By Heather Blanton
If you feel like you’re writing life is about to go flying off the rails because you JUST CAN’T GET IT ALL DONE—maybe I can help.
The last year has been pretty hectic. I released two novellas and a novel. I guest blogged so many places I can’t remember them all. Like 90% of all authors, I do my own marketing, maintain my own blog, and I recently (finally) started a newsletter. I exercise four—sometimes five—days a week (because sitting is the new smoking and I don’t want my dream job to kill me). I read and listen regularly to podcasts from authors and marketing gurus. And somewhere in this crazy mix is a husband, two kids, a farm, and a Youth Sunday School class.
Allow me to share some time-saving tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of years that have kept me from pulling out my ever-thinning hair. Maybe you’ll find them helpful.
Outlining – probably the biggest improvement in my productivity. I discovered that if I sat down and actually tried to think a novel through, lo and behold, I wrote more. Faster. This from a formerly avowed pantser. No longer. I get a pretty tight outline/synopsis/storyboard going before I write the first sentence anymore.
Scrivener—let me just say, I have not been paid to endorse this wonderful, magical, brilliant, labor-saving software. However, they should pay me. I am a Scrivener evangelist. For the uninitiated, Scrivener is a word processing program that, among so many other capabilities, lets you write in scenes—even create 3x5 note cards of the scenes—and then move those scenes around simply by dragging your mouse. The ease with which I can organize and navigate through an entire novel leaves me breathless.
Evernote—Honestly, I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of what this nifty little free program does. It saves webpages, images, PDFs, audio recordings, and notes (typed or handwritten). I can write notes on images, which is awesome. I can even drop audio into the same file with the image or notes.
I tend to leave a gazillion tabs open in my browser because, you know, I might need that website in six months … if ever. Before Evernote, I kept a Word document entitled “Web Pages.” Brilliant, I know. Just a list through which I had to scan to find the desired web site. Evernote saves the URL as its own file and in various formats. Things are so much easier to find now.
I can set reminders in Evernote, too. This is helpful when I want to schedule time to look at research or listen to a podcast.
Did I mention this app is free?
iPad—Because my iPad has Siri, I’ve started using it to dictate emails and responses to things on my social media sites while I simultaneously work on my laptop.
Help—literally, I got help. I have a dear, dear friend who works for peanuts (when I pay her) a few hours a week. She helps me with the newsletter, blog, giveaways, and a little social media. She is a godsend.
These aren’t earth-shattering, super-illuminating lifehacks, but they’ve created some extra time for me. Maybe they will spark some great time-saving ideas for your life.
Now get back to writing.
Get back to writing.
A former journalist, Heather Blanton is an avid researcher and skillfully weaves truth in among fictional story lines. She loves exploring the American West, especially ghost towns and museums. She has walked parts of the Oregon Trail, ridden horses through the Rockies, climbed to the top of Independence Rock, and even held an outlaw's note in her hand. She is the independent bestselling author of several Christian Westerns, including the Romance in the Rockies series. She writes Westerns because she grew up on a steady diet of Bonanza, Gunsmoke, and John Wayne movies. Her most fond childhood memory is of sitting next to her father, munching on popcorn, and watching Lucas McCain unload that Winchester! Both men inspired her love of guns. Heather lives on a farm outside Chapel Hill with three boys, ages 13, 16, and 56, and too many animals to count. She can be reached several different ways: Blog: http://ladiesindefiance.com/ SocialMedia: https://twitter.com/heatherfblanton https://www.pinterest.com/heatherfblanton/