Monday, May 07, 2012

Prepping to Write Suspense

My time management skills suck.  It’s even tough for me to organize getting organized.  I gave it a good shot last week.  It’s crucial when beginning a new project−namely my suspense novel.  I wanted to free as many hours as possible for the first week of writing. 

To begin with, I considered the time wasted spent online.  Too much.  That became number one on my to-do list.

1.      Inform family, friends, and colleagues that I will not be responding to emails for the week (gulp).  It seems I am not disciplined enough to read through my emails without scouting facebook, analyzing blogger stats, scanning favourite blogs, and checking out online publications for comments on my stories.  No, I can’t do one without the other.  Staying off the internet for a week gives me hours of extra writing time.  It’s all about sacrifice!

2.      Discuss plan with my husband.  The plan being that I would not break away from my writing to cook meals.  Okay, so that’s not a sacrifice.  Remember this is only for my first week blitz.

3.      Reject all social engagements for the week.  Definitely no Tim Horton’s breaks.  (hours could be spent over coffee with writer friends)  No lunches with girlfriends.  Not even dinner and a show.  I must stay focused.

4.      Give up my day with my granddaughter.  It’s just one day.  Ooohh, (sniff, sniff) I miss Sadie already.  This is tougher than I thought.  Her excited little face and cheery ‘Hi Nana’, her chubby little arms reaching for a hug.  Okay Phyllis, move on.

5.      Buy a digital recorder.  More than once I have swerved onto the shoulder of the road or pulled into a parking lot to jot down a piece of dialogue that I feared would be lost forever.  Then again, some of my best ideas come to me while enjoying a bath.  Agatha Christie said, “The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.”  Hmmm, must be the bubbles.  Better make sure I have the recorder.  I would hate to miss a single brain spark.

6.      Buy several notebooks each earmarked for characterizations, plot, and chapter overviews.  Since the suspense genre is new to me, I think I will sketch it out first. 

7.      Research poisons.  My husband, privy to an earlier plot, has already stopped using Coffeemate.  He switched to Half and Half.  It’s only a story idea, I told him.  At a writer’s seminar last year, one of the guest speakers recounted the time her husband sidled up to her and whispered,Honey, what are you thinking about; you’re a million miles away.”  Oh,” she replied,I was just wondering how long it would take a person to bleed out from a gutshot.”  Mostly, it is best not to know what a writer is thinking.

Reading my list, I am more excited than ever.  It’s like planning a trip.  Actually, writer Terry Ervin ( used that analogy when responding to my query about writing suspense. 

“It’s kind of like mapping out a vacation—the routes one will take and places to stop and visit. Just like in a vacation, some places are visited longer than anticipated, with a few surprises and additions along the way. Detours sometimes occur and places anticipated for a visit get bypassed. But, in the end, the destination is reached.”  

Thanks Terry, I can’t wait to get on the road!


  1. Of course, you won't see this for a week, Phyllis, but at least for me some balance is needed. Too much 'only writing' means I don't get the same output per hour. But that's just me. Hope it all works out and you get very far in your non-distracted running start.

    1. Terry, I had a good week. I learned that even with an outlined plot the characters have a mind of their own. Once again I am following their lead. Without interruptions I was able to stay with my characters a little longer to get to know them better. I am well on my way!

  2. Best of luck, Phyllis. Sounds like you've got a good plan in front of you.

    1. Thanks Ryan. A plan is always a good place to start. It is putting the plan into action that could prove tricky. No worries. I had a good week.