Monthly Archives: March 2014

Writing Tuesday: One word at a time

The beginning of the twenty-first century is a boon to impatient people like myself. Everywhere I look, there are ways to improve your life and attain results faster. In the mornings, there are breakfast foods designed for convenience. Need to leave in a few minutes, make instant oatmeal or pop a waffle in the toaster. Throughout the day, there’s no need to wait for the six o’clock news anymore to catch up with the events of the day. Online websites catch us up instantaneously with up to the minute details of the news. Social media and cell phones connect us to friends and family without delay, definitely quicker than having to wait for the weekends to call out of town loved ones when the rates decreased.

But faster is not always better. In the mornings, not much beats real homemade pancakes slathered in syrup. Unless it’s French toast covered in the ooey, gooey, sticky stuff. Sometimes it’s relaxing to read a print newspaper with a warm cup of tea (or if you must, a cup of coffee). And sometimes, calling a friend when you have time for a real honest to goodness talk rather than reading their latest Facebook post has no equals either.

As a writer, I’m discovering that it takes time to develop craft. While there is the rare person whose talent shines through immediately, I’m not that person. I’m learning every day something new about writing. On Saturday, I learned that every action invokes an emotional reaction. This week, I’m learning that spending time consistently each time with your character friends adds up to a lot of words over the course of eighteen days. The magic of writing is that the words add up one word at a time. The more time you spend thinking about your work and crafting your story, the more it shows in the manuscript. Perhaps one of the best things a writer can do for his or her work is to write consistently. Hey, I’m a mom of four. I know it’s not always possible for everyone to have that block of time set aside every day for writing. But a speaker (who I admire greatly) said something at a conference I attended last year that resonated with me. She asked if we all like spending time with friends. She said that our book characters should be our friends and that we should try to spend time with them to get their stories down in the printed form.

So one word at a time adds up to several words over the course of a day which leads to several thousand words a week. Somedays it’s a struggle when I first sit in front of my laptop. After all, I want to see the latest results from a tennis tournament or the latest review for the new Muppets movie. But I also want to tell the story of my character friends. And that can only happen one word at a time.

What about you? What do you like to do that is better the more you devote time to it? Is it a favorite recipe? Is it a favorite hobby like knitting or playing tennis? Let me know.

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Writing Tuesday: Have Laptop, Will Travel

UnknownGrowing up, I can remember my mother telling me that she didn’t understand how I could finish my homework with the radio playing in the background. Everyone has a different noise tolerance for his or her work capacity. Some people would be able to work no matter whether there was a jackhammer breaking up concrete right outside their window while other people need complete silence to work. Some people can work from home while other people love a workplace environment and shudder at the thought of having to work out of their home. As a writer, I understand the new phrase, “Have computer, will travel.” As long as I have my laptop, I can pretty much work anywhere. Except that try as I may, I never seem to get much work done at home.

Home is a wonderful place. Movie lines and book quotes all wax eloquent on the wonders of home. “There’s no place like home.” “Home is where your heart is.” Home for me also comes complete with my four wonderful children, all of whom instinctively know that I am trying to write and instinctively create ways to interrupt me.

Over the past month, my home has had the distinct pleasure of becoming isolated due to icy conditions. On the one hand, there was a beauty in seeing our yard covered in a blanket of snow and ice. We enjoyed French toast and a rousing game of Monopoly. We broke out other board games as well. Whenever I tried to escape to our basement to write, they found me. First, MJ came down with his book, eager to escape 4 year old Cupcake and Chunk so he could read in peace. Then Cupcake and Chunk came down and wanted MJ to play with them, but then lo and behold, they found Mommy! Surely I want to read them a book or play Zooreka or make cookies (all of which we did do at some time during the two recent snow incidents that left us stranded at home).

I love those minutes with them, but that also means that I want to be home with them when I’m home. As a result, I venture forth to write. I’ve written in people’s homes, libraries, restaurants, malls and so on. I’m even writing this blog at my local library rather than in the comfort of my home. My wonderful hubbie bought and installed a corner desk for me, but I often go elsewhere to write.

Soon all four of my children will be attending school on a daily basis. I will have to adjust to writing from the comfort of my home. The advantages will come in the short commute time and well, let’s face it, I don’t have to dress up to work from my home (my kids joke that they don’t recognize me with makeup since I’ve only worn it for weddings, funerals and writing conferences since they’ve been born). Until then, I’m trying to learn how to balance my writing time. That means I’ll still travel elsewhere to write (with the added advantage of having a few minutes to map out today’s writing-the POV, the dialogue) but come home to spend time with my family. My wonderful hubbie points out that when I don’t write, I can become, well, a little bearish. So, I will write away from home for now, knowing that when I come home, a more relaxed, better wife and mother is returning to hear all the stories of what I’ve missed while I was writing.

Where do you write or work? If you are able to work at home, do you like the convenience or do you miss a workplace atmosphere? If you work away at home, do you sometimes wish there was a way for you to work at home every once in a while? Let me know.