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Welcome to The Inkwell, the blog site of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) of Colorado.

Each week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, you can find a wide variety of topics and insight
from inspiration to instruction to humor and more!

For detailed information on ACFW, click here to visit their main website.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

Time Management? Sure! Yeah!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

I do feel somewhat better knowing I am not the only one late in adding my blog, and I do hope you all find this cartoon as funny as I.

Time management is an ongoing process. Of that I am certain. However, after existing in the corporate world for over 30 years I still revert to my own means of surviving each day and getting everything done for everyone on time.

I am going to begin my blog with my use of time management on the job since that is where I have spent over 50 hours a week for all these years. (I include travel time to and from work, because I figure from the time I walk out my door in the morning until I return home at night I belong to "The Man".)

My dedication to corporate America began in 1966. From 1990 to 1993 I attended college and earned my BA in English and professional writing. From 1996 to 2001 I ran a secretarial service from my home. Both of those endeavors required time management and for the life of me I cannot recall how I got everything done.

I am not a list keeper. I do not use a checklist or task list. Oh, yes, I have a task bar on my computer at work and every meeting I schedule for every person as well as every performance review and every vacation and time off pops up on that task list. Needless, to say it does not serve me well. Not that I would follow it even if it did.

I have heard it said if you want something done give it to a busy person. I have no doubt my co-workers and superiors agree with this and therefore seek me out when they need something done and they need it done NOW. (Or possibly yesterday).

I have a little sign on my desk that says, "I don't look busy because I did it right the first time." This is my idea of time management. I make every attempt to attack every project as soon as it hits my desk and take the time and energy required to get it done right and move on to the next project. Most days this process works well for me. Other days ... well let's just say there are some people who don't know what they want when they ask and come back again and again until they get what they THINK they want.

Okay, this is about time management and not about me venting. Sorry!

I do have reports due on Mondays, and on certain days of the month, that I know when they are due and what it will take to get those done. I do my level best to get these out of the way a.s.a.p. so I am open to handle whatever else may hit my desk throughout the day.

I work very hard to complete all of my work early in the week in order that on Friday, which is when most of management seems to melt into the woodwork, I am able to spend some time on my writing.

I do make lists. It is just that I normally will misplace them and have to rewrite them again and again to complete the task they were created for.

I am not a dedicated journaler nor am I successful at my daily quiet time with the Lord. Let me add here that around the first of the year I prayed for the Lord to wake me every morning with plenty of time to spend with him, possibly work on my writing, exercise, take a walk or do whatever might need done around the house. A short time later I began waking every morning between 4:00 am and 4:30 am. (My bladder is awake, but I'm not.) I go to the bathroom and return to bed, pulling the covers over my head until I absolutely must crawl out at 6:00 am. Why? I don't get much sleep during that time and I could accomplish so much with the Lord . Why can I not push myself into the shower (it isn't that far from the John) and wake myself up?

My suggestion for good time management is: Wing It and Wait!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Circle of Life

8:30 AM - Wake up.

8:45 AM - Drink coffee.

9:00 AM - Make beds, empty dishwasher, etc.

9:15 AM - Wake Danielle for work.

9:30 AM - Wake Danielle again.

9:45 AM - Yell at Danielle that if she doesn't get up now, she's going to be late for work.

10:00 AM - Remind Danielle that we have to leave in fifteen minutes.

10:15 AM - Scramble out to the car and take Danielle to work.

10:45 AM - Return home. Pour leftover, luke warm coffee into cup and zap in microwave. Take a sip. Toss coffee.

10:48 AM - Pour self a glass of iced tea.

10:50 AM - Go into office. Turn on computer. Stare at computer.

11:00 AM - Decide to check email since inspiration is nadda.

11:05 AM - Reply to email.

11:10 AM - Close email program.

11:15 AM - Stare at computer. Stare at clock and sigh. It's only 11:15 AM.

This is my circle of life, aka "time management." Yesterday my circle was interrupted with a delightful trip to Colorado Springs for a write-out. Mind you I didn't get there until 2 PM because, yes, I had to take Danielle to work. Nonetheless, I got there.

Once in the Springs I thought how wonderful it would be to finally sit down and write. My muse was the amazing Broadmoor Resort, and as my fingers tingled with excitement my mind relished on what symphony of words the LORD would string together for me.

My laptop is as old as they get, so it took about 30 minutes for it to boot up. Unfortunately, once it did I got about three notifications from various essential programs saying they needed updates. Updates that would take as long as my car ride back to Denver. However, I was determined to let nothing get in the way of my writing--nothing, that is, except the sudden realization I'd forgotten my flash drive. You know, the one with my WIP on it (no, not that kind of "whip," although sometimes I think that kind of w-h-i-p might be the best way to get me motivated). My Work In Progress WIP.

Now what?

Time was running out. I had one hour left to type on a laptop that refused to open Microsoft Word unless I installed the appropriate updates, a flash drive that was over 80 miles away, and a muse that was slowing turning from a glamourous, century-old resort to a dark, creepy hotel from The Shining. Should I forget the updates and close shop? Should I let my computer have the last laugh and walk away? Or should I stand firm and fight?

Before you give me a lot of grief for throwing in the towel and choosing to close up shop and let the laptop win (yes, dear readers, I chose to forgo option #3), understand that, in this particular case, closing my latop and hanging with my besties at the Broadmoor was the optimal time managment choice. Why? Because I knew they would give back to me the hope that was slowly being drained from my day.

Time management is a wonderful tool. And used properly it can produce many wonderful things. But remember, it's just a tool. And like every other tool out there it can be helpful...or harmful. Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves as writers (or mothers or wives or friends), is to lay the tool down and let the soothing balm of spending time with the LORD and those we care about repair the frazzled ends of our day.

* * * * * *
4:30 PM - Time to wrap up blog and start thinking about making dinner. Maybe later I'll find that muse. Or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll hang with friends and family. Or maybe not. As for my circle of life? No worries. Tomorrow I have no doubt it will still be there, patiently waiting for me to return to 8:30 AM.

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Simple Solution

“What’s the blog topic this month?”

“Time management.”

“Ha ha. No really. What’s the topic?”

“Time management.”

“Is this some kind of sick joke?”

Asking creative types to talk about managing their time is like asking shopaholics to discuss budgeting. At best, all we have are theories and our own abandoned attempts at bringing the problem under control.

I have a long way to go in this area. I’m scatter-brained, routineless, and constantly behind, and if I pretended to have some sort of system in my writing life and presented it here for the benefit of others—well, several of my writing friends would show up on my doorstep to confront me (in sisterly love, of course) for my outrageous lie.

So I’m just going to share one area I’m struggling with now and what I’m doing to get through it. I know it’s not rocket science. I leave that stuff to my husband. But maybe you need to be reminded of this method just like I did.

My WIP is set in England and involves characters from the classic novel Wuthering Heights. I spent a month researching the novel, the Brontës, and Yorkshire before I began writing. But, in almost every chapter, I run into difficulty when it comes to making the details accurate. I want to get it right. And I know there are Brontë scholars and English folks who know way more about my subject matter than I do. I imagine these people breathing down my neck as I write. For some reason, the figments all resemble a particularly harsh professor I had in college.

Anyway, when I hit a snag in my writing, I turn to my different research sources. Sometimes I find my answer, plug it in, and plunge onward, content that the detail is accurate. But, more often than not, I don’t find the solution. That’s when the paralysis hits. I stare at the screen. I reread the Wiki article or shuffle through the website again. I look through all my books a second or third time. How can I possibly go on with my story? I don’t know if English people use the word pantry. I don’t know how many acres (or hectacres) are in a park. I don’t know what Heathrow smells like.

It’s as though someone has pressed Pause on my creativity. My story is frozen because of one detail.

My family and my writing friends witnessed me pulling my hair out over these things, and they all gave me advice. The same advice.

“Make a note of it and move on.”

Naturally, I didn’t listen, and I’ve wasted a lot of time because of my stubbornness. Finally, exhausted from hovering in limbo, I gave in, highlighted the problem in red and (gasp!) moved on.

You know what? It works. And I can come back to those details at a later date. What’s important now is letting the story flow.

Like I said, I know it isn’t rocket science. I’ve heard of the highlight it and move on approach before. But I needed to be reminded. I needed permission. I needed my critique group to tell me that I was not going to be judged as a sloppy writer for leaving some research for a later date. So I wanted to pass on the hint. Don’t get bogged down. Don’t waste your precious time. Mark it and move on!

Evangeline Denmark has storytelling on her heart and in her blood. The daughter of novelist, Donita K. Paul, Evangeline grew up living and breathing good stories. She has co-authored two children’s books which are under contract with Waterbrook Press and also writes adult fiction. Evangeline is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, serving as chapter secretary.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Time Management 101

Okay, so this is late. Because, obviously, I haven't managed my time very well today. So I was really gratified to browse through the other blog posts this month on this very topic and discover something I thought was not possible -- most people struggle with time management.

I thought it was just me.

Have you ever felt that way? That there must be something wrong with you because you can't keep it all flowing, all in order, all in your head, or take it all in stride?

News alert: It isn't just you.

I don't care how all-together others around you may look, they really aren't. I don't care how much everyone else's life looks like, it isn't all together.

We all struggle with time management.

I once took a course through an employer on time management, and the one thing I remember from that course is: only schedule the tasks it will take to fill half of your available time.

In other words, if you think you have six hours free or available for work, schedule in tasks that you estimate will take three hours.

Because here's another news alert, one which my pastor always says: things always take longer, and cost more, than you planned.

Scheduling in half a day is not wasting the other half.

Scheduling in half a day will set you free.

Free from the panic that comes when you realize you don't have enough time to finish the job.

Free from the frustration that happens when your computer crashes, again.

Free from the aggravation that threatens to steal your peace when a friend calls and asks for help.

Free to allow you time to breathe and enjoy the presence of God the next time He tickles you on the shoulder and says, "Come away with me for a while."

So, cut yourself some slack, schedule in half a day, and watch the other half fill up in spite of your best-laid plans. Then sit back and smile, knowing you have time.

Disclaimer: Of course, I didn't do that today. I scheduled in a full day. But I did better than I did on Monday, where I scheduled in a full day, didn't get it all done, worked like a dog all day, and still had to get up at 5 a.m. on Tuesday to get a project out the door on time.

Disclaimer 2: Don't do what I do, do what I say. I'm pretty sure my father used to tell me that all the time when I was a kid. And that will encourage me to do what I say. Because we all know the definition of insanity: doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different outcome. And no, I am not insane!


Well here's a good example of time management gone wrong.

I was supposed to post this blog entry on Monday. Do you know why I didn’t?

Because I didn’t write it down.

I have told my children for over 12 years, “If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not going to happen.” Can you take a wild guess as to what I didn’t write on the calendar? Yep, my blog day.

My main time management strategy is making a list for the day and/or week. Well part of making that list is to see what’s already on the calendar for that day. Well if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get on the list and it doesn’t get accomplished.

I have heard it said that you should tackle the most difficult task on your list first. There are three reasons for this. One, you are freshest first thing. Two, you feel good about accomplishing a big thing. And three, you aren’t dreading it all day, kind of a smooth sailing the rest of the day sort of thing. This is a good strategy.

Some times I will do a lot of the little things first to make my list shorter. This is especially true when I have a long list, say 10 things and eight of them I can do in an hour like mail a letter, give the dog his medicine, write a short e-mail, etc. It bolsters me to tackle a bigger thing because I’ve already accomplished so much in a short period of time.

One thing you must do when using a list is to cross things off as you complete them. This shows what you have done and gives you momentum to move on to the next thing. You have to look at your list anyway to see what you’re going to do next, so do it with pen in hand and cross the completed task off.

A list also helps you keep in mind what needs to be done so you don’t forget something like…um…let me see if I can think of a good example…oh like posting a blog. And while you’re working on one thing, your subconscious is working on one of the other items on your list. It’s like doing double duty. At the end of the day you can see all the things you accomplished that day and know you have done a goods day’s work.

So make a list (and look at it). See what all you can get done.

So guess what I get to do now? Yep, cross post a blog off my list.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Surrender Your Time

I’ve always considered myself a very practical person. I make to-do lists and keep a master calendar of everyone’s appointments, etc. All of this to help me stay on the treadmill of life. This was even more essential when I had four children at home whose lives often went in different directions.

When I was first married and even before I had children, I had a revelation about my planning habits. One of those “this must be from God because I can’t possibly being doing that” moments. The revelation...I was finding my security in my plan instead of in God. Ouch! What a wake-up call. Did this mean I should never plan out my days or weeks? I knew that wasn’t true. Somehow I had to let God help me change my attitude towards those plans. If they got changed or I didn’t know what was coming up that day or week, I needed to learn to be okay with that and find peace in knowing that God knew what each step of every day would look like for me.

Along came four children and even though my attitude toward planning had changed, I was a typical homeschooling mom with more things to do than hours in my day. Or so it felt. There was always a list of priorities and activities that need to be accomplished or completed. In those days, the idea of a “quiet time” with God was something that happened in the shower or as your head hit the pillow at night. The sense of deadlines looming on the horizon moving ever closer as we try to keep up with everything can rob us of our peace.

During that time, two things helped put a brake to my treadmill routine. I remember hearing how we should be evangelizing and bemoaning the fact that my world was full of Christians so how could I possibly evangelize. Then I heard a message about divine interruptions and a light bulb went on. How many times had I planned out my day and then I would get a call from someone who needed a favor? Or run into someone in a store and end up encouraging them in the produce aisle? Divine interruptions! Now I had a name for these little detours that I could have resented for messing up my plans or learn to welcome as part of God’s plan.

The second thing is a “thought for the day” that I will never forget. It was on a little calendar that I had on my bathroom counter. I turned it over one September morning and it said
“There’s enough time in each day to do God’s will.”
No light bulb this time. More like a hammer on the head! Why was I so worried about what I was going to accomplish today or getting through my to-do list? If my plans were God’s will for me that day, they would get done. What a relief! I didn’t have to worry about if I had enough hours in the day. Instead I needed to surrender my plans, my time to the Lord and let Him have control of all of it.

So, now I plan and schedule sometimes wondering how it will all work out, but there is a peace knowing that today is not in my hands. It’s in His and I willingly surrender to the One who knows what I need to do today. Writing included.


Elaine is Secretary/Treasurer of Mile High Scribes, the ACFW South Denver Chapter. With 3 children home from college this summer, her time management skills are being put to the test once again. She is spending a large percentage of the summer on road trips to Canada, Arizona and taking children back to college.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Faithful with Time

“See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.” Colossians 4:17 niv

Have you ever wished for a longer day? Then we’d be able to get to all those unfinished tasks we constantly push off for various reasons. Some may not be very glamorous or rewarding. Others may be tedious and boring. Sometimes we get into the middle of a project and find we don’t know how to finish it. For many of us, other demands on our time allow these tasks to remain undone.

This may be what happened to Archippus in the Scripture above, prompting Paul to encourage him to complete the work that he had been given from God. While the pace of society in Paul’s time was probably a much slower one than we face today, Archippus still needed to learn how to be faithful with his time in order to complete his task.

Many of you have probably read or heard about “Tyranny of the Urgent” by Charles E. Hummel. In that little booklet, the author uses Christ’s example of being faithful with the time God had given Him on earth. At the end of His life, in His prayer in John 17, Jesus makes this statement in verse 4 (The Message): “I glorified you on earth By completing down to the last detail What you assigned me to do.”

How did Jesus do this when He was only in active ministry for three years? There were still sick people, for example. He hadn’t healed everyone. In fact, there were times that He went away from what was expected of Him to minister somewhere else. How did He know where He was needed and when? How did He know what tasks He needed to perform and which to leave undone?

We see the secret in Mark 1:35–38, where Jesus spent time praying about His ministry and then waited for His Father’s instructions. When Peter found Him later, Peter told Him of all those who were waiting for healing. But Jesus responded that they were to go to another village to minister. It was because of this time spent with the Father He was able to resist the urgent demands on His time and do what God wanted Him to do.

As we follow Christ’s example, keep in mind three things.

I. Evaluate your activities
In Colossians 4:5, Paul encourages his readers to “make the most of every opportunity.” We need to evaluate our activities and determine which are the best ones, the ones we need to focus on. Others may be good and valuable, but maybe they don’t promote “making the most of every opportunity” the Lord has for us. Determine which of our activities need to be put aside so we can concentrate on exactly what the Lord has for us to do.

Paul again encourages his readers in Ephesians 5:15–16: So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! (The Message) We are to be careful how we walk, being wise, redeeming the time (Psalm 90:12), or making the most of the twenty-four hours God has given us. God knew what He was doing when He made twenty-four hours in a day. And He made our bodies to need proper nourishment, exercise, and rest. Are we truly making the most of every minute the Lord has allowed us?

Identify the time-wasters in each day. What can be eliminated in order to accomplish the goals God has given us?

II. Prioritize activities
After evaluating our activities, then we must prayerfully decide what our priorities are. When we know what our priorities are, then we can determine where our activities fit and the importance to place on each one, the amount of time we need to spend on each goal.

Paul tackles prioritizing in Ephesians 5 and 6.

5:18–21 — First priority is a right relationship God. Like Martha in Luke 10, we need to learn the one thing that is needful. Mary had chosen the best thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning to know her Savior. I’ve found that the more time I spend seeking God and growing in my relationship with Him, the more time I have to accomplish the tasks He has given me to do.

5:22–6:4 - Second priority is our families. This includes husband, parents, and children, as well as all the activities that go along with them. I also include my own personal well-being in that, since if I am not exercising, eating right, and getting sufficient rest, I eventually let my family down.

6:5–9 — Third priority is work. This means various things to us depending on our situation in life. For me, it means editing, writing, speaking, and conference work. Learning to juggle these is an ongoing process.

III. Budget activities

We have our goals after prioritizing our activities. We have identified the time-wasters. Now it’s time to budget the time to accomplish the goals and get to work doing what needs to be done.

“Hard work always pays off; mere talk puts no bread on the table” (Proverbs 14:23 The Message). I am guilty of talking about all the things I’m going to do, but then not applying myself to get them done. So this is when I must determine what I’m going to do about the time-wasters in my life.

This isn’t accomplished overnight. Take it in small increments and work on changing one thing at a time. Take time to plan your day after prayer and quietly listening for God’s leading.

Start with a monthly calendar and block out required activities (job, school, commuting, shopping, etc.). Determine one high-priority item that needs more time budgeted for it. Then decide what activity or activities need to be cut back in order to accomplish the high-priority one.

Don’t make too many major changes at once, or you will get bogged down. Take it a step at time. Once you’ve succeeded with one goal, move on to another high-priority item and concentrate on that.

Remember to allow some uncommitted time each week to allow for unexpected demands. Plan for interruptions and changes in plans. They will happen no matter how well we plan. Be flexible!!

Take time each day to plan for the next day; take time each week to plan for the next week; take time each month to plan for the next month. I like to take time on or around my birthday to look back on the past year to see if I’ve accomplished the goals I had and then to determine new goals or reestablish the same goals for the next year. Of course, it helps that my birthday is on New Year’s Eve. J

Finally, determine to stick to it, even if you fail. Get back up and start over. Don’t give up. That’s what being faithful means. Perfection is not in the definition. Put aside any perfectionistic tendencies you may have.

“In all labor there is profit.” I hope one day to hear my Savior say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” I want to be able to say as Christ and Paul said, “I have finished the course. I have done all that the Father asked me to do.”

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Time Has Its Own Mind

Time flies. At least it seems to when I'm under a deadline. When I'm having fun, it just dances. When I'm bored, it crawls. It doesn't stop when I'm stressed, it just hurries faster. And it doesn't slow down when I'm having a wonderfully deep conversation with a friend that I don't want to end. It ticks on by and the next thing you know one of my teen boys is calling asking when I'm going to come home and feed them.

Time has its own mind and rhythm--and you want me to tell you how to manage it?

Someday when I'm home, just hubby and me in a quiet house, time will be easier to manage. I'll have a set writing schedule and my creative juices will be pumping, ready to pour onto the page at exactly 10:43 each morning. I will have won my life-long battle with time.

That's the dream.

After taking a personality test the other day, however, I suspect I'll still find time unmanageable. But I'm not ready for my bubble to be popped on this one, so let's pretend it might get easier for me as I mature. After all, there needs to be some reward for surviving my crazy, loud life with four teenagers and a revolving door of their friends pouring in and out. There's really only one constant in my day as I try to manage them. I can absolutely rely on knowing that I will be asked 133 times when I'm cooking and what it will be. Other than that, there is little continuity.

But dreams of scheduled writing times and whines about my lack thereof aren't offering you much take-home. I'm often told, "I don't know how you do all you do." I must be accomplishing SOMETHING. I think mostly I'm just snowing people--looking more poised and efficient than I am, but I do have a few tricks up my sleeve--after all a gal with absolutely no concept of time still has to live in it. She just has to find her own way of doing so.

While I can't do detailed schedules (they make me break out in a sweat), I do have big picture plans. I need some quiet time in my recliner before I start my day--unless I've forgotten to blog for ACFW, then I postpone the tea and quiet meditation and instead fling a prayer to God that I can figure out something to write while barreling to my computer with a growling stomach and caffeine headache coming on.

The calendar next to my computer keeps my deadlines in the forefront of my mind--at least when I look at it and remember what it says. And my mouse pad is actually paper, where I keep a running list of what I must get done in my "work" world. I'm not a list person, but since I've hit my mid-forties my brain needs a little help.

When I am up against a big deadline I protect time (still not able to manage it). I resist the urge to head out to Starbucks with a friend or to watch the latest chick-flick with my daughter. (At least most of the time.) I block out the amount of time it takes to write the project and add at least an afternoon for all the time I'll spend sweating, feeling inadequate, and begging God to help me believe that I can actually write. Sometimes I add a whole day for this. I don't mean to, but that's how it turns out--which means the next day I HAVE to dig in and write harder 'cause I'm out of time. This actually works pretty well. Other than remembering to write for this particular blog, I'm very rarely late on a writing deadline.

The other thing that helps me get my work done is laundry. Really. The washing machine is right next to my office, so if I sort laundry for the six of us and start writing, it's the perfect set-up. Every time the dryer buzzes I get a break from sitting at the computer so I can rush to the couch and lay all those T-shirts neatly across its arm. Then I write away. The goal is that both the writing deadline will be met and the laundry washed by seven the next evening. Then I can fold laundry for two hours giving me an excuse to watch a Jane Austen flick. I warn my boys for hours in advance of that moment that the TV is MINE. And I have a built in reward for keeping my bottom in my office chair and getting the deadline met.

Between a busy season of life, a dominant right brain, and a personality that feels stifled when it gets too scheduled, I never try to manage my time. I try to live in it, roll with it, and play with it. I work hard and fast in it when I claim a space of it for my writing. And I pray like crazy. I figure if God called me to write while everything else is going crazy in my life, then He can make my fingers fly across the keyboard. And He often does.

For me time management is more of a passion than a schedule. I believe in what I'm doing, so I grab the opportunities to do my thing and work like a mad woman for that space of time I claimed between homeschooling and supper--or everyone else's bedtime and morning.

I know some of you wonderful left-brained people whose personality tests have letters in it like S, T, or J are now breathing too quickly and getting a stomachache. You'll be okay, really. I may not have the world's greatest advice, but next time I see you I'll enfold you in a great big hug and we'll both feel better.

A writer, speaker, and homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God’s grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website, Soul Scents, offers a free weekly devotional, and you can visit her blog at GraceReign. Paula serves as president of HIS Writers, the north Denver ACFW chapter. A devoted Pride and Prejudice fan, she loves good conversation, peppermint ice cream, and walking barefoot. Her greatest desire is to be close enough to Jesus to live His fragrance.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Time Management

LOL Okay, just to make sure everyone understands why I'm laughing at this month's topic . . .

I make the schedule of who will blog when each month. And with the officers of the three chapters, we decided what the topic of the month would be back in January. So . . . this month had an extra Friday. That was last Friday, July 2. And I assigned myself to introduce the topic and get the ball rolling.

Only . . . I didn't.

And now it's after 11:00 a.m. Tuesday morning.

This is rather ironic. I've studied time management, taught time management, given advice on time management. Others tell me how organized I am. And my bent to toward being that. But . . . life has a way of intervening, as I'm sure you've all realized by now.

Last week when I was thinking about how to kick-off this subject, I had just come off an all-nighter Wednesday night, trying to finish a project that had to be on the editor's desk Friday. In order to meet that deadline, I had to have it to the nearest UPS Store by 6:00 p.m. Thursday. I made it . . . with two minutes to spare!

Friday, I thought about this post several times as I cleaned my very-neglected house before my sister and her family and my hubby arrived for the weekend. Housecleaning is at the bottom of my list of things to-do. And yes, I'm a list maker. Once again, as I dealt with several layers of dust, I thought about getting someone in a couple of times a month to clean. Supposedly that would free me from the cleaning marathons I usually find myself in. Only I'm one of those people who would feel obligated to clean before the cleaner comes. Sigh. Not very time effective then!

So now you know my struggle with time management. I'll be back Friday with a little more serious post . . . maybe. In the meantime, I'll work on that to-do list!

Have a wonderful, productive week!

A Novel in 16 Weeks? Here’s how.

The topic this month is Time Management? How appropriate that I would remember it’s my day to blog twenty-five minutes before midnight. This is what I do. It’s how I roll. I serve an eleventh-hour God, and I am made in His image. Although, I doubt He waits until the last minute due to procrastination or forgetfulness.
Okay, enough of the excuses. Ironically, I’ve given talks on this very subject. I’ll give you a mini-lesson here on how to set up a goal sheet so you can finish your project on time.
You can use either the spreadsheet program on your computer or you can use paper. I caution, however, that if you use the antiquated spiral notebook, use a pencil, because you will inevitably be erasing. I like the computer because I can add or delete rows or change tasks as needed.
I’ll tell you how I set up my goals sheet, but feel free to change it for your own needs. Just keep it simple, or it will be more trouble than it’s worth.
All you need is two columns:
Week Done X
Don’t worry about specific dates. Just know that you must accomplish whatever you’ve written down for the week. Please stop reading for a moment and access my goal planning sheet here. If that link doesn’t work, please email me and I’ll send it to you. This sheet will show you the guidelines I use for writing a novel in sixteen weeks.
And now, my disclaimer. This is my ideal goal sheet. Not every novel (or non-fiction work for that matter) is created equal. Each one is unique and needs more or less work in certain areas than other novels do. Goals get changed, rearranged, omitted, added. It becomes a living, breathing partner in the writing process. But I’m here to tell ya, my goal sheet comes in mighty handy when I’m faced with a four-month contract.
As you read my sheet, let me explain some of the tools I use. You may have other plotting tools. Or none. Whatever works for you.
  • Skeleton – This is Randy Ingermanson’s brainchild.
  • GMC – From a book by Debra Dixon. If you don’t have this book, and you’ve never learned about Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, order it today!
  • SOP – Seat of the Pants. It helps me to write the first few chapters without plotting first to get a feel of the characters. I may not use these chapters in the final draft, but they’re important to get me into the rhythm of the story.
  • ALL IN ONE – My term for a spreadsheet notebook I’ve created. It has several sheets to help me keep track and plot my story. I’ve discussed much of it on my blog.  Click on any of the four lessons titled, “Organize Yourself as a Writer.” You will note that the goal setting sheet is different from the one I’m showing you today. I started out using that one, but as I said. This sheet lives and breathes. It’s evolved for me, but if you prefer the one on the blog, that’s fine too.
  • Highlight – This is from a class I took with Margie Lawson who presented the EDITS System. You can buy her lecture packet that includes this and other wonderful tools on her website
  • Put aside – A story, like fine wine, needs to breathe. Around Week 12, I try to not look at it for as long as I can get away with and still meet my deadline. When I come back to it, I put on my critiquing glasses (not real ones, so don’t ask me where I bought them <grin>) and read objectively. The longer I let the story sit, the easier it is to pretend I’m just another reader.
Before I hear –  “But Kathy, this takes all the fun and spontaneity out of writing.” – let me remind you that this is a business.  If you are pursuing writing for profit, you must take the necessary steps to be successful. A goal planning sheet is one of those steps. And it’s not painful. I’ve done most of the work for you. Now, you can take this sheet and make it your own.
That is . . . if you can find the time.
Kathleen E. Kovach is an award winning author, leader of the local critique group JOY Writers, and the Rocky Mountain Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. A mom and grandmother, she lives in northeast Colorado with her husband of over three decades. Visit her online:,,

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Coming this fall: The Storycrafter's Seminar

Come with an idea...leave with a story!

Have you always wanted to write a story but didn’t know where to start? If so, the Storycrafter’s Seminar is for you! RITA Award-winning author and writing coach Susan May Warren will teach you story structure, go step-by-step in the character creation and plotting process, then show you how to apply it to your story. She’ll brainstorm your idea, share essential secrets of storytelling, and finally, you'll take home a plan that will act as a map for your novel. With time for writing, as well as learning, it’s a day for writers of all levels that will jumpstart your novel onto the road to publication.

The seminar will be held Saturday, November 13th, 8:30 am - 4 pm at the DoubleTree Hotel (formerly Radisson Graystone Castle) off I-25 & 120th Avenue in Northglenn, Colorado Registration check-in and continental breakfast begin at 8:30 am. Seminar begins at 9 am.

Early-bird registration is $89 from July 1st – September 30, 2010.
Registration is open to both ACFW members and non-members. All who register by September 30th will be entered into a drawing to receive a $50 cash refund on their registration fee. One winner will be chosen. Drawing to be held on day of seminar.

Prices will increase October 1st, and space is limited, so register early! Registration ends November 1, 2010.

Admission to the event includes:
  • Storycrafter's workbook
  • Continental breakfast
  • Deli lunch buffet

ACFW members, please enter discount code "ACFW" to receive a 5% discount. Membership must be current. Discount available for early-bird registration only.

Rooms for overnight stay will be available as well. Please contact His Writers for price information.

The Storycrafter’s Seminar is sponsored by ACFW Denver North (HIS Writers).
For questions contact Paula Moldenhauer at

To register, click here.
Accepting all major credit cards and PayPal

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