Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Writing Life

Photo by Angela Anderson-Cobb
The writing life of a writer. What do those words mean to you? Do you envision a person hunched over a computer, typing away all day and into the late night hours? Do you see a person out on the deck with their laptop, surrounded by shade trees and bird chirping? Or do you see a person sitting in front of a blank screen, glancing at the clock, tempted to go scrub the toilet instead of pouring out their heart into a new story?

Writers are an interesting lot. They are as varied as the snowflakes that fall in winter, each different from the other, yet uniquely beautiful in their own way. So how could anyone know what the typical day in the life of a writer is like?

Hint: There is no typical day in the life of a writer.

In fact, to prove this point, I have asked the Alley Cats to share their typical day. Here's what they have to say about their writing life:

CINDY:  I try to keep my writing/blogging/social networking career to the weekdays and I try to fit it all in before dinnertime.

I will get up early and while the big kiddos are still sleep and littlest one is happy, I answer e-mails and comment on blogs and sometimes get on Facebook.

Then when the littlest one is napping, I use that time to critique chapters and write. I do this in snippets throughout the day, until hubby gets home, where I try to fit in 45 minutes to an hour of straight writing until I need to make dinner. (I aim for 1,000 words a day.)

I'll also check e-mails and blogs and Facebook randomly throughout the day as I'm walking by the computer and cleaning or helping the kids with something :)

PEPPER: I check email around 6:45-7:15 in the morning (during summer). During the school year it is usually between 5:45-6am. Then, breakfast to work to home.
I usually check blogs, emails, etc during my lunch break (when I have opportunity) and then write from about 9 or 9:30- 11 or 11:30pm. I really like weekends!!! MORE Writing TIME!!! YAY!

MARY:  I am like oil and water, swirling through time unorganized, uncharted, researching, writing, breaking for emails/fb, riding the wave back to researching and writing, never ending, always happy.

Even when I'm cleaning house or running errands my mind is doing the above.
The only "do not disturb" time is devotions, church, fun chat times with God, and hubby time.

CASEYEarly mornings: blogs, emails, Facebook, mindless catch up (usually on social media)
I always put together a to-do list first thing in the morning to remind of what I need to do and use it as motivation through the day. 

Editing or rough drafting a novel. For at least an hour in each project. 
I usually take a break mid afternoon to exercise and then get together with Julia to write together as motivation to stay focused. 

I have a hard time staying focused though and hop over to emails and facebook too many times a day. I'm trying to stop myself from letting that get out of control. Quicker I get my work done, the quicker I can enjoy a couple chapters or at the very least get AWAY from the computer!! ;-)

KRISTA:  I have no typical writing day. They are all different!

I write the most when hubby has a surprise day off and I get to go to Starbucks and write, write, write.

I also utilize naps in the afternoon... but that is also a time for me to "clean" without a little one running around, so i don't always get that.

Now that the kids are off school, I sometimes put them on "Play with Annabelle" duty and go into my room and right. That usually doesn't last a long time, though. I try to write after everyone is in bed, but Mommy is tired then too! So that doesn't always happen....

Really, it's finding the nooks and crannies of time, the moments when everything is half-way running well and nothing is going to explode if I sit down for a half hour to write.

I also use "wait" times for brainstorming. In the shower... waiting for an appointment... while making dinner... anytime that my brain can go on auto-pilot with whatever I'm doing and go into story-world dreamland.

JULIA:   Right now my writing time is three times a week right after dinner. Casey and I meet for accountability during the school year. Its quite helpful to have an accountability partner! Often the writing time might stretch on further. My goal is to get 1K written in that hour or if I'm editing trying to get a few pages edited. Editing for me is slower than writing, but I'm still learning the whole process.

A few times a week my husband and I will listen to a craft related audio or attend seminars such as My Book Therapy or Fiction Academy. Oftentimes I will reply to blogs a bit during that time. 

Its so big for me to accept where I am in this season. Parenting is a short season, writing is something I will have for the rest of my life. So I try to remember that and take the joy in these years. 

I know some people can write with interruptions, they can easily shift from building blocks to writing a paragraph to mopping up a spill. This just doesn't work as well for my personality. 

ANGIE:  I am totally random. I also expect to have time after kids are in bed...but sometimes I am just too tired. I will put Libby down for a nap and let the kids watch a movie if I get inspiration.

During the school year, I did it regularly, three times a week while baby napped and boys were in school. This year, I'll have the baby only, so I am hoping to schedule time each day. 

ASHLEY:  Having a regular writing time is something I've been working on lately, because it's so easy for me to get distracted! During the school year, I usually teach every other day and try to focus writing time on the in-between days. I'll use writing time as motivation to get through class-prep for the next day. :) Summer is great when I'm not teaching, though, because it gives me a lot of free writing time. I find I tend to write best at night, especially late at night when the day is slipping away and my mind stops "thinking" so much and just creates. 

KAREN:  Pre-pregnancy I used to get up at 5am every morning to write. I did that consistently for the last 12 months. Then I fell pregnant and was up half the night with insomnia, so my routine had to change. My kids are in family daycare two days a week, so those became my writing days (if I wasn't called in to work) - I'd go to the library for the day and write solidly.

Now that baby is here I'll have to find out what works for me. I had no expectations of the first 3 months, because with my last two babies I was completely sleep deprived and had not a minute to spare during the day. But Allegra is such a good baby I'm beginning to think I'll be able to get a lot done during her sleep times on the days when the two boys are in daycare. I'll have to play it by ear and see what works for us. :-)

SHERRINDA (me):  I get up at 5 a.m. and either write or check blogs/emails/FB/Twitter until 6 a.m., when I get ready for work. During the school year, I don't get ready until 6:30 a.m. and which really gives me time to get things accomplished. I do have some time in the evenings, but oftentimes, I am just so tired from work, my creative spark has sputtered out. 

As you can see, we are all so incredibly different. Some have full time jobs. Others are home all day. Some have little children, and some are almost empty nesters. Some are morning writers and some are night writers. Some need long stretches of time to concentrate and others are adept at snatching a few minutes here and there to put their words on the page. 

Everyone is different and has their own way of writing. Each one knows what works for them. We each need to carve out the writing life that best suits us and our stories. What is the best schedule to facilitate our creativity? Do we need to shave off a little time in the evenings? Or whittle away a little sleep in the mornings, getting up earlier to write our stories? What kind of polishing do we need to do on our schedules to make room for our writing? All things to consider when you are developing your writing life.

What kind of writing life are you carving out for yourself? 

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.


Mary Vee Storyteller said...

What a fun post. And you're right, we are all different yet accomplishing the goal God has given.
Thanks, Sherrinda

Cindy R. Wilson said...

I love seeing how everyone else manages their writing schedule. I'll have to check the comments later and see how others do it!

Julia M. Reffner said...

I loved reading about writing time and the differences/similarities. I will look forward to hearing from our Alley friends.

Dr. Sharon A. Mitchell said...

Sherrinda you caught me with your description of C.A.R.E. Nice post.

I also teach at university and my field is autism as well, but I'm not an SLP; I come to this through psychology and a son with Asperger's.

I recently tried a new way to deliver ASD information - a novel, that's a light read for busy parents and teachers. http://www.amazon.com/School-Daze-ebook/dp/B0085HN9HQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341268238&sr=8-1&keywords=school+daze+mitchell.

Thanks for your post.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

My writing style right now most resembles Krista's - little snatches of time in between naps, meals, chores, play time and when the kids are being entertained (like right now) and I can squeeze in a little social media/writing. Actually, I am in the middle of writing a guest post right now for Keli Gwyn's blog and needed to get away from it for a moment, so I'm reading blogs - but I'll go back to it with fresh eyes in a while to read through it one more time and then I'm off to make a couple appetizers for this evenings 4th of July festivities at my in-law's lake place! I'll probably get back to my writing around 10:00 p.m. and I'll be up into the wee hours of the morning when my house is quiet...

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Hey Mary! Isn't cool how we all are so different? I love that!

Cindy, I am pretty sure people aren't blog hopping much this week due to the 4th, so there may not be many comments! :) Thanks for sharing yours!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Dr. Mitchell, thanks for stopping by. Actually, Pepper Basham is the author of the CARE post. She is the one who works with students with Asperger's. I will let her know you enjoyed her post!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Gabrielle, I used to could stay up late writing, but I must be getting old. I need more beauty sleep!!! You sure sound like a busy gal, but I love how you slip in writing whenever you can!

Krista Phillips said...

Love this post, Sherrinda!!!! It's fun to see how we are all different and make do with what works for each of us!!

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Krista, it was fun to see how "others" do it. I love knowing that there is no right or wrong way to order our writing life!

Unknown said...

Right now my writing life is organized around my day job. I get up at 5 a.m. to squeeze in a good 90 minutes after my quiet time. Then in the evening I usually give 2-3 hours to writing. I make weekly goals to help me stay on task. Only way I know to do it.

I love hearing how others fit it all in, too. :)