Think Small: Guest Post by Eva Lesko Natiello

I love editing, and I’m lucky enough to work with some very talented writers. Since the fall of 2013 I’ve had the pleasure of editing several wonderful novels, and I am excited to share them with you when the time is right. The authors are busy reviewing and revising  now in anticipation of publishing their novels, but I want to whet your appetite with this guest post by Eva Natiello, whose novel The Memory Box had me dreaming about her characters—now that’s writing to get under your readers’ skin! If you don’t know Eva, you simply must go to her website at evanatiello.com and sign up for updates—you’re going to want to read The Memory Box the day it’s released, trust me!

Not only is Eva a wonderful storyteller, but she’s funny to boot. If you missed her previous guest post, “Stormy with a Chance of Writing,” be sure to check it out. And now, take it away, Eva!

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While this isn’t your classic New Year’s resolution, if truth be known, lofty goals scare the ambition right out of me. I’m a slow-and-steady-wins-the-race kinda gal. I believe in making realistic goals, initiating a routine, and putting one foot in front of the other, and soon you’ll be walking out the door! (Did I just plagiarize a song from Santa Claus in Coming to Town? Sorry.)

I was recently reminded of this strategy when a member of my writers’ group lamented the fact that her four kids were so busy, she felt like she spent her life in the car. And at the basketball court. Girl Scout meetings. Gymnastics. Etcetera. It left her scant time to write. Or even reflect.

What's the key to finding time to write? @EvaNatiello tells us. #amwriting #writers #writetip Click To Tweet

I know this feeling too well. I know also that while I feel overstretched most of the time, I’m desperate to “create” even in a small way every day in order to balance the scales of my life. I started writing my first novel when I had the least amount of time to devote to it. I didn’t know it then, but it was perfect. The less time I have to do something, the more I get done. If I have hoards of time, I waste most of it.

This is what I told my friend−something I tell myself on a regular basis: think small and make use of what’s available to you. I’m not saying, “You have to make time for it.” I hate hearing that. (Especially as it relates to exercise.) Instead, take advantage of and be productive with whatever you have. There’s no point in waiting for the perfect time to start writing or editing a novel. No such thing exists.finding time to write

Do you have six minutes in the car waiting for your son to come out of basketball practice−a kid who is a rather speedy guy on the court but takes forever to walk across the parking lot to the car? Do you have eight minutes waiting on the grocery line for the slowest cashier in the free world to ring up and bag the groceries for the guy in front of you who is too lame to help bag his own groceries? How about the hour you’ll spend waiting for your daughter to finish play rehearsal? Half of my first novel was written on junk-mail envelopes, the backs of grocery store receipts, flyers from the dry cleaner, and the Chinese food menus routinely left on my windshield. The other half was written in a notebook I carry around with me everywhere I go.

Some of my best ideas come when I’m held hostage by life’s tedious tasks. A great time to think small is in the car. Ponder a great line of dialogue, or someone’s physical description, or a setting or perhaps the name of a character. What would your protagonist do if she were in her car panicking because she thought someone was following her? Are you stopped at a red light? Great! Write your thoughts down. No time like the present! Okay, maybe you’d prefer to pull over to the curb. Fine. All I’m saying is that huge vats of uninterrupted writing time may not be available to you until you’re ninety. If you can train yourself to be productive with seventeen minutes, think of what you’ll churn out when you have more!

For instance, imagine that you’re lucky enough to be responsible for a carpool of five little kids who you have to get to soccer practice while giving them a snack. That’s a perfect time to listen to how they talk, watch how they eat, and observe their varied mannerisms.

This brings me to my second thought.

Use what’s available to you. If you spend wads of time at the grocery store and the playground, realize that all that time is making you an expert. Certainly the CEO of IBM won’t be able to write a scene about toddlers chasing each other through the mud at the park while trying to catch the tale of a goose—like you will. (That did not end well, by the way.)

Once, I found myself at the grocery store for the fourth day in a row, and realizing I’d never noticed the produce guy before, nor did I ever speak to him, I thought about my protagonist and how she might interact with him, and I was so inspired that when I got to the car I wrote an entire scene before pulling out of the parking lot. [Editor’s note: That’s one of my favorite scenes in The Memory Box.]

So, here’s the recap. Think small, use what’s available to you, and you are an expert of something. Just remember, no one ever wrote an entire novel in one sitting. And even if they did, they probably never got a chance to wrestle a goose.

Image courtesy of sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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Eva Lesko Natiello is a native New Yorker who wrote her forthcoming suspense novel, The Memory Box, as a result of relocating to the New Jersey suburbs. She is a self-proclaimed curious observationist whose oddball musings can be read on evanatiello.com. She also contributes to a parenting blog on nj.com. Eva improvs songs as a way to dialogue with her kids. They find it infrequently entertaining. Her short story, The Wordsmith, was a finalist in The Writer Magazine 2012 Best Short Story. You can find her on facebook and twitter.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out  Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

Stormy with a Chance of Writing: Guest Post by Eva Lesko Natiello

Today’s gift is a guest post by author Eva Lesko Natiello, who you’ll be getting to know better as she shares her writing, editing, and publishing journey for her new book, The Memory Box. I’m honored to be working with Eva on editing this fascinating story, and I’m excited to share her essay about writer’s block and creative inspiration with you. Take it away, Eva:
Stormy with a Chance of Writing
writing routine

I love reading about the daily writing routines of famous authors. Franz Kafka, for instance, almost never sat down to write before 11 o’clock at night, and then only for an hour or two. He was urged by others to reorganize his day to be more efficient, that he could write more if he wasn’t such a “waster of time.” But his routine suited him fine, and so it stuck. It got me thinking about my own routine. Once I forced myself to really think about what I do every day as a writer, I was hugely relieved to discover I actually have a routine! Boy, I gotta tell you, that felt good. That means something.

What is your writing routine? #amwriting #writers #writerslife Click To Tweet

First thing in the morning, I sit at my computer and read yesterday’s work and edit. This makes me happy. I love to edit. I liken it to decorating. The house is built, the walls are up, the place is painted, and now it’s time to hang some art and move some furniture around. Sometimes the furniture is clunky, and it doesn’t really fit where you want it to, so you take a deep breath, bend your knees and lift with your legs, and take out the ugly side table in the corner to make some room, and by golly, it all works out.

After editing I break for a cup of whole leaf organic ginseng tea, mostly because it is known to naturally stimulate brain cells. Also, it’s widely known that Native American shaman would steep whole leaf ginseng before sending their spirits out to seek greater knowledge and understanding. (This isn’t actually true. I just made that up. But it sounds like something a Native American shaman would do, given the opportunity, doesn’t it?)

I bring my tea back to the computer to develop my story and write anew. This is when I typically jump write in, oops, right in, because I have a great idea. If I don’t have a great idea, I wait for a one to come. I’m usually quite patient. If after a decent amount of time has passed and it still hasn’t arrived, I sit on the floor of my den, lotus-style, in a circle of my ten favorite (best-selling!) books and chant with my eyes closed: I before E except after C, I before E except after C . . . well, that was before spell check existed. Nowadays that chant is useless. So instead, I chant: I am a writer, That’s what I do, om, It’s not always easy, In fact it rarely is, om, In fact it never is, om, Then why do I do it?, om, To avoid doing the laundry, om, That’s not true, om, Then what is it?, om, Leave me alone!

I get off the floor and sit back at my desk. If after waiting sort of patiently and no ideas are forthcoming, I go upstairs to use my neti pot to free up my sinus passages so oxygen can move freely to my brain. I blow my nose and return to the computer. Now if nothing happens after a minute or two max, I check the weather online. Of course I can just look out the window! But I like to know what’s coming, a forecast. After the weather check I go back to this fresh stuff I’m writing. If nothing happens right away, I check the weather again. Honestly, it’s possible for me to check the weather eight or nine times a day. But let me be clear. I am not a storm-tracker, like a friend of mine. Not only does he track current storms, he watches the great storms of the 70s. No, I’m not kidding. I know it’s crazy. And a complete waste of time. If you really need to watch something from the 70s, there are plenty of Welcome Back, Kotter episodes still on rerun.

Now, you may have noticed I haven’t checked my emails or gone on Facebook this entire time. Even in this writing-block phase of my day. That’s because I’m lying. Of course I’ve checked my emails. I even wrote myself one. And sent it. And then read it. I usually check my email and Facebook before I check the weather. (The first time.) (And between the third and fourth time.)

Today, while I was checking the weather for the fifth time, the forecast for the weekend had changed. They were now predicting a huge storm. Out of nowhere. I looked out my window and I could see the stormy skies already rolling in. It would be mostly ice. Horrendous ice. The skies were gonna dump huge quantities of ice. Stay in the house! Don’t drive! Every local news report warned people not to get in their cars, by any means. This got me thinking about my protagonist. He was not the brightest firecracker on the Christmas tree, if you know what I mean, and I could actually see him getting into his car in the middle of an ice storm, against every warning not to. (If not smart, he is valiant and charming; trust me, you’ll love him!) What if he got stuck in an ice storm while driving on the George Washington Bridge? And some poor guy a few cars ahead of him swerved out of control on a slick of ice causing a seventeen car pile-up, of which my protagonist’s car was one. And then because miles upon miles of the New Jersey Turnpike became a parking lot of pile-ups, no one could move off the George Washington Bridge until those wrecked cars were hauled away. So there he’d be, trapped on a swaying bridge (okay, not really swaying) over the Hudson River in the biggest freaking nor’easter ice storm in history. And what if my protagonist, after being stranded in his car for hours, had to pee, and he got out of his car to relieve himself somewhere. I don’t know where! Why wouldn’t he just stay in his car, where at least he had some privacy? He had nothing to pee into, that’s why! Maybe I should work this part out privately before I tell you any more of the story.

The point is, thank God I checked the weather and discovered the new forecast: stormy with a chance of writing.

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Eva Lesko Natiello is a native New Yorker who wrote her forthcoming suspense novel, The Memory Box, as a result of relocating to the New Jersey suburbs. She is a self-proclaimed curious observationist whose oddball musings can be read on evanatiello.com. She also contributes to a parenting blog on nj.com. Eva improvs songs as a way to dialogue with her kids. They find it infrequently entertaining. Her short story, The Wordsmith, was a finalist in The Writer Magazine 2012 Best Short Story. You can find her on facebook and twitter.

Stormy with a Chance of Writing first appeared on redroom.com in March 2012.

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If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help, and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out  Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

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