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Sunday, June 10, 2007

What do I DO with them?

I've said before the most common question I get from up-and-coming writers is "How do you find time to write?" I've also said that the question I ask other writers the very most is "How do you find time to write?" It makes me absolutely nuts that after almost ten years I can't say "Oh, I do this and this and this--it's easy." And here I am AGAIN, tired of cramming my writing into ten minute segments, hungry for some structure I can stick to. I have my tricks--cleaning by fives, setting a timer, certain times of day--but they are on the fritz or I missed a payment or something. As I think I've sufficiently communicated--I've had a rough few months of writing. I'll get a great idea, work on it for two weeks and realize I took a wrong turn. I'm on my 4th version of my current WIP and still have 90 pages of cuts for my latest version (add that to the 350 pages of the other 3 versions for full effect). And then, all of a sudden last week I started getting ideas--you know, those wispy things that when braided together and sufficiently glued actually look like a story. Not only did I get ideas for the current WIP, but also for a national book I was working on a year and a half ago. But are those ideas written? NO--why? Cause school is out for the summer!
Back in November I talked about life moving at the speed of a semi without brakes. It hasn't stopped and I've realized (again) that I can't expect it to slow down. I just need to make wise choices and stay on the road. The four little faces that after a week are telling me they're bored are making it complicated. I have managed to create no routine whatsoever (you want 8 hours of TV, with 4 hours of Nintendo sprinkled in--okay) My house is a mess (Mom, do we have any clean silverware? Use the plastic stuff--and wash it yourself when you're done so your sister can eat too) and in another week I'll be crying about it.
So help a sistah out, huh. What's working for you? What is your plan? How are you adjusting your writing to fit inside the summer stuff? Julie Bellon mentioned her routine that works (it's in the comments)--I'd love to get more specifics. But for everyone, for the love of all things dusty and whining, please share.


Julie Wright said...

HAHAHAAAAAA! I am not laughing at you, but with you. And yes, those are tears spilling from my eyes in sympathy and empathy and all the other pathy's that may exist. I am still wandering in the underworld of ten minute writing segments. My kids have made my day job miserable now that summer is out and I'll likely be fired before I see the light of fall. So that by the time I clock out, there is nothing left for writing. My WIP that should have been done May first is dangling and I just have to let it dangle for now. But sometimes isn't a little break like summer okay for us too? Why does summer have to be for only kids? I had all kinds of lofty goals to keep summer structured but I got ran over by my semi truck with no brakes. I have decided that on fridays I will take my kids to the reservoir where they will have little need of me and I can sit in the sun with my alphasmart and eek out a few pages while they play. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. :) In the mean time, May the schwartz be with you (meaning time) And I'll bet all your cuts are brilliantly written!

Michele Holmes said...

I love you, and your blog just made me feel so much better! For the first time in my life I have a writing deadline, and it is like a black cloud following me around. How on earth am I going to finish a novel (which I am only 17,000 words into) by September 1st?!

I've made this fantastic schedule for my children (and myself) to follow, but already it's hopeless. The problem is that my children are not little anymore, and life is intruding in my perfect little plan.

My son has a summer job---with a schedule that changes each week. And guess who gets to drive him to and pick him up from that job?

My daughters have summer dance with rigorous schedules for Stadium of Fire performances and the like (again, more driving).

My oldest daughter is flying to Tennessee to visit her grandmother (there goes the babysitter). After that it's YW camp. My 5th grader has a week of camp to get ready for also. My son has a writing conference in New York (and YES, something is wrong with this picture . . . shouldn't I get to go to New York for a writing conference BEFORE my 16 year-old?).

And simply the unexpected things of life continue to bombard me (car accident last week).

The only hope I have and advice I can give you is to buy a pool and a truckload of Otter Pops. Our quick set 4' x 15' pool is the only way I get any writing done in the summer. The kids (and half the neighborhood) swim while I sit on the patio and supervise and type.

When someone starts to fight or cry, I order them all into the house for a round of popsicles.

My kitchen floor is constantly wet and grassy. I beg my husband to barbeque almost every night. No one has clean or ironed clothing, and the bathrooms aren't fit to be seen, let alone used.

But hey, as Julie said, it's summer! It would all be good, except for that deadline . . .

Karen E. Hoover said...

I'm afraid I'm not much help in that department either, and I've only got two squirts to deal with. I found myself soaking in the tub last night with my lap desk and a notepad balanced across my knees. Those are the days I wish we could pool our resources, hire a week's worth of nannies and have a writers retreat with no classes, just writing time. *sigh* At least dreams are free. I love the swimming pool and otter pop idea. It is very, VERY tempting. The neighbors have one and my kids are constantly asking if they can go over. Good luck with your search for the answers, Josi. I wish I were more help.

Marcia Mickelson said...

So, I guess I'm not the only one feeling this way. I usually write at night, but during the summer, my kids stay up later, so sometimes I don't get to the computer until about 9:45, and then I'm just too tired. One thing I did try on Friday, is during the baby's nap, I told my 5 and 7 year olds that they had individual play time, which meant they had to play in seperate rooms. (They would fight too much if they were in the same room.) I was in the living room on the computer. One was in their bedroom, and I took some toys in my room and let my oldest play in there. I had almost complete silence for 45 minutes, minus the 2-3 times they came to ask how many more minutes were left on the timer. I think I'm going to try a whole hour next week. I hope this wasn't a one-time thing and continues to work. I think every day would be pushing it, but at least 2-3 times a week. They really enjoyed their own time. My 7 year old had a great time playing in my room. No younger brothers to mess up his contraptions. I think it's good for them as well to have time apart.

Tristi Pinkston said...

This, folks, is why I stay up so late at night. :) Because I homeschool, my kids are home all the time, and so I have to sneak it in where I can get it. Right now, for instance, they're watching Kipper and eating their dinner. I ate mine at the computer while reading blogs. After they're in bed, I'll get some writing done (hopefully.)

Karlene said...

Slip 'n Slide and popsicles. That's what got me through the summer days when my kids were younger.

And I insisted that they go to bed by the clock, not when it got dark. They didn't have to go to sleep, but they had to stay in their rooms and be quiet. A huge stash of books, puzzles, fancy crayons & markers, art pads and music tapes helped.

I also kept some really cool toys that I only let them play with when I had a writing deadline.

Last tip: Mother's Helper. I'd get a responsible teen and lots of craft projects ( for them to do "day camp" with neighborhood friends in the backyard. We charged the friends a couple of bucks for the crafts, which usually covered the cost of crafts and the teenager. The whole neighborhood thought I was such a cool mom. (Shhh, don't tell them my real motive.)