How I Fit Writing Novels Into My Crazy Life

It’s called juggling, and I don’t always do it that well. My husband would agree with that statement.

Besides learning the technical skill, there’s an art to juggling. You have to know which ball happens to be the most important at the moment so you don’t drop it. Then you’ve got to keep your eyes on all the other balls in the air. It’s not easy.

My “day job” keeps the bills paid and the children fed but it often gets in the way of my author job. My kids are involved in sports and they have active social lives that includes me driving them all over the place, which takes me away from writing. There’s my husband too, who I also want to spend time with. Then there’s the “running our home” thing that includes making sure there is food in the refrigerator and preparing the food to be eaten. I also try to take care of myself by practicing yoga. With all of that, there is very little time to write.

I could easily say, “I just don’t have time!” But I don’t. Here is what I do:

 Make Time
I don’t always write at the same time every day. Sometimes the work I do for my corporate clients takes precedence but I do write, even a little, every day. Getting 200 words down is better than getting none down. I think of it like brushing my teeth: I gotta do it every day or else I’m going to get decay.

Make Sacrifices
When I’m trying to get a novel done, I don’t do anything else until it’s done. That means I often have to say “no” to social engagements, my favorite TV shows, and even…reading. I choose to finish my writing rather than do these others things because I’m willing to make those sacrifices.

Set Deadlines…and Stick to Them 
I have a long list of deadlines on the white board next to my writing desk. I live and die by those deadlines. As a self-published author, I am not under contract with a publishing company or an agent so no one is going to hit me with a fine if I don’t meet the deadlines I’ve set. But I know if I’ve missed them. To me, a missed deadline is like a puppy with no home.

Rely on My Support System
My husband deserve a medal of honor. He gives me the support and time I need to get my writing done. My children also know how important it is to me and they know when I’m writing, I’m invisible to them. Without the loving support of my family, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.

No matter how crazy you think you life is, if you REALLY want to write you can do it. You just have to ask yourself: how bad do I want this?


How to: Start an Email List Using MailChimp

Here’s an interesting question: should authors or writers have an email list? The answer is, absolutely.

But, why? Isn’t a website, a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a GoodReads account, or a Google+ account enough? No. While it’s important to have accounts on social networking sites, you still need an email list. Continue reading


Make Story Structure Work for You

There is a structure that has existed for thousands of years since humans have begun this journey called story telling. It is in every story ever written, told, or heard. We all know this instinctually. But as a writers, we need to be more conscious of this structure because it is the foundation of everything we do.

With story structure, some stories can be simplistic and some can be very complex…Three LIttle Pigs vs. War and Peace. I’m not talking about the nitty gritty here, I’m talking about a blueprint. A simple structure you can use as a springboard…and get as complex as you want. Continue reading


Getting Back on the Horse

The holidays, while filled with fun and festivities, are a trying time for any writer. Do you shun all  social engagements and just write? Or do you give up sleep for an entire month? I choose to take a hiatus from writing, which was fine but now I’ve got to get back on that horse.

That first day, you’re all fired up and the words pour out easily. Then the next day, you’re a little sore and the grey matter doesn’t quite churn out the eloquent prose in the way it used to when you were in a regular routine. Continue reading

What’s on the Agenda for 2015?

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to look ahead to the coming year. But I also like to see what I’ve accomplished this year. I made the transition from a freelance copy writer to a working author and writing coach. I helped the following clients get their books out into the world:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.04.40 PMConfessions of a Dumb White Guy: Tales About Life, Love, and the Risks of Wearing White Thong  Underwear by Matt Shifley
Welcome to my world. My name is Matt Shifley (a.k.a. Mr. Shife) and for the past eight years, I have been chronicling my odyssey from a really dumb newlywed in 2005 to an even more mindless, married, stay-at-home dad in 2013. This book is a collection of short, distinctive anecdotes from my blog, Confessions of a Dumb, White Guy. I’m proud to share these tales with you, even the one where you learn exactly why white thong underwear can be a weapon of mass embarrassment.


Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 3.04.08 PMA Maze in Grace by Denise Dwyer D’Errico
Lyrical contemporary poetic reflections on the labyrinthine twists and turns of life.





I also published my first novel, Burnt Edges, which continues to garner positive reviews.

For 2015, I’m working on a Sci-Fi anthology with several other very talented authors, the follow up to Burnt Edges, and a Paranormal/Sci-Fi series. It’s going to be a very busy year.

What’s on your agenda for 2015? Tell me in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!