sentence of your story is the absolute most important. This determines whether a publisher or reader stays with you, or not. Instead of going on lengthy explanations again, I’ll do some numbered points like yesterday. So, here are some numbers to remember when writing your first sentence:

#1: HOOK THE READER
Be exciting or interesting, but also keep it short. No lengthy explanations in the first chapter. Here are some examples:

It was a pleasure to burn. -Ray Bradbury, Farenheight 451

Mother died today. -Albert Camus, The Stranger

Of course, the first sentence can be a little longer:

Behind every man alive now stand thirty ghosts, for that it the ratio by which the dead outnumber the living. -Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odessy

And, in case you want some examples from someone who isn’t super famous. Here are some beginnings from an ordinary aspiring writer, me:

“There was no good reason to leave Costa Rica.”

“Nobody really knew Christopher.”

“The lavender-painted fingernails Emily had wrapped around the trigger reminded me of the balloons from recruitment.”

“Sometimes I look through this barrier holding me in and wonder if there is more to life.”

#2: DON’T BE BORING
As you can see from the examples above, they are far from boring. Stay away from things like wheather, alarm clocks, and all around boring things. HOWEVER, you can include weather if you’ve got something really great after it.

Ex. I went insane on a sunny afternoon in March.

You can also include weekdays/times of day. (But only if they are important to the plot). Ex. On a Sunday morning, I poured blood in my coffee instead of milk.

#3 DON’T START BY INTRODUCING YOUR CHARACTER
I’ve read a number of stories that start by “Let me introduce myself.” Or “My name is Emily Thomas.”

Try to stay away from introduction with a name or the “introducing” thing. But it CAN work if you have something good after it:
Ex: My name is Emily Thomas, ruler of the sirens.

Names could also work as a second sentence: “Everyone knows my name. I’m Emily Thomas, or the Scranton Strangler. The accused Scranton Strangler, that is.”

Tomorrow we work on descriptions. Write on, everyone!

My 11th Book and Shamu Journey

Tonight I have finally finished my 11th book, which is currently titled “The Diary of Shamu.” The book follows the story of Yuto, a captive born orca who is released back out into the wild following a death at his park. Below is a picture of Ulises, who has the same degree of bend to his dorsal fin as Yuto.

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In the height of the Blackfish controversy, I started working in this book last April, after watching hours and hours of documentaries, YouTube videos of shows, and doing my own internet research. Below is obviously Tilikum, who loosely inspired my character Akamai in the book.

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I got inspired after learning about Keiko, the “world’s most famous killer whale” and star of Free Willy, who was released into the wild and died a few years later. I’m completely against all captivity in general, but after hearing about Keiko, some of the people defending SeaWorld may have a point.

My main goal was to debunk the “Free the whales” statement. Mainly for those people who think we can literally, just put captive orcas directly back into the wild like in Free Willy, with no training and they’ll be fine. Below is Keiko in his training sea pen.

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The book in general was hard to write, especially since I’m used to writing in past tense and from the POV of teenage girl. This time my main character was a ten-year-old male orca and was done in present tense. But it was super fun trying something new.

So if you like orcas and want to here a different, more realistic take on the situation, check out my free book on Wattpad. Here is the link: http://www.wattpad.com/story/14803885-the-diary-of-shamu

Happy reading, and goodnight!

When a Gameboy Kills

Picture this: you’re a college student who has just finished finals. You’re tired from packing and spent 4 hours in the airport.

Finally, you’re on the plane, ready to go home to see family. And just when it’s almost full, you think back to the sign before security that says “no lithium batteries.”

You look down at your bag, which contains a new, “vintage” Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP. Google says it has a lithium ion battery.

This was me last night: having a panic attack minutes before takeoff because I thought my Gameboy was going to explode mid-flight.

All I could picture was crusing at 40k feet in the darkness, then all of a sudden seeing battery acid leaking out of my laptop case, or a spontaneous fire forming at my feet.

I was so tempted to tell a flight attendant, “Hey, um…so I have a Gameboy with a lithium battery. Are we going to die?”

The plane was backing up from the gate. I was rapidly texting my boyfriend even though my phone should’ve been in airplane mode. He told me to breathe and calm down. I told him that me and my stupid Gameboy were about to murder 130 people unless I did something.

Moments later, a thought. “Wait. What kind if battery does my iPhone, (that I fly all the time with) have?” A quick Google search: Lithium ion.

So that was my flight yesterday. In this instance, I am granting you all permission to laugh not with me, but at me as well. Fly safe everyone.

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