A question popped into my inbox last week, and I had to stop and really think about it. Then, instead of emailing my reply, I decided it merited a public answer. So here you go.
What is your daily routine? How do you stay so creative and motivated? I’m at such a loss. I read you religiously, admire your ability, covet your creative juices. How do you do it?
It's funny, how our self-perception seldom lines up with the way others see us. Sometimes, it's because we're so hard on ourselves, we can't see the good stuff. Or we might see good stuff without realizing how it's oozing onto others.
So. My daily routine?
Naturally, I can't go into the details of my life, else I'd no longer be anonymous. Suffice it to say that the main thing that keeps my writing going is an almost religious adherence to my Daily Writing Time.
1:30 to 4:00. That's my weekly time-of-day during which nothing else is demanded of me. I have no commitments or obligations, no pre-scheduled poop. And I refuse to make appointments or have meetings during this time.
Monday through Friday, 1:30 to 4:00, you'll find me with Beatrice. Don't bother me.
Okay, I do get distracted. Terribly distracted, sometimes. But overall? That's when I write. Sometimes I head to the coffee shop. Sometimes I curl up on my favorite green chair with my ridiculous, magenta lap desk. Sometimes I sit in the car (hey, it's quiet).
A turning point occurred when a fellow author sent me a spread sheet to keep track of daily word count and the path toward a set goal. This is how I completed the first draft of my YA dystopic in record time. Needed a mammoth overhaul, but it got DONE. And those of you who cheered with me know how good I was feeling right about then.
So that dedicated writing time, coupled with manageable goals, has profoundly affected my productivity. Prior to this life-altering change, a first draft might've rambled on for a year or more. Some days, I didn't even feel like a writer.
It was that bad.
But 2009 has been my Year of Arrival. I'd love to cap it off by landing my dream agent, but alas, I'm still not ready to query the dystopic.
The schedule itself motivates me. I know if I don't get something done during my writing time, I'll feel like tooth fuzz. So I write. And if I can't keep my eyes open because the sleepies have hit, I'll allow myself a power nap before plunging in to the WIP.
I've also made a concerted effort this year to train myself to write to deadlines. It's all about deadlines once you're signed with a publisher, and I'll be darned if I'm going to be one of those authors who never delivers on time. Not I! And writing to a deadline used to be something I feared I could never do.
Meh. The fear has been dispelled. I can do it. I have done it. I will continue to do it.
As for creative juices? Sometimes I despair of them, as we all do from time to time. I think we've all experienced the utter dryness of an empty brain. But I've got amazing, supportive people in my life who keep me fresh.
And at this point, I'd be remiss not to mention the remarkable Mr. A, love of my life and Biggest Supporter Ever. It may sound schmoopy to claim I could never do this without him.
But, um, I could never do this without him.
Well, maybe I could. I'm pretty feisty. But I'd rather not do it without him. He is indispensable.
Good books are indispensable, too, and I've been reading more of those lately. In my genres. Because it's really, really important to do that. If you don't read, you won't write well. I really believe that.
Oh, and there's my faith, the cornerstone of who I am. No, I'm not thumping you over the head with the butt of my Bible (if, indeed, Bibles have butts). Just telling it like it is. The ultimate source of my creative juiciness is Jesus Christ, whom I strive to honor through all that I do.
But you've probably read that in my bio.
Bottom line? I don't see myself as any juicier or more creative than the next writer. The number one change I've made in the past year is the dedication to my writing time. It may sound silly or anal retentive, but it has made a HUGE impact.
And yes, the community that has grown up around this blog has profoundly impacted me. (Have you read the amazing comments from last Friday's blog post? I *heart* you all!!)
I'm fairly sure I will HAVE to drop the red hat when my first novel sells. And you'll see that "Authoress" and "Real Me" are very much the same. Transparency is my hallmark.
Mr. A calls it "blurting things out without thinking." But I think "transparency" sounds better.
And there you have it.
Thank you all for being an important part of my writerly process. And for allowing me to be a part of yours.