People used to ask me, How do you find the time to write with 6 children and all the volunteer work you do on art’s management committees? And I used to jokingly say it was the writing that kept me sane. (This was true, that was why it was a joke).
Now days I am struggling to get near my computer to write. You’ll all identify with the position I’m in – five kids at home, renovating the house, working part time (except for weeks like last week when I do 12 hour days to get through the marking) and trying to complete three books to hand in to my publisher early next year.
This morning I sat down at the computer to get stuck into a scene I’ve been having trouble with and I struggled with it.
For one thing the computer room is half dismantled because we’ll be tiling it in a few weeks and we have to move everything out. So there are boxes everywhere and I have to pick my way through them to get to the desk. (I hate working in the middle of a mess. Mess makes me twitchy).
Then, because it was the first time I’d been home all week, everyone came to me. They wanted to show me assignments and ask me questions. (Yes, I love my family but … I couldn’t get any steam up because I was constantly interrupted.
The other thing was I felt utterly flat. The marking I’ve been doing is very challenging (analysing storyboards and explaining why shots and camera movements did or didn’t work and making suggestions to improve them), so I was mentally drained. My creative well was dry, and I became frustrated with myself because I couldn’t just switch it on at will.
Here are a couple posts I’ve done in the past about creativity. Feeding your creative crucible and Creativity, can it be harnessed? In the end I went out and attacked the weeds in the garden because I had to do something. (And the garden desperately needed weeding. Not only am I a bad mother, I’m a bad gardener!).
The other thing I’ve noticed is that when ever I get to rocky patch with the current book, I’ll slip onto Twitter or I roam the blogs and download my emails. All of which is fun, but it doesn’t get the book written. So I’ve set up a screen and an old computer in my bedroom and I’m going to work there (where there’s no internet). I won’t be tempted to go surfing the web and there’s the added bonus that my bedroom is up stairs and at the far end of the house, so people will have to Really want to talk to me if they want to interrupt me. So, set aside a place that is going to be your writing place and remove temptations such as surfing the internet (and writing blog posts like this one).
Douglas Adams used to say that he loved deadlines. He loved the sound they made as the whooshed by. I’m one of those people who sets themselves deadlines then works like crazy to meet them. (It’s the inner obsessive compulsive in me). So I’m going to set myself a goal because I simply Must meet my deadline. 50 pages cleaned up and edited every week, (except the weeks when I have to do 12 hour days to get through the marking).
I should be able to meet that goal. There’s no point in setting a goal that’s too difficult. You’ll give up before you start. I find that with first draft, if I set myself the goal of four pages of new story a day (that’s 1000 words) the book just grows and grows. There will be days when 4 pages is a challenge and there will be days when I do 20 pages easy. So, if you’re going to set yourself goals make them small and achievable.
Here is a collection of articles on Time Management for Writers. As you can see I’ve already done a couple of the things they suggest.
If you are serious about learning the craft of writing, then you simply must give yourself the time and the room to grow as a writer. You need to be able to experiment and write that weird story that keeps bothering you. An important part of learning is Play and being able to make mistakes. It’s very freeing to give yourself permission to experiment and attempt new things. So there is the craft of writing and then there is the business of writing. Here is where Holly Lisle answers your questions about the business of writing. Which brings me back to my trilogy and trying to meet a deadline.
There, I’ve admitted I am struggling to get my trilogy cleaned up. The first step is to admit you have problem.
How are you going with your writing? Do you get diverted by Twitter and blogs? Do you get interrupted constantly by children? Are you burnt out from creatively draining paid work?
Do you have any suggestions you could share with me? Really, I’d love to hear how you keep the creative fire alight and get your stories written.