Friday, July 12, 2013

How Writers Work: Cindy Huff, Prioritize and Do the Work

Over the next three weeks, I will feature writers in various stages of life, sharing how they write.

We begin with Cindy Huff, a writer with a part-time day job. She shares a home with a husband, four adult children, grandchildren and pets. She shares how she fits writing into her daily life. She can be found at Writer's Patchwork Blog. 

How do you plan your writing time?

Each day I have a goal of doing something writerly. (Barring the creek don’t rise and a family emergency doesn’t take away all my time.) By writerly thing (writerly may not be a word but I love it), I mean fifteen minutes in the morning before going to my job, writing a really, really rough draft of an article. Ten minutes of research for later use or finding the right picture to add.  Time spent in the evening posting finished articles to my blog and other places. A few minutes of emailing devos, articles, and stories to various publishers all qualify as writerly things. Spending time reading craft books or books I want to review also qualify. Grabbing moments on days I work is necessary before total fatigue sets in.

Because I work part-time, I plan the majority of my writing for my days off. However, I also have elderly parents to check on and that can take hours out of those days. On my days off I plan more intense things on my to-do-list. I finish articles and rewrite. Anything that I have a deadline on gets most of those hours such as paid editing jobs and requested submissions.

Do you have writing goals?

I have monthly and weekly goals. I have committed myself to two blog posts a month for Splickety magazine’s Lightning Blog, one article a week for my parenting column, and one blog post a month (more if I can) for my own blog, Writer’s Patchwork. Since the Write-to-Publish Conference, I have all kinds of ideas I hope to submit. So, once a month I hope to send to a new market.

How do you juggle your writing vs. editing time?

My best writing time is early morning. I try to start with writing new stuff. How early? I have a habit of getting up at 4:30 every morning. Most of my household is not up and it is quiet and on work days it gives me time to do those writerly things before I leave at 6:45. I prioritize. Editing jobs or article deadlines get top slots. My best rewriting and revising is done in the morning. Right now I am rewriting my historical fiction novel again, and editing for others. So I try to balance those with writing new stuff. Plans can change by the hour—no by the minute around here, so I try not to get to disturbed when I don’t complete my list.

How do you explain to your family that it is important that you have time to write?

I have been writing off and on since I was in high school. Raising and homeschooling five kids took time away from writing. Rarely did my kids read my stuff; unless it was a skit they were in. During those years it was easy to let life squeeze out writing time. Now that they are all grown they are much more supportive. It’s like a light bulb went on in their head that Mom is a writer. My hubby has always been supportive. We got our first computer (a long time ago) so it would be easier for me to write.  As you know Tammie, I have a house full of people. Three of my adult children and their dogs moved back home due to the economy and my eldest son and his family moved in after he left the army to pursue college. Because of their light bulb moments they give me lots of space to write. My granddaughters know to knock on my office door and ask permission. This makes me push myself to not waste time.

During weeks when the unexpected happens, what do you do with your writing to help you feel you are still moving ahead?

I do those small writerly things I mentioned earlier. I have found that some of those unexpected things get woven into a devotional and article or a story line. As they say it’s a win, win. You have to look at those interruptions through the eyes of the Spirit and not your own understanding or you will fall into despair.

When it comes to social media, how do you prioritize your time and which elements do you use and feel are important to you, i.e. blog, Twitter, Pinterest?

I am still trying to figure that out. Social media can be a real time waster. I have Facebook and LinkdIn and my own a blog. I limit my daily time on Facebook and try to post things that interest people. I post free e-books that are available and I post links to my articles and blog posts. I try to comment on others posts  Checking to see if someone messaged me or responding to my previous posts takes less than a minute when you click on the icons at the top of the home page. Facebook is the social media I use the most. I haven’t figured out the value of LinkdIn. It hasn’t done much for me but I don’t take a lot time with it. I don’t tweet or use Pinterest. I might in the future. Guest blogging has helped to network and get noticed. My own blog is slowly growing.

Thanks, Cindy, for sharing with us.

How about you? How do you make time for your writing?


  1. You wear me out! :-) I will admit, though, that I was more productive when I was busier.

  2. Good Morning, Liz. Thanks for stopping by. She does kind of wear one out! Sometimes we do get more done when we know our time is limited.

  3. I get up 5:30 A.M. After time with the Lord, getting dressed, and a quick run through Social Media, I try to get an hour of writing/editing in before I leave for work.

    Most nights I manage to get in another 1-2 hours. I agree with Liz. The busier I am, the more productive I am. When there's a limited window of time to get things done, I can't afford to procrastinate.


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