There’s only one person who needs a glass of water oftener than a small child tucked in for the night, and that’s a writer sitting down to write. ~Mignon McLaughlin, American journalist and author
Oh, how I can relate to this quote!!
It was hard enough writing my first book (well, actually my “debut” novel was my third book, but who’s counting except me?)
I didn’t set a timetable for completion, so when I finally typed The End — and realized how long it had taken to get there — I was ashamed. Why so long?
I had a son to raise. A business to run. Other glittering things that captured my attention, like beading jewelry, blogging, Twitter, learning to play the flute. And eventually, taking care of my aging mom.
While I like to tell myself I’ve learned from that process, I’m not fully sure I have.
Life is still intervening as I try to pull together my next novel.
And I don’t see that changing.
After all, most writers don’t have the luxury of doing nothing but write. We have to cook, grocery shop, go to the doctor. We have to pay bills, do taxes, read, sleep.
(Like that feature in one of those supermarket tabloids that shows photos of celebs doing “ordinary stuff” the rest of us do — and looking pretty ordinary to boot.)
Sometimes I imagine how lovely it would be to focus all my attention on writing. To shun everything that doesn’t result in words on the page. To rent a cabin in the woods (or on a mountain, or by the sea) just so I can write. And I fantasize about taking an extended Amtrak trip for the same purpose.
But realistically, it’s not gonna happen. There are too many other things I want to do.
Too many other things I need to do.
So I steel myself to dig deep. Use the time I have wisely. Streamline plotting and characterization. Turn away from pretty things that sparkle. Stop procrastinating.
And accept the fact that tomorrow’s another chance to get it right.
Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. ~Spanish Proverb
“After all, most writers don’t have the luxury of doing nothing but write. We have to cook, grocery shop, go to the doctor. We have to pay bills, do taxes, read, sleep.”
Exactly, Debbie. You’re absolutely right. Not being someone who has ever written a book and understands just how time-consuming and overwhelming it must be, I can still understand that everyday life can be a distracting because lets face it, those things DO have to be taken care of.
I think there must be only handful of writers/authors who have the luxury (and the money) to “just” writing.
I so admire you for how you’ve been able to do all the things you do, yet at the same time, have published a novel AND have written TWO others.
Bravo to you, my friend!
Have a fantastic week!
Ron, thanks ever so much for your kind words of encouragement! I never expected writing a novel to be a cakewalk, but I never expected it to be this hard either, ha. You know, I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone who can tune out the distractions and focus on the task at hand, whether it’s writing, performing, calculating, designing, or whatever requires total concentration.
I think it just requires a bit of trial and error to determine what works best. Some write in a burst; others write a bit here and there. Some have the luxury of solitude; others prefer a crowded environ like a coffee shop. I guess we’re all different.
Storms here today (that we’re sending your way tomorrow). Be careful and enjoy your week! xo
I’ve come to the conclusion that “just writing” works for only a very few. Most of the writers I most admire, whose routines I know something about, write only a few hours each day: somewhere in the neighborhood of three to five. It’s the focus on writing and only writing during those hours that’s key — or so it seems to me, looking in from the outside. That “glass of water” takes many forms, that’s for sure!
Thank you, Linda, for your support! Some days I truly don’t have 3-5 hours for writing, and that’s probably why it’s taking me so long to get to the end of this one. I guess I just need to write faster! I also imagine outlining would help, but having to do that would, I’m afraid, take away most of my enjoyment. Okay, back to the document at hand!
I’ve managed to publish five books since 2012 by a simple rule. 1000 words a day. No more no less. Yeah, I could do more but I’m in this for the long haul. Good post, Debbie.
Good advice, John, and I thank you for offering it. One thousand words a day, no more no less, seems to work for you. Do you count your blog posts in that total, or are you just counting your WIP? Can I also count letters to friends, emails, grocery lists, etc.?? (No, I’m not being facetious — I’m serious. I just never actually counted all the words I write!!)
Just WIP. About an hour of writing.
Thank you, John. You write FAST!!! Sometimes I find myself dawdling over an entire scene for an hour; I love it though when the words flow and I can crank out a couple of chapters before quitting!
I think I’m used to the 1000 word scheme. Didn’t used to be that fast.
Practice and dedication to hitting whatever goal you’ve established seem to be paramount. Well done!
Thank you, Debbie
The thing is where ever we go we have to take ourself’s along and myself is always thirsty or wants a pan of brownies or on a train, a cup of coffee always helps creativity. I guess we just do the best we can from where we are with what we have (many have said it so I’ll leave out the quotes) and I bet you are doing just fine!
Aw, thanks, Katybeth! Taking ourselves along is often the problem, isn’t it? Maybe I just need to Superglue my bottom to the chair! Today was pretty good — lots of words written and I’ve left off where I know I can start anew tomorrow. Not every day is like that, unfortunately. If I’ve got errands to run, clients to coddle, and the moon is in the wrong sign (not seriously, but you know what I mean — distractions!), argh! Now I’m thinking brownies, a whole pan of them!!
It’s the living life that gives you the experiences and knowledge you need to be able to write books, so really you are writing all day. People who shut themselves away in a cabin and “just write” would have nothing to write about except life in a cabin… 😀
FF, you’ve made my day!! I never looked at it like this before. Now I’m happy to hear I’ve done something right! I guess what I should be concentrating on is balance. A bit of this, followed by a bit of that. You’re absolutely right, of course — nobody can write in a vacuum. Thanks for making me feel better about once in a while succumbing to the distractions of glitter!!
You’re a great writer and I’m proud of your ability to go for it. May book two be blessed.
What kind, generous words, Audrey — thank you!
I was excited when you wrote your first book. I know you can do it again. I wrote a book years ago and it’s in my laptop. But I have improved since I wrote it. My husband wants me to use my blogs and turn some subjects into a book. I still find it so hard to write. My blog I posted yesterday took me a week of hard work. Writing is so hard for me. I try to stop… but I still do it. Why do we right?
I really like what John Howell said about the 1000 words a day. I might try to adapt that for me.
Thank you, Tanya. John is an excellent writer, and I need to take his advice, too. I know what you mean about how hard writing is though. Sometimes I find myself writing entire chapters, then tossing them out in frustration — pretty hard to get a book written that way!!