Friday, July 21, 2006

A day in the writing life . . .

Now that's an original title-ha! And since this post is about my writing habits, it should really be titled "(Mis)Adventures in Writing". I don't know if it's a side effect of getting older, or the 'revenge of the hormones', or just general dementia setting in, but I don't seem to be able to concentrate like I once did. When I first started writing, I was eager, enthusiastic, full of ideas. I couldn't wait to escape my other life (children, husband, pets, "real" job, etc.) and go to the sanctuary of my office, fire up the computer and create. I spent every spare minute in front of that computer, writing, writing, writing. Of course, that was also before I knew anything about the true nature of the publishing world (that's another story).That was when I truly believed the book I was writing was the next NYT bestsller (crazy, huh?). It was also just before the explosion of the Internet and the Devil's spawn, *E-mail*. I could happily spend hours writing, and being very productive.

Fast forward twelve plus years later, with five books published, two more books and a novella coming out in 2007. Great publisher, great editor, book contract, a few awards under my belt (which, by the way is much tighter now--life is so unfair!). I have a book deadline approaching (January 1, 2007). Therefore, I have a book I'm obligated to write. Let's look at my writing day now . . .

Saturday morning: Crawl out of bed much later than I'd planned (oh well, I needed to catch up on my sleep). Stumble downstairs, get a cup of coffee, take a few slugs, wait for the jolt of caffeine (thank you!). Then I go to the downstairs computer and check e-mail (both addresses). After that, while waiting for the caffeine to kick a little harder, I play a few hands of solitare to help me wake up. Time to write, but wait-I need to do my stretching routine first (stupid getting-older body). So, fifteen minutes of stretching. Time to write-wait, I'm starving, and a writer needs fuel. Breakfast (and I have to read while I eat). The book is so good, I read a few chapters before I finally put it down. Would you look at that-it's already 11:00, and I have to write ten pages today.

Okay. Get more coffee, get glass of water, trudge to the upstairs computer. Since it's been at least an hour, I have to check e-mail again. Oh, and I have to check my book rankings on Amazon. And, oh yes, I have to stare at my new book cover and engage in a few fantasies. Time to write-finally I pull up the file with the current WIP. Have to read what I wrote last session, have to tweak and edit a little. Done. Oh, look, some new e-mails! Oh, now, I'm getting sleepy. Stand up and walk around. Back to the writing. Only my muse is not cooperating (and Nora Roberts says the muse thing is a myth-what does she know? Oh, wait, a lot . . .) So, to give my muse time to engage, I play a few hands of solitare. Back to the WIP. Oh, wait, there's more e-mail. Okay, back to the WIP. Oh, wait, I need new music. What to play? Back to the WIP . . . Gee, I'm sleepy. *Really* sleepy. I can't possilby write like this. Maybe a short nap. Curl up on the bed with the electronic timer. Maybe just read one chapter of this book before I nap. After all it is Saturday, and I deserve some down time. 30 minutes later, I close the book and take a 20 minute nap. I wake up, ready to write. Wait-I'm starving. Must be time for lunch, and more coffee.

Get the picture? This isn't pretty, but it's real. And it goes on like this until around 4:00 or 5:00, when my muse finally grabs me by the hair and says, "All right, you b*tch! Cut it out! Let's get this show on the road. START WRITING!" And believe it not, the writing actually starts flowing. I don't usually get my ten pages at this point (have I mentioned I have issues with goal setting?) but I'll get the flow of creativity going, and get out 4-5 pages, which sets me up for . . . Sunday.

But that's another (mis)adventure. Every week, I tell myself I'm going to do better, get started on my writing earlier in the day, get really serious, focus more, be more Nora-esque. But by the time Saturday rolls around, I'm tired, frazzled, and creatively-challenged. And every Monday morning, when I go to my other job, I bemoan the fact that I didn't use my time more wisely, didn't get more done. And I resolve to do better the next weekend. Hope springs eternal.

But you know what--I do usually manage to meet my contracted deadlines (or come close) and somehow-*somehow*-the book gets done. It's a mystery to me!

~ Catherine


Tom said...

Sounds pretty familiar. I write software for a living, but the stumbling blocks are the same. This might sound like heresy coming from a programmer, but lately I've been wondering if the coffee is more trouble than it's worth, with the mid-afternoon sugar crashes and the immediate urge to get another cup as soon as I finish one. When I was younger, nothing got me more energized (and optimistic about the future) than a hot cup of black coffee. These days, it feels more like an addiction that just isn't paying off anymore. It may be time for an experiment with green tea. Anyway, thanks for letting me know that it isn't just me who struggles to stay at it!

Catherine Spangler said...

Hi Tom! You might be right about the coffee, but I love it so much I can't give it up! I do agree with you that dropping sugar levels cause some of that afternoon slump, which is why I try to stay fueled up on protein. I'm also glad to know there are others struggling to get that writing out. But if we don't write, what would we do? That's the question that keeps me dragging myself to the computer (that and a book contract--LOL). Thanks for checking in.

~ Catherine