From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, March 28, 2011

5 Writing Tools to Carry in a Conspiring Universe

Is it just me, or do you feel like every time you start a new project, the universe conspires against you to take away all the time you thought you had to work on it. You finally get started, and then you look on your calender and realize that the next several days are a string of doctors appointments, meetings, helping your friend move, the Hare Krishna Festival of Colors, and you wonder where your time went. The past few days have been like that for me, just when I got started on my new WIP.

So what do you do? Being busy doesn't just happen at the beginning of projects, it happens all the time. Many of us are balancing jobs, parenting, school, and all the other things going on in our lives with our writing and writing careers. How do we balance the two?

1) Carry a notebook. That way, when you're sitting at your kids kindergarten waiting for school to get out, you can pull out the notebook and jot down a few sentences. You can outline the next chapter of your novel while sitting in the lobby of the doctors office.

2) Carry a book. You could fit in a good page or so while filling up the car at the gas station. To be a good writer you must be a good reader, and I imagine that sneaking bits of writing time helps your brain keep at high functionality throughout the day, just like sneaking crackers or apple slices helps move things efficiently through your digestive system. Poetry and short story collections and literary magazines are particularly suited for this.

3) Carry business cards. Take the time for some guerilla marketing. Sneak a card into one of the magazines on the coffee table at the doctors office. Give your card or even a copy of your book to your kids teacher or school librarian. Whatever you think might work.

4) Carry a planner. With writing time tightly squeezed, its useful to plan ahead and know exactly when you will be able to actually sit down and write. Even if its just ten minute chunks. And then, once you know when you'll be at your computer, while you are out and about, plan ahead and know where and how your going to start up again when you get back. That way you will minimize the unproductive staring-at-the-screen time.

5) Carry an iPhone. Or something like it, if possible. That way you can update your blog or Facebook fan page while sitting at the lecture you didn't want to go to in the first place. Get your emailing and social networking done while you're on lunch break, and then when you get home and finally have your own time, you can use it for the actual writing instead of having to catch up on all the businessy type things.

Life will still be crazy and busy, no doubt, but carrying and efficiently using these tools can help maximize your writing productivity. Are there any other tools you think might be useful?

Sarah Allen


  1. Great suggestions! As a mother of a five month old who is also working full time at a Real Job, I'm always trying to find ways to sneak in more writing/reading time. :)


  2. Thanks,Sarah! For posting these tips they can really come in handy.
    I like to ask if you can fllow my new blogs I've just started.

    I would gladly appreciate it if you can follow them.

  3. "Being busy doesn't just happen at the beginning of projects, it happens all the time." That's so true, Sarah. Great suggestions! I carry my Ipod with me because the music gets the creativity flowing when I'm stuck.

  4. Love those ideas! Especially guerrilla marketing. =)

  5. Great tips!

    When I lunch alone, I eat with my left hand while typing with my write.

    It's amazing what a difference 1 uninterrupted hour can make. What's even more amazing is the fact that that hour almost always stretches into two (with the second hand returning to duty sometime).


    Actually just dropped by to give you an award.

  6. Yes! Or, if it's not lack of time, exactly, it's a sudden rush of other projects that so suddenly seem so crucial. Funny how that works.

    Love the list!

  7. Hey Sarah,

    some more cool tips from you!! Great!! but don't forget to carry a digital voice recorder, you can keep on recording your thoughts about a book as you drive / walk /....

    with warm regards

  8. Thanks for the kind words and ideas, everyone. A voice recorder is a great idea.


  9. Great tips - I've taken to carrying my Kindle, new for me because when I get a book recommendation, I can just order the book, download it, and voila. My library grows. :-)

  10. I do all of the above...except number 5. I can't be trusted with any high tech gadget that allows access to the internet outside my home. Great post!


  11. For some reason, being the writer I am, my first thought was that you were creating a conspiring universe, and this was a how-to on writing that Universe.

    Have I mentioned I'm a bit odd when it comes to writing?

  12. same here. I have never much time for writing. My day is very busy. Writing and blogging are ignored sometimes because of this. I hate it. Really. I would die to write or read or blog all the time my whole life.
    But that´s impossible. Have to go to college, learn for exams, learn with friends and then you´re all tired and there´s no hope for writing.

    Thank you for the tips. I´ll try them and hopefully success.

    You put the hings so easily in words and you give everytime so helpful tips.

    A BIG Thank You ^^

  13. Hi Sarah! Your blog is lovely, thank's so much for taking the time to stop by mine and leave a comment =)

    I agree with all of your suggestions, and although being the easiest one, I love to have a notebook around. It ends up more like a journal, but it's precious to me, I can jot down lots of ideas!
    Also, when you have to use public transportation, or when you're doing house chores it's nice to have some audio-book to be listening. It's a time saver.

    Thanks for the tips!

  14. Sarah- I just discovered your blog. LOVE IT!

    I noticed on your "about me" page you are hoping to get into University of Oregon. I live near Portland. If you have any questions about living in Oregon shoot them my way.

  15. Oh boy, do I know about this! Busyness has been a way of life for me for the past month with moving. I cannot wait to get settled into a routine again just so I can write!

    While I'm immersed in a project, though, I do carry a journal around with me to write down stray thoughts and ideas.

  16. Great post, Sarah! I love my iPhone - it's my planner and social networking tool all rolled into one - and my Kindle, for reasons other commenters have already mentioned. It never occurred to me to use those business cards for guerilla marketing - you are a genius! I am headed to the doctor right now; let's see what happens!


I absolutely love hearing from you! Thank you so, so much for your thoughts and comments, they really do make my day. Consider yourself awesome. Also, I do my best to respond to every comment within 24 hours, so I invite you to come back and continue the conversation :)

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