My writing day
I wish I could say that my writing day is as interesting as that of famous romance novelist Barbara Cartland.
She wrote over 700 romance novels lying on a sofa for several hours a day, telling her stories out loud to a secretary who sat with her, took down words in shorthand and then typed up the day's dictation.
My writing day isn't nearly as glam. I don't have a sofa that would be comfortable to lie on for any length of time, nor can I afford a secretary or cajole one of my friends into taking dictation for me while I narrate my potboilers. Unfortunately I don't have lovely outfits to wear either, like hers, so must throw on an old sweatshirt, faded track pants, my sheepskin boots I've had since I was 18 that now look like Egyptian mummies and then struggle to keep my old, black, dribbly cat Little Boy from clawing his way onto my lap.
My day goes like this.
I get up about 6am and fumble around getting myself washed and dressed. That can take a while depending on what occurred the night before. Of course we envisage writers out carousing or drowning creative sorrows to all hours at the local watering hole, but for me, it's whether I stayed up after 9.30pm to watch a movie on TV. Sigh.
Then I have to feed the animals otherwise they go feral. That's two cats, flocks of birds on the front lawn, and the lions-tigers-and-bears in the bush.
I put the coffee on. Unlike the wonderful Dorothea Brande who suggests (in her book Becoming a Writer - originally published in 1934, this is still an inspirational book for writers) that I make my coffee the night before and put it into a thermos to save on valuable writing time, I like mine fresh and hot otherwise I simply cannot go on. Maybe that part has a Cartland-esque ring to it.
OK then I make a piece of toast with butter and honey on it, and I take all of this to the computer which I've already turned on so it's ready to go. Time to work, if I can avoid the temptation to go onto Spotify to 'Discover' the latest songs it selects just for me, or dawdle about on facebook to see what everyone's been up to overnight and whether they've been out carousing to the wee hours.
OK then I start to work. I always do best in the mornings. By this time it's about 7.30am. Some writers aim to complete a number of pages each day. I just aim to do something. I'm not too strict with myself but I do insist on production. Some days that's 4 pages, others its 12, A-4 pages, double spaced. I don't go back and edit what I've done that day, and I may not do that until much later. The most important thing for me on writing day is to get it down using 'creative Jane's brain' . Sort out the nuts and bolts later because that requires 'editor Jane's brain.'
By about 1030am I need a cup of tea so step away from the keyboard, boil the billy, have a couple of cookies and this is danger time, by golly, because I usually take my tea out on the deck and wander about. Little Boy likes to visit so we do. He tells me about his morning adventures in the garden and I tell him how many words I've done. Then I look around and think the bird bath needs more water, so I do that. Something needs tidying on the deck so I do that and then think, 'I'll just go down and check the mail ...' and that's danger time because 'sneaky Jane's brain' is slyly making her way into my day, surreptitiously suggesting all these things I can do apart from writing.
It takes a strong person to say 'no' we're not going for a walk right now and 'no' we're not going to do some other fun little thing right now because we are writing!
I suppose even Ms Cartland had these difficulties and I have to say I'm impressed that she stuck it out on the couch for so long each day, dictating and producing so many books.
What she had, and something I strive for, is daily discipline, because if we don't just sit down and get on with it, we won't produce a word, let alone a page, or over 700 books. It's no use waiting for the muse to visit, or the weather to improve, or the coffee to brew.
I wonder if wearing a big pink hat and a string of pearls would help.
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