If you’ve ever wondered how much other writers talk to each other, here’s your answer: a lot.
Early on, we knew our group would be having conversations about writing, working, books, marketing, and more. We thought you might enjoy pulling up a chair to listen in.
P.A. Moore asked the group: When you write, how do you set aside the rest of your day’s events, stresses, and emotional tugs?
…and these are their answers.
Now that I’ve returned to my law practice, supposedly part-time, but we all know how that goes, I’m struggling to balance my creative side with mental fatigue, jail smells, sorrowful clients, attorneys from both sides, and judges who don’t know quite what to expect when they see me after my 5 year sabbatical.
Today, in a courtroom packed for the Justice Center’s weekly Crime Day, silence reigned when the judge called my case. He’s a former colleague from my public defender days, friendly and fair. Then a young prosecutor announced that her boss, Ed Corrigan – my nemesis from years before – objected to continuing my case, despite my appointment to it less than 12 hours before.
Really? I wondered. On what grounds? A colleague patted me on the shoulder. “Welcome back,” he smirked. Others sat back, obviously relishing the coming clash of fading, red-headed combatants.
As a writer, I knew the County Attorneys had set the scene, thrown down the gauntlet, while the audience awaited a shower of fireworks.
Instead, Mr. Corrigan stopped me on my way to the restroom, called me by my first name, and advised me he was NOT objecting, but merely wanted to put some facts on the record. Not only was he cordial, he even cracked a joke. And I laughed. At the end of my appearance, I thanked both the judge and Ed.
So my answer? Tonight I’ve only had time to write this vignette instead of focusing on many edits for Book 2. Look at my subject matter.
Or is there something else? Emotion, perhaps? As I write this, I smile. Fifteen years after our first battle, we’ve matured, Ed and I, enough to relax, to accept that every moment isn’t a crisis between us.
It’s a step toward the future, rather than the past.
For today, that’s enough.
For me to write in a flurry of creative twists and turns, I first need to tend to the daily chores. I need freedom to roam in my thoughts and not be tied to an unfinished chore. But how does a woman with a never-ending list of things which must be accomplished ever reach that point of freedom? Strangely enough, it happens at unexpected times during those mundane chores that an idea will form and percolate.
Just this morning, as I was ironing the word cabin fever hopped into mind. That was it. My crazy old lady characters were all suffering from cabin fever. I then wrote a scene of a golf putting challenge held in February in a garage where a golf bag was a weapons stash. Yep, it was plum full of rifles and pistols and my restless ladies played around with them, drank English tea and putted on a fake green for quarters. And I thought ironing was mundane. I have learned to be excited in the repetitiveness of chores, great ideas will worm inside and snuggle close as you scrub floors, wash windows, or mow the lawn.
My answer to the question of how to set aside everyday stress is to use it, let your ideas flow and fill the cracks in your labors and emotions. They will blossom into gifted writing.
To honestly answer the question of how I write with, as Marie described, “a never-ending list of things which must be accomplished,” including (for me) running a small business, driving kids back and forth, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, answering emails, blah, blah, blah, I’d have to simply say – I often don’t. It’s an admission I hate to make because it brings me great anxiety. I wish I was more organized and could stick to a schedule that would make me feel better about myself and make me seem more professional, but I am not there yet. Currently, I am in between projects, desperately wanting to start another book but finding that my muse is completely on vacation. Often, I feel stuck unless I get that grand idea that propels me full fledge into a novel. Half-ass, half-formed ideas often feel weak and leave me uninspired to follow them further.
Once I am truly jazzed by an idea though, writing just happens, not on schedule, but whenever I can find a small stretch of time. It might be late at night, in the morning or at work when a client cancels. If I’m on a roll, I can get it done. Ideas for how to proceed don’t necessarily come at convenient times, so I find myself writing notes on scraps of paper at stoplights, in between clients, in the middle of a conversation with my husband…. When he sees my eyes glaze over and says, “did you even hear what I just said?” he knows an idea to add to my manuscript is pinging around in my head. It’s not a recommended communication strategy for any marriage, but when the muse comes, she must be heard. I just wish she’d come more often in between projects.
So, for me, the trick is getting inspired in the first place, and perhaps that could be our next topic of discussion….. I’d love to ask Leslie Budewitz, author of The Food Lovers’ Village Mystery Series, for example, how she comes up with ideas for another book in her series when she’s in the middle of one story? Or Kathy Dunnehoff, author of the best-selling The Do-Over, whose muse never seems to leave her, what she does to foster a brain that is constantly dishing out great premises and plotting ideas? Is she playing Lumosity? It’s a catch 22 for me; I know that to make my muse stronger and more active, I have to sit and write, no matter what I write, but for me, I can’t seem to get it done unless I already have the muse present. I have tried “morning pages,” and many other tricks that don’t seem to get me plotting. I trust I will figure these things out and, being part of Montana Women Writers, I also secretly hope that being around other serious, energetic writers and their muses will inspire mine.
Follow more of our writers’ answers in Part 2!
We would love for you to join the conversation in the comments.
Fellow writers, how do you find the time to write, and set aside the rest of your worries? Readers, what do you think of this process of finding time and inspiration?