Learning Curve

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We are four days into the new year and I am already learning a lot. First thing I’m learning is, carving out substantial time for myself = hard.

Second thing I’ve learned is, damn, I love to write.

Clearly, I’ve got to make this work. Other than what I am doing at this very moment, which is fobbing off my son, who wants me to make him breakfast. While I love to binge-write, that is no longer possible given my life right now. (Quick pause while I feed my son.)

So today, I’ve packed a notebook and pens galore to take with me wherever we go. If I have a few minutes to myself, I can get some words down. I know how I want the next scene in my novel to go, and I’m outlining another book — I think I can manage some of that, at least, in ten-minute chunks.

Of course there’s always waking up earlier, which I often do for clients. The trick is going to be to make it a habit for myself. And easy. And fun. Right now I’ve got “hot coffee” and “bagels,” but I’m afraid if I have only food to use as a lure, my word count won’t be the only thing increasing in size this year…

I’ll let you know what else I come up with and if you have tricks to share, all advice is greatly appreciated!

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There is no Typical Day

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The writing life often provokes curiosity in our non-writing friends, and it can be tricky knowing how to answer. Do we give them the unvarnished truth? No security! Blank pages staring at us! Business models in turmoil! Or do we let them believe we lounge about in our pajamas all day? Decisions, decisions…

Someone asked me recently what a typical day looked like and I started laughing. That the laughter was slightly hysterical is beside the point. Or maybe it is the point. You’ve got to be a little crazy to do this for a living.

The thing is, there is no typical day. I do the soccer mom thing in addition to writing, and those schedules – my family’s non-negotiable schedule of commitments – those are what anchor my life. Within that framework, I usually (but not always) get in:

– Two hours of writing/research for my novel
– A conference call with a client
– 3-5 hours writing for other people: corporate or non-profit clients mostly, with the occasional script doctor or original script-for-hire job tossed in.
– Coffee or lunch with a friend or colleague, where we usually come up with a project or two to work on together.
– An hour or so dealing with e-mails and filing and clearing the Cheerios and art projects off my desk — the occupational hazard of a home office.
– An hour reading blogs, sharing and Tweeting the good stuff, and trying to navigate the world of social media. I’ve got a lot to learn; one hour often wants to be two. I compromise by listening to podcasts while I make dinner.

I write at football practice, I write waiting for school to be out, I write past my bedtime, I write best of all in the very early hours before anyone else is awake.

At the end of the day, I fall into an exhausted heap. And then minions carry me to a bower, where I am fed peeled grapes and decaf iced coffee until I am rocked by the gentle breeze into a deep, refreshing sleep…

Oh, no, wait. Sorry. That last part isn’t my *typical* day, it’s my *fantasy* day. Different post entirely.

Retreat to Advance

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The opportunity to go to a one-day writing retreat organized by Hedgebrook magically appeared on the horizon a couple of weeks ago. I jumped at it. A chance to spend the day writing, learning from writers, hanging out with writers? Heaven. Not to mention that I would perforce be free of other minion duties…

The day turned out even better than expected. I took a writing workshop with Sherri Smith, whose books I now must read — especially Lucy the Giant, which sounds delicious.

Hedgebrook, I have just learned, has residencies as well as master classes and workshops to support visionary women writers, so check out their website at https://www.hedgebrook.org/ Applications are now being accepted for next year.

Launching!

Cheers, boys!
Cheers, boys!

I’m a writer. I’ve made a living writing, at various times in my life, for theater, for a current affairs show, and for hour-long television. But whether or I make a living writing, I make my life by writing. Like my family and chocolate, it’s a non-negotiable necessity.

This blog is for everyone else out there who feels the same.

I love to read blogs by other writers (and directors and artists) that give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into their process and their lives. Now, let’s face it, most of my behind-the-scenes time is spent sitting at the computer struggling to find the right words — and to keep from frittering away too much time on video games. But there are some things I do right and a ton I do wrong, so perhaps you can learn from my mistakes. Someone should.