The Business Rusch: Habits

Business Rusch logo webOn Tuesday, around 10 pm, I finished the first draft of my next Smokey Dalton novel. I would have finished on Monday, but Dean and I have been dealing with some serious business matters for the past ten days, and on Monday, we had to do real-life business things that involved people, not computers or mentally time-traveling back to 1970. And we certainly couldn’t make things up, or we would have made some pretty serious mistakes.

I get very focused at the end of a book, and I speed up because I want to finish and move to the next project. I have a lot of next projects. I have three short stories due in the next two weeks. I need to go over a first draft of a different novel, and add a few things that I thought of later. Sometimes I leave novels to “cool” and then the subconscious tosses in the missing elements. Since I usually write out of order, this habit generally works to my advantage.

I’m leaving Street Justice to cool while I finish up those tasks. And as I’m doing those, I’ll also write at least two more blog posts for the Business Rusch, several smaller items that WMG needs, and maybe a mystery story (since the three I owe are science fiction (2) and romance (1), and I’d like to get to this great mystery idea that’s been hanging fire for weeks now).

Why am I burdening you with all of this? For two reasons. First, I planned to write a long and involved post tonight about the Patterson ad, royalty statements, and book distribution. In fact, I started it in the middle of the night Monday when I couldn’t sleep. But I’m tired enough that I worry I wouldn’t do my best work on the blog, so I’m going to put it off until next week.

The other reason? Some of you know that for the last 10 days or so of April, Dean was writing a novel from start to finish. In fact, he was writing a novel and blogging about it at the same time.

We’re always writing, and we’re usually writing novels at the same time, but it’s rare for us both to be going at top speed at the same time. Generally, one of us serves as back-up for the other, making sure the other person eats properly, gets up from the desk enough, and gets enough sleep.

We couldn’t really watch each other’s backs this time, and it led to some interesting things that I didn’t quite realize until today.

Today, I grabbed the battered and scratched grocery list that had been sitting on the dining room table for weeks, and headed to the grocery store. Usually I do the shopping and the cooking because I have so many food allergies that it’s just easier (and less time consuming) for me to handle this stuff.

I go once a week, grab enough to last, replenish what we used up, and bring it all home. Dean carries his weight in other ways. He does the dishes if I cook, and he handles repairs/light bulbs/etc.

For the past two weeks, maybe three, I didn’t go to the store. I ran out of time. I also ran out of time to cook. Fortunately, I cook too much food most of the time and freeze the suitable leftovers. In March, I actually had to buy more food storage containers because we hadn’t been eating anything frozen. I wondered if our eating habits had changed.

Au contraire. I did not realize I was storing up for April.

All of last week, we ate what I had stored. We also ate through our extras. We almost ran out of tea, which, believe me, almost never happens in my house. (Some wag at the grocery store today looked in my cart at the four boxes of cereal and said, “Wow. Someone in your house likes Raisin Bran.” I didn’t tell him I was stocking back up.)

Getting extra food and freezing leftovers aren’t habits that came from my Depression-era parents (even though Mother did try to instill in me the virtues of using everything, a lesson I still ignore). These habits come from decades of freelancing.

Back in the early days, I learned to buy in bulk because checks came irregularly. I could get through the lean times with extra boxes of cereal and lots of frozen homemade food.

Later, though, those same habits became important in a two-writer household for months like the one we just went through. We don’t have a housekeeper or a secretary. We have to keep track of things ourselves and can’t farm it out to an assistant. (I suppose we could afford one, but that person would be lurking in my home and breathing my air, and at some point, I would just have to kill him. No, I’m not the most rational person when I’m working. I’m a writer. Why would you expect otherwise?)

Without an assistant, Dean and I muddle through. Most of the time, even a two-novel finish isn’t as complicated as last week because, on top of the dual writing sessions, we also had to handle some heavy-duty business stuff that took hours out of our days. Despite my vow to eat healthier in 2013, a vow I’ve mostly kept, I ate too many lunches from Burger King because I’d run out of everything easy to fix in the house, and I knew if I went to the grocery store, I’d lose too much writing time, a fact borne out today, when I lost two hours in the aisles at Safeway.

The frozen meals do help though. We eat less crap when we have frozen homemade food. And it’s something we’ve done for years. We have a lot of habits that have simply become ingrained, habits I didn’t entirely realize others lacked until Dean’s blog this past week.

If you haven’t read the blog, you should, and you should read the comments too, because in the middle of that novel, Dean did a lot of mythbusting.

One myth in particular stood out for me. Most writers seemed to believe that you had to spend a large chunk of time at the computer to write anything of value.

That can’t be farther from the truth. In fact, large chunks of time at the computer harm a writer. They rarely help one.

I’ve always wondered how so many writers develop carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive stress injuries from their writing. When Dean and I teach, we always stress that a writer needs to have her workplace properly set up. I blogged about that early in The Freelancer’s Survival Guide.  Your workspace should be set up for your body style, not for someone else’s. I also tell writers to get up every hour or so.

I learned this one quickly. I am incredibly restless—so restless, in fact, that when a doctor ordered me to stay off my feet after I broke a bone in my left foot, I found it nearly impossible to take that advice. I was used to getting up every twenty minutes or so to go do something. I had no idea I was that restless until that particular injury.

But I also trained my body to move. I did so with tea and water. Before each writing session, I drink a little water. Then I bring a cup of tea with me into the office, and sip as I work. Eventually, my body demands that I get up and after a while, I can no longer ignore that command—even if my characters are all about to die in icky horrible ways. Even if I have just gotten a great idea and need to get it all down now. Even if I have finally figured out that missing piece to the plot puzzle. I still get up, and walk to the bathroom, then have another drink of water, maybe make another cup of tea, and head back, shaking my arms a little as I do so, making sure I stretch a bit, and avoiding repetitive stress injury.

I only had one such injury, and I got that in the late 1980s, when I worked as a secretary. I sat at a desk set up for someone seven inches taller than me, and eventually, I paid for that. It didn’t matter how many times I got up. I still got hurt, and vowed never again.

Dean gets up every hour or so as well. The fact that we both do this has led to another habit. We learned to write in small increments. We often write two hundred words in fifteen minutes, then get up and do something else. On Sundays, before our weekly writer lunch, I can usually manage only about twenty minutes of actual writing before we leave. I generally get 600-800 words done in that time, mostly because I know I will lose most of my afternoon to socializing.

What these short bursts mean is that we write a lot more than  most people. If I waited for long stretches of time to write, I’d still be finishing Street Justice. I had several hours to work yesterday, but no time on Monday, five hours in snatches on Sunday, a long stretch on Saturday, and four stolen nonconsecutive hours on Friday.  If I look back at April, which was a busy month for business and other things that had nothing to do with writing, I see only ten days with long stretches of time. I write most of Street Justice in April. I’d only be about a hundred pages in if I wrote like most of the commenters on Dean’s blog.

As readers of the blog learned, Dean writes that way as well. He writes a bit, does something else, then writes some more. He gets thousands of words done per day by doing that.

So do I.

The other thing we both do is we have a dedicated writing computer. I gave a live interview online a few years ago, and got to see the running comments from others on the message board. They made fun of me as a Luddite for making certain that my writing computer did not have e-mail or Twitter or any wireless connectivity. I don’t have a phone in my office either or a television or my iPad. No novels except my own. Research books are all the way across the room, out of easy grasp.

No distractions. None.

When I sit at this desk, I write. I do nothing else. Because I’m so firm about this, I know that the moment I sit down I am going to work. The habit becomes reality. I’m already thinking of the next scene as I walk through the office door. I review a little, and then start typing. And I do that until my timer goes off or nature calls.

Yes, I set a timer. If I only have a half an hour for writing, I set the timer for 25 minutes. Why 25 minutes? Because that way, I can finish my thought or the scene or make notes for the next writing session.

It’s a habit I learned when I was training myself to write.

I used to think starting was hard. Then I realized that I was just easily distracted. I took away all of my distractions, and set an obnoxious alarm across the room. Then I vowed not to move from my writing desk until that damn alarm went off.

I’m easily bored. Without books nearby or television or even a radio, I had a choice: I could either sit and stare into space or I could write something. I ended up writing something. And after weeks of this, I could ditch the alarm.

Now I use a timer just to make sure I’m not late to whatever appointment I have. (And those of you who know me, stop laughing. Yes, I know I’m still late at times.)

The physical habits feed the writing. If I hadn’t been getting up every hour or so for the last three decades, I would no longer be a writer. I’d be in traction.

If I believed I needed large chunks of time to write, I would have written maybe an eighth of what I’ve written over those three decades.

If I hadn’t figured out how to manage real world things, like grocery shopping and cooking, I wouldn’t finish novels as quickly.

Dean and I didn’t eat poorly last week, but we didn’t eat well either. I managed to get some exercise, although not as much as usual. If one of us had been finishing a novel instead of both of us, that person probably would have eaten better and gotten more time for exercise.

But we were keeping the household together kinda and managing pretty well. Just like we would have if we lived alone or the other person was out of town.

The habits kept us fed, kept us producing words regularly, and kept us injury free.

We’re both tired tonight, which is why I’m going to roust him from his office now. We’re going to go do something relaxing.

But we’ll both be back at it tomorrow.

Because writing is our job, and we treat it that way. Even down to the little things, the smallest of habits.

Writing demystified. That’s what Dean was doing last week.

Which is why I urge you to all go read his posts on that novel.

Me? I have to get rid of some tea, post this blog, and go do something fun—whatever that may be.

I have some major blog posts coming up, and now that I’m not doing a research intensive book, I might be able to do them. I appreciate all of the comments, e-mails, and links you’ve sent me. I also appreciate the donations. They’re essential. They make sure this blog is a paying venture, just like the rest of my writing work. The moment the blog ceases to fund itself, I will use this time for fiction.

Or naps. Right now, naps sound really good…

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“The Business Rusch: Habits” copyright © 2013 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

 





 

 

 

35 responses to “The Business Rusch: Habits”

  1. Carradee says:

    I am distractible, too, and I often find myself wandering around the room, thinking, and realizing with a start that the past fifteen minutes have vanished.

    So I work with timers, too, as checks to remind me of “Wait, this isn’t what I was supposed to be doing!”

    Thanks for proving that I don’t have to feel guilty about tending to work in short spurts. ^_^

    And if I may share a recipe I found recently that’s readily customizable, straightforward to make, and (per one chef) freezable, though I’ve not tried that yet:
    http://potsandplots.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/retake-homemade-mini-pizza-puffs/

    Gluten-free? Use GF all-purpose flour and add 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum. Can’t have pepperoni? Use turkey or chicken or beef. Can’t have tomato? Use cream sauce or garlic oil—or, as I did, make a “Greek” version of the bites and tzatziki sauce to dip. I’ve gotten 1 c. toppings in there, no problem, while also using 1 c. finely-shredded mozzerella. I’m thinking I might do a taco version next, with an avocado dip.

  2. Thanks for the peek behind the scenes.

    I’ve always thought my kids were useful for forcing me to maximize production in a short period of time. I’ve written while nursing (longhand), while having a toddler crawl on my legs, while pumping, while telling my pre-schooler, “I know this is annoying. Just let Mommy have 500 more words and I’m all yours.” My day job also forces me to write/stockpile words beforehand, because I’ll be in no condition to write afterward.

    When I do get a day to myself, I’m more likely to surf the Net before I write, sometimes for hours, so my productivity goes down, but then, so do my stress levels.

    I’m sure there are arguments for long or short periods of writing, just like some people like to exercise for hours vs. in short bursts, but for now, I’m a writing sprinter. I might be sprinting pretty slowly (this latest novel is interminable), but at least I’m in the race.

  3. Louis Shalako says:

    I agree with everything to a certain extent. I can only write so much and then I lay on the couch and just think about the story. I watch one period of hockey. I shop, cook, clean, go for a drive. I wrote 5200 words yesterday in three writing session and yet spent four to six hours away from the house. Writing is good when I can’t wait to go home and tuck into the next scene.

  4. Ramon says:

    This is really an eye-opener. My writing days tend to be an hour or two before work, then a couple/few hours at home in the room sitting on the bed after work. (don’t have space for an office in the our little basement suite) On my off days I get up early in the morning with my wife and drop her off at work, post up at the nearby starbucks, and write while she’s working. I get up every couple of hours (I know, I know!) and stretch and walk around, then go back at it. 9 hours after she’s done, that’s when I finish as well. And sometimes if the urge hits me and she’s engrossed in a hockey game, I’ll sneak off into the room and do a little more.

    So I guess the discipline for me is to try not to go for such long stretches?? Hmm.

    As for the writing only computer, I’ll have to figure that one out. I use scrivener on my macbook pro, which I take everywhere.

    One thing I do wish I could do is find a tea that keeps me awake. I’ve tried tea with maca powder (which doesn’t taste very good, I’ll tell you) and doze off just the same. The latte drinks help, but I know they aren’t good for me.

  5. Kyra Halland says:

    The biggest challenge I face in being productive is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which severely limits not just my physical energy, but also my mental energy. I’ve found that by breaking my daily writing into 30-45 minute blocks, instead of trying to do it all at once, I’m able to increase my writing time from 2 to 3 hours a day. For me, that 50% increase in good writing time is huge.

  6. Mercy Loomis says:

    We have wifi at home, and I do a lot of writing on my home computer which always has the internet on. I just don’t open a browser. 😉 But I’ve never been a big surfer, I just have a few blogs I follow and a couple of web comics. That’s what I use my lunch break at work for. (Case in point.)

    I just got a system set up for writing on the go, and it pretty much requires an internet connection. The hubby set up a server with Boxcrypt, and I keep all my writing on that. So as long as I have my brand-new, bought-purely-for-this-purpose smartphone-with-hotspot with me, I can always access my files and I don’t have to worry about whether I remembered to copy the latest version to my netbook. (A problem I had a LOT before. We don’t have wifi at work.) It’s awesome. I have about 45 minutes after work before the husband picks me up, and I get a lot of my daily writing done then using my little netbook. And then if we are out and about and I have a few minutes to myself, I just whip out the smartphone and write. I need to find a better app for writing, but once I have that I should be golden.

    I’m glad I picked an Android phone though. If I had an iPhone, I don’t know if I could resist playing Ticket to Ride in those spare moments…

  7. Cora says:

    Till last week I thought I was pretty good at snatching a couple of minutes here and there – e.g. while waiting for the bus or the tram or while my students are doing some exercise and none of them needs help for once – for writing. But Dean’s series of ghostwriting posts was still enormously helpful for me. Because what I did until now was stop once I had passed my self-imposed wordcount for the day (1000 words a day for the past two years or so). But the truth is that I can get in more words, sneak in more intervals of five or ten or twenty minutes. And the couple of hundred words I can write in those times really add up over time.

  8. Meg Justus says:

    Ha. I learned to cook for my freezer back when I was working full time outside the home. Before that, I would cook on Sundays and eat off the results all week until on Friday night I could no longer look it in the face and would order pizza or go out. Cooking for my freezer gives me a variety of healthier, less expensive, tasty food, and having to thaw stuff ahead of time keeps me from staring into the refrigerator at suppertime, my blood sugar at its lowest point of the day, wondering what the heck I can eat tonight.

    As for the unconnected computer, I have had to explain to more people that I don’t want wifi at home, because if I could connect my laptop to the internet from my recliner, I’d never get any work done. I bet you’re one of the few people who understands this logic. It’s nice to know I’m not alone on this one.

    • I don’t have e-mail on my iPad for that very reason. My iPad is my get-away, play place and if I hook up the e-mail, I’d be doing work on the iPad. So nope. No e-mail there either. 🙂 I did succumb to wifi, though, because our cable provider’s DVR keeps dumping shows. I now stream a goodly portion of what I watch, and that requires household wifi. Still have the network option shut off on my writing computer. No wifi, nothing. I have to actively turn it on, and I set up warnings before I do it. (You sure you want to do that? Really? Really sure???) It works.

      • “I set up warnings before I do it.”

        Any hints on how to do this? (asks the Internet addict). I found articles online about how to disable warnings in Windows, but not how to add custom warnings.

        • Eric Stocklassa says:

          Not without some hacking. You’d have to hook in a VBscript… or do something really crazy. Much easier on Linux (and per extension Mac)
          Curious about that one as well.

          • Nothing so elaborate, guys. I have to click through several settings to turn on my wireless. I leave it off permanently, have “work-offline” hit on everything, and have to choose my wireless service each time I want to use the internet. That’s three levels of “do I really want to do this in my writing office?” and usually by the third, I don’t. 🙂

  9. Adam Riser says:

    It’s true that working in small bits of time is an effective strategy for the prolific writer.

    Isaac Asimov, who is credited with writing over 500 books in his lifetime, said something to that effect in his autobiographical book of essays. I wish I could remember the exact quote, but it’s something like, “If a writer waits for that perfect long stretch of time, he’s going to be waiting for a long time.”

  10. I’ll second that endorsement of a writing-only computer. When I first heard K&D give that advice, I thought that I was too broke to afford it and besides, there was a no-network button on my laptop that I could press when I started writing.

    That worked for a while, but not for long. It was just too easy to push the button and look up one detail on the Internet and, oh, while I’m at it, let me just the Red Sox score. And…

    I became so disgusted with myself (“where’s your self-discipline… don’t you care about your dreams?”). The inevitable self-loathing (in which I’ve earned a Ph.D) oommenced.

    Finally, after several fits and starts, I said that even if we were broke, that’s what I wanted (needed) for my birthday/Christmas/anniversary… package them all together, I didn’t care.

    It actually wasn’t that hard. I now have an old XP-based PC with no network capability, no nothing except Microsoft Word (and notepad). It’s sufficiently old that there are only two USB ports and they’re in the back, so I got an old-fangled keyboard that doesn’t use up a USB port so I can back the thing up to a USB stick regularly and still be able to type. My wife found a monitor for it at a second-hand shop for $10 or $15.

    My productivity skyrocketed. My self-loathing plummeted. I LOVE that ugly, old writing-only PC.

    Thanks for the recommendation way back when. I’m a dope for taking so long to follow through. But now I’m a happy dope.

  11. Solid and excellent advice, Kris–thanks.

    Weirdly, I stumbled onto some of the same habits, and can confirm they work: (i) dedicated writing computer w/o connectivity in a room away from books and phone; (ii)get up frequently for a minute or two; (iii) write at the same time each day, early morning with the caffeine roaring, without distractions and before my head gets stuffed full of other people’s words.

    The only thing I could never do is fast food. LOL. Never!

    • The fast food shows how desperate I was. And how hard it is for me to eat in a small town with all the food allergies. I know what I can eat at Burger King, sadly. Every other place takes thought or very clear must-be-followed-to-the-letter instructions, which some employees at other chain places can’t/won’t/don’t do. So occasionally, it’s either Burger King or cereal. I cave and eat Burger King. 🙂

  12. I love this post.

    Writing in short sprints: yeah. I found that, even when I was in the midst of a really gruelling and distracting “life roll” I could stay sane by telling myself, any time I had a break, to write just one sentence. What I found was that in that five minute break, I usually wrote lots of sentences.

    Moving around: I had bad RSIs from work, not because of not moving around, but because of too much — I was the person who ran to help students and other people at their desks, which were not set up for me. So at home I set up a workspace which was the ultimate recliner workspace. I had everything at my fingertips and in exactly the right place so I didn’t have to injure myself. And frankly, I didn’t have to move. This did cure my RSIs. However, it turned me into a jelly fish.

    I’d created a standing desk at work, so now I’ve created one at home.

    Distractions: That one I’m still working on. One thing that day job did, aside from the RSIs, was create a level of hyper alertness. A part of my job was to react to questions and problems, put out fires and catch dropped balls. And it was a very very busy service. As when I was a playground supervisor (with a ratio of 100 kids to 1 adult, IF the other adults showed up for work), I developed VERY good peripheral vision, and I am still primed to not only react at the most subtle hint of need, but also to be suspicious of silence and go look for trouble if it’s not there. Because for more than 25 years, it WAS there.

    That’s my biggest issue right now is breaking the habit of hyper-alertness. (Especially since now that I’m retired, I have plenty of people in my life who need me to take on their problems. And some of them really do need it — as in major medical emergencies and home forclosures and things like that.)

    I’ve found, strangely, that what’s working to break that “Important Stuff Is Being Neglected!” habit, is recreation. It’s counter intuitive, because writing is one of the important things that get neglected when crisis erupts. But recreation isn’t reactive, it’s proactive. And I’m finding that, for now, the most effective way to break distraction is to get out of reactive mode.

    I don’t think that will be the way to re-form my habits in the end, but it’s the way to cure the habitual problems I have now.

  13. Jeff Ambrose says:

    I was one of those writers who had the “scheduling myth” broke by Dean’s blog. I always believed I needed a Big Chunk Of Time to write. Happily, I’ve been trying to break this habit and form a new one in which I write in small snippets, but it’s hard.

    However, it should be obvious where this myth comes from, and why it’s so strong.

    What’s the standard advice every beginning writer gets? Set a daily word count. Don’t stop until you hit it. Find a good time to write, and stick to the schedule. Write 1,000 words a day, and don’t aim for more.

    In fact, sitting at your computer until your work is finished is pretty much the advice Stephen King gave to millions in ON WRITING. Remember the part when he says he doesn’t leave the computer until he gets his 10 pages written … even if that means eating lunch at his computer, or working late into the afternoon.

    Thus: You need a good chunk of time.

    The advice is good and solid for what it tries to do: Teach someone how to create a daily habit of writing. Even the 1,000-words-a-day advice makes perfect sense. It’s a perfect goal for the beginner. It takes about an hour, you can write a short story a week or a novel in two or three months. It’s a good, practical, solid goal.

    I know that when I first started writing seriously as an adult, all this basic how-to advice was essential. In fact, I pretty much gave my oldest son the same advice a few months ago when he told me he wanted to be a writer. (Sadly, he hasn’t taken any of it to heart.)

    Problem is, once it becomes a habit — and once you start seeing some success with it — it’s damn hard to break, or to think outside the box.

    What I’ve come to realize over the past few weeks reading Dean’s blog is, to paraphrase St. Paul, when I was a beginner, I worked like a beginner, but now that I’m an early professional (????) I need to put those beginning habits behind me.

    I’m sure it’s going to take me a while to get into a new habit of writing “bite-size” as I’m calling it. But summer is approaching, so I’ll have four kids at home. Should have plenty of time to practice writing in small spurts. 🙂

  14. Desiree says:

    Great reminder, and I enjoyed following Dean’s blog last week. Something about his mundane, just another day at the office attitude really spoke to me. I am one of the writers who bought into that nasty myth about large chunks of writing time. Since I realized what an idiotic notion it was, I went from being 1/2 finished with a novel to 2/3 over the span of that week, even with the chaos that seems to be ruling my life right now. 500 words here and there add up fast. I am not set up with a dedicated writing space, but I always have my laptop nearby to throw down a few sentences when I can.
    Huge thanks to both of you for your openness. It has meant to world to me.

  15. Marimba Ani says:

    Now that I know better (because Dean showed me over ten and a half days of blog posts), I can’t believe I carried around the “I need at least a block of at least a couple of hours to write”. I’m amazed not only that I said that to someone as recently as a month ago, but also at how many more words (yes, good, quality, publishable words) I’ve produced in the last week.

    Thank you for reiterating the lesson here. I hope all writers see it, if they don’t know it already.

  16. Dean’s blogging last week was eye-opening. But I was thinking: I’ve tried seat-of-the-pants writing. I wrote my first four books that way, and even though I was happy with how they came out, I hated always getting stumped halfway through.

    I followed Dean’s progress every day (night) even though I thought it wouldn’t really be helpful to me since I am now outlining my books. But the valuable lesson I learned from Dean was the thing you’re talking about today: writing in short bursts. I’ve always made the mistake of thinking I couldn’t get anything significant done unless I had a two or three-hour time slot available.

    Three important things I’ve recently learned:
    (1) Write in short bursts
    (2) Get rid of all distractions
    (3) Set daily and/or weekly word count goals and do your best to meet them

    Thanks to you and Dean, today I am much more productive.

    Now if I just had a window I could open that would let in that wonderful ocean air…

  17. Great post Kris. I’ve had a lot of success with writing in smaller chunks of time. With a full-time day job (actually two jobs right now with a longer commute) I never have a huge block of time to write. Over the years I’ve trained myself to take my writing space with me, and write when I have a break. Right now that’s an iPad and a wireless keyboard. I put in my headphones, open my Writings app, and I’m in that mental writing space. I just write. If I didn’t snatch those little breaks I’d get much less written!

  18. Nancy Beck says:

    Darn you, Kris, for writing another interesting (and humorous) post! 🙂 Took me away from my day job when I was just taking a break.

    Getting extra food and freezing leftovers aren’t habits that came from my Depression-era parents (even though Mother did try to instill in me the virtues of using everything, a lesson I still ignore). These habits come from decades of freelancing.

    My mother is Depression-era (born in 1930), and she’s impressed that on me, esp. lately. 🙂 My income isn’t what used to be, but at least I finally got some royalties put in my Paypal account from Smashwords. (A nice surprise. :-)) My problem is remembering to take the darn stuff out of the freezer, altho I have used the micro to defrost from time to time.

    Dean talked about the work computer thing, and I’m beginning to think that’s what I need. The other computer is supposed to have internet access, but it’s so sporadic, it’s not even worth trying. It also was thrown against a wall (a long story I won’t even get into), so I’m just relieved the thing works at all, never mind having internet access.

    The few times I did bring that along with me to a prior temp job (which sucked, but they all suck in one way or another), I would work about 1/2 an hour during lunch time, and then sporadically throughout the day, whenever I had 10 or 15 minutes to spare (which wasn’t often, but I managed it).

    I also started doing it at my current temp job, then I fell away from that. After seeing what Dean accomplished, I’m sorry I got away from that. So I’ll start this evening, see how much I get done in 15-20 minute sessions, then bring it to work tomorrow and see how much I get done there.

    I just need to lose the laziness and regain the discipline I had before I lazed off. 🙂

  19. Vera Soroka says:

    I followed Dean’s blog while he was writing the novel. I never for some reason would have pictured him a night owl.
    Writing in small increments does work and getting up and moving definitely helps the creative flow.
    I have lower back aches and stiff feet so moving is essential.
    I like to write everyday but edits is now what I have to work into my schedule. Haven’t figured that one out yet. I have three novels waiting and one novella.
    I just want to write the next thing but I know that is not how it works. I have to deal with them or they are just going to stack up like cord wood.
    Great post!

  20. Josephine Wade says:

    Ok, I’m curious what tea do you two drink? I wasn’t going to ask when Dean mentioned it (although the curiosity was killing me), but since you mention it also I’ m now doubly curious. (Sorry for the over use of the word curious, but it’s early and my brain’s thesaurus hasn’t kicked in yet).

    Also, I was wondering did you come into your relationship with these habits or was it something you both grew into after you were around each other for awhile?

    I’m still working on a good balance for my family and my writing. I’m not sure there will ever be one great solution, it’s more like one of those puzzles where you keep sliding the pieces around trying to find the right sequence except the parameters of the puzzle change daily and the picture your aiming for is open for interpretation.

    But, I do whole heartedly agree that working through the day in bits does add up. My first book I wrote after years off was done that way and I could get 2000-3000 words daily even with two small kids who needed me a lot. I will emphasize the importance of locking your keyboard with little people in the house. Or you might have to reconfigure your computer which is a great time suck.

    Thanks to you both for the posts on your habits. I have (and am) learning a lot.

    • Dean drinks plain old Lipton. I drink Twinnings English Breakfast tea (mostly).

      As for the habits, yeah, we came into a few of them together simply because our relationship pre-dates wi-fi. 🙂 But mostly, we came to this on our own.

      Each family has its own dynamic, and you need to respect yours, just like they need to respect you. It takes time and training. Trial and error. But it can be done.

      And yeah, you gotta lock your computer around cats as well. Mine have cost me days. Paws on keyboards push the most interesting hot keys…

  21. I started writing in November 2011 and came across all sorts of ‘myths’. The biggest one was that I had to stay at my computer all the time to get big word counts. I was only working about 2 hours a day at it. I thought I was doing it wrong. LOL. Now I know better. I have a dedicated computer for writing too. I know it works for me. Hope your (and Dean’s)posts help people figure out what works best for them.

  22. “Writing demystified” says it all, Kris.

    Between Dean’s blogs about his ghost-writing experience, and now this, I’ve come to the point that I can ease up on myself and drop that stupid notion that I’m failing because I haven’t been able to write for a straight eight hours a day.

    What a relief! My personal life has been in a twist since last year, with my parents’ health issues and the drama coming from my teen, and it’s been hard to write at all, much less find large blocks of time.

    I’m working on setting up my day to I can easily work in bits of writing time, and let myself go with the flow, so to speak. 🙂

    Thanks to both of you for writing your blogs. I honestly believe you may have saved my writing career.

    • Thanks, Sheila, but we just put the ideas out there. So many writers never take the advice. You’re one who has. Which is a long way of saying, you’ve done it and saved your own career. But thank you for the thought.:-)

  23. antares says:

    Speaking of dead bodies . . .
    You recommended the movie “Jack Reacher” some time ago. I saw it on pay-per-view and wrote a review on my blog. Cited and linked to your review. Got a tweet from someone who read my review and planned to see “Jack Reacher” based on that reading.
    Thought you might like to hear that your words influence others directly and at one remove.
    From the wings of a butterfly great storms are spawned.

  24. Are you and Dean psychic? You two always seem to know exactly the info I need when I’m in doubt about my writing habits. Thanks so much for this blog post. I was having trouble getting started on my fiction writing today anyway, so I might as well figure out a writing and relaxing (and etc) plan so I don’t go stark raving mad! Too late 😉

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