The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Tag: podcasts

Why finding time to write isn’t the same as finding time to type words.

I’m late to the party by several years, but I just discovered the Writing Excuses podcast. This morning I listened to the very first episode, Brainstorming, whilst folding towels [insert snarky comment here re: the glamorous life of the writer], and it drove home something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. Namely, the fact that working at home and freelancing are really not conducive to writing fiction.

This is the exact opposite of what I believed back in my days as a cubicle-dweller. I used to go to my job and sit at my desk and daydream about all the scads of free time I’d have if I could just freelance from home and create my own schedule.

I’ll just pause here a moment to let any freelancers who are reading this get done laughing.

See, back when I used to work at a “real job,” I had a 45 minute commute each way, I took long “wake-me-up” showers every morning, and I had a lot of busy-work at my job that didn’t require a lot of concentration. These times, strangely enough, are when most of my writing got done. Not the actual typing, mind you, but all of the parts of writing that result in having something to type up.

These days, I only leave the house to run errands, usually within a five mile radius, and my husband usually drives, so there are no long drives or time stuck in traffic to let my mind wander. My client work requires complete concentration, and the less said about the showering habits of the freelance writer, the better, methinks.

To compound the problem, as a Christian, I do my best to devote the quiet moments in each day to meditating on scripture and talking things out with my Maker. A lot of fiction writers advocate going on long walks to generate story ideas, but my morning walks are dedicated to prayer time.

So where does that leave me as a fiction writer? For now, I’m making it a point to schedule quiet time every now and then for brainstorming, but I’m finding it really hard to force it. This is why all of my novel WIPs are, well, still WIPs, and why I’m having a really difficult time filling in the middle bits of the new novel’s outline. I’ve managed to carve out time in the late morning for writing, but really, that time is for the typing. The magic part of fiction writing needs sufficient time to happen in between the typing bits, and right now I’m kind of at a loss as to what to do about it.

Ah, well. Maybe this task of reclaiming the cat room is just what I need. I’ve been spending that time listening to podcasts or music, but today I’ll try cleaning in silence and see if that jogs anything loose in the story plotting centers of my brain.

Speaking of the cat room, I’m going to have to stop calling it that soon, because it’s slowly starting to resemble a craft room once again. Yesterday I ran into a lot more brown recluses than on day one, and I’m proud of myself for only screaming once. I’ll only get to spend half an hour a day in there — if that — during the week, so progress will go quite a bit more slowly now, but the holiday weekend sure gave me a good start.

Any day that involves a sonic screwdriver is a good day.

Today I added 486 words to Radium Town — 182 this afternoon plus another 304 just now. That brings the grand total so far to 6,919. I’m frustrated that it’s going so slowly, but considering that up until this time last week I hadn’t written anything on it in over a year, nor had I written any fiction whatsoever in several weeks, I guess I’ll cut myself some slack. I’m still figuring out this world and these characters. I’m confident that I’ll pick up the pace once it’s all more familiar to me and the plot gets rolling along.

Here’s the rough, non-spoilery snapshot of today’s output:

Betty shifted in her seat. She wasn’t accustomed to being the center of conversation. That was uncomfortable enough without having attention called to Will’s regard for her. She could sense Will fidgeting uncomfortably in his seat, as well. She braced herself for the joke he was certain to make, but to her surprised he simply said, “Nope. Not surprised at all.” She turned toward him in time to catch him looking at her, a mixture of pride and wonder on his face. Betty quickly looked down at her plate and took a bite of her roast quail.

Matt and I both felt better today, and a mix of cabin fever and spring fever made us antsy to get out of the house for a while. We went to Gardner’s Used Books, where we scored a beautiful set of second edition Lord of the Rings trade paperbacks in really good condition.

I also nabbed the next Dark Tower book (Wolves of Calla; I’m currently making my way through Wizard and Glass) and the latest Rizzoli and Isles novel (spellcheck wants to change Rizzoli to grizzly; considering what a scary mama-bear book Rizzoli can be that seems appropos). And being that I’ve been reading all this dark stuff lately (House of Leaves, scads of Stephen King, The Ocean at the End of the Lane which is lovely but not exactly the happiest of Neil Gaiman’s books), I also grabbed Maybe Baby by Lani Diane Rich, because I’m starting to crave something light and fluffy to cleanse my palate, and also because Lani is awesome.

And speaking of LDR, I’ve also finally begun listening to the Story Wonk podcast she does with her husband, Alastair Stephens. You should listen to it, too.

The first 182 words today were added from a booth at the coffee shop at Gardner’s, where I dorked out when Matt showed me the LotR set he’d found, and then dorked out again when I got up to the coffee counter and saw a replica of Eleven’s sonic screwdriver sitting next to the cash register. The barista (who might actually be the shop’s owner) let me hold it. It was shiny. I want one.

Came home, fed the dog, apologized profusely for leaving him and the kitties so long, took him and the turtle out in the back yard to soak up the sun, came back in and fed the turtle, wrote some freelance website copy, fed myself (well, Matt fed me) and watched Wolf Creek 2 before Matt turned in and I got busy writing.

Not at all what I’d call a bad day. And now I’m going to go dork out over Supernatural and SHIELD before I turn in.

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