Hello, friends. I have a confession to make: I’ve always been quite a prima donna when it comes to writing time. When I was childless, I needed three-hour blocks of uninterrupted writing time, minimum, to feel that I was making progress on a manuscript. When we had a baby, that shrank to two hours – still a lot to ask, but with the support of my superstar spouse, we made that happen.
And now we have 2 children. The elder goes to preschool, part-time. The (new) baby is never more than a few metres from me, day and night. Basically, the I-must-have-privacy-and-silence-and-a-warmup-ritual-that-involves-freshly-ground-french-pressed-coffee thing is, um, not working out.
Instead, I’m learning to write like thousands (tens of thousands? gazillions? pity no one measures these things) of women have before me: in unpredictable increments that sometimes pop up when I least expect them. For example, last week I dropped off our son at preschool and the baby fell asleep in the car on the way home. I sprinted into the house, grabbed my laptop, hopped into the passenger seat, and wrote until she woke up. The tally? 800 words in 45 minutes. Yes, I’m still feeling mighty smug about that one.
Obviously, that’s a best-case scenario and it certainly doesn’t happen every time I open the laptop. I still have writing sessions where I fiddle with a single paragraph for 20 minutes, or worse yet, check email obsessively and write half a (bad) sentence. But I’m learning.
The other thing that’s changing is when I write. Now, a few evenings a week after the kids are asleep, I ignore the rest of my life (the dishes, the half-read novel, my lovely husband) and focus. I usually log in to Twitter and propose a writing sprint to anyone who’s kicking around. And off I go.
It’s messy and inconvenient and fundamentally at odds with my circadian rhythm (I’m one of those people who likes to go to bed at 10), but it’s working. Mostly. And whenever I feel particularly low about my word count, I think about one of my favourite Victorian novelists, Wilkie Collins, who was a consummate procrastinator.
When Collins was in the middle of a serial novel (a novel published in a magazine in many instalments), he would turn up at the offices of the magazine on the day of the printer’s deadline. There, he would finally sit down and write. As he finished each page, someone would run that sheet of paper down to the printer’s offices, where they would typeset it and finally print it.
It makes me feel queasy just thinking about it.
How do you write? Are you a Collins-esque procrastinator, or a marvel of efficiency?