Interruptions? Bring them on!

I write almost every day.  I start my morning with coffee and yakking with HH, then head into my office.  Sorting through e-mails, blogs, and twitter helps jumpstart my brain, and then I get down to the business of putting words on my computer screen.  My grandson in Indy calls nearly every morning at 10:30 when he’s taking his dog on its walk.  No matter what I’m doing, if I’m in the middle of revising or writing a scene, I stop to talk to him.  My daughter often calls in the afternoon.  I stop again.  My grandson in California, in the marines, calls at odd times.  And my sister calls a few times most days.  Those are just the regulars.  And I look forward to every one of their calls.

I’m not one of those people who can sit down and write 10,000 words in one day.  Well, I don’t think I am.  It’s never happened.  I write a scene, and then my mind wanders.  I fiddle with something else until the next scene comes to life for me.  I know what each scene needs to do because I outline every single one of them before I start a book.  But I still need to noodle how I want to present it.  A phone call is a perfect distraction to jerk my mind in a new direction and let the characters decide how to get where they need to be.

Some days, when the phone rings more often than usual, I might get more distracted than  I want to, but life has to be about balance.  And as much as I love writing, I love friends and family just as much.  They all have to make room for each other.

When I first started writing, and the kids were little, my husband worked second trick. There was always someone underfoot, even if I went to the basement and hid in a corner to write.  Maybe that’s why I can’t plough through words for hours at a time.  Distractions were part of my writing rhythm.  I worked around them.  Now that the kids have grown and moved out, my husband’s retired.  Now he’s the one who pops in and out of my office enough to keep me entertained.  On off days, when he leaves for an entire day, I have trouble getting any work done.  The house feels too quiet.  I get up and wander to the kitchen over and over again to get more coffee, a glass of juice, to look out at my birdfeeders.  I need distractions to function at top capacity.

What about you?  Do you pound out lots of words in one day or do you dribble them out like I do?  What works best for you?  And whatever your method, happy writing!



Writing & Distractions

I have a writing office, of sorts. It used to be a small bedroom in the back of our bungalow that we lined with bookshelves on two walls. The carpenter built a shelf large enough in the center of one wall to hold my keyboard and the mountain of papers that I can’t seem to ever organize. Above it, there are cubbyholes to hold paper clips, my stapler, and a lot of junk I should sort through. The bookshelves hold the novels I read that I can’t seem to part with–the ones I think someday I’ll reread, but rarely do. But I still can’t get rid of them. Looking at the titles and covers bring back too many good memories, sort of like looking at photograph albums.

I had to give away some of the books that got jammed in here to make way for the overload of Temptation bowls and casserole dishes I ordered from QVC that won’t fit in our kitchen. (An addiction for the moment, but now that the kids have grown up, I can justify matching sets. They might survive without chips). At first, I thought I’d mind having dishes and platters mingled with books, but somehow, it fits my writing style. Cookbooks nestle with mysteries and my favorite urban fantasy authors. A soup tureen sits below the “Scribes” shelf that holds books and articles by friends in my writers’ club.

A parakeet cage hangs in one corner of the room, near the long, narrow window that lets in light. Hermes, our blue parakeet, chirps to me while I write. A dog bed is close to my office chair where my daughter’s rat terrier, that couldn’t move to Indy with her because she’s a nurse who works too many hours, stretches out and sleeps. Our little chihuahua comes and goes, pestering me when he wants something. And the stray cat we made our own leaps on my keyboard when he’s tired of being ignored.

I’ve gone to houses that have serious offices with doors that close. My office has a door, too, but it’s almost always open. For one thing, I’m naturally nosey. If something’s going on, I want to know. Mostly, it’s habit. For over thirty years, kids popped in and out to tell me something or to ask a question while I fussed over stories. Some people complain about distractions, but I enjoy them. If I have to sit too long in too much quiet, my ideas dry up. If I hit a snag in a scene, that justifies a trip to the coffee maker.

“Play some music,” one of my friends told me. But I end up listening to that instead of writing. My story juices flow better when I live inside my head. But if left to myself too long, those ideas just bounce around like tiny ping pong balls, never landing anywhere. That’s when a distraction’s welcome. It gives me time away and lets my subconscious do its thing.

I’ve read a few blog posts about authors who can write 10,000 words in a single day. To me, that’s like Superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. If I stayed in my chair and closed my office door, I know I’d get more words done each day, too. But I’d get sick of them. And a large part of why I write is to entertain myself, because I LIKE it. Hopefully, readers will like it, too, but I’m not too into drudgery, and it would show. My brain’s not fast enough to process words and scenes that fast, even if I chained myself to my desk. So for me, I write a scene, then I look for a distraction before I write the next one. And if I can describe that as a method, it works out pretty well.