Busy Writer Friends: What’s Your Method?

I have tried and tried to come up with a witty first line for this blog post, but I’ve just added 2,500 words to my current Creepy Faces manuscript, so my brain has kind of transformed into an oatmeal-like goo. In light of that, this is my bland yet informative opening line:

I’m ever so honored to be the featured speaker at this year’s Birmingham Local Authors Expo in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday, February 1 at 10:00 am. 

Click the logo for more information.
Click the logo for more information.

THERE.

Seriously though, I am SUPER excited about this, and I’m pretty freaking pumped about the topic they asked me to speak about: How to write while having a life.

Because let’s face it, with all the things we do–jobs, families, housework, laundry (the LAUNDRY, MY WORD), meal planning, grocery shopping, car maintenance, pet care, yard work–finding a realistic way to include writing time is QUITE THE TRICK INDEED.

Now, I’ve got a few methods for working in some writing time here and there; I often write after school but before I pick up my kids, and sometimes–like today–I manage to grab a whole afternoon at Panera.

But I’d love to open up the comments to all of YOU, Grasshoppers, because I’ve got a feeling your methods are different than mine, and maybe you’ve even got a really snazzy little tip for others who struggle with balancing writing and life.

So if you’re a writer–even if you’re just dabbling–would you mind leaving me a comment and telling me when/where/how you write? How do you feel about the balance between your writing life and the rest of your life? Do you think anything needs to change, and if so, how do you plan to change it?

And just so we’re totally clear, if you do leave a comment, I’ll assume you’re giving me permission to use it as an example in my presentation. I won’t use names, but I’d love to mention some of your methods.

THANK YOU in advance, and if you’re in the Birmingham area on February 1, I’d love to see you at the Expo.

Happy commenting! I can’t wait to see how you write!

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13 thoughts on “Busy Writer Friends: What’s Your Method?

  1. Kathy Palm says:

    Well … I am a stay-at-home mom. I will write or work on crits for friends after I drop kids at school and before my workout. I grab a couple hours before the kids get home from school and then some after dinner until kids want me to read to them before bed. After that my brain turns to tired mush. I am prone to procrastination and Twitter is an addiction. The laundry, cooking, cleaning, shopping and getting kids to all the activities tend to slow me down on some days, but I do my best. Of course, the hubs demands I talk with him every once in a while. This year I must focus! I need to resist the call of Twitter, which will I’m sure prove difficult. Good luck with your speech! That’s very exciting!

  2. Jessica says:

    Before I had my second kid, I would stay up late and write after everyone was asleep, but now that there are two, I’m too tired to do that. Sometimes I’m able to write during naptime but not always as there are so many other things that need to be done. My newest strategy is getting up earlier than everyone else, but it’s really, really hard since I’m not a morning person. Basically I’m trying to decide if the not writing or the not sleeping will make me crazier.

  3. Jennie says:

    Luckily, my husband is home with me two out of three days. On the days he’s at the fire station, I label those as no writing days. The kids are on opposite nap schedules right now, so I literally have zero kid free time from the moment he leaves at 6:15am until their bedtime at 7pm. On the days he’s home, I have been taking a day a week to leave the house and write. I also take some time after the kiddos go to bed one night a week, maybe.

    It’s not much, but 2014 is about enjoying things more. I was trying to cram more writing time in and making it a chore, instead of fun. I’ll get less done this year, sure, but my job right now is being a mommy, and come August my oldest will be kindergarten 5 days a week.

    1. Anne Riley says:

      I think you’re definitely doing the right thing, Jennie… it’s really tough to enjoy writing when you’re trying to cram it in! Enjoy those kiddos!

  4. Jessica says:

    After thinking about this and getting through today, I realized that I left something big out. I almost always have a notebook with me. With the baby, it’s next to impossible to type while he’s awake without him screaming and trying to press every key. He’s much less interested if I’m writing with a pen. So I jot down things when I have a spare moment or two and often typing it up later gets my brain in the right space to continue. Anyway, hope this helps!

  5. Kevin Rogers says:

    When the weather is nice (not -40 with wind chill), I take my lunch break in my car. I park so I’m not distracted and write, edit, or nap (we won’t talk about how often naps win). Bad weather days I find an empty conference room to write. This gives me about 30 – 45 minutes of writing time a day.

    I pack a lunch and literally snack all day long, so when it’s time for my break, I’m not wasting time with eating first (or I eat at my desk and then take the break).

    At home, I am very distracted. At home, I turn into Super Procrastinator. At home, I let my mind wind down with Castle, Ancient Aliens, and Finding Bigfoot reruns. By 10pm the house has calmed down and I give myself about another hour to write, edit, or…or…fall asleep in the recliner.

      1. Kevin Rogers says:

        Another tactic hit me this morning while stuck in traffic, and of course, a BRILLIANT idea came to mind that will tie pieces of my story together. Whether it is my smartphone, tablet, or iPod, I always have one of these devices handy to record voice notes.

        Make sure the Voice Recorder app is on your home screen for easy activation and Bam! You are ready to garner strange looks from people in Home Depot as you note how to kill off a character in your WIP.

        ***NOTE*** Do not fumble with your electronic device while your car is in motion! Keep your brilliant idea ready for the next red light or stop sign and THEN press Record!

  6. Hunter Murphy says:

    What a great post! I have a lot to say on this subject. (And Anne, I look forward to hearing you speak at the Local Authors Expo. I manage the Twitter account @BPL and I am a writer myself.) You’ve gotten some really great ideas so far and I’ll offer mine. I am indeed a morning person (ideally, I would wake every morning like Anthony Trollope and scribble ten blisteringly- nay, dashingly- clever pages before facing the day). However, since I work and have a mortgage and a partner and a live-in mother-in-law, I have to be creative. If I can get in an hour or so in during the morning, it sets my day right.

    (I know an Episcopal priest who heads a church in Alabama. He writes poetry, has a neat wife, and lives an amazing life. He wakes up first thing and hits the pen or computer for an hour. He told me, “Hunter, if the writing goes well in the morning, all is right with the world that day.” I agree with him.)

    It is my humble belief that I was put on this earth to write things, so I absolutely make myself write at least five days a week for at least 8-9 months a year (that’s a draft of a novel even at only 500 words a day). Even when Willa Cather wrote full time, she only did it for two or three hours a day, because she said she needed every writing session to be an adventure (as one of your earlier commenters said). I think this says a lot, especially coming from one of the greatest Americans to put pen to paper.

    So, I work in the morning, some at lunch, and when I get home in the evening. As much as I’m in crazy-love with my spouse, I shut myself off in my study (a room with a view and a computer) for an hour or so, turn on some fine, fancy music- usually acoustic guitar pickers like Leo Kottke, or Baroque classical tunes, because if it ain’t Baroque, then don’t fix it, Mrs. Riley- and then I do as one of my high school basketball coaches commanded us to do: “Get after it, fellars.” I get after it until I’ve created 2-3 pages and then I let it go until the next session.

    I also ALWAYS carry a notebook with me, because I never know when my coy muse will decide to visit. I have written some of my favorite scenes in the doctors office waiting room and I’ve jotted down some terribly interesting ideas while my spouse and I are watching television in the evening. This writing life is an adventure and I’m having too much fun to stop now.

    Since I’ll be in the audience at the event, I hope you won’t use my name (please, madame). As a writer, I revel in anonymity. (Do you know what Fran Lebowitz said about writer fame? ““The best fame is a writer’s fame. It’s enough to get a table at a good restaurant, but not enough to get you interrupted when you eat.”)

    Anyway, I probably should’ve written this as an email, but it felt more fun to write it out here in the open for the NSA and everyone to read. 🙂 Please consider reading one of my favorite books of the year, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Curry http://dailyroutines.typepad.com/. It is a dream within a dream and you will want to be giving Hunter Murphy a high-five for recommending it, believe you me. The blog with the same concept is amazing too.

    Pardon the novella of a comment post! Have a great month and see you soon!

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