Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My "Typical" Day

One question I get asked with some frequency is what constitutes a "typical" writing day for me. This is a poser, because I really don't have a "typical" day.

For one thing, it depends on what stage of creation I'm at. If it's a first draft, I write at the computer maybe an hour or two a day. Then I wander around. Do some housework. Some laundry. Email. I've usually just finished a book, and it takes awhile for the ol' gray matter to get up to speed again. Also, there are a LOT of decisions with the first draft, and I need to contemplate them.

With every subsequent draft, I spend more time on the writing itself, either at the computer or making changes on hard copy. This time, I used a purple pen. I've used up one whole purple pen and am on #2. Also a whole pad of lined yellow newsprint paper for additions, although I also write on the back of my hard copy. Par for the course.

Some days, I don't get any writing done at all. I have other commitments. Sometimes, I'm waiting for the furnace guy, say, so I can't concentrate as much as I'd like to.

However, the closer I get to my deadline, the more I work, either at the computer or making notes. My aching back will attest to this. But it's also because I can get through more of the book before I feel the need to take a rest break.

I have to confess, though, that I really don't quite "get" this question. I don't understand why it matters to anybody how I organize my writing time. Unless we have exactly the same life, I'd expect you to organize your time differently. You have different obligations, different commitments, a different way of writing.

I suspect some people want to hear that I spend at least ten hours a day chained to the computer. Or get up at the crack of dawn and work through until dinner. They want to believe I can devote hours and hours to writing. They don't have that kind of time, so of course they can't write as much.

Here's the thing: now I can spend hours a day writing, if I so choose. However, when I began, I had one hour a day while my daughter was at pre-school. One hour a day. Nothing on weekends. I still managed to write books.

I don't think writers should pay any attention at all to how other writers use their time. They should just use the time they have.

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