Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ideal writing routine or reality?

A line or two from Lynne

I love writing on my laptop, sitting in an Adirondack chair on a deck overlooking the sea. The smell of salty mist and the din of waves hitting the shoreline are the perfect level of sensory inspiration.

Would you like to know how many times I've had that writing experience? Exactly twice. That's because the ideal writing routine and reality, are oceans apart.

I write a good deal of nonfiction parenting material for my "day job." My writing routine for this work is similar to Hannah's; I'm all business. I place my coffee to the right. I sit at my desktop computer in my office. The phone's ring. The copy machine is copying. This writing for me starts with outlines. It includes scientific research and well-tested strategies for problem solving. It ends with my credentials, telling others why I'm able to write what I write.

My fiction writing routine is different in so many ways. I don't write in my office. Whether it's my window seat in the family room, my dining room table overlooking my front yard, or the bedroom chair given to me by my mother that overlooks the backyard--I need the sensory input a view provides.

My nonfiction writing is predictable; it's done between 9 and 5. My fiction writing is done--all day and unfortunately all night. Like Amy, I often write without putting words on a page and like Lisa, I experiment doing it here and there. I steal the time from the other things I should be doing. I think about plot and characters while driving, as I grocery shop and yes, sometimes while I'm sleeping.

My nonfiction is written to deadlines. A parenting paper needs an article, my manuscript is due to my editor. For my fiction, I have no daily page limits or word count goals. Someone once gave me advice, that to this day, drives my creative process: touch the work everyday. Sometimes I only have time to make notes about a scene in a pretty notebook given to me by one of my children. Some days I might write three pages.

If I were to wait to write until I found that Adirondack chair and felt the sea salt on my face--well, I wouldn't be a writer.

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