Sometimes I think this is the hardest thing for me. One must put all the distractions aside and this isn’t very easy. I have to look past my dusty house and the rugs that need vacuuming (remember I live in the desert). Of course I know it gets dusty everywhere, but we have dust and wind storms here and the whole back yard is the desert.
Thankfully, I only have a husband and cats to worry about, but believe me I couldn’t handle anymore than that and I commend you writers who have kids to manage as well and supportive families that allow you to take the time it takes to stay in your quiet place uninterrupted.
It seems, as a woman, there are always chores to attend to and, yes, this is the case even with no kids in the house. When your husband is retired and has nothing to occupy his time, it definitely cuts into your “free” time. This doesn’t even take into consideration meals, dishes to be washed, laundry to do, grocery shopping, etc.
I know a gal who has three young children and she is allowed to write from 8 pm until 2 am. (Oh my, did I say that? She is allowed - that does sound archaic doesn’t it?) I do have a certain amount of envy for her situation and would like to do the very same and sometimes I do take the liberty because the wee hours are the most productive for me. However, usually this gets me in trouble because I’m not “normal.”
That leads me to the question of just what is “normal?” I suppose everyone’s interpretation is different. To my husband it is sitting in front of the TV while he changes channels and tries to find something we both will watch in the evenings. All the while I’m thinking about the story going around in my head and taking mental notes to jot down later.
Anyway, back to writing since I seem to be off track again. After a usually restless night, I’m out of bed early (to my disgust because I’m not a morning person) and come upstairs to my office and refuge to have my coffee and start the day by doing my email while I wake up. There is no use in writing at that hour. That is unless I’m in the middle of a novel and then I can’t shut myself up.
I love those times when I have creativity leaking out of my pores, but I spend many sleepless nights jotting down notes in a notebook to type the next day. I was sleep deprived for four solid years when I wrote my first novel.
However, usually this is not the case and I’m constantly interrupted in the middle of my thoughts because I’ve “disappeared” upstairs for hours in the middle of the day, or my cats decide to pay a visit and lay across my keyboard while I’m trying to type as fast as I’m thinking.
Now my husband is a wonderful man, but he doesn’t understand having a creative soul in his midst. He had a rigid upbringing, much more so than I did and he thinks reading, writing or any artistic endeavor is a waste of time. I guess the only reading he did as a child was for school because he had to. I’ve never known him to read one book in the 37 years I’ve known him. He says “books are too long,” so he’ll thumb through magazines when the notion strikes.
You can see why it’s hard to get focused on a project and stay on it. I have amazed myself that I’ve gotten three novels finished and published, especially when I have to keep a “normal” schedule and head to bed no later than 11 pm. Of course he’s always in bed much earlier than that.
I’ve come to the conclusion that you have to seize any moment you have. Since my time seems to be in short supply, I have to open a blank page in Word as soon as I’m awake enough to think and just start in free writing. You can always throw this away if it’s that bad, but, hey, sometimes things fall into place and if you tell yourself that you have to write at least 4 pages a day, it will become easier as the story takes shape. And remember, that’s about 1000 words a day, so in no time you’ll have some sort of novel to at least start with when it comes to polishing, rewriting, editing, removing, etc.
Once you have a few pages down you can usually run with it and will surprise yourself to find you have written more than four pages in a couple of hours. Of course there will be moments you are blocked too, so re-reading a few pages will help to get you going again.
Usually once I make it to the first edit stage, I find that I’m actually adding more detail into the story and making it better as I go.
The important thing is not what you write, but that you do make the time to write something. You must be committed to writing a novel. Don’t ever skip a day because if you do it’s like undertaking to exercise and deciding its okay to skip a day. Once you skip one day, it’s easier to skip the next day and so on and pretty soon you’re out of the habit of writing altogether.
Think of writing as a new habit and make it a way of life. It won’t be long and you’ll look forward to your writing time, even if it’s just a blog post and not adding to your novel.
Once writing becomes a habit, you’ll view the world and your surroundings in a different way. Your eye will be drawn to the creative side of things and you’ll notice little details that you didn’t before. A writer should always see details because this comes in handy when describing scenes and characters in your stories.
I like to pay attention to the way people interact with each other and the way they converse. Talk to people in the check out line at the grocery since you have to be there anyway, note mannerisms which could be helpful to use for characters later on. Even reading articles in the newspaper or on the internet may spur ideas or questions you can use in stories. And we all have childhood memories to draw from as well different people we’ve met over the years in the various places we’ve lived. The material is really endless. If need be, keep a journal of ideas and thoughts.
The main thing is to stay focused, write every day and don’t let life get in the way too often. Does anyone have anything to add that can help us all?