Welcome to Inkygirl: Reading, Writing and Illustrating Children's Books (archive list here) which includes my Creating Picture Books series, Advice For Young Writers and IllustratorsWriter's and Illustrator's Guide To Twitter, interviews, my poetry for young readers, #BookADay archives, writing/publishing industry surveys, and 250, 500, 1000 Words/Day Writing Challenge. Also see my Inkygirl archives,  and comics for writers (including Keiko and Will Write For Chocolate). Also check out my Print-Ready Archives for Teachers, Librarians, Booksellers and Young Readers.

I tweet about the craft and business of writing and illustrating at @inkyelbows. If you're interested in my art or other projects, please do visit DebbieOhi.com. Thanks for visiting! -- Debbie Ridpath Ohi

Entries in time management (7)


Time management tip for writers & illustrators: Guard your creative time by learning how to say no. (I find this tough sometimes, too!)


Need a gift for a book lover, writer or illustrator but have a small budget? Give them some TIME.

Looking for a meaningful gift for a friend but don't have the cash? Consider giving them TIME to read, write or illustrate. Click the image above for a print-ready PDF or download the "Gift Of Time" gift certificate here.

Depending on your relationship with the recipient, you could offer to do dishes for a week, pick up the kids from school, x number of hours of running, grocery shopping, babysitting and so on. If your friend complains about not having time to read, combine this certificate with a book.

Some suggestions for presenting the gift:

- Slip the certificate into a white envelope and then decorate the envelope with holiday stickers, sparkles, doodles, etc.

- Roll up the certificate and tie a color ribbon around it. Present it as is, or wrapped in gold tissue paper.

- Combine the certificate with themed gift, like with some packaged soothing chamomile or mint tea, chocolates in a mug, or other "it's time to spoil yourself" items.

- Combine the certificate with one of your favorite books.


For more free, print-ready goodies, see Debbie's Print-Ready Archives.


You don't find time to write. You make time. - Nora Roberts


Comic: Some Quiet Writing Time...Or Not

I continue to be in awe of all your parents of young children out there who manage to carve out regular writing time.

I'm posting some of my older comics here as I catalog and tag them in prep for a print book compilation. You can find my comics for writers on Inkygirl (http://inkygirl.com), Tumblr (http://inkygirl.tumblr.com) and Pinterest (http://pinterest.com/inkyelbows/comics-for-writers-inkygirl-com)


My 2013 Goal: To Make More Time To Read and Create Books (plus a New Year's Resolution Comic)

Nut2012 31RecursiveResolutionflat600

I used to set ambitious New Year's goals every year ("I'm going to write 2000 words a day, every day!") but then get discouraged when I inevitably realized that, once again, I had set a goal or goals that were unrealistic. Or that had originally realistic but then got put on the back burner because of circumstances out of my control that had to take higher priority.

This year, I'm taking a different approach. While I am going to set some realistic work-related goals (to be posted on the MiG Writers blog) which I have tried hard to make realistic, I'm also going to work toward an overall goal:

Make more time to read and create books.

It's so easy to say, "I wish I had more time to xxxx" but the truth is that it's up to me to MAKE more time for what's important to me.

One of my tendencies is to want to do everything. I want to write (and illustrate!) more picture books. I want to work on my new MG and YA novel projects, because I know my writing and knowledge of the industry has improved over the years and I'm much confident about getting these newer book projects published. I have some fun nonfiction book ideas for grown-ups that I want to turn into book proposals so I can start pitching them. I'm thinking of self-publishing a compilation of my writing comics, but I also know that self-publishing requires a lot more admin/promo/marketing time. I want to keep all my webcomics updated but know I have way too many webcomics to keep updated. I want to improve my German language skills before Jeff and I attend Essen in late 2013. I want to improve my French language skills before Jeff and I visit French-speaking friends in late 2013. I want to write a new song for my music group to perform in our concert at FilKONtario. I want to reorg my home office. I want to learn more about non-digital art techniques like ink and watercolour, acrylics and multimedia textural art. I want to turn some of my cartoons and daily doodles into greeting cards. I want to help beef up content in my various collab group blogs. I want to improve my Photoshop skills and also go through Lynda.com tutorials on various creative software packages I've purchased in the last year. I want to write more songs. 

I could go on and on and on. Clearly, I can't do all the above. I need to let go of many of these goals, else I know I'm going to end up not attempting any of them very well. So again, I've decided to focus on the following:

Make more time to read and create books.

Throughout this coming year, in addition to my regular Inkygirl.com posts, I'm going to be sharing my experience in trying to make more time to read and create books.

My first steps:

1. Managing my email more efficiently.

2. Being more aware of how much time I'm spending on social media.

I'll report back on both of these first steps in upcoming Inkygirl posts, so stay tuned. :-)


Time Management and Social Media: Progress Update #1

OHI0060 EmailCheck 500

A little while ago, I posted about needing to rethink my social media habits. I am still rethinking. :-) I was off-line for much of August because of the SCBWI conference in Los Angeles as well as a 10 day anniversary trip with my husband.

I had originally planned to stay offline the entire time. Because we needed to coordinate with friends in California and because Jeff was relying on Google maps and other online navigation information during the trip, I found it impossible to resist the lure.

Yes, I am weak.

I did manage to stay off line for as much as 48 hours at a time, however. This may not seem like a lot to some of you. For me, though, it was an achievement. :-)What I found: I did not miss being online if I had other distractions to keep me occupied.

When I got home, I started experimenting with longer work sessions during which I stayed completely offline. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought, especially when I realized how much more productive I could be. A surprising challenge: training everyone else to learn that I wasn't as glued to my e-mail as usual. I can't blame them, really. People are so used to me being able to respond to an e-mail within a few minutes.

As I mentioned before, I have no interest in pulling back completely from social media. I use social media for so much more than just business networking, and it's part of who I am. I have always been a fan of online communities.The people and posts I follow on various social networks inspire me, inform and educate.

As a creative freelancer, I'm used to working for long periods in isolation. When I'm working on something that requires a lot of creative concentration, I need to be alone. However, sometimes it's great to take a break and socialize a bit online.

The key, of course, is moderation.

Here are some steps I've been taking in my attempts to get more control over how much time I spend online and my productivity:

1. Learn to say no. Sometimes a fun project or a project for a good cause will come up, or a potential promotional opportunity that's hard to turn down. I'm keeping closer track of how many of these I take on at any one time, and learning how to say no or to postpone the rest.

2. Learn how to focus for longer periods of time. I've grown so used to an interrupt-driven workday. What I have learned, which I'm sure is already obvious to most of you: being able to work for longer periods without interruption makes me more productive. I try to ignore the phone when it rings, and let people leave messages. I tried to check e-mail fewer times during the day, and am also gradually training people I know to not expect immediate responses.

3. When I go online, I try to stick to my original purpose. I find it way too easy to start following links and looking things up online, clicking and clicking until I realize I've totally forgotten the original reason I went online. Now I use Instapaper and Pinboard to record links I want to check out later and tell myself (who gets the following nerdy Star Wars quote ref?) to STAY ON TARGET.

How are the rest of you doing? Have you learned any new tips to share?



Getting Sucked Into The Time Sink of the Internet...and What I'm Going To Do About It (What About YOU?)


CautionaryComic 011 200w

To the left: my comic for Writer Unboxed this past weekend. You can see a bigger version by clicking on the comic and going to Writer Unboxed (a GREAT site for writers, by the way, if you haven't already visited).

I have found this pattern to be increasingly the norm for me up to now.

There are just so MANY great blogs to read, e-mail messages to catch up on, posts to write, collab blogs to participate in, comics to draw, writer & illustrator communities to check out, author and illustrators pals to help promote, etc.

While all of these activities are fun AND related to my various work projects and career goals, I realize that I still need to find the right balance between online networking/collab and working on my own projects. My "to do" list is always waaaaaaaaaay long, and my own creative work has been coming last.

Talking to author/poet/publisher Lawrence Schimel in NYC last week has really inspired me.

My goals:


I have so many book ideas and also so many only partly-finished or partly-outlined projects: some writing (fiction & nonfiction) and some writing & illustrating (picture books, illustrated middle grade novels). I need to get more of these finished and OUT there.

Yes, I have a brilliant agent (Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown) but she needs finished projects or project proposals in hand before she can send them out.


Related to publishing more books: I want to work on improving my craft in both writing and illustrating, and that takes time. I don't want to just publish books. I want to keep getting better at what I do, to always be pushing myself to learn more, try new things, and most of all -- to practice practice PRACTICE.


I started doing an office purge this past weekend, culling my print book collection and setting aside nearly 200 books to give to non-profits. Many were books that I had always meant to read but have to face the fact that I would never read (books that caught my eye at used bookstores, for example). Some were books I read and enjoyed but will likely never read again. I plan to replace my favourites with e-books, which take up less space, making it more feasible for me to buy new print books. :-)

But as I did my purge, I began to realize that I don't read nearly as many books as I did years ago. What gives? The answer: I'm spending much more time online than I did years ago.

Internet addict

What I'm Going To Do About It:

Ideally, I'd like to say I'm going to stay offline in the mornings until I get some creative work done. I have a daily publishing industry news column for Writersmarket.com to research and write each weekday morning, however, and that inevitably gets me on a slippery slope as I come across all kinds of interesting links and info and blogs as I comb the Web for publishing news.

I'm also aware that going cold turkey will likely end in me falling off the wagon, given that I've gotten used to being constantly online and connected for many years.

So here's my plan, posted here in public to help keep me accountable:

- When I work on my Writersmarket.com, I'm going to stay focused on the task and not let myself get tempted into wandering off the path. If I think of something important I need to do online that's not related to my column, I'll keep a list (I'm big on lists).

- I'll let myself check e-mail ONCE mid-morning (I usually get up around 6:30 or 7 a.m., so that would be about 9:30 or 10) to see if there's any URGENT e-mail. I will resist answering other e-mail or checking e-mail again until noon.

A Brilliant Idea

What about YOU?

At this point, some of you out there are rolling your eyes and thinking, "Geez, that doesn't sound like much." And while this may not be for you, it's a big step for me. I'm going to revisit my goals and progress and post here again in a month, to let you all know how I did. And if any of YOU want to post your own related goals in the comments section, feel free! Then you can update us all on your progress in a month when I do.

Some of you may also be thinking, "See? THIS is why I stay off all social media." Let me be clear: I am NOT giving up on social media! In my experience, the benefits of using social media far outweigh the negatives. I just need to be more disciplined in when and how I use it.

Any thoughts? Comments? Anyone else want to post their monthly Internet Anti-Distraction Goals?