Avoiding Distractions While Writing (Repost)

Fellow author Jeaninne Stokes and I recently corresponded about a common question: How do you keep from getting distracted by your writing while writing. Specifically, if you’re working on chapter three, how do you keep from going back and fixing something in chapter one without getting stuck in chapter one again?

Just so you know: I am not the queen of staying-on-track. However, I have devised a few tricks that keep me from getting completely derailed when I write.

1. Write description later – If I’m writing a restaurant scene and I have no idea what the restaurant looks like, but I know exactly what I want my characters to say to one another at their table conversation, I skip to the conversation because I don’t want to mess up my flow. I make myself a note in the text (see below) and then I come back through and describe the restaurant when I revise (which is AFTER I finish the entire first draft). By the time I start revisions, I probably will have gone out to a restaurant with my friends and thought, “Oh! This looks like the kind of place for that scene!” and then I’ll insert the description. One note: Now that I’m more conscious of using “character as setting” thanks to my critique buddy Lynne Gentry, I want to make sure to include details that add to the mood of the scene.

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2. Research small things later – If a character was born on a Tuesday in October of 1947, I may need to know an actual date so I’m going to have to look this up. But if I stop writing and skip on over to the internet to look up the 1947 calendar, there’s a good chance I’ll get distracted by a whole bunch of stuff that took place in 1947 and I really don’t need to be in the internet at that moment. So, I make myself a note within the text (like above) and come back to it later. The Internet is probably my #1 distraction when it comes to writing. I try to stay off of it when I’m composing.

3. Keep a document called “Things to Fix Later” – While I’m working, I keep another word processing file open entitled “Things to Fix Later.” Every single book I’ve written has had such a file in its folder. In that file, I keep notes about what needs to change in a previous chapter now that something relevant has unfolded in a later chapter. Even if I have a pretty good outline, things still change as I write.  (Spoiler alert – the picture below is from my book The Start of a Good Thing.

Screen shot of my list of things to fix.

Screen shot of my list of things to fix.

When I go through the revision process, I fix these issues.

Okay, my fellow authors, that’s all I have to share for today. I hope these little hints will help you make your way to the final chapter! Please feel free to add to the conversation in the comments.

Be blessed 🙂

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Meet the Coloring Book!

Hey everybody! Hope you’re having a wonderful week thus far! Just wanted to tell you all about my new coloring book that will, prayerfully, give you a chance to relax, meditate on God’s Word, and explore your creative side as well!

First, here’s the video:

Secondly, let me tell you a little something about the process for creating this book. I am NOT much of an artist. I mean, I have had my good-drawing days. However, when it comes to creating digital art, I don’t know about all that. What I did learn came by watching a webinar and practicing what I learned until I actually came across some designs that I thought were kinda cute. Some of the artwork in this book I purchased outright, some I created with a little technical know-how. A few weeks after watching the video, I had a coloring book on my hands.

That brings me to a point that I’d like to share with you: It’s never too late to learn and try new things! I’ve written 40+ traditional books. This is my first coloring book and, actually, I had a wonderful time creating it. Finding the pictures, researching the scriptures, learning how to create the template for printing a book with images that stretch all the way to the edge of the page was a new experience for me. A little daunting at first, but once I got the hang of it, I was good to go.

Honestly, I think there are many things in life like this. You just have to (prayerfully) try it and see what happens. You can sit around wondering, “Hmmm…what would happen if…” for months, years, or decades. Or you can at least start learning and trying it today. And a year from now, you might be saying, “Wow! I’m so glad I did that!” or (at worst), “Well, I tried it and it didn’t go as I thought it would. But at least now I know. I may try it again and do something different next time.”

There’s a scripture that comes to mind for me. (Isn’t it neat how there’s a Word for EVERYTHING we face in life?)

He who watches the wind [waiting for all conditions to be perfect] will not sow [seed], and he who looks at the clouds will not reap [a harvest]. Ecclesiastes 11:4, AMP

Good news: All conditions and circumstances do not have to be perfect in order for us to move forward and pursue or God-given dreams and purposes. In fact, it’s not even a requirement that you know everything before you get started. Everything you need has already been supplied in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) and is simply waiting to be revealed as you go.

I hope that you’ll enjoy this coloring book during the moments when you’re NOT busy pursuing your God-given dream directly. (This coloring book is for relaxing, not distracting-LOL!) It’s available on Amazon for only $8.99. Makes a great gift for Mother’s Day, for those who are homebound, or for anyone who wants to use their down-time to refuel with something positive.

I’m glad to be a part of your life and help edify you in the Lord! Be blessed!

A Writer’s Fashion Sense Fading…

Well, folks, it has finally happened. Being holed up for hours at a time writing has changed my sense of fashion completely. I’ve gotten to the point where I pretty much only buy clothes and shoes that are comfortable on my body and feet. I rarely wear belts. I only wear heels when I know I’ll have the option of sitting down. Baseball-style hats abound in my closet.

Recently, I went so far as to buy a muu-muu, as though my onesie pajamas weren’t comfortable enough.

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The Muu Muu

And you know what? I really enjoy them both. I can see right now that if I weren’t married, I would have already “let myself go” all the way, for real.

But wait—is “letting myself go” a bad thing? Maybe myself isn’t “going” so much as it’s “coming home” to the Michelle who (despite a great deal of public speaking) is actually quite a loner and very much a home-body. Honestly, I try to schedule all of my out-of-the-house business to be accomplished one or two days so that I can reduce the number of times I have to comb my hair in a week.

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Yaay for Mommy jeans! LOL!

I have turned into the woman who doesn’t care if my jeans are classified as “Mommy” jeans because…well…I am somebody’s Mommy. I’m not trying to look 20 again because…well…I’m not 20 nor would I ever want to be 20 again. And I’m not trying to look “sexy” everywhere I go because…well…the word “sexy” literally means “arousing sexual energy” and I’m really not trying to do that for total strangers in Wal-Mart.

 

(Sigh.) These are just the musings of a writer who has another birthday coming up next week. The older I get, the more comfortable I become in my own skin, the less I care what anyone thinks. The more I see God’s love for me, the greater the desire to perfect what He counts as beauty. This is good.

I know it matters how I look to my husband and how I present myself as a speaker in a world where people do evaluate others based on appearance. And I do like wearing a cute outfit here and there. But the truth is: Because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, I’m beautiful from the inside out no matter what I’m wearing. For that, I’m grateful.

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So what’s up with you and your fashion sense? Has it changed over the years? Do you enjoy getting made up and wearing stylish clothes? Has your faith impacted your wardrobe in any way? Would you wear pajamas everywhere if they were socially and professionally acceptable? LOL! Let me know!

Merry Christmas & a Prayer for You

Hello everyone! I just wanted to touch bases and say “Merry Christmas” to you all! The Stimpsons have finished ripping and running, and we’ve even got some experimental cooking planned for Christmas Day-pray for us, y’all!

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Merry Christmas from the Stimpson Family

As I reflect on this “writing” year, I’m so grateful for those of you who continue to read and recommend books by lil’ ol’ me. As of today, I’ve written or co-authored a total of 39 books and about 50 short stories.

BLESS THE LORD!

Prayerfully, I will catch up to my age in books this year 🙂

I want to express my sincere thanks to God for all of you who continue to read the words that pour off my fingertips in the wee hours of the morning. It’s my pleasure to write stories that bring hope, entertainment, and even direction to your lives.

My prayer for you as we close out this year and prepare for 2016 is based on Colossians 1:9-12.

I pray that God will fill you with the exact knowledge of His will through all the wisdom that the Spirit gives so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. I pray that your life will bear fruit in every good work so that those who are in need of what you have will be nourished by Him through you.  As you continue growing in the knowledge of God, I pray that you are strengthened with all power according to His glorious might. I pray great endurance and patience for you, always giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light through Christ. 

In Jesus’ Name I Pray, Amen.

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Michelle Stimpson

 

 

 

 

Speed-Writing

A few weeks, ago, I stumbled upon a book entitled “How to Write a Novella in 24 Hours”. Of course, I was intrigued by that title and had to read it, thinking…if I could write a novella in 24 hours, I could write 4 books a month!

Of course, the first draft of such a work would probably require at least a week’s worth of revisions before heading off to an editor. But still…that’s a lot of writing!

Since then, I’ve heard from fellow authors Rhonda McKnight and Unoma Osiegbu-Nwankwor​ about the book’s content. Aside from making us laugh, the book has challenged us to  train ourselves to use our spare moments well. Ten minutes here and fifteen minutes there adds up to thousands of words in just a few days.

Then author Piper Huguley “piped up” (I couldn’t resist) and mentioned how she uses an old contraption called an  Alphasmart to type almost anywhere. I’d never heard of such a device until last week! Compared to the price of a laptop or a table, it’s very inexpensive ($30 or less).

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Basically, it’s an old-school keyboard with a little screen. You type, it saves automatically. When you get back to your computer, it uploads beautifully. The three best things: It’s portable (would fit in an oversized purse, runs on AA batteries that rarely need replacing), it’s a REAL keyboard (no tapping on a flat screen), and because it’s pretty ancient, it provides distraction-free writing (no internet, no pop-ups, it’s just you and the words, baby). Since they’re so old, you’ll have to get one on Ebay or an alternate seller on Amazon. (Be sure to get the Neo version.)

Finally, I told my writing group about my desire to write well in shorter periods of time, and they added me to their Facebook Messenger group so I could do “writing sprints” with them. Basically, either Jackie Castle, Patti Carroll, or Margi Laine will ask if anyone wants to do a round of writing. Each round is 30 minutes. Someone sets a timer, writes “Go” and we’re off.

 

 

Half an hour later, the timekeeper sends a message to stop. We all put up our word counts and congratulate one another.

I got in 647 words this morning in the first round. Then I had a lunch meeting. When I got back, I did another round with Jackie and ended up with another 565 words. Normally, with a lunch meeting and all, I wouldn’t have even thought to write before heading out the door. Mind you, I didn’t get to comb my hair (I wore a hat), but still…I’ve got 1200 words in and don’t usually start creative writing until late afternoon/evening.

Anywho, just wanted to encourage those of you who are writing to keep up the good work and find ways to use your downtime (without robbing yourself of much-needed rest).

Happy Writing!

And for those of you on the other end of all this — the readers–we appreciate you and promise not to publish the first drafts of these quickly written works. We’re still gonna fix ’em up for you!

And speaking of such, Mama B #6 is almost ready for the readin’! If you haven’t pre-ordered, watchu waitin’ on? LOL!

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