Wednesday, April 25, 2012

My Writing Life in Increments

I know you probably don't want to hear about how I spend my days, but as this is my first second post being back, I figured I'd start with that. Nice and easy.

I'd like to get something straight before we start. I am NOT a stay-at-home Mom who writes. I am a writer who happens to work from home. I have nothing against SAHM's, I was one. Believe me, it's the hardest job a person can have. But when the Monster started school full-time, I started writing full-time.  This isn't a hobby for me, it's not a job I just clock in and out from, I have a schedule, and deadlines, and goals, like any other career oriented person working in a major corporation.

The Schedule -- I am up before dawn, usually around 5am. I make a cup of tea, and head downstairs to my "office" (a corner in the playroom where I keep all my "stuff". I can't wait to move, I'll have a real room for my office.) I get on the computer and check my email accounts (3), make my one Tweet for the day, and then check my stats on my books. Depending on what mail I need to answer, I do that, then I try and get on the blogs to see what I've missed. At 6:30, I wake the Monster, fight with her to get ready for school, and out the door by 7:30. I'm back by 7:45 and again at my desk. I share my ritual morning email with my crit partner, and then I go into "work" by 8am. I write until 1:30 when I have to go pick up the Monster from school. (In the pick-up line I get a 45 minute break where I read something everyday.) Back home by 2:30, I do the Mommy thing, the house thing, the supper thing, and then back to the computer around 7pm for a round of edits on what I worked on that morning. And then do it all again the next day.

Weekends are a bit different. I'm up at 5, but I generally work on blog posts and paraphenalia for my books. I don't tend to "write" unless I'm all caught up on the business end of things.

The Deadlines -- I try to write at least 2500 words a day. Of course, it's not a hard and fast rule, some days I write just 100, with 4 hours spent doing research, and others I can break 4K when the words are flowing. But by and large, by the end of the week I like to see myself with between 25 to 50 pages. I also made a promise to the Monster that I wouldn't work during her vacations so that I can spend time with her. So I get the bulk of my writing done from the end of August - November. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, it's crazy nuts, so last year I wrote a short story. In January I go back to the major work and stay with that until Easter break. (And hopefully it's done. This year, with my dad sick, left a lot to be desired, so the deadline for that particular book has been moved.)

However, I worked on the final edits for REMEMBERING YOU, put THE DUKE'S DIVORCE out to paperback, and am in the final stages for THE LADY'S FATE and REMEMBERING YOU to paperback. Am also in the process of finishing up another short story for the Regency line. Over the course of last summer, I did nothing but read. I went to the beach, found the beginning of a women's fiction novel and that was it. This summer, with moving and getting both houses situated with paint and repairs, I don't think I'll be doing too much writing either. But once the Monster is in school again, I'm diving back into THE LADY'S MASQUERADE (which I'm afraid is going to be a complete rewrite and not just a revise) and will hopefully have that done and out in all formats by Thanksgiving.

The Goals -- I read once, that you need to have your writing goals listed for the next ten years. I won't bore you with mine, only that my goals are pretty simple. Two books a year, plus two or three short stories. Some books are harder to write than others, which is why I'm constantly shifting my focus. I always have two or three projects going at the same time, so when I get bored or frustrated by one, I can move to another, until that gets snappy, then I can move to another. I find this works for me because as I'm working on whichever, I'm letting the other stories rest, and when I finally do get back to them, I'm looking at them with fresh eyes. Last year, I met my goals, and this year, I'm hoping to do the same. I keep telling myself life would be easier with a laptop, but I'm not so sure. We'll see.

And so, there you have it. My Writing Life in Increments. (And as I'm sure you know, real life can and does intrude from time to time, so all of the above is generally thrown right out the window.)

Tell me -- How do you write? Do you work full-time and grab whatever time you can? Or are you a full-time writer? What are some of your goals? Do you have deadlines? What time constraints are you under?


Elliot Grace said...

...I envy your routine, Anne. Currently housing seven kids, (my 3, plus 4 from foster care,) whenever I can hammer out five hundred words at one sitting, the celebratory firework display can be seen for miles ;)

Welcome back, Anne!


Anne Gallagher said...

Elliot -- Don't envy my routine, El. I currently weigh 4000 pounds from having BICHOK for the last two years. And I know you wouldn't give up those kids for anything. If anything, I'm envious of you and the love that surrounds you. And don't snarf at 500 words. Believe me, there are days I can't even get to 100. And then I get nuts and have to make it up and so spend 14 hours in the chair instead of a reasonable 5.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I used to consider myself a SAHM, but now that you mention it, I'm not anymore. Writing has become a full time job for me. This isn't just about writing the books, though. It's also the social networking, beta reading, critting, my program chair responsibilities with my local chapter of the RWA. It's all part of the job. It's just one I don't get paid for--yet.

Anne Gallagher said...

Stina -- I think when we finally realize our children are off in the world, we need to find who we are, adjust our attitudes, and not just be their mothers anymore. We have to claim our own individuality again. Don't get me wrong, I loved being home with the Monster. Some days I wish I could go back to it. I wasn't so crazed.

As women, I think we guilt ourselves into thinking we have to be Mommy first, instead of what we are -- writers. Who we were before we had them.

And yes, there is more to a writing life than just writing. Especially being published. And you're right, it is all part of the job.

Sarah Ahiers said...

ooh i really love your structured schedule.
For me, i try to get writing in M-Th. But because i write during my day job, it really depends on how much work i have there. Usually it's not a lot, but i do have months where the writing is minimal. It's not ideal, but it works well enough for me.
I take weekends off. Sometimes i'll fit some writing in on Sundays, but i don't force myself if i don't want to.

Also, i LOVE the cover to Remembering you, and i really love the font, especially for your name.

Jill Kemerer said...

5 am?? You're my hero! I have a routine, too, but mine starts a bit later. :) Congrats on your fabulous goals!

Johanna Garth said...

I love this post because it's so true. I'm a writer who also works from home (and starbucks) but so often people make repeated attempts to derail my schedule becaues I'm at home, and hence, to their way of thinking, available.

Anne Gallagher said...

Sarah -- Not every day goes according to plan. Monkey wrenches abound with my parents, but for the most part this is my life.

Jill -- Believe me, it's not that I WANT to get up at 5. It's just that I do, because I can't sleep any more. Thanks for stopping by.

Johanna -- You should see the nasty looks I get from the teachers/PTO at school when they ask me to do something and I say I can't, I'm working. Like what I do doesn't count because I'm at home. Drives me nuts.

Donna Hole said...

You sound well organized Anne. I'm lucky if I sit at the computer at the time I'm even thinking about my writing life. I procrastinate too much.

I played hookie from the day job today to get started on the research job I accepted, and here I am blogging.

Well, I was out of bed by 8a on a day off, so that's progress for me :)

I'm a day late, but happy birthday. I hope you did something fun and exciting to celebrate.


jbchicoine said...

Oh gosh, I'm tired just from reading everything you do!
As for my schedule--I don't really have one. I write when I know what I want to write, and when I don't, I force myself...unless I can mess around with paints of graphics or formatting...I can't even imagine writing and raising a kid. You must be SUPERWOMAN!!!!

D.G. Hudson said...

I grab whatever time I can for writing, as there are still family responsibilities to be managed.

I'm flexible, but I do make goals for myself as far as revisions, daily writing, etc.

Sounds like you have your time very well managed, perhaps shorting yourself on sleep, as I do.

Anne Gallagher said...

Donna -- I procrastinate about other areas of my life. Like Housework, so I can write. As a matter of fact, I spent my birthday doing line edits. Nothing exciting there.

Bridget -- I am NOT Superwoman. I'm actually quite lazy. You should see the dust bunnies, they've turned into dust rhinos. But I do like writing, so that's my first priority. Well, after the Monster, of course.

DG -- Flexibility is the key I believe, when you have children. And/or parents in my case. My mother thinks I'm a vampire because I don't sleep. I've just got a lot on my mind.

jabblog said...

My goodness, Anne, you are so disciplined. No wonder you've achieved so much. I should take a leaf from your book - several leaves, actually:-)

Anne Gallagher said...

Janice -- My writing is a job now. If I worked in the real world, I'd put as much dedication into it, so why not apply the same rules with writing. It just depends on what you want from it.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Wow, you have a great approach to writing. Treating it like a daily job is probably the best way to stay on track. I may have to try it.

I'm impressed that you can churn out two books a year. I've been working on mine for three years and counting. In my defense, I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I first began my novel. It took me a year to figure everything out, then another to fix the previous mess I wrote and now I'm polishing it.

My plot is complex and it took me a lot of time to get it to flow. My next book will be more simple. I'm already outlining the plot.

Hopefully, I'll get to the point where I can write a book a year. That would be great.

Anne Gallagher said...

Andrea -- Well, like you said, some writing is more complex than others. And all writing takes time. The most important this is to not give up. Just keep plugging away.