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The Writing Discipline: My Day (Part 2)

First of all, in case you missed it, I was interviewed by the always entertaining Alan Edwards over at his blog.  Check it out!  (Oh, and grab a copy of “The Curse of Troius” while you’re over there.  Seriously, a zombie book in a fantasy setting.  How cool is that?!)

And, in case you missed part one of this riveting series (not a series, actually, because a day isn’t that friggin’ long, and the “series” is over as of this post), you can check it out here.

 

And now…the exciting conclusion…

 

9:30-10:30 A.M. I work out.  We have a gym in the building at work, and every day I’m down there for 500 calories worth of rowing machine, cross-trainer, elliptical, treadmill, or whatever.  Lately, I’ve actually gotten quite adept at “writing” with my ITouch, which I can do if I can balance myself on the elliptical machine.  I’ve only fallen off while attempting this once.  I’ve only tried it twice.  Ok, so maybe it’s NOT such a hot idea…

10:30-Noon Deal with all of the “emergencies” I missed during my workout, because people only need anything important when you’re not there to provide it.  I start working on whatever project I need to work on that day.  I pray to the Old Gods that no one actually needs to talk to me.  I Tweet as much as I possibly can without getting caught.

Noon-1 P.M. (ish): Technically my workout is my hour break for the day.  However, I don’t really take “15-minute breaks”, and since most of Finance vanishes from 12-1 I usually take this opportunity to do some writing, which usually takes the form of transposing whatever I wrote by hand/typed on my ITouch into Word format.  Unfortunately, without a laptop, I can’t really escape from my desk to do this (I do have a laptop, but I’m not going to lug the damned thing 4+ miles in Washington weather every day), so I have to put up with what I call the “Lunch At Your Desk? Disease”: the notion held by others that it is impossible for someone to be at their desk and not be available to drop everything and deal with whatever stupid shit of an emergency or question they brought with them.  Never mind the steaming pile of soup and NBA video playing on my screen when you walked up that might tell you I’m on a break.  Never mind the fact that I’m talking to my kid on speakerphone and planning a Buzz Lightyear Incursion of the living room.  Never mind that I have a big sign on my forehead that says “I’M AT LUNCH – PISS OFF!”  No, I MUST be working, because I’m at my desk, right?

Needless to say, I usually only get about 20-25 minutes of writing done at work on any given day.  Lucky for me I’m an extremely efficient writer, a skill I acquired from my days at T-Mobile.  There, I was able to write (by hand) between calls.  (I worked Inbound Collections.  That’s like stabbing yourself in the eye and thanking yourself for it.)  I would sometimes get a paragraph in between calls.  In a day, I could write between 4 and 10 pages.  You really come to appreciate how long it takes to write a word, and how to get the absolute most out of the time you have.

(FYI, I forgot to mention before, I can hand-write 4 pages on that ½ hour train ride.)

1-4:30 P.M. Work, Ninja Tweeting, finishing tasks, attending pointless meetings, checking in with the wife, losing consciousness on an intermittent basis.

4:30 P.M. Leave work.  Run like hell for the train, because I always end up getting delayed as I leave by at least 7 minutes.

4:56 P.M. Catch the train.  I try to write a bit if I can, but sometimes I’m so brain dead by this point that  all I can do is watch something stupid on my ITouch while I listen to my tunes and daydream about zombies invading Renton.

5:28 P.M. Get off the train.  Catch Bus #1 on the way home.  Much pushing, shoving and cursing involved with other passengers who by this point in the day have abandoned all pretense of social grace.

5:45 P.M. My wife and kids pick me up at the Park and Ride and take me home.  Hooray!  Usually by this point the kids have pushed my wife to the brink of homicidal madness.  Boo!

6:00 P.M. Family arrives home, eats dinner.  The next hour is spent cleaning up, chatting, making lunches for the next day, making sure my teenage daughter is taking care of business, telling my hyperactive 9-year-old son to chill out, and giving my wife some mental relief time, because she’s already been dealing with these people for several hours.

7:00 P.M. If I’m lucky, I’ll sit down to e-mail, Twitter, Facebook and do some writing.  Usually I end up realizing I forgot to do something for tomorrow.  My son and/or daughter will need my undivided attention and/or start a major conflict at some point during this period.

8:00 P.M. This is bedtime for my son.  Story time, as well.  I sit down and try to get some writing done after he’s in bed, but I often find myself distracted by other things (like Twitter…or fatigue).

9:30 P.M. Daughter’s bed time (during the school year).  I try to finish up working by this time so the wife and I can spend time together, which is of paramount importance, no matter what else we have going on.  This doesn’t always happen, but we try out darndest.

11:30 P.M. I finally wind up heading for bed, usually after a movie or some TV with Lib (though lately we’ve just been hanging out talking and drinking wine…very nice).  Because I’m slow as hell, I’m usually not actually in bed for another 15 minutes or so, and not asleep till midnight.

Rinse, repeat.

So, all told, I get roughly 2 hours (give or take, mostly take) worth of time to write per day.  When I’m working on a WIP and really cooking, I average about 1,700 words a day, or (again, roughly) 850 words per hour, which is about 15 Words per Minute.

Seriously?  That SUCKS!

Ok, maybe not.  But it really does make me appreciate how little time I actually get to spend writing, and why it’s so important for me to make every second of writing time count.

So there you have it.  Writing this post gave me absolutely no indication as to how I manage to write novels, market myself and hold down a full-time job.  About the only advice I guess I can give is to stay fairly consistent with your approach and to make an honest effort to write as often as humanly possible.  Writing is demanding, and it requires more than a little dedication.  Whether you like routine, need routine, or abhor routine, you’re going to find more success if you have routine, at least when it comes to developing your writing discipline.  No one else is going to make you write.  Others may encourage you, cajole you, or bribe you, but only you can make yourself do it.  You want to write, right?  Then WRITE!

That’s all I got, folks.  I hope that was helpful.  Or entertaining.  Or slightly less than annoying.

 

4 Comments

  1. Andreat78

    Steve,
    I’m not sure why, but I really enjoyed this post. Wait!! I DO know why. You are super funny. And I’m always curious to ded how authors juggle writing and life.
    Btw, I REALLy loved the interview w/Alan. Seriously. I
    Laughed my ass off!

    Reply
  2. Daezarkian

    =D Thanks, Andrea!

    Yeah, the interview with Alan was a hoot.

    Reply
  3. Rob "Sharky" Pruneda

    LOL! I loved the post, Steven. I’m currently finding myself losing the battle of full-time job vs. writer vs. gamer (yeah, I’ve got another pill to throw into the mix), but your two-part post has given me a bit of inspiration to try harder.

    Thanks for sharing! Cheers!

    Reply
  4. Daezarkian

    Thanks, Sharky!

    Yeah, I haven’t played a video game in months! (Too bad, too…I was having fun with Fallout: New Vegas. Oh, well…) =D

    Reply

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