Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Writing Schedules, Writing Setbacks
Some days it’s tough to find time to write. But I really have to squeeze it in. I have an approach that works really well (except, well, when life happens):
The Set-Up—the Night Before:
I make a list of what I’m writing the next day. By no means can I call this list an outline because that messes with my head. :) It’s just “a list.”
I make sure that there are no social media windows up and running when I close my laptop before going to bed.
I set the coffee maker to automatically start perking at 4:45 a.m.
That next morning:
I get up and start writing. No email, no social media. Just an hour of writing. Then I feel smugly successful all day!
There’s a sick child.
There’s a sick dog or cat.
There is some horrible, unspeakable disaster awaiting me when I go downstairs.
For me, Plan B involves giving up on writing first thing, addressing whatever disaster has happened, then running away from home to find a suitable location for writing (i.e., a place that sells good coffee at an inexpensive rate). I will eat an egg, bacon, and grits and will consume about 4 cups of coffee…and write for an hour straight, at least. The waitresses, realizing my desperation, silently refill my coffee as I mutter to myself. I know no one there, nor am I likely to make friends, since I’m usually make-up free, haphazardly attired, and in disreputable flip flops. I tip well, knowing that I’m doomed to return and wanting my laptop and me to be welcomed back.
Unless…Plan B won’t work because there’s some place I have to be right after taking the carpools. (For you this could be work, for me it could be a dental appointment for a child or myself, the vet with the sick animal that put me on Plan B to begin with, etc.)
For that, I offer Plan C
The most important part of Plan C involves being prepared to write on the go. To implement Plan C, I’m armed with 4 x 6 notecards, pencils, and pens. At stoplights on the way to whatever thing messed up Plan B, I make notes on the tops of each notecard, detailing what scene, setting or character description, etc. will be on that card. During the day, I fill the cards with writing.
But then, some days… Even Plan C won’t work. These are truly wretched days when unexpected events leap out at you all day and wrestle the pen and paper right out of your hands.
So…you might have to get all the way to Plan Z (before Plan Zzz). Writing really late at night before turning in. This is when I call it quits after 15 minutes. If I’m not under a deadline, I might just give myself a free pass…a Get Out of Writing Free card. But I can’t do that very often because it’s ten times harder to get back into the manuscript (and meet deadlines.)
Do you have fallback plans for your writing? How often do you give yourself a Get Out of Writing Free card, or end up at Plan Z?
Elizabeth S. Craig
Finger Lickin’ Dead, released June 7th. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley as Riley Adams and is featured at The Mystery Lovers Kitchen. She also writes the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink.
Blog: Mystery Writing is Murder