Tuesday, January 25, 2011

FAQ - How Do You Do All That You Do?

Q:  How do you find the time to do all you do -- write, blog, garden, cook, read, teach, publicity for your books, et cetera, et cetera... ?

A: I'm always embarrassed when I get this question from people who read my blog because the simple answer is that I don't do as much as my blog may lead you to think.  There are weeds and dust bunnies and unmet deadlines and unfinished projects of every ilk all around me.

What I want to know is how people with day jobs manage to write novels.

But, people invariably ask when I do a talk, what kind of schedule do you have for writing?

And I always have to say that I write when I can.

There are many writers who keep office hours(and stay off the Internet during those hours) -- and I know I should try to do the same -- but I don't.

I've written six books now (seven if we count the first and unpublished one,) mostly at night between eight and midnight (or later.) This seems to be when my brain gets into the writing mode.  There are times (especially as deadlines near or zoom past) when I attempt to write most of the day but for whatever reason, those late night hours are the most fertile.

Not very helpful, if you're a beginning writer, seeking advice on how to structure a writing day. But I suspect that everyone has to find his/her own best time and place to write.  I know that rising at some ungodly hour of dark-thirty probably isn't going to work for me -- though many writers swear by putting in several hours before dawn.

The single piece of advice that I have for most writers, as far as finding time to write is: Don't watch television.  For many people, that's several hours a day you could be writing.

Or stay off the Internet. . . ouch.

If you really want to write, you'll find a way . . . and the time.

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RNSANE said...

I still find it amazing that you've written so many books. In the two years since my forensic nursing job of 21 years ended, I started blogging. I could never have done it when I was one of four nurses on call 24/7 to do adult and child sexual abuse cases for San Francisco!

For over fifty years, I wanted to publish a poetry book. I wrote my first poem in the first grade. I was 65 when "Life's Journey" finally appeared on Amazon.com. Nothing like taking one's own sweet time.

Martin H. said...

Your final line says it all, Vicki. When I do get my act together, early morning is the best time.

Alan Burnett said...

It is not the writing that I have difficulty finding the time for, it is the "Writing". People keep telling me I should "Write" rather than write but I can never find time. And I suspect the reason is the one given in your final sentence. Deep down, I suspect I am frightened of attempting to Write in a serious way (whatever that may be)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I have been waiting for this answer, so I was thrilled when I saw the title this morning. I was also much relieved to hear that you too have dust bunnies. Whew.

I just met a prolific writer who works full time designing kitchens at Home Depot. He is probably following your advice about no tv or internet. Sounds like I need to get my act together.

Brian Miller said...

so much truth in that last statement...i find the evening to be fertile as well...

Louise said...

But, if you stayed off of the internet, we wouldn't have had the chance to get to know you. And, that would be a loss.

Brenda said...

Great post, great comments. I can tell that a like-minded cyber community of folks read your blog, because I can so often relate to what your readers say! Loved the write/Write comment, I totally understand that.

I have to give you credit for inspiring a turning point for me. It was in your class that I had an amazing "A-HA" moment. After DECADES of wishing I could write, wishing that I had time to write, wondering how on earth people find time, constantly having people tell me "you should be writing!" etc etc etc, it dawned on me. We get good at what we practice every day. We make time for what we want to do. It's just that simple.

Almost every day since your class, I have arisen an hour or two earlier than normal to write. And this is after 47 years of being a committed morning-hater. And guess what - I have come to cherish my early morning writing time! I love having my coffee and watching the sun come up over the mountain in my little writing nook of the house. Who knew it was possible to change after so many years? Thanks for being an inspiration!

Elora said...

When I was writing a humor column for Farm and Ranch Living, and freelancing and doing writer-for-hire work,back in the 1970's I would rise at (yes, dark o'the clock) 4:00 a.m. and write (religiously) for two hours. That was the only time I had to myself back then. We had a sheep farm, with 500 ewes and their lambs and 100 cows and their calves. At 6:00 a.m., the farm took over my life, and it was non-stop from sun-up to sundown. When I would sneak out of the bed in the a.m., trying my best not to wake MM except for the alarm that went off to cue me up, I would gather a Thermos-full of coffee, made the night before, and shuffle to a COLD back bedroom of the drafty old 1867 farmhouse, light a fire in the old King heater, which I had laid the night before. I had an Olympia typewriter, and lots of blank sheets of paper. My stories were typed with three carbon copies. When I entered that realm, maybe because of the "hardships" my writing took over my life. I didn't sit there. I wrote. Whatever came into my head. And it was some of the best writing I've ever done. Today, I am a bit lax by comparison. I'm not sure I have the "drive" to do that again. (at 66) But I do write daily on my novel. I'm on chapter 7. I just, this morning--received word that High Speed Internet is NOW AVAILABLE this afternoon right here JOTOLR! This is going to free up an enormous amount of time! Writing is a discipline, yes, but it's also a mild sort of therapy. Nothing (except maybe my photography) gives me a high like a well-turned phrase I've created.

Vicki, you're amazing. No doubt about it. I believe we have to "want it" so badly, that everything else comes in second. Being the type of people we are, we love too many things! So prioritizing is essential. And recognizing that letting some of it go, is critical.

Thanks for all you do,

jennyfreckles said...

So glad you don't stay off the internet, Vicki!

Vicki Lane said...

Good for you, Carmen! (I was 62 when my first book was published.)

Early morning works for lots of folks, Martin -- but not for me.

Alan -- I think I'll address that Writing/writing thing next Tuesday. You are definitely not alone.

Brenda -- Oh how I love hearing this! You go, girl!

Elora -- Good for you! And hurrah for high speed internet!

gayle said...

It's funny that you said you write better at night. My daughter was just telling me that yesterday. After she gets her Masters in May, I am really going to start nagging her to write. I have read several of her short stories when she was in her late teens ....so I know she has at least one book in her.