In Parts 1 and Part 2, we shared some answers from MWW to a question posed by P.A. Moore.
Welcome to the conversation. We’d love for you to join in with comments.
The original question: When you write, how do you set aside the rest of your day’s events, stresses, and emotional tugs?
This is a confession, one my mother and sisters would surely understand. I’m a multitasking workaholic. It runs in the family. I think my brain only stops when I sleep, and I’m not so sure about that. Occasionally I awake with a start in the middle of the night with a bright new idea. Or, I awaken before dawn with a new plot idea or turn-of-events to write about. Before dawn is my time to begin writing, the birds are chirping and I can watch sunrise over the Rockies from my computer desk while my night-owl husband is sound asleep. I quietly dress, brush my teeth, comb my hair, put on a little lipstick, and with my side-kick German shepherd-mix dog Valkyrie, I head to my lower level office.
En route, I make coffee, unload the dishwasher, start the laundry and feed our three feral cats—and a neighborhood big yellow tomcat named Elvis. I usually write from 5 am – 10 am, and then take a break, often a 4 mile walk. Upon returning, I may straighten up the house, do a few chores, and put dinner in a crock pot before writing for another 5 hours. I intersperse yard work, helping build an airplane and art work, wherever it will fit, usually after writing for 10 or more hours.
Although I grew up in a perfect home, the white glove type, without even a dirty fork in the sink, I’m not that way now. I had guilt feelings most of my life for not keeping things as clean and orderly as my mother had, but I found working long hours, I couldn’t do everything and still have time to write. I used to iron sheets, pillow cases and even dishtowels. I confess, now, my iron sits cold and alone. I don’t even vacuum once a week now that I’m retired. I’m lucky to clean the house thoroughly once a month. Yet, my husband calls me the “white tornado.” Periodically, I sweep through the house clearing his clutter and making things orderly. Once I’m done, he can’t find his stuff but I leave behind a house presentable, at least on the surface. The way he sees it, his belongings are lost in the chaos of order left behind by the white tornado who is back at her computer once again.
I am convinced that there are “day people” and “night people.” My husband is a day person. He gets up two hours before he has to be at work so he can savor his coffee, watch the morning news, and get to work fifteen minutes early. Then, he is asleep on the sofa by 9:00pm. You probably know people like him. Maybe, you are one of them. I am definitely not.
I am a person of the night, the coworker who’d trade her day shift for your graveyards. This served me well when I started writing in the late 90’s. With two kids, a husband, my elderly parents, and various four-legged critters sharing my life, along with running my retail store, working a week-end job at the church, and serving on the school board, I had no time in the daylight hours to write. Luckily, my “peak hours” biologically seemed to start about the time everyone else went to bed. So I would write from 11 pm to 3am.
Now many of the above mentioned responsibilities are gone, but Aristotle was right when he wrote that Nature abhors a vacuum. I still find the daylight hours filled with a variety of new and time-sucking demands. Thus, my writing time still goes from around midnight to four or five in the morning. Alas, this is also the time I feel the enticing lure of Hulu, Netlficks, and “internet surfing” (under the guise of doing research). Sometimes I resist; sometimes I give in to the siren songs of HGTV.
Over the years I have learned that there are as many ways to write as there are writers. Stephen King has to have rock music blaring. I want quiet. Some authors write in the mist of chaos, while others cloister themselves in solitude. Two essential things I need in order to push myself to write are other books because the more I read, the more I write. And to echo Christine’s words, I need to be around encouraging, energetic writers. I often find that they are the muses that inspire me.