Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Writing

If you read and enjoyed the LOL-cat earlier, excellent!

I am now at liberty to write my actual post. The picture was a placeholder because I've come to realize that I have to discipline myself about getting my work done on a daily basis. Blogging, facebook, twitter, MySpace, answering emails -- those have to wait or I may wind up killing the whole day in extraneous or non-essential pursuits.

That's a problem because a writer is someone who writes. Not when the mood strikes or they feel like it or it's too cold and rainy to do something more fun. Though this is the best job in the world, it's still a job. There are business issues, monetary concerns, and deadlines to consider. Once you sell, your world cannot be governed wholly by sparkly muses in gossamer gowns.

People have asked me how I manage to produce every single day (well, five anyway - Monday through Friday). They ask, what's your secret? Some people say I'm an inspiration; others say I'm a machine. In my opinion, neither is true.

I simply treat this as my work. In the morning, I do my work before anything else. I mean, if you worked in an office and you spent eight hours in your email without contributing anything else to the company -- and you did it day after day, how long would you last? Now maybe there are certain inefficient corporations where you could cog along, collecting a paycheck, but that doesn't mean it's the best way to get ahead.

Therefore, I set aside 9-5 as my work hours. I do skim my email first thing to make sure there are no fires I need to put out, but after that, I close it down, and dive into my WIP, where I stay until I've written at least 1500 words. With my Jax books, that's about a chapter and I do two a day. At that point, I take a break and reward myself with a little more email (make sure nothing's gone wrong) and maybe Twitter a bit. I walk around a bit, maybe fix myself a cuppa tea. (This is my equivalent of the coffee break.) Then I get right back to it. I keep working until I've cleared my goal of 3K. Sometimes I get it done insanely fast. Today, for instance, it took me 2.5 hours to write 3K. That's something of a record, and the book was just clicking along. Sometimes it takes my alloted 9-5 and I don't screw around a bit, but the words are coming slow, and I'm not quite sure what the hell I'm doing. Either way, I don't knock off until the work is done.

Since I finished early today, I made myself a yummy PBJ with cherry jam for lunch and now I get to do fun stuff like blog, send emails, chat on Twitter, and read some of my RITA books. This kind of work ethic reinforces itself if you do it five days a week. It's really not so hard to treat this like a day job and work accordingly. But better than any day job, if you meet your goal, you can knock off early and do whatever the hell you like with the rest of your time, which is a massive incentive to write like a fiend. I really don't think I'm the only one who can succeed going at it this way.

Give it a go!

That is, if you don't already have a day job. In which case, ignore everything I just said. Happy Wednesday!

5 comments:

azteclady said...

heh

Shawn said...

I so wish I could do that! Having a 3 year old tends to make it difficult to have set writing times though. Several authors I've spoken to say that they employ babysitters for their writing time, but I just can't spare the expense.

Angie Fox said...

That's where I am, Shawn. Writing with a 2 year old and a 4 year old. And for me, babysitters can be a quick fix, but not a real solution for the day-in, day-out. For one thing, the cost really adds up. For another, it's harder for me to write when I think, "I have to get something done right now. Tick, tock, tick, tock."

What works for me is slow and steady. I may not write five books a year, but I write when I can and build a schedule that works. Luckily, my kids still take afternoon naps, so I coordinate their schedules and write during that time.

If I'm on a crazy deadline or when I my editor asked to see The Accidental Demon Slayer and I had about eight chapters to go, I add an extra session everyday from 4:00 a.m. - 7:00 or so (whenever the kids get up). It's not easy, but it's about finding what works for you and being okay with not being as prolific as you'd like. After all, they don't stay little for long!

On a side note, my crit partner is in the same boat - writing with a three year old at home. She actually sold in a two-book deal to Berkley less than a week after giving birth to her new daughter. It can be done! Just hang in there. :)

aimdel said...

I am not a writer but did work from home for a short time when my kids were young.. so my suggestion to Shawn is to partner with someone else who may need a babysitter, and trade days. If you have someone like Angie's friend who also has kids and needs "adult time" (writeing or just decompressing time) you can just trade babysitting services. Its a free arrangement.
One other thing I did was since I was home in the morings and did the Morning Routine while my hubby was working, I had him deal wiht the bed time stuff, he does story time,bath time, tunk in and such. It gives me some time to work while he gets some prime Daddy time. My doughter likes it so much that she won't let me put her to bed anymore. Daddy's job is to tuck her in and ONLY Daddy can do it! (I still get bed time kisses and hugs) :) I hope these suggestions will help wiht writing as well!

Ann Aguirre said...

Those are really good suggestions!