Friday, September 25, 2009

The satisfaction of finishing/Finding time to write

Hello! Lisa Mondello here to talk about a few things.

First off, by the time you read this post, the manuscript that I've worked round the clock and ignored housework for will be sitting on my editors desk. This manuscript was a long time coming and I'm thrilled (doing a happy Snoopy dance really) that it is done.

You see, this past year was pretty trying for me. With the deaths of 3 prominent women in my life (my stepmother and grandmother within 36 hours of each other, and then 6 weeks later, the death of my mother-in-law) it was hard to get my feet back under me to write. Add the fact that the oldest of my 4 children has just left home for college and...well, let's just say I've been a little weepy.

But that's life and deadlines keep coming whether life is happening or not. I'm no stranger to deadlines. By day I'm a freelance writer and work on tight deadlines all the time. Most of the time, I can balance my freelance and fiction writing enough so I don't drive everyone in the house crazy. Sometimes it's not so easy.

For a writer, finding time to balance life issues, family and writing can be difficult. I'm fortunate enough that my day job doesn't require me to travel great distances each day. The furthest I commute is from the coffee pot to the desk. I think I can do that in ten paces. (I just checked and it's 14. I have short legs!) And while I don't have a commute to dig a hole in my writing time, I do have 4 teenagers that need me to drive them all over the place whether it's to work or various school activities. It's not uncommon for me to be waiting in my minivan (need that with 4 kids and a dog) for a half hour waiting for a child.

During my stressful year, I'd forgotten the strategies I'd used to maximize my writing time when the kids were much younger and needed my watchful eye all the time. Recently I had a discussion with my husband about how I used to get so much done then and why it was so difficult now.

And then it hit me. These past few years I've gotten spoiled by having long stretches of time to write while the kids were in school. That works fabulous for my freelance writing, but it's not always easy for my fiction writing that requires more development and more creativity.

But years ago, I knew I only had a finite amount of time to write and would write in short spurts. 1 hour, 30 minutes and even as little as 15 minutes. I'd plot my stories while I was driving to the grocery story or folding laundry. I'd keep index cards in my purse and jot down character traits and little snippets of dialogue to remember so that when I was at the computer I could write.

And then my husband gave me something wonderful. He bought me a Dana. The Dana is a grown-up version of the popular Alphasmart. I used the Dana several years ago but when I started working at home full time, it began to collect dust. I recently pulled it out and dusted it off.

Now I bring my Dana with me everywhere. When I find idle time in the car, I turn it on and start typing. A 20 minute wait for my daughter to get out of work can produce 2 rough pages. By the time I get home, upload those pages and quickly edit them they can turn into 4 or 5 pages. Not bad for just sitting in the parking lot waiting. I'm back to using my idle time to exercise my creative muscle and use my Dana to fill in times when I can't be at the computer. It feels really good to be writing again.

What is it that you do to maximize your writing time? I'm all ears about new ways to time crunch.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa Mondello


Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lisa,
You wrote your post for me!!! I needed to be reminded about what can be done in a short time!

Years ago, best-selling author Stephanie Bond spoke to our Georgia Romance Writers Chapter. She gave everyone a kitchen timer, and told us how much writing we could accomplish in 30 minutes. That timer still sits on my desk, and I use it when I can't seem to get started. Thirty minutes flows into an hour, maybe two or three.

Okay, I'm setting my timer and heading for my WIP. You've motivated me.

Four teens and you're freelancing? How do you do it?

Debby Giusti said...

By the way, I brought coffee and sweet rolls for anyone who stops by this morning. Help yourself!

PamelaTracy said...

Yum, I love rolls, as you can see by the rolls on my stomach ack. I have a Dana and love it, need to use it more, but I'm trying to master the little mini computer my husband bought me for Christmas. It's the tiny keyboard that's freaking me out.

Lisa Mondello said...

YAY, Deb brought coffee and sweet rolls. I knew I smelled something good. I love the idea of the kitchen timer!

Pam, the little minis scare me. I keep thinking Carpel Tunnel. Although the idea of being able to slip it into a large purse is appealing, too! For now I'll stick with the Dana. I don't need to be tempted by the Internet while I'm supposed to be writing.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Lisa, half your post describes me! I wrote 1100 words at soccer practice last night, on my Alphasmart Neo. I do it during commercials watching football, too (the only time I can do that with the TV on) and while I'm cooking or waiting for my youngest to be ready to tuck in.

But like you, I'm totally spoiled by school time. I just wish it didn't go so fast!

Terri Reed said...

Lisa, I write while the kids are at school too. I can't wait for a muse or anything like that. Just have write even when the words are coming slow. Just push on through to the other side(until the end), as the song goes.

Ramona Richards said...

LOVE my Dana, and I wrote more than 1600 words yesterday, waiting on my car at the garage. I hate missing deadlines, so I'm going to be holed up with it most of this weekend, too.

Linda said...

With canning tomatoes, Dr. appts., Bible study, ... I don't have a clue how you find time to write! You all must be terribly disciplined!

Lisa Mondello said...

Nah, Linda. We're just nuts. I'm convinced writers have to be. lol