Thursday, July 07, 2011

Guest Author Kristina Riggle: Managing Your Time as a Writer

By Kristina Riggle

I don't know about you folks, but I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want (and need) to do. Today, Kristina Riggle is going to help us out there, and give us a few pointers on managing your time as a writer.

Kristina Riggle lives and writes in West Michigan. Her debut novel, Real Life & Liars, was a Target "Breakout" pick and a "Great Lakes, Great Reads" selection by the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association. The Life You’ve Imagined was honored by independent booksellers as an IndieNext “Notable” book. Her newest book, Things We Didn't Say came out June 28, so go check it out.

Take it away Kristina...

People tend to get wide-eyed when I tell them I wrote my debut novel when my son was four and my daughter was a babe-in-arms. To this day one of the most common questions asked at a book event is how I find time to write with two small kids.

But I don’t think I’m any busier than anyone else. Most all of us have day jobs, volunteering, families and chores. There always seem to be more compelling things to do than write that book, especially to the not-yet-published writer without a looming deadline. So here are some tricks I use to get writing done when it seems impossible.

1) The Hemingway trick
I’m told he used to leave off writing for the day in midsentence, so he didn’t waste any time the next day thinking, “Uhhhhhhh, where was I? What happens next?” I do this, and to quote my Brit friends, it works a treat. The added benefit is that it tends to squeeze more writing out of me than I thought I had. It’s tempting when nearing the end of a writing day to stop at the end of a scene or chapter. But when using the Hemingway trick, I have to churn out just … a bit … more… And sometimes that turns into a couple hundred more words. All when I thought I was “done.”

2) Keyboard-schmeboard
Since I type like Jeff Gordon drives, I much prefer to be writing at the keyboard . That way my fingers keep up with my brain. However, sometimes I’m up to my ears in kids in the backyard, or it’s not practical to lug the laptop say, to my kid’s baseball practice. Then what do you do at a time like this? Whip out that notebook and jot some paragraphs over lunch, or in the bleachers. You can key it in later, or if it sucks because you were too distracted to focus, at least you kept your writerly engine warmed up and running.
3) Just keep swimming
Forgive the Disney reference, but remember Dory, the forgetful fish in Finding Nemo? No? Take my word for it, there was a forgetful yet optimistic fish (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres.) Her daffy little song was “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…” If things look bad, either because you’ve gotten a rejection that day, or the writing just isn’t flowing….don’t stop. Keep swimming, er, typing. When you do grab that precious writing time you can’t afford to waste a minute raging about a rejection or staring blankly wondering why you can’t think of what happens next. If you write something that stinks up the joint, you can fix it later. Loss of momentum, however, is deadly to your productivity.

Have my habits changed after publication? Well, when I wrote Real Life & Liars, my baby daughter was snoozing in her baby swing and I was frantically typing before my son got home from preschool. My little girl is four years old now, and I’m writing this the lobby of my local parks and rec building while she has ballet class so that tomorrow if my revisions arrive for my next novel I can get right down to business…

About Things We Didn’t Say

What goes unsaid can sometimes speak the loudest...

What makes up a family? For Casey it's sharing a house with her fiancé, Michael, and his three children, whom she intends to nurture more than she ever took care of herself. But Casey's plans have come undone. Michael's silences have grown unfathomable and deep. His daughter Angel seethes as only a teenage girl can, while the wide-eyed youngest, Jewel, quietly takes it all in.

Then Michael's son, Dylan, runs off, and the kids' mother, a woman never afraid to say what she thinks, noisily barges into the home. That's when Casey decides that the silences can no longer continue. She must begin speaking the words no one else can say. She'll have to dig up secrets—including her own—uncovering the hurts, and begin the healing that is long overdue. And it all starts with just a few tentative words. . . .


  1. Suzanne Lucero7/07/2011 6:53 AM

    Oh, you've hit the nail on the head! It's been over two years since I started writing my story and it's changed shape about 5 times, but I just keep on, uh, swimming. I get a lot of encouragement from people like you who've actually "made it." Thanks for your story.

  2. They are all good tips, but #1 is new to me. Fascinating. I will have to give it a try. Thanks for posting!

  3. Aww, yes...just keep swimming. Such great advice. :)

  4. Fantastic tips! I haven't heard of the Hemingway trick before, but I just might have to use that :)

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  5. Great tips. Thank you! I keep a little notebook in my purse for those times when I'm waiting at my kids' music lessons, etc.

    I just so happened to finish Real Life and Liars last night. Such a wonderful book; I highlighted so many passages and am looking forward to reading K. Riggle's other two novels.

  6. I love these tips, and I definitely need some ideas. I continue to keep swimming but sometimes it feels more like treading water than forward motion. Thanks for the tips!

  7. I'm intrigued by this Hemingway trick. I'll have to try it out.

  8. Excellent post. I also want to try out your Hemmingway trick, see if that helps kick me in the ass when it's time to sit down to write.

  9. Thanks Kristina for coming by today and chatting with us!