Monday, May 14, 2007

A Day in the Life...

as shared by Tawny Weber

Wake at 11, rested and fresh.
A leasurely breakfast in bed, the paper and a rose.
A quick jaunty walk through the park to clear my head.
An afternoon at the computer, words flowing like fine wine. Sweet, intoxicating and quickly melding into a fabulously addicting story.
Dinner out with my precious and well-behaved children and my ever-so-attentive husband.
An evening of entertainment as we relax together in our spotlessly clean house, well-trained pups at our feet, everyone happy and content.

Ha ....

I write fiction.

It always amuses me when people get comment on how easy it must be that I am home all day to write. The reality is, I don't write during the day - Because we homeschool, the morning and afternoon hours are when I teach my youngest daughter. They are also when I deal with email, promotional issues, endless phonecalls, and putting out fires. Lots of fires. I can't write during the day.

My house is a continuous work-in-progress, the laundry is never done, and my kids... well, really they really do rock. But the rest of that imagined day is wishful thinking.

I am lucky, though. I love writing and love being able to make it an intinsic part of my day to day life. And that it is - My family knows when the headphones go on in the evening, I'm checking out. Becaues this has been the standard MO for almost 5 years now, most of my youngest daughters life, they simply accept it as a given that mom writes.

I think there's a really important lesson in that. At least for me. Writing isn't a luxury or an option. It is what I do -- for years before I sold, it was what I did. Because I spent years pre-published building the habit of regular writing, training myself and my family to value the time and space of my craft, its now a given. Nobody questions it, whines or bemoans the time it takes me to write book. Just like we realize when my oldest daughter is gearing up for finals and give her some extra space, pick up the slack on her chores, etc, they give me that same support when its time for revisions or if a deadline is looming.

It's all in the training.

Even if you don't have a family to train, (or worse, if they aren't trainable) training yourself is vital. Dont'chya think?

What do you do to train yourself to write? Do you create a writing habit? A ritual around your workday that turns on the "writing brain"? If you don't, if you simply wing it, how does that work for you? I'm always looking for new tips to hone and streamline the proces LOL. Got any??


Christine Wells said...

Great post, Tawny. I really wish I could say the same, but my two boys are far too young to understand 'Mommy time' and my husband works long hours. Writing tends to fit in around everything else. My secret weapon is my mother, who is prepared to do whatever it takes to give me time to write that next book.

You're so right, it's important to train the family while you're still unpublished. In my experience, publication doesn't mean much to those who aren't writers, especially when they want clean socks!

Joan said...

I have nothing to train besides dust bunnies and...myself.

I always plan to write in the mornings on my days off and then find myself invariably getting just "one more chore" done, or running to the store or writing after that next rerun of "Ace of Cakes" is done on The Food Network. Sigh.

Just like making the decision to finally get back to Weight Watchers and lose this weight (8 1/2 lbs so far)I have to decide to make myself stay in my chair. The most aggravating part of it is...I'm not stuck with where to go with my story...I just need to do it.

Excuse me...gotta open up my file and get going.

Beth said...

I trained my kids to go to school -- does that count? *g* I'm fine during the school year but once summer vacation starts, all bets are off. Even though my kids are old enough not to need constant supervision, they do tend to like constant attention :-)

This year I'm going to write in the mornings while they're doing their chores so that when afternoon rolls around, I'll already have accomplished my writing goals for the day.

Yeah, it's a pipe dream but I'm holding on to it!

Anonymous said...

My biggest struggle is not finding time to write. I usually jam it in early in the morning, 5 am or so, and late at night, after the kids are in bed. (When you get up at 5, late is 8:30PM, by the way!) My struggle is reining myself in so I don't let writing take over my life and squeeze out all the other things I love--namely, my kids, but also my workouts, gardening, and, yeah, full time job. I love writing so much, if I even let myself open the laptop or look at a page of revisions, I'm lost.

So I savor my stolen hours at the computer but have to remind myself that balance is important, too.

As for techniques, I'm a big goal setter. This help make sure I'm on track on a monthly and annual basis. Perversely, I sometimes use my goals to back myself off--if I've written far more than I had planned for a couple of weeks, I force myself to take a few days off, read something, and spend a little extra time with dh.

Weird, huh? :-)


Christine Zampi said...

Well, I also trained my kids to go to school :) That's helps a lot. I worked for 17 years in computers so sitting at one for 4-6 hours doesn't bother me. I try to get in either an aerobics class or a 1/2 walk most days. Then throw the laundry in the washer or dryer and write until the kids come home.

I rarely write in the evenings because I want to be with my family but also because I'm sooo not a night person. I'm looking forward to getting my youngest in middle school in 1 1/2 years because the bus picks up at 7:30am. So I'll have an extra hour.

But there are days when my other job gets busy so I have to be flexible. If I can write 15-20 hours a week I feel good. Summer is always difficult with the kids home because they want to go to the pond. I try to get my edits/revisions down on paper then.

I think the key to all this is flexiblity and realizing that everyone has a different writing style. What works for one writer might not work for another.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Writing schedule? Wish I had one.

My work schedule floats, always nights, but no set days of the week. I've found if I crawl out of bed by 8 on my days off and write til noon, then I can take a nap. This also works on the first day of my work days.

I also try to answer e-mails in the morning after working, so that when I get up around 4 in the afternoon, I can write an hour before work, or 3 hours before dinner with dh. Of course the vampire that I am finds great peace writing in the middle of the night!

Kids? Thankfully they're all grown up and have jobs. I started writing when they were school age, and for most days, we all functioned under the rule for mom's sleeping or writing, "If you aren't on fire or bleeding arterial blood, don't bother mom."

The only new discipline I'm trying to incorporate into this bizzare schedule is walking the dog each morning. Which my body likes and the dog loves me for!

Caren Crane said...

Wish I had some magic for you, Tawny! With three kids and a full-time job, plus a Girl Scout troop and one other major volunteer commitment, writing gets short shrift when something has to go. When I am in full-on "writing mode", usually when I have set a tough goal or accepted a writing challenge, it is hard to do anything else.

I know I can be obsessive, so like Inara, I have to try for moderation. Now, if I could just moderate all the other parts of my life...

Buffie said...

Well, I am not a writer but I do relate to your post Tawny. I have somewhat trained my boys to leave Mommy alone while she is on the computer looking at her "book" stuff. I spend quite a bit of time on the web reading blogs and visiting several author message boards. I think I could spend the whole day doing that :)

Tawny said...

Christine can I borrow your mother? LOL - how awesome to have her in your corner, willing to make things happen with you! I know the training thing is hard- I couldn't do it when my youngest was little, thats for sure (btw - I tend to buy a LOT of socks and undies - less laundry detail *beg*)

Joan -WOOT!!! On the WW success - go you! I hear you on the aggravation - and I think thats where the butt-in-chair training really pays off, when the story is working but we just don't "feel like" writing. (btw, which rerun of Ace of Cakes? I'm still snickering over that rat cake).

Tawny said...

I think Inara is my long lost twin. Balance -OMG thats a post in itself. I struggle with balance and even though homeschooling creates a sense of "togetherness" my kids will be the first to tell you its not fun time LOL.

Beth, babe... start writing at night. Everyone's asleep and you have all that silence to help you (and you're readily availabe for your CP to chitchat with on the opposite coast) haahahahaha.

Tawny said...

What Christine said!!! Like our books, our writing processes and our "habits" definitely won't look alike! Me, I can't figure out how anyone can think in words, let alone write them in the morning (I think in grunts) but I fly late at night.

Suzanne - It sounds like the floating-schedule thing works great for you, huh? I like flexibility, my only problem is I can't seem to write in the daylight. Seriously. Vampire Muse.

Tawny said...

Caren - don't you LOVE writing challenges? I do *g* My competitive juices get flowing. I'm overcommited on so many levels myself (just gave up the Girl Scout one LOL) so I'm trying to cut back. That balance thing really is so important, and I realized that all those "things" I had to do was severely slashing away at my family time.

Aren't the boards addicting, Buffie? LOL - Go you on training the kids to let you read!

Anna Sugden said...

No job (other than writing), no kids, two cats who are pretty independent except around dinner time ... I should be bashing out books like there is no tomorrow!

Except ... life intrudes.

And I'm easily distracted *g*. (computer games *sigh*)

I've learned my best writing time is in the afternoon/early evening. So, I do chores/go to the gym/etc etc in the morning. I've also learned to treat writing like my job - Monday to Friday.

Most important is setting myself targets, so that when the will wavers, there is a calendar above my desk with a big blank space that says - where is today's page count?

Marianne Arkins said...

I'm a homeschooler, too, so am "on" almost all day. I get up early (4 a.m.) and my DD has orders to stay in her room until 6:30 a.m. That is my writing time and I do it every day -- including the weekends.

Anything else I squeeze in is icing on the cake.

Anna Campbell said...

I get up at a ridiculously early hour but these days, I then seem to settle down and do promo stuff through to a very early lunchtime. Blogs, articles, answering emails - it's actually great that I"m around at that hour because it's the perfect time to talk to the other side of the world. Then I write in the afternoon. Somehow doing all that stuff in the mornings settles my brain so I can work on my story. Or perhaps it's that everybody in the US is asleep! Interesting post, Tawny!

Christine, your mum is fantastic!

Tawny said...

Anna- our times sound similar. With schooling, there are breaks here and there during the day that I can cruise blogs, do promo bits, answer emails, but no way I can wrap my creative mind into a story. I'm laughing that we both write when others sleep, although its possibly at the same time since you're "waaaay" over there ;-)

Marianne - LOL on training your daughter to stay in her room! I actually write on weekends, too. The quiet night always seems to call for it.

Anna ;-) Write, baby, write - those big blank calendar spaces are SCARY!!!! I actually find I write better during the schoolyear when we have a tighter schedule -too much free time makes me think I have... well, free time LOL.

Trish Milburn said...

Marianne, I'm in awe of you getting up at 4 a.m. That is so not happening here. I'd rather stay up until 4 a.m. :) Of course, I don't have kiddos, so my life is much more flexible than those of the mommies. Still, with RWA board stuff, my freelance work, etc., I still have to schedule my writing time, which is actually okay since I've always been a planner/scheduler.

Keira Soleore said...

Tawny, I really liked this post, because given that I hardly time in large chunks, getting back into the "zone" is difficult.

Lately, I've been asking questions of other authors and experimenting with music, especially coming up with a playlist that will immediately reset my mind for writing.

Inara, thanks for your tips regarding goal-setting and balance.

Marianne, I'm in awe of your disciplined approach.

Suzanne, I loved your quote, "If you aren't on fire or bleeding arterial blood, don't bother mom."

Tawny & AnnaC: If I had my way, I'd be writing in the dead of the night. Unfortunately, a pesky little one is only too eager to wake me up in the morning. I have to train her Suzanne-style yet. So unfortunately, this means that I have to sleep at my most productive time. Someday... someday...