Reader – Writer – Friday, The Sacrifice Fly

Allow me to use a sports analogy for today’s post. And, if you suffered through watching football games all day yesterday, let me apologize and reassure you that today’s analogy is from baseball.

A sacrifice fly occurs when a batter hits a fly-ball to the outfield or foul territory that allows a runner to score. If the ball is caught by the outfielder, the batter is out, but he has sacrificed his opportunity for a hit (and his batting average) in exchange for the greater good of his team scoring a run.

Now to the writing side of the analogy: If you travel to a relative’s house for a holiday, or have family or friends for an extended stay at your house, it may be difficult to disappear for an hour or two to get in some daily writing. If grandkids are involved, you may need to coral the wild mustangs to prevent chaos and property damage, and that may require constant supervision. That’s the sacrifice.

Now, the greater good: Maybe you’ve discovered some ways to advance your writing, even if you can’t physically write. Has cousin Clifford given you an idea for a new character? Has Uncle Harold inspired a new villain? Has the travel (if you traveled) inspired a new setting? Has a particular dinner dish given you an idea for how to poison a character? You get the idea. These new ideas to advance your writing are the greater good.

So, the questions:

  • What ways have you devised for advancing your writing when you can’t write?
  • What ideas come to mind now for hitting a sacrifice fly for your writing?
  • How do you record your ideas until you are back in your writing space?

38 thoughts on “Reader – Writer – Friday, The Sacrifice Fly

  1. If I know something is planned for a particular day, I got to bed earlier the previous night, get up earlier the following morning, put my fanny in the chair in the Hovel, file my Journal (for writers) for the day, then write until I’ve at least reached my daily goal. It works. Everything is a matter of priorities. Shrug. Writers write. (grin)

  2. Family always comes first, so if I need to take the day off, I take the day off without hesitation or guilt. As for documenting ideas, I’ve learned that the good ones will stick around without writing them down. I plan my year around doing as little writing as possible during the Holidays so that I can drink in the beauty of the season.

    • Thanks, John. All great points. I like your approach. I wish all the “great ideas” I develop at night while I’m half awake would stick around without writing them down, but I find I need to write them down first thing in the morning.

      Enjoy the Thanksgiving weekend with your family.

      • If I don’t write the ideas that come to me in the night, I can’t stop thinking about them and don’t go back to sleep. I used to write them on paper I kept next to the bed, but no matter how careful I thought I was being, the light of day revealed sentences scrawled on top of each other and I could hardly decipher them. At the Spy Museum in DC, my daughter bought a pen that lights up. I can see what I’m doing and hubby doesn’t wake up. Problem solved.

      • Thanks for stopping by, Patricia.

        That’s a great idea, dictating your thoughts and ideas at night. I’ve thought about that before, I need to follow through. I think I even have a small dictation device in a box somewhere around here. I spent 40 years dictating clinical notes.

        Speaking the thoughts sometimes causes another idea to pop into consciousness. Before you know it you’re having a conversation with yourself.

        Thanks for the suggestion! Have a great weekend!

  3. First, a brief tangent off today’s post–the discussion of being in a situation where you can’t write reminds me of the different ways we all go about the process of shaping our stories. I have a friend who is perfectly content to plot out the story in her head without ever writing the outline down. Me, I have to write stuff down. I’m just wired that way. If I tried to retain all the story points in memory without writing them down, some just wouldn’t be there when I came back later to get them. Everybody works differently.

    That said, I always have a slip of paper and pen with me wherever I go, so no matter the situation, I’m always able to record ideas so that I can come back to them later.

    • I’m with you, Brenda, on the need to write out the plot. I need to have it down on paper in order to see it, evaluate it, and look for ways to make it better.

      And, yes, the slip of paper or the writer’s notebook to carry and always have ready to record an idea. I carry one with me when I shop, travel, or even to family gatherings. You never know when an idea will pop up.

      Thanks for participating on this holiday weekend.

  4. Steve, good questions as the busy holiday season cuts into writing time.

    I used to feel guilty for not writing but now I accept there will be times when it’s not doable. Fortunately my greedy writer’s brain continues to gobble up experiences, ideas, people, settings, etc. for future use.

    Sacrifice fly? Taking time out from writing to be with close friends (physically, by phone, or virtually). Some may not be here tomorrow but the writing will still be. I never regret “friend breaks.”

    Sometimes I text notes to myself to record ideas, bits of dialogue, plot twists, etc. I should do that more often b/c memory is less and less dependable.

    Enjoy those wild mustangs, Steve!

    • Thanks, Debbie. Lots of good points.

      Those “friend breaks” are so important. I like the way you point out the obvious priorities.

      Texting notes to oneself is a great idea. Now if I could just learn to keep my phone with me and learn to text faster.

      The wild mustangs were here yesterday. Today is the time to catch up.

      Have a great weekend!

  5. Not being able to write is the time when people say, “So, what’s it about?” and I can say, “I can’t figure out this plot hole.” People are all to happy to jump in and brainstorm with me.

    • It’s great to have writer friends who can help by brainstorming. Cherish those relationships. I think we solve problems quicker and with better solutions when we verbalize the problem and possible solutions. I’ve noticed that when discussing a challenge to be solved, simply verbalizing it often allows the solution to pop into my mind.

      Thanks, Priscilla for your good points.

  6. I write every day, so I don’t feel guilty about taking time off for the holidays. When I’m with my family, I try hard not to let my mind drift to fictionland. After they leave, if they’ve sparked an idea, I’ll jot it in my phone. And, for some reason that still escapes me, my mind conjures new story ideas at 7 p.m. every night. Those go in the phone, too.

    Hope you have a nice weekend, Steve!

    • I like your dedication, Sue. That magic 7 p.m. creative time is early morning for me.

      I don’t like carrying my phone with me in everything I do. I guess I need to think of it as a recording device for ideas.

      Have a great Thanksgiving weekend!

      • Steve, if you wear an Apple Watch, you can dictate messages to yourself. I don’t like carrying my phone everywhere I go, either.

        • Wow, Becky. You’re full of ideas – good ideas. Thanks.

          I’m not an Apple person, but I should be able to come up with a recording device.

          Keep those creative solutions coming!

  7. I’m in Camp Gilstrap. If Real Life interferes with writing, so be it. I’ve never missed a deadline, self-imposed or otherwise. Right now, I’m waiting for my editor to recover from whatever bug invaded her system. Could I use the time to start something new? Maybe, but my brain is immersed in the current novel, and I’m heading out for a two-week trip in about a week, and that’s where I’m hoping to set my next book. Will I be writing on the trip. Highly unlikely, as it’s a photography tour and we’ll be busy on shoots. Will I write down ideas, characters, settings? I’ll have paper and my Surface, so I hope so. If not, I’ll still have a lot of pictures to refresh my memory.

    • I like your approach, Terry. I would argue that immersing the brain in new ideas and locations, taking pictures, and recording ideas on characters and settings is all part of “writing.”

      IMHO, we need to be careful that we don’t send the message to beginning writers (who have families to care for, day jobs to keep bread on the table, and some days they just can’t squeeze in a couple hours to write) that they are not “real” writers if they don’t write every day. I know of no other profession that works in their profession every single day.

      If we can, we are blessed.

      Sorry for the rant.

      Have a great weekend! And I hope your editor recovers quickly.

  8. It can be tough to write during the holidays, just like during an illness (mine or someone else’s in the family). While those situations are very different, both can take priority.

    That’s when I need to lean into writing first thing in the morning. If I can’t write, I can think about it while doing the dishes, taking a walk, or falling to sleep.

    A novel journal can be a big help, even a few minutes can keep you in your story.

    Great question today! Hope you have a wonderful weekend, Steve.

    • Good points, Dale. Using our time while doing “automatic” work to brainstorm our writing is a great idea. A novel journal is another excellent idea. Like a note pad for ideas, a journal can be taken anywhere to develop our story. If a friend or relative asks what we’re doing, it becomes an opportunity to tell someone about our books.

      Thanks for the excellent ideas, Dale. Have a wonderful remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend!

    • Excellent point about staying in your story, Dale. Being Black Friday and all, I’m getting an early start on my Christmas shopping, but I also made sure to jump into the WIP first thing in the morning to keep the story rolling in my head all day. If I hadn’t, it’d take much longer to get back into the flow tomorrow.

  9. Also in Camp Gilstrap. Family first.

    One truth I’ve learned the hard way is that I never know when I’m having the last conversation with someone I love.

    Hope everyone has a relaxing weekend . . . 🙂

    • Thanks, Deb.

      Excellent point. And good time to plug your book, No Tomorrows.

      Thanks for your ideas, and I’m still looking for that “Writer’s Pen” with the built-in night light. May just have to duct tape a pen and an LED light together.

      Have a great weekend!

  10. I only added my initial comment because I shared a link to your post with readers of the Journal.

    But for the record, in my comment I never said my writing is more important than spending time with my family. It isn’t. That’s just silly.

    I only said I plan my time so I can do my job (write fiction) and not sacrifice spending time with my family. But I do that every day of the year, not just on holidays.

    Nor do I want or expect to change anyone’s mind. What others do or don’t do has no effect on my bottom line, just as what I do has no effect on yours. I’ve only commented here so visitors to TKZ can see there is an alternative, a different point of view. That is the spirit in which I have left comments.

    And I do so as a guy who has been both traditionally and independently published. I write over several different commercial genres, and I’m currently writing my 80th novel. I also have 9 novellas, over 230 short stories, and 16 or so nonfiction books on writing. All, with the exception of a couple of the nonfiction books, in a space of nine years.

    If anyone who is reading this would like to learn how, you can visit the Journal by clicking my name above this comment (I believe) or by visiting It’s free.

    I do wish TKZers all the best in your endeavors, whether shutter-bugging, touring, spending time with family, writing or whatever else.

    • Thanks, Harvey. I appreciate your comments. Healthy lively discussion should be encouraged here at TKZ.

      If I implied that you said something you didn’t, I apologize. I appreciate your link to today’s post. Thank you!

      Your publishing output is impressive. Congratulations! You are an inspiration to those of us who want to work hard.

      I value your willingness to present your ideas. Thanks for your many contributions to our discussion here at TKZ!

  11. Family always comes first. When we have a few precious days with those we don’t get to see often, everything takes a backseat to our family time. Well, almost everything Apparently, a writer can never turn off the attention paid to people, sights, sounds , and anything else in the environs. that might be fodder for upcoming stories.

    • Thanks for stopping by on this holiday weekend, Kay.

      Isn’t it amazing how writers are always sifting through their new experiences and looking for ideas to improve their stories.

      I hope you had a good Thanksgiving, and have a wonderful remainder of the holiday weekend!

  12. The weekly quota. If you know you’re gonna have family time, do more on other days.

    Ideas, concepts, inspirations…they go in a file. The best ones go into “development” like at a movie studio. Studios “develop” about 20 projects to every one that gets the green light.

    I take lunch meetings with myself.

  13. Thanks, Jim, for the reminder of the quota system, and thus no guilt for a family day. A great win-win idea.

    I like those lunch meetings. That would make them tax deductible. Do you think those 87,000 new IRS agents would understand?

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