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Organizing your Writing Life When Words Fail You

Sometimes all you can do is hold on and give yourself permission to do nothing.

Sarah Hoyt


August 24, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Organizing Your Creative Life in 13 Weeks:

Week 8

Sometimes, even Penguins get shocked!

Sometimes, even Penguins get shocked!

Prolific science fiction novelist Sarah Hoyt follows up her “Your Novel in 13 Weeks” PJ Lifestyle series with a new weekly experiment each Saturday to figure out the best way for all creative types working from home to better organize their efforts.

Week Zero, Introduction: Organizing Your Creative Life In 13 Weeks

Week 1/2, Preparation: The Case For Making Lots of Lists

Week One: How to Make Your Mind Like Water

Week Two: What Are the Best Apps For Artists and Writers Desperate To Get Work Done? 

Week Three: The Lone Writer Against The Time Masters

Week Four: How to Tame Your Subconscious

Week Five: How Separating When and Where You Do Tasks Improves Both Productivity and Quality of Work!

Week Six: Organizing your Life is Like Learning to Juggle Eggs and Chainsaws

Week Seven: 4 Tips So You Don’t Organize Yourself to Death


The advantage of a good organization method is that it can keep you going and meeting deadlines even when everything goes awry.  When the excrement, metaphorically speaking, hits the rotating object, you have something to fall back on.  You wind up your penguin timer, you take a big breath, and you dive down and keep ticking, just like the penguin, following the Pomodoro technique through thick and thin.

Or you would, if you were a robot.

I confess the disaster that was the end of last week and beginning of this one had an effect that took me by surprise: Words failed me.  For the second time in my life – the first time was when I gave myself concussion by passing out in the bathroom and hitting my head so hard my glass prescription went up a diopter in the left eye and two in the right – I had to think to get to the words.

I can’t begin to describe how weird this is for me. I have a dim – very dim – memory of thinking without words, but I’m fairly sure it’s a false memory since according to my mom I was gabbing away around one and a half years of age.

Everything was going along fine, and I’d blocked off Saturday morning to do my homework for the current course –I’m taking a class on publicity for indie publishers from Dean Wesley Smith, and three weeks in (haven’t listened to this week’s lecture, yet) I can heartily recommend it – except in the morning I walked to the post office to mail back some contracts. I took younger son for company and we had a grand old time discussing everything and nothing, as we usually do.  As we came back in the door, I found my husband ready to go out.  He told me not to put my purse down.  We were going to the hospital right away.  One of our closest friends was in ICU.

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Your description of doing somewhat half-assed partial work reminds me of one of Flylady's truisms: Housework done incorrectly still blesses your family. She also says: Just the middles. Meaning, every cleaning doesn't have to be a detailed white-glove cleaning. Cleaning that is incomplete is still progress over no cleaning at all.

So, I am NOT talking about your cleaning-as-stress-reduction efforts. I am talking about your writing ... the partial workload you managed to accomplish during this incredibly stressful time. You are still blessing your career and your family with so-called "incorrect" writing, metaphorically speaking. Kudos. Perfection is the enemy of the good. I know it's hard to remember that. Prayers for your friend.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Odd story related to your word-shock. When I was in chemo years ago, I was in the middle of a book and too sick to write. Made me feel unacquainted with myself for a year. A few years later I discovered 75 pages of a very (very) bleak sci/fi fantasy story--never a genre I wrote in. Obviously I put all my black thoughts away and pretended I never had them. I told you, odd. Perhaps your subconscious is doing you the same favor even now.

There's a second part to this: when I began reading your Novel in 13 Weeks series of posts, I said, I can risk 13 weeks. So I dug out those 75 pages, and I'm now over 100,000 words into a space opera in that world.

Thanks, Sarah.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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