Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone

It took me several tries to get into this book. Stone interviewed lots of writers and front-loaded TIME TO WRITE with their quotes, as if they would give authority to her message. The result is a loosely-connected set of thoughts that don’t add up to much. As I slogged through the opening chapters, I wondered if the rest of the book would be this shallow and repetitive.

Things picked up in chapter three, “The Secret to Finding Time to Write.” It’s not really a secret. In order to write, one must schedule it into the day. The benefits are many: it forms a habit, keeps you in the flow of the story, makes you accountable to yourself, and builds up momentum. Even more important is the psychological shift. A person who writes every day begins to think of herself as a writer. How can she not?

Stone is also realistic. We all have days packed to the brim with activities. Nobody “finds” time to write. Writers make the time. They do it by giving up something else. However, just as no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, no writing schedule survives the first incoming e-mail. TIME TO WRITE is full of suggestions for dealing with distractions. A successful writer either zaps those time-wasters before sitting down at the desk, or puts them off until the writing is done. Above all, we have to protect the writing schedules we’ve worked so hard to obtain.

Then there’s family. Most time-management books for writers give a cursory look at this topic, as if spouse and children will enjoy the writer ignoring them in favor of her imaginary friends. Stone has ideas for managing young children, older children, and spouses. She explains how to get the family on board with the writer’s schedule and set (and keep) boundaries, both physical and temporal. The goal is a happy writer and a happy family. It can be done.

Stone lost me again in the middle of TIME TO WRITE when I came to chapters about how to get ideas and how to use them. They seemed a huge digression that had nothing to do with the basic premise of the book. Ditto chapters about writer’s block and dealing with your inner critic. A book on time management should not, itself, waste my time by straying from the topic at hand. Even if the information is good and valuable, it’s not what I bought this book to learn.

Stone rounds out TIME TO WRITE with a dose of psychology 101: believe in yourself, develop willpower, persevere, rejections aren’t personal, always take the long view. Again, she relies on quotes from other writers to bolster her point. Pity, because Stone writes best when she writes from her own experience (as do we all). More streamlining and less name dropping would result in a better book, one that I could read in half the time, giving me more time to write.

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rating: 3 stars

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Pie slices: 1 slice craft, 7 slices inspiration

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This book is best for: beginning to intermediate writers

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I recommend this book or Tell Your Time by Amy Lynn Andrews

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