Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Me? Creatively Juicy?

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?

Wow.

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.

Huge.

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.

10 comments:

Kathleen MacIver said...

That really is a fabulous answer, dear Authoress. I love your willingness to share that Jesus is your source. Mine, too, which you already know.

I need to follow your example in the dedicated-writing-time department. And in the setting goals department. I'm currently in one of those "that bad" stages.

Tell me... HOW do you set goals when you're in the first draft/plotting stage? This is my first time writing a novel this way (plotting first) and I need a smaller goal than just when to finish the first draft by. But since I don't know the path this thing is going to take, I can't figure out how to set a goal. Any insight?

Scott said...

Woo-hoo. Three cheers and a box of chocolate covered cashews for Authoress!!

Thanks for the deeper insight into the inner workings of your writerly life. I really think it helps other writers to know how other people, well, write. At least I know it helps me.

Writing is a solitary life . . . well, except for the myriad characters dancing around in our heads. The blogsphere has helped create a community to ease some of the loneliness of a writer's life, and to give a sense of belonging.

You add a heck of a lot to that community. Not only do you find time to write, you also find time for this blog, the contests, and the everything.

Thanks.

S

p.s. These nice little elves offered to deliver the chocolate covered cashews. I'm sure you'll get them. : )

Mystery Robin said...

Fabulous, fabulous answer.

Kayla said...

Thank you. You give me hope and strength to carry on. I appreciate your honesty. I've started each book with a Bible verse and plan on continuing that. You are truly an inspiration! Thank you for all you do and share. You're one of a kind!

L. W. said...

Authoress,
I love the spread sheet idea, and it was interesting to hear more about you and how you work. Best wishes to you with the YA dystopia rewrite. I can't wait until your red hat comes off!

Debbie (Nerd Goddess) said...

Wonderful! And it is funny how hard we are on ourselves. As I've been workshopping some pieces in my creative writing class, I've been amazed at the good responses. I get so worked up about everything they're going to hate that I forget there's some good stuff sprinkled in there too.

Love your blog!

lynnrush said...

Nice! And yes, Transparency is Much better than, "blurting" . . . .

But I like your transparency. It's refreshing.

Great post.

Sharla said...

Love your post...love ALL your posts, I look very forward to reading them. Maybe because even though you portray alot of professionalism, you also throw quite a bit of real life and bad days and good days and quirky--YES! That's the word I was looking for...quirky! That's you! I love it.

I too, need to follow better dedication examples. I work full time and have a busy family, so I keep trying to find a regular time that will work, that I can "punch in" and treat it as another job. Every time I find one, something pushes it over. I had a good thing going with 5:30-6:30 am before getting ready for work...but that only worked when the juices were flowing.

Now that wip is put aside and I've picked up my first novel again (thanks to the last secret agent contest) I'm editing it again, trying to make it better. And editing is hard to get excited about at 5:30 in the morning.

But I applaud you for being so strict with it! Keep it up, and before you know it, you will be Real You. :)

Ash. Elizabeth said...

just stumbled across your blog through Rachelle Gardener's blog and I have to say it's great! I'm currently going through your old posts learning whatever I can. Keep up the good work :)

Roo said...

I also wonder about how you set particular goals. Could you post an example of your spreadsheet? I'd love to see it.