Tag Archives: finding time to write

#SATurday: The Value of Knowing How Fast You Can Read or Write

11 Jul

The Value of Knowing How Fast You Can Read or Write

I don’t have time to read. I don’t have time to write.

We’ve all heard the phrases before…and possibly even said it ourselves. We get it. We do. Every writer and reader has a busy life, because every person has a busy life. Finding time to write or read isn’t easy. You just do it.

Easier said than done, right? Right. Which is why I want to share a small tip that worked for me in the early stages of my writing career. I’ve shared this with fellow writers before, so I know it works for some, but I must warn you that it has also discouraged others, so keep this one important fact in mind: It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to manage yourself better.

Kiki helps me keep track.

Kiki helps me keep track.

My tip? Figure out how fast you read and write. (Remember, quality is key. This is not a race.)

What do I mean by that?

When you’re writing, take note of what time you start and your word count. When you’re done, take note of the time and how many words you get down. For reading, it’s very similar. Take note of where you started and when you started; then jot down how far you got and when you stopped. Do this a couple of times to get an average. Also, be aware of your nuances.

As an example, my major nuance is chapters. For both reading and writing, I cannot—for the life of me—stop in the middle of a chapter. So, for writing, I’m more likely to push myself longer just to finish that section, or if I feel myself getting tired, I might stop early to prevent myself from getting in the middle of a chapter. Now that I’m aware of my nuances, I can calculate speed. For two hours, I generally manage to write a chapter of 4,000-5,000 or so words and prep the next chapter, depending on where I’m at in those two hours. For reading, that’s about 200 or so pages, but this one is a little trickier since it is normally affected by the language or topic of the novel. That being said, that is my example.

Now what?

Now, pay attention to yourself. Did you just spend three hours watching television? I know I did that the other day. I couldn’t write due to carpal tunnel syndrome, so my situation was a little different, but I watched Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, an entire episode of John Adams, and the finale of Silicon Valley. I spent over three hours watching TV. Three hours. I could’ve written a chapter, prepped a chapter, and read 100 pages in my current read. This is where knowing your speed helps you manage your time. You stop counting time like one hour and you start counting time in word counts and pages.

Managing your time starts with being aware of your time. I know we all have difficulties—so, trust me, this is not a post slamming anyone who can’t find time to write and read. In fact, I’ve had a difficult time for the past week to find time to write and read since I’ve been moving more furniture from city to city. But there are days—like my three-hour television days—that I think we all have. And those are okay too. We’re allowed to take a break. This is more for those who might be struggling with their free time. This post is designed to suggest a new way to approach their situation. If you pay attention and figuring out another way to count time, you’ll be less likely to say, “I just watched one TV show” and more likely to realize that was an entire chapter in your WIP.

Remember that one important fact though. It’s not about how fast you are. It’s not about comparing your speeds to anyone else’s. It’s about being aware of yourself, and using your awareness to your advantage. And be aware of everything else too.

What do I mean by “everything else”? I wrote this blog post while cooking lunch—because I’ve been behind on blog posts and figured my lunch break would be a good time to sneak that in—so I wrote while I cooked. Pasta to be exact. It worked. I finished a blog post in time…but don’t let the water boil over like I did. ;]

~SAT

We’re so close!

As of yesterday, all three novels (YES, even Death Before Daylight) became available for pre-order

Minutes Before Sunset, Seconds Before Sunrise, Death Before Daylight

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Pre-order today!

#MondayBlogs: Grocery Lists with Adjectives

16 Mar

Intro:

Like most people, I love to laugh. I find laughter to be one of the most relaxing, fun, and often enlightening side effects our emotions contain, and today’s post allows us to experience that laughter all over again – all while discussing a relevant and relatable topic. Writing every day is a popular goal in the writing community, and writer, Dan Pawlowski, is showing just how that can be done in an enjoyable way. He’s also a fellow Jayhawk, so a huge ROCKCHALK goes out to Dan and all KU alumni today.

#MondayBlogs: Grocery Lists with Adjectives

They say if you want to be a writer you need to write every day. The “they” in question is anyone who ever actually got published, so who am I to argue?

If you have a day job, this becomes a challenge. Add a long commute on top of that and it becomes extremely difficult. I work at a job that has an average round trip commute time of two hours, and my normal workday is at least nine and a half hours. Factor in average guy prep time to reach acceptable levels of hygiene and my day is close to thirteen hours. To write every day I have to get creative. Any chance to use a pen or pencil has to be taken advantage of and exploited past the bounds of normal convention. For example, who said grocery lists had to be boring? “It was a dark and stormy night when the pork chops arrived home with their friends the green beans and applesauce. They had planned a relaxing evening but they had come home to discover their neighbors the potatoes lying cooked in their front yard in a pool of butter and parsley.” Sure, it’s a circuitous way of noting to pick up pork chops, bean greens, applesauce and butter for the potatoes on the way home, but it works.

A writer's hand

A writer’s hand

I find that comment cards are a great opportunity to flex ones literary skills, and since I write fiction, it’s also a great source of fun. “My husband Ralph and I had come to your restaurant to repair our relationship but the years of philandering had done their damage. Ralph was constantly paranoid that your efficient but cute waiter Mario was trying to hit on me as he served us a marvelous vintage of red wine. By the time the Chicken Kiev arrived our relationship was beyond repair but the chicken was excellent. P.S. Have Mario give me a call.”

Frequently, some group or another has often accosted me on the street wanting my opinion on some topical subject. I only stop for the ones that require a written response. You can spot them because they work in twos and one of them is dragging around multiple clipboards.

“Would you like to fill out this short survey on our downtown mall?”

“Is there a comments section?”

“Why yes?”

“Then give me a clipboard and step aside?”

“Um, ok. Here you go sir.”

I go through the check boxes like a compulsive shopper on black

Friday and grab a piece of sidewalk when I hit the comments section.

“To the casual observer it would appear that the man was meandering aimlessly through the downtown mall. Perhaps he was looking to fill an empty void with shiny baubles. Perhaps he was lonely and wanted to experience something other than the four walls of his humble abode. In truth, his was a more nefarious purpose. He was here hoping for the inspiration needed to develop new characters for his next novel. The series had grown stagnant and was in serious need of rebooting. He found that people watching in eclectic locales provided the stimulation he needed. He also found a nice towel set at ‘Bed, Bath and Beyond’.”

Random opportunities such as these rarely offer enough time and space for character and plot development so do not expect any requests for a sequel. They do offer a chance to squeeze some writing into a hectic schedule and give you a fighting chance of achieving your goal to write every day.

Bio:

On the way to graduating from the University of Kansas with a degree in Computer Science, Dan Pawlowski had seriously entertained becoming a writer but he believed his writing paled in comparison to others in a sophomore writing class. Deciding he needed more life experiences before he could achieve success he set aside the notion for later.MyHeadshot

Flash forward 15 years and quite a few life experiences later and Dan had decided that he had enough scars to become a good writer. After several writing classes , posing the question “Where was a certain president during his national guard service,” mixing in some time travel and satire and his first book “Fortunate Son” was born.

When not working his day job Dan is looking for representation for “Fortunate Son” and is working on his second novel “Persecution Complex”. He also continues to write every day and contributes to his blog “The Sound of Laughter

Want to be a guest blogger? I would love to have you on! I am accepting original posts that focus on reading and writing. A picture and a bio are encouraged. You do not have to be published. If you qualify, please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com.

~SAT

10 Things Authors Worry About

20 Sep

Announcements: 

The next section of my interactive poetry series on Wattpad has begun! You can read the first poem – The grave of my teenage daughter – by clicking the link. Remember to vote, comment, and/or share for your chance to be mentioned during my next YouTube video.

In other news, Star-crossed Book Blog reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, and she included excerpts and viewpoints on the characters. Read the full review by clicking here, but here’s a small quote, “Noah was a mystery that I enjoyed unraveling. He was broken, dark and even though he never showed it, I couldn’t help but feel as though he was suffocating from having the weight of the world on his shoulders.” Click here to check out Take Me Tomorrow on Amazon.

10 Things Authors Worry About:

One of my more popular posts has always been Being a Writer: Pros and Cons. So much so that I even receive emails about it to this day – mainly from aspiring writers who want a little more detail about an author’s lifestyle. That’s why I got to thinking about this topic, and that is also why I thought it would be fun to share some of those pesky worries authors can go through on a regular basis. Honestly? I probably could’ve gone on forever, but here are ten topics I’ve had a giggle at to start the conversation:

1. Is my title catchy enough? – This is my first one because I dealt with this while writing this piece. In all honestly, this should be titled “things I worry about as an author” but…A. That’s too long. B. Using “I” is generally frowned upon because…A. It’s self-centered B. It subconsciously removes readers from the center of the piece; therefore, taking down your chances of being clicked, read, and commented on. (This is true. Google it.) And let me just point out that this is just a blog post. Titling a novel is even scarier! That’s when even more questions arise: does it make sense, does it represent my novel, will readers enjoy it, is it eye-catching, how will it look on a cover? Even worse: how will it look like on a spine or as a thumbnail? Just. Title. Me. (and by “title” I truly mean “hit”)

2. Can I stare at this picture of myself forever? – Generally in reference to whatever photo we decide to use for various purposes, including our websites, business cards, and book covers. I don’t care how awesome someone looks or how stunning a photographer makes you look, seeing the same photo day-after-day-month-after-year is really strange (and borderline creepy). It is almost like staring in the mirror too long. Eventually, you start thinking, “Do I really look like that? Is that how people see me?” Ah! I just want to hide my face in a book.

3. Are my characters (fill in the blank)? – Too happy, conceded, whiny, or – the worst one – flat. It’s this solid shadow of worry that is impossible to forget.

4. What am I doing wrong? – Okay. Okay. This is just a question that I’m sure everyone has about numerous things in their life, but I feel like this question represents so much for authors. Why are my rankings so low? Why haven’t I gotten more reviews yet? How can I connect further with my darling readers? Everything is lined with this “I know I can do better, but first I need to know what I’m doing wrong so I can improve” and it slowly becomes this obsession of Googling for advice and begging fellow authors for some sort of know-it-all secret, but it results in one thing: you’ll get better. And you slam your forehead on your desk because you know they’re right.

5. Ratings, Reviews, and Rankings (Oh! And sales!) – Even if we try our hardest to ignore them, they are often discussed within the writing community. I can admit that I try to pay attention to everything – especially the reviews my readers post, because I look at it this way: if they are going to take the time to read and review my book (not to mention send me a link), I am definitely going to take the time to read their thoughts. Thanking them is the least I can do. That being said, this combination of numbers and scales can be just as exhausting and discouraging as it can be enthralling and encouraging, so there’s definitely a careful line we have to keep in mind if we’re going to keep our minds on these things, and I definitely don’t recommend that every author pay attention to these things. It’s completely up to the author’s personal preferences, especially in terms of whether or not someone can just have fun with it. (But that’s a different discussion entirely…that I’m already planning on posting about in the near future).

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6. What am I going to do in 2017? – Yes. 2017. I don’t know about many authors, but I think a lot of authors have year-long plans if not longer plans as to what they want to work on, release, and distribute next. While we’re publishing one novel, we’re probably already writing another one, and we might be writing a second one when we’re on break. It takes years to write and publish, so writers’ lives are generally planned out a year in advance. It can get overwhelming sometimes, especially when you want to fit in a new project or change directions entirely.

7. When will I write next? – As contradicting as this can be, a writers publication calendar can be set for a year or three, but finding time to write or edit or a number of other writerly things is entirely up to the writer and their personal life. Wait. I’m open from 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. next Thursday? Not anymore. #amwriting

8. Am I reading enough? Am I writing enough? – Reading and writing go hand-in-hand into the sunset…while riding separate horses…that sometimes like the go in different directions. Balancing two passions can be hard, sometimes impossibly difficult, but we find a way.

9. Am I writing for fun enough? – Much like the above issue, it can go hand-in-hand with simply writing, but writing with deadlines can sometimes take that original fun out of it, and even authors need to take time to write something silly they never have to worry about releasing or sharing with four editors and the world.

10. Social Media – It was the best of nights and it was the worst of nights. I love it, and – sometimes – I do hate it. (Please don’t tell social media that.) It can be repetitive, and it can be so exciting that you fall off your desk chair and your cat leaps five feet in the air due to your sudden movements. Even then, your eyes can only stare at that little glowing screen for so long before you have to step away and remember what real-life colors look like without an alien illumination behind them. I can still love how it connects me with you all, though, and I enjoy speaking with everyone in the comments below, but I also worry about whether or not you’ll enjoy my next article, my approaching poem, or my non-HD video. (Sorry, a writer’s life isn’t always a rich life. I can’t afford HD yet, even though you all deserve it!) But I try to push my worries away, so I can fully enjoy the ride.

Let’s enjoy this ride together! Comment below, and we’ll chat about what you worry about as a reader or writer. Honorable mentions go to editing, mistakes that make it through editing, and other writer problems we all tweet about.

~SAT

Author Announcements

24 Jul

Author Announcements:

I am back! And my little vacation was pretty perfect. I ended up in Branson, Missouri. I’ve never been there before, so I didn’t know what to expect, but I visited a wax museum, the Titanic museum, and a maze of mirrors. (They are seriously difficult to get through.) And I ate a funnel cake that was the size of my face, so the past few days were truly fantastic.

Thank you all for understanding my time away. One of these days, I’ll write about why stepping away is one of the best things a writer can do, but today I really wanted to thank all those bloggers who kept things going while I was away. Because so much happened, I’ve actually organized the events into categories. I hope you’ll check out these fantastic websites.

It is good to be home,

~SAT

P.S. I’ll share photos in between categories, so here’s a picture of me at the Titanic Museum.

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Guest Post:

Pau’s Castles invited me to write a guest post about how I managed my writing time during my time as a college student, so I wrote a post, and here’s my first piece of advice from that article:

“First Step: Figure Out Your Schedule

And I mean really figure it out. How many courses are you taking, and how many hours do they truly demand? What days are your busiest? Factor in midterms and finals. Don’t forget about family birthdays or how professors sometimes give out MORE work during extended holidays. Now, figure out when you’re most available. Is it at night? Is it before classes start? Is it only on the weekends? Once you have your responsibilities figured out as well as your free time defined, it will be easier to factor in your writing needs – which brings me to my next point.”

Click here to read my next point. 

Here’s a photo of Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe at the Hollywood Wax Museum

Wax museum

Wax museum

Interviews:

The Starving Bibliophile asked me many questions this week, but my favorite one involved POV in my works. I finally explain why Noah didn’t narrate Take Me Tomorrow, because – surprise – he, originally, did tell half of the story, but I also talk about the one career I wanted before I wanted to be a writer.

HeiBooks is a new website that features all kinds of writers, and they invited me on for Take Me Tomorrow. On my page, you can read about our interview, and you can a scroll around their website for many other novels, including many AEC Stellar books. Click here to check it out.

Here’s my giant funnel cake.

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Reviews:

Diary of an Eager Reader is the latest reviewer on this wonderful list that I’m truly thankful for. She read Take Me Tomorrow, beginning her review with “I have to consider myself to be pretty lucky since some of my favorite stories come to me through the help of authors who are looking to get buzz for their books.  9 times out of 10 they are great stories that i’m more than happy to talk about, and this one falls right there with those 9.  I really enjoyed this story.” And she tells you why in her review here.

Inkwell & Paper also reviewed Take Me Tomorrow, titling their review “One Pill Makes a Difference.” The review begins with, “Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A. Thompson is a book that unfolded like an action packed movie.” And her review reads like an action packed movie, too, which you can read by clicking here. But I truly appreciate that she pointed out her two favorite quotes. Click the linked numbers to read them on Goodreads:

1. “The emotional toll was enough to put me to sleep, but my anxiety was enough to keep me awake.”

2. “Behind his gaze was a memory that I wanted to snatch from him.”

Ray’s Works – the website of Matter of Resistance author Raymond Vogel, is my next reviewer, stating, “Expect vivid images, creative characters (with even more creative motivations), and a complex web of connectivity that’s hard to guess. Well done!” But you can read his full review here.

And finally, Things Matter, wrote “The tone and content are very similar to The Hunger Games, and I recommend Take Me Tomorrow if you’re looking for a read-alike to that or if you just like YA dystopia in general!” But you can read all of her thoughts by clicking here.

Here is a car outside the Uptown Cafe where they sing live while you eat!

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Feature:

I was also author of the week on Books to Curl Up with Blog!

Have fun checking out these great websites!

~SAT

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