Time to Write with Lisa & Gail

Lisa Worthey Smith is a long time Bible teacher who ventured into writing inspirational stories a few years ago, and is now President of Word Weavers North Alabama.

She and her husband are empty nesting in northern Alabama where she spends time in her garden and writes stories of Faith*Hope*Love. Her first two books Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird and The Wisdom Tree are available on Amazon.com and she expects to release two books in 2019, Ground Kisser and COFFEE with God at Christmas.

Social media, daily chores, ideas for different stories, unexpected family needs all creep in and steal time that could have been used to crank out more words for the project of the moment. So, how do I manage my writing time?


I ask God to give me direction for the day, deferring to His will rather than mine. If I get behind on my writing goals for the day because I spent time with someone who needed encouragement, I don’t count that as a lost day. I never want to be so headstrong on my goals, that I neglect His prompting.


I work best with a plan to reach certain goals. I keep a small calendar on my desk to log in my deadlines and use that as a starting point.

Pare it down.

If I need to produce a 40,000 word story, I break that down into monthly, weekly and daily bites so I am not overwhelmed with a 5,000 word deficit a week before my deadline. There is great satisfaction in turning a page on the calendar, knowing those tasks are accomplished without panicking at the bigger picture of what is still before me.

Prioritize my time.

Work comes before leisure, so mornings are dedicated to writing. If something comes up, I still have time later in the day to reach my goal. If I have to give up something, I’ll give up leisure time to accomplish my goals and not deal with the stress of being behind.


Of course, there are days when my computer remains unopened. Still, tomorrow I renew my prayer to follow His will, and adjust my goals to match His, and persist. The only thing stopping us from reaching our dreams is to give up. Persist instead.

From Gail Johnson—So, you’ve read the latest on carving out time for writing, but no matter how hard you try, the bullet list doesn’t seem to be working as promised. Oh, what’s a writer to do?

The best thing that you will ever do for your peace of mind is realize that writing isn’t a one size fits all profession. It’s a personal journey for each author. For me, it’s trusting myself, and God, to know what is best. I can’t sit in a chair and stare at a blank screen. It would be easier to lay an egg than writing my rough draft this way.

My goal each day isn’t so much about getting a set number of typed words on paper but staying in my head and listening to my characters. I can do this anytime and anywhere I’m able to pen words to paper, napkin, or shoe sole. 😊

When driving, I dictate to my sweet daughter who is glad to help in my time of need. My entire rough draft is hand-written conversations between my characters. That’s it. No settings. No internal thoughts. Just conversations. They reveal the plot. When I feel I have the gist of the scene, I sit and write the chapters adding the necessary components.

Remember, this is my process. It may not be your cup of tea. Learn what’s best for you. Trust your quirkiness; it’s what makes you, you. Finding your own process will make the words flow like warm honey across hot biscuits.

Gail Johnson enjoys sharing her passion for life and Christ through the power of the written word. Whether it’s through stories, articles, or songs, she invites her reader and listener to “taste and see” the hope she has found in a faithful God and loving Savior.

She is the author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, a memoir. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she writes fiction, non-fiction, and songs. Her Southern Gospel song “Less of Me and More of You” came in the top 5 runners-up in the 2010 Singing News/Solid Gospel Songwriters Search. Born and raised in Georgia, she is a wife and mother of two adult children. She enjoys lots of family time, good music, maple pecan ice cream, and southern living. In the past, she has published articles and interviews on the web, in the local newspaper, and in church magazines.

Click to Tweet: My goal each day isn’t so much about getting a set number of typed words on paper but staying in my head and listening to my characters.  Via @InspiredPrompt from @GailJohnson87 #amwriting #inspiration

Writing Prompt: It’s morning, the sun is shining. You open the curtains to find something you never expected to see in your front yard. Using NO adverbs or adjectives, describe what you see.

6 thoughts on “Time to Write with Lisa & Gail

  1. Lisa & Gail, thank you for the insights into your writing life. Due to “real life” beyond my control in 2018, my “writing life” is undergoing an overhaul for 2019. Lisa, the daily word count has always appealed to me, but I haven’t made that commitment to myself (or my writing yet). As a high school and adjunct college English teacher, I primarily teach English Comp 1 & 2, so much of my extra time is spent grading essays and research papers, which takes whatever energy remains at the end of a school day. If I set a daily or weekly word count for myself, I think I’d feel like a failure most of the time. But…good news! I’m retiring this year. I still LOVE teaching, but it’s time for a change. A daily word count is the first writing goal I am going to set for myself June 1! I’m crazy excited!

    Gail, I love, love, love that your chapters start with character conversation, and then you build the details around that. It’s so fun to get a glimpse inside other writers’ brains. I think I’m the opposite…although I’ve never thought about it until I read your approach. But (I think) in my mind I mostly see characters in action or interacting and wonder what they are thinking, feeling, not saying…and why. I’m going to pay more attention and see if that’s what I do. 🙂

  2. Karen, thanks so much for stopping by. I understand how life interrupts plans. Breaking goals down into small bites helps me not feel overwhelmed by an enormous project and I know that if (when) I miss a day, I can add that goal to the next day without feeling like a complete failure.
    I hope your retirement brings you much joy and you find the writing time that works for you. If it becomes “work” that takes away from the joy. But if it stays “joy” you will always find time! Let me know about your projects.
    Blessings in your transition.

  3. Good morning, Karen! Wow, you see your characters. Mine like to play hide-n-seek. I actually see actions without seeing a face. It can be frustrating. With this new contemporary story, I’ve struggled with my Pinterest story board. Amazingly, I had a secondary character that leaped off the page and let me know what he was all about, and I found the perfect picture to help me imagine him. It was a fantastic moment. LOL. I guess we learn something new with every story. You’ll have to let me know what you hear. 🙂 I pray this coming year will be a smooth transition. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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