Friday, December 18, 2009

Flexibility

I had coffee with a friend this week who is also the mom of two young children, and she asked how my book was coming and then asked me how on earth I have time to write it.  This is something I get asked a lot, and I explained that I have to be very flexible.  I've always told myself I write best in the first morning hours (after a cup of coffee) until late morning.  At one point a few years back, I was between jobs and decided I would write during these hours every day.  I had no kids yet, no other urgent stuff pressing on me.  And you know what?  It didn't happen.  Part of that was the novel itself; I just couldn't get passionate about the story I'd decided to tell, but part was also that it seemed like I had all the time in the world, no one to answer to but myself, and so I choked.

Fast-forward to the completed first draft of my first novel. I wrote this one while caring nearly full-time for my daughter and pregnant with my son.  I wrote during morning sickness.  I wrote during bouts of insomnia.  I was doing my first major revision while having contractions.  I was back at it three months after the baby was born, sometimes with a laptop balanced on my knee while he slept on my chest.

If you tell yourself you can only work in certain conditions (e.g. between 9 and 11 on partly cloudy days with  2.5 chocolate chunk cookies on a green napkin to the left of your computer keyboard), you will not get anything done!  What I learned, very quickly, about working whenever the spare moment presents itself is that magical things can happen when you least expect it.  You can be dog-tired and in no mood to write and yet, in a half-hour of messing around, you suddenly find your way through a tricky scene.

Snatch whatever minutes you can; be open to inspiration whenever, and wherever, it may occur.  Sentence by sentence, the novel will get done.

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