Archives For Bill O’Hanlon

1. The common cold. Fall is here and so is cold and flu season. I’ve lost five days to my current cold and today will be spent playing catch up. My sweet daughter was first to get sick and was so happy to learn I was sick too (someone to watch cartoons with, I guess). My husband was not so happy about it. So just a reminder to wash your hands, eat right, exercise, etc. Do all the tricks you know how to do to stay away from those germs. It’s hard to get much writing done when your throat is on fire, your brain is mush, and your hands are needed to hold the Kleenex.


2. Indecision. You can waste so much time not knowing what to do next. I’ve got two endings for my novel right now and I’m trying to decide which I like better. The choice I make affects the “logic” of the story. Same when starting a new project. NaNoWriMo is quickly approaching (more on that in future blogs) and I’m down to two book ideas. I’m pretty sure which one I’m going to write, but still, the other keeps floating around in my mind. Indecision might be what people call writer’s block—you just can’t decide what to write about.


3. Avoidance. It’s amazing all the things you can find to do when you are avoiding writing. My local library had that book Kitty was talking about a few blogs ago: Write is a Verb by Bill O’Hanlon. He has a great quote leading into Chapter 2. It’s a quote that needs to go up on my computer and any other location where I’m tempted to waste time! Here it is:


“It’s amazing how long it takes to complete something you’re not working on”—R.D. Clyde 


Every September loads of people try to get their head out of their vacations, to stop thinking about the beach or the woods or the water, and get back into their “usual” routines. For many people, this includes school for someone in the family, and the strange dread/excitement of having to get back into your work knowing that you’ve got at least one holiday a month for the next few months.

As a full-time writer without children, I would think I’d be immune to this issue. But because I spent almost my whole life using this schedule – 17 years in school plus a lot of years in the work force before quitting my day job – it’s ingrained into my DNA!

So here I am in September thinking about the homework I need to do for my two Bible studies that start up again this week, planning for my husband’s birthday next month and our trip to Phoenix to see old friends over a long weekend, worrying about a project I have to finish for a favorite charity, wanting to drive 100 miles to see a new baby in the family, needing to visit some friends who had health issues or family deaths lately, figuring out what needs to be done for our move to Australia next summer, and – oh yeah, I’m out of dish soap and spoons, so I need to buy one or the other today.

Welcome to my brain in September! Looking back, I know this is what happens every September, whether I was juggling band practice and track practice in high school or planning after marriage which family and friends we would visit on which holiday for the fall and winter. Once you see a pattern, you can learn to use it, to work it. Or you can choose to change it.

For me, I need to use this September pattern I’ve developed. This month is a natural time for me to do a bit of long-term planning, in life and in writing. So for this fall, I’m planning on finishing the final draft of my current book in September, plot out the second book in October, write the first draft in November and be done with it by mid-December, then actually enjoy the Christmas season without stress this year. (I say that every year, and some years I even make it!) During the next ten months I need to be very careful with my planning because I need to work, but I also need to spend quality time with friends and family before we move out of the country. Knowing my priorities will help me keep my routines in place.

I’m reading a book called WRITE IS A VERB by Bill O’Hanlon. The subtitle is “Sit Down. Start Writing. No Excuses.” He gives lots of tips on how to get started, how to keep going, how to work in small increments of time. He’s very encouraging and upbeat – check it out.

So what is your September like? How can you either change it or make it work for you? What do you need help with? Let us know, we’d love to help you brainstorm some better routines!