When Life Impedes Your Writing
By Dorothy Love
This post originally ran over a year ago at Dorothy Love’s blog – but the advice is still very relevant and helpful!
I am way behind on my self-imposed blogging schedule. A few weeks ago I took a tumble down the stairs here at home. No broken bones, but plenty of sore muscles and bruises. For a couple of days, even my hair hurt. After many phone discussions with our dog boarders, my dogs had to be taken to the vet for unnecessary flu shots (another whole story don’t get me started). The car was due for a 7500 mile service which required half a day of babysitting at the dealership. Our CPA sent the dreaded Yearly Tax Organizer which is still hanging fire, on the agenda to get done this weekend. Meantime I could hear the tick-tick-tick of my internal writer’s clock counting down toward my next deadline.
You know those needle-thin actresses who show up for awards shows in dresses that cost more than the average family sedan, and dripping in diamonds? I do not envy them. I envy writers who can go away somewhere, unplug from life’s impediments and just write the book. Since this luxury has eluded me for the entire 20 years I’ve been writing and publishing I’ve had to figure out a coping strategy. Maybe it will help you, too, when life impedes your writing. Here goes:
Set a more realistic writing schedule. When I plan a new book, I write my daily word count on my calendar. Some days I don’t quite make it, some days I exceed it, and some days I never make it to my office at all. When life intervenes…recalculate. Sometimes this means I may need to write for an extra hour early in the morning, or in the evenings, or steal a few hours on the weekends. Sometimes it means extending my self-imposed deadline farther out than I had originally hoped.
Do less initial editing and simply put words on the page. My usual habit is to begin each day by editing the previous day’s work. When I’m trying to catch up and get back on schedule, I skip the initial editing and plow on to the next chapter.
Don’t stop to look up a research question. As an author of historical fiction, I find that the research can consume enormous amounts of time. I try to do most of my basic research before I being the first draft, but occasionally a question arises. I’ve learned to flag it in the ms and keep going.
Delegate whatever you can. I can imagine this is where children might be useful. Since I have none, I must ask my husband to stop on the way home for a gallon of milk, to help with the vacuuming, to take charge of the dogs while I work. I ask my web designer to take care of updating my website pages and handle hosting fee renewal and such.
Whatever can’t be delegated must be postponed. This explains why I have five year old spices in my pantry. I’ve long since given up on having a Martha Stewart-worthy house. So long as those spices don’t turn poisonous, who cares, really?
Do you have a favorite coping strategy that sees you though life’s impediments?
Before moving to the inspirational market with her Hickory Ridge series of historical romances for adult readers, Dorothy Love published more than a dozen novels for preteens and young adults at major New York houses including Random House and Simon and Schuster. Beyond All Measure, her first Hickory Ridge title from Thomas Nelson debuted in June, 2011 to starred reviews from Library Journal and Romantic Times. The second book, Beauty For Ashes, released in early 2012. The third and final book, Every Perfect Gift, released at the end of last year. CAROLINA GOLD, Dorothy’s next novel, a stand alone historical, will be published in November of 2013. Dorothy shares a home in the Texas hill country with her husband and two golden retrievers. She loves chatting with readers through her website: www.DorothyLoveBooks.com or her author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks