The Write Romantics are a good mix of ages and backgrounds. We have retired members, self-employed members, those who work part-time, those who work full-time and those who aren’t of retirement age but are able to write full-time. I’ve previously asked where the group write but, this month, I was curious as to when they write. Is it the case that the more time you have to write, the less you actually get done?
Helen R says…
I’m lucky that I can write during the day when the kids are at school. As soon as I’ve dropped them off it’s straight to my desk and I find that the quiet really helps. I’ve found that getting myself into a routine of doing this really helps me to be more productive. I start with social media and allow myself between 30 and 45 minutes, but then I’ll stay away from it for a while so that I can write or edit. If I left Twitter and Facebook on all the time, I’d never get anything done. It’s a lot of fun but so easy to spend too long on there.
I’ll also work a few evenings a week depending on what deadlines I have but I’ll shut myself in the study and put music on so that I can’t hear anything else in the house. The music helps me to zone out. I tend to take time off at the weekends so I won’t work Friday or Saturday evenings as the weekend is family time. I’ll go onto social media quickly though, because it’s easy to do when you’re out and about or the kids are otherwise entertained 🙂
I also try to fit in exercise during the week when the kids are at school, so two mornings a week I’ll do Pilates and one cardio class…most likely Zumba although I’ve been playing a bit of badminton recently. I need to do the exercise or I find I get too sore sitting at a desk all day.
I think the most annoying part of my daily writing routine is that the good ideas always happen, and the best writing always flows, at three o’clock when I have to get out the house and pick the kids up from school!
When I first retired from the day job, I had a strict routine. I was going to treat writing like a new job, and I made sure I was dressed, breakfasted and at the computer by 9 am. That was then… Things have deteriorated somewhat since. It’s the freedom that comes with ‘retirement’ I suppose, although now I’m getting published I no longer consider myself retired. But still I have the wonderful freedom of that ideal state, the downside of which is that I procrastinate like mad because there’s always ‘later’. Unfortunately, ‘later’ doesn’t always come and I can get to the end of the day, having perhaps been out for coffee with a friend, seen to this and that in the house or garden, watched Bargain Hunt (only over lunch, you understand!) and somehow the rest of the day has drifted by and I haven’t been near the writing. Although I will have checked Facebook, Twitter and caught up with emails. Funny that.
When I’m really into a writing project, though, I do knuckle down. That certainly happens when I’m in the last quarter of a book, can see the end in sight and want to get it done. The beginning has me putting in the hours too. It’s the middle where I’m most likely to be faffing about and putting it off. I suspect that’s true for lots of writers.
When am I most creative? Probably if I had to pick a time of day it would be early morning, but only once my OH has left for work at 8am. I want to be alone – who said that?
If I do manage to sit down at the computer that early, I may not be dressed. No, I definitely won’t be dressed, because the words are flowing and I don’t want to stop. So I can still be tapping away at ten o’clock in my pyjamas, without having had breakfast, and hoping to goodness the front door bell doesn’t ring!
Over the past year or so I’ve discovered that I write best first thing in the morning. As I’ve never thought of myself as a morning person this has taken a bit of getting used to. On weekdays I tend to get up at about 7, make myself a mug of green tea (usually in my ‘writing’ mug) and write for an hour or so in my pyjamas. I’m lucky enough to be self-employed and can work fairly flexible hours so if I’m really into what I’m writing and keep going for a bit longer then it doesn’t usually matter. At the weekends I generally get up later and sometimes even have breakfast before I start. There does seem to be something about the pyjamas though and whole Saturday mornings can pass with me typing away until I realise I really do have to go and get dressed. Editing is very different though. But maybe that’s just because I never feel inspired to bounce out of bed and get on with it!”
I can write anywhere, whilst the TV is on and the rest of the family are getting on with life around me. I did wrote some of Among A Thousand Stars sitting around a pool in Spain, but my favourite place to write is sitting by the wood-burning stove in my front room. Maybe that’s why so many of my stories end up with a key Christmas or winter themed scene in there somewhere. I mostly snatch time to write whenever I can but, when I’m on a deadline, I have been known to write up to 10k in single sitting. Editing, on the other hand, takes much more discipline on my part, as I’d rather do almost anything (including cleaning the bathrooms) than get on with that!
One of the things life on a busy dairy farm had taught me is that I cannot be precious about when I write, that I need to take every opportunity to write I can. Over the years, that has been anytime from whilst travelling to while waiting for children to participate in sports practice.
Now I make myself a schedule to work to in order to meet my deadlines. When I’m working on a first draft, getting the story from my head onto the page, I like to write first thing in the morning. Whilst the morning milking is being done I’m at my desk doing my daily word count. That way, the madness of life on a farm doesn’t usually interfere with my writing too much. Later in the day I will come back to my desk, and do anything from blog posts to revisions.
As for me, evenings are my writing time and have been for many years. I was fortunate enough to secure a flexible working pattern last November whereby I work a full-time week, but across four longer days. On a Tuesday-Thursday, I finish at 6.30pm and, on a Friday, I finish at 6.00pm. My usual evening routine is catching up on Facebook while my eight-year-old daughter is in the bath. Ideally I’d use her bath-time and subsequent reading time as writing time, but I find she constantly disturbs me and I start to feel very agitated and impatient so it’s just not worth trying. As soon as she goes to bed at 8.00pm, I write for two-three hours depending on how tired I am. This doesn’t always mean ‘proper’ writing (by which I mean on a novel or novella). It can often be blog posts or catching up on emails.
In theory, my flex day (Monday) is all about writing and it’s amazing how much I can get done in that one day. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a ‘normal’ flex day for quite some time. I’ve had errands to run, or deadlines to meet, or it’s been school holidays so the munchkin has been home. I’m preparing this post on Monday and I’ve had to go into town today to buy her a new Brownie uniform as hers is too small, I’ve been promoting my debut novel coming out for paperback pre-order today, and I’ve had a phone call about a very part-time job I do as an internal verifier for a distance learning programme. After the school run, I’m off to the local library to talk about doing a tour of the local libraries to talk about my book. I’ve had small chunks of time between all of these activities, but not enough to really get back into writing book 3, which always seems like a missed opportunity on a flex day.
Over to you. When do you write? We’d love to hear from you xx