Sunday, June 26, 2022

If I Could Change One Thing ...

If you could easily change one writing habit, what would it be? Starting earlier (or later) in the day? Become a plotter or pantser? Rush through a first draft or edit as you go? 

Brenda kicking off the week.

I'm kind of envious of writers who get up early in the morning - say 6 a.m. -  and write for five or six straight hours, have lunch, work out, then settle in for a few hours of editing and publicity work. Some say they can maintain this schedule seven days a week. 

So, I guess if I could change one thing about my own writing day, it would be to have more consistency in my schedule, something I'm getting worse at as I age.

A typical 24-day for me goes something like this. Go to bed at 11:00 p.m., wake up at 12:30 (a.m.) again at 1:30, then 3:00, lie awake until 4:30 and then sleep until 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. Just putting this down on paper is exhausting. Even newborn babies have a better sleep pattern than I do.

I like to rise at 7:00 a.m. and sometimes achieve this after one of my better nights. I then check emails, drink coffee, have a small breakfast, shower. Lately, I've been editing and rewriting for an hour along with my coffee. I usually do a half hour of exercise, which lately includes biking to the store to buy supper before the heat of the day. Upon my return, I water the plants and putter about in the garden for an hour ... you get the idea. Very little writing in the morning during the summer unless it's raining.

After eating lunch while watching the news, it's time for me to settle with the latest manuscript. I will edit off and on for the rest of the day, sometimes as late as 9:00 or 10:00. During this time, I also work on publicity or whatever event is upcoming if I have to prepare a presentation say. I'll write blog posts to deadline. My pattern is to write or edit, and break this up by reading for fifteen minutes or so. (This week, I'm into Devil's Peak by Deon Meyer.) I also take breaks with my husband, visit with the neighbours, go for a walk, make supper, read.

I write a new manuscript during the fall and winter months, but this writing-work schedule can be just as sporadic. I almost never forgo any socializing or get together, instead fitting in the writing around it. I can go a few days without writing and pick it right back up. I believe the break is part of my work process, the time when I work on the plot in my head.

I'm fortunate that I can focus when I have uninterrupted time, and can stop and start whatever I'm working on without much problem. I wrote my first books in our living room with the television on and my daughters in the same room. Even now, I can sit with my husband in the living room with the baseball game on in the evening and be oblivious to all except my laptop.

Still, I wonder what it would be like to have that more organized day. I like the idea of it, that's for sure, but for now, it will remain a dream. I comfort myself with the fact that I still manage to write, edit and publish a book in a year. The other benefit is that I'm leading a full and happy life, albeit a little sleep deprived. Maybe one day soon, my sleep schedule will also settle into a better routine and I'll achieve nirvana. 


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Susan C Shea said...

LOL! I always wonder about those writers who say they get up at 6, write til noon, and edit after lunch. I have to think someone else is watering plants, shopping, doing the laundry, giving pets their people time....

Brenda Chapman said...

I agree, Susan - how does one write all day and get all the other stuff of life done?!