Thursday, May 22, 2008

How do we do it?

I've always been fascinated about writers' schedules. They don't punch in at the office, aren't paid by the hour, and unless there's a deadline, can keep their own time. I know if I've carved out a writing day- I procrastinate. Browsing ebay, checking mail, paying bills, emptying the dishwasher- it doesn't take much to distract me from sitting in front of the computer. Once I'm there though, I enjoy the rhythm of writing- the sound my fingers make typing, the words filling up the page, the uninterrupted thoughts.

For me, it's a mid-morning to early afternoon block- regulated by the school day- old habits don't change easily. And lately, those days are more infrequent. I carry a notebook to record random thoughts- but it's not the same as writing on the screen. No legal pads for me.

I admire those that can write from 4 am- 6 am, then get kids off to school, exercise, and focus some more until school lets out, resuming writing again after dinner. Children of course look at a book and think it appears magically. They probably don't see writing as work -- and few know it's a job. They like to know where a writer gets ideas, and are fascinated how writers might take something from their own lives and turn it into a story. Adults like to know - how do you do it? When did you find the time? What is your work day? Do you write only on the computer? Or in long hand on scraps of paper? Or fill notebook after notebook? Hearing how we "do it" can be inspirational. I'd like to know!


  1. I'd love to inspire you, Lisa, but procrastination's a problem for me too. It can take me hours to "clear my head" (read: do dishes, pay bills, run errands, read the paper) before I'm A.I.S. I've been problogginating lately too. (Blogcrastinating?) I'm trying to follow what Joan Bauer has said was the best advice she ever got: "Write when you feel like it and write when you don't."

  2. Spider Solitaire is my greatest downfall. That and weaving, reading, baking. I rationalize and claim that those things are creative too, and the weaving is, but it's all procrastination by another name. Still, I think taking a break is not a bad thing - having your head in the right place is essential, at least for me.

  3. My way of avoiding words that won't cooperate is to check my e-mail and surf the sites about writing on the net. I could tell myself that reading ABOUT writing is as good as doing it, but I know better.
    As for method, I start a writing project in pencil on a yellow legal pad. Then I move over to the computer. I print out my work often because I can't see awkward faults on the screen - only on paper.

  4. I tend to write in longhand on scraps of paper-- whatever happens to be around when I get inspired. Eventually I transfer to the computer. Then I print out a draft and make marks all over it longhand when it's time to revise. This cycle continues as I type my revisions back into the computer. This computer / longhand combination may sound a bit nutty, but it works for me.

    As far as my schedule. Lately I haven't been writing anywhere near often enough. Blogging is awful for procrastination as is reading about writing. Got to get my pen back to paper soon. (I've got a ton of dinosaur books on my research reading list, so hopefully that will get me jumpstarted on finishing a fun project!)

  5. Well, if you've ever really looked at the face of one of those writers who gets up at 4:00AM - they all have dark circles under their eyes.

    Seriously though - I admire writers who can do that too. I hit the snooze alarm too often to be one of them. What works for me is promising myself to "touch" my writing every day, whether it's rewriting one sentence or giving myself a goal, even a simple one, I find I can manage to get work done.

    Puttering can be a good thing. Who knows what the subconcious is up to when your mind is busy on another task? I tend to think a lot about my story when I'm folding clothes or roaming through the supermarket. I also talk my story out loud (but not in the supermarket). I tend to do it in the car and just hope if anyone sees me talking to myself they think I'm talking on a cell.