Whenever I juggle a million things, “I pretend to be Stacy,” as in Stacy Hawkins Adams, author of 10 books, a speaker, writing coach, full-time communications pro, columnist and mom of two active wunderkinds. Stacy obviously practices winning time-management strategies and is a master organizer. Learn what works for her and maybe you, too!
How do you consistently meet your writing goals? I sincerely enjoy all I do, so I view organizing my personal and professional schedules as a necessary task in my goal-setting tool box. I put systems, or schedules, in place that I then work backwards from to achieve my goals. With my parenting columns, for example, I typically write 24 columns a year, so I’ll sit down at the beginning of each year with a calendar and brainstorm potential topics for the entire year, and then research individuals whose areas of expertise fall in line with those topics.
With my novel writing, I gauge how long the manuscript will be (usually about 350 pages), how much time it will take me write and revise, and then break that project into bite-sized chunks that are based on the deadline by which that manuscript needs to be finished in order to send it out to editors, have the cover designed and prepare for the book release and promotion.
I try to do this with my personal life as much as I can as well – adding my son’s soccer schedule to my calendar as soon as I receive it, for example. Knowing these details in advance helps me plan my writing, speaking and coaching endeavors around those necessities.
We achieve what we believe. What is your daily mantra? I agree with the mantra you’ve shared. It succinctly conveys what my several “tried and true” phrases signify. Rather than one mantra, I have a few that I recite as needed, depending on the task at hand, my frame of mind, and the challenge or opportunity that awaits me. My overarching mantra is a faith-based reminder that I can do all I desire to accomplish through my Creator’s presence and power within me. It’s a reminder that with this kind of foundation, there’s really nothing to fear.
Beyond that, I remind myself that “To whom much is given, much is required,” and because I view my ability to impact others with my writing as a gift, I treat it as such, and I feel a responsibility to honor this gift by producing the best work I can. I also truly believe the mantra “As a man or woman thinketh, so is he or she,” and with that in mind, I tend to have a “Why not me?” outlook on life.
When your schedule becomes overwhelming, how do you prioritize? One of the most important things I’ve done has been to adopt the discipline of saying no to many good (and fascinating or exciting) opportunities so that I can be prepared and available to say Yes to the opportunities that best serve or fit my goals as an author and journalist. I consider the deadlines for ongoing projects or activities and try to be as present as possible for the task. That may sometimes require that I ask my kids to help with meals or chores more than usual because I’m trying to meet a book deadline, or I may ask an editor for a brief extension on a column due. Or if my schedule is too full to accept an assignment or request, I’ll often recommend a colleague.
Do you use any particular software to stay on task? A lot of my author friends use Scrivener, but I still tend to work in Word and create Google docs to store plot or character details.
What’s your longest period of not writing? It has actually been the season I’m coming out of now. My most recent novel, Lead Me Home, was published in July 2013, and a month later I wrapped up three years of study toward a master’s degree in women’s leadership and empowerment. After writing and revising the book, then writing and revising a thesis, my brain was mush! So I intentionally gave myself a long break – no creative writing from September 2013 until January 2015. I contined to write my parenting column and also taught writing workshops and delivered speeches; but I wanted to just”live” if that makes sense, so that when I sat down at the computer to create new stories and characters, they’d be springing from a place of renewed and refreshed creativity.
What do you do when discouraged as a writer? (I watch bad reality TV, but I know you are better than that!) Lol! What does a little reality TV hurt? If I get discouraged while I’m on deadline and have no choice but to keep writing, I just go for a walk. Something about getting away from the project for a while and allowing my thoughts to wander tends to help center me and remind me that I’m not competing with anyone other than myself, and if I don’t push through, I won’t have anything to revise and strengthen. When I get discouraged in between projects, I just try to remember that the stories that come to me are ideas that I specifically am meant to birth for some reason.
Who are some of the writers that have influenced you? During adolescence I discovered and fell in love with the work of Maya Angelou. Over the years I also have been influenced by the wonderful work of author and playwright J. California Cooper; and I also appreciate the work of renowned journalist and author Anna Quindlen, who, like me, tends to tackle social issues and women’s personal growth in her fiction.
Tell us about your other projects. I spend considerable time coaching aspiring authors through teleclasses and private sessions I offer via www.AuthorInYou.com, and I occasionally teach writing in other arenas. I also serve as a professional speaker, inspiring audiences to emulate many of the themes I write about in my novels- self-acceptance and confidence, goal-setting and purpose, leadership and relevance. While I write more than books, everything I do is related to my role as a wordsmith, and my mission as a writer is to “Use words to enlighten, uplift and inspire.”
What can we expect in the future? In addition to re-releasing my very first three novels in ebook form this year (Speak To My Heart, Nothing But the Right Thing and Watercolored Pearls), I’m also writing a couple of short stories that will be released in ebook form. And my 10th book – the third novel in the Winds of Change series – is slated for release in the fall. So I’m spending a lot of time in my “writing cave.”