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!
I spent Saturday afternoon working in my flower beds. Plants had blossomed and looked sorry. It was time to cut back dead stalks and get the beds ready for winter. I was happy to see that most of the new plants I’d scattered through my old perennials had survived. One on the end died, but that was because bees–a friend said they were Indiana bees, not honey bees, even though they look the same–burrowed under the ground and killed its roots.
My writing’s sort of like my flower beds. I write a scene one day and concentrate on getting the story and characters right. The next day, I polish what’s there–sort of like maintaining the perennials already in my bed, pulling weeds that sprouted and pruning and deadheading–but also adding details to bring the scene to life and adding layers–like planting new plants to add more vibrancy to what’s already there. I always go through a scene twice, once to move the plot and characters, again to add details and layers. I write sparsely. Sometimes, I go through a scene a third time to add more.
I have friends who gush words. Whole chapters spill onto their pages, and they have to go back to trim and discipline. They make me jealous. My words come in fits and starts, scene by scene. I wish that made my words more wonderful, more weighty, but not so. It’s just the way my brain works. I think I’ve said before that I’m SLOW. Always have been. I was never the first student who understood a concept. It had to let it bubble in my brain for a while before it gelled. Same with writing.
Friends ask, “How’s the book coming?” And the truth is, for me, it’s an every day in your chair, boring process. No one’s ever going to get excited about it. Sometimes, not even me. Once in a while, I don’t WANT to put butt in chair, but once I start looking at yesterday’s work, I can’t wait to make it better, and that leads to the next scene and the next. And if I keep at it, eventually I have a book. And just like a flower bed that’s been weeded and cared for, when the flowers bloom, all the work is worth it.
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I wrote like a crazy woman in November and December, not because of word counts, but because, for the first time that I can remember, I decided to take a break from novels and novellas while my grandsons were here and when company came to stay with us for my husband’s surprise birthday/retirement party. The boys stayed here for three weeks, from December 14 to January 7, and John’s brother and our daughter and son-in-law flew in on January 10 to 14. I wanted to focus on people and enjoy them with no time out at my computer. Did I like it? Yes. Do I want to do it again? No. Why? I love friends and family, but I missed my writing.
I’m not saying that I have to do my usual routine–writing off and on for most of the day until it’s time to start supper–but if I would have squeezed in just one or two hours a day while the boys were here, it would have eased some of the itch of withdrawal. I missed my keyboard, my make-believe worlds, and my characters. It’s not like the boys need, or even want, to see me every waking minute, but people were in and out of the house, my husband was home, and I usually ditch everyone for my writing room, but this time I wanted to make the effort to bake cookies, cook their favorite meals, and enjoy them. It was a mixed bag for all of us. The truth? I enjoy being a writer, and THEY enjoy having me escape and do my thing for a few hours a day. (Okay, so maybe they want to get rid of me for a minute or two–hmmm). So next year? Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas, and they can live without me for a couple hours a day. It makes us all happy.