Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Writing Update, How to Write with Kids, and New Cat Anthology

Happy Tuesday! First of all, apologies that I haven't been around to your blogs the way I'd like to over the last week and a bit. My laptop is currently being shared with the house, due to my good wife's machine being the innocent victim of a rogue charger from eBay which fried the motherboard. Won't make that mistake again. Also, my elder stepdaughter has had to borrow it to finish off college assignments, although she's now out for the summer. We can't spring for a new laptop just like that, so I'll need to get to grips with using the touch screen on my better half's iPad when she needs the laptop to conduct her business!

So, what of my WIP? Well, last week was a bit of a lost week. I only managed to cobble together 1000 words, partly because of the reasons mentioned above, but also because of another situation which is too draining to get into here. I'm making sure this week is a lot better, and so far I've kept on track. Not trying to catch up with what I missed last week, because I fear I'd burn myself out. I just aim to keep on the trajectory I set for myself, of 5000 words per week. The story is getting to the tricky middle stage. I have an idea of what should happen, but it's the mechanics of getting there scene by scene that is proving a struggle. Just a first draft, I keep telling myself. It's never going to be perfectly smooth at this point, so I'll just keep going.

I've also been heartened by the excellent feedback I have received recently for Part 1. Thanks, Tyrean and Meradeth for being great betas! I look forward to working on your suggestions, and your encouraging comments have spurred me to continue with Part 2. I'm finding that writing a trilogy comes with its own unique set of challenges.

So, onto the main thrust of this post. It's mainly advice for those with offspring, but could be applied to any situation. With the onset of summer days, I'm aware that many of my American friends already have their kids at home all day, here in Scotland we break up next week, while England have a good few weeks left to go. Your jealously guarded bubble of sacred writing time is about to be rudely burst by requests for ice lollies and demands to play football. That's too bad. You should get involved with your kids' activities and enjoy this time with them. Does that mean you should take a break from your work, like them? Not at all!

You just have to get a bit more creative with how you schedule your writing time. If your kids are late risers (aren't most?) you might get a fair bit of interrupted time in the mornings before their sleepy heads leave the pillow. Or, you could keep them so busy during the day that they'll crash out at a reasonable time and allow you the rest of the evening. Me, I'm a morning/daylight writer. If I try to write any time after around 6pm, it just gets all fuzzy and doesn't make any sense. I'm sharper when the day is fresh. I already do a paper round where I start at 6am during the week. I'm not actually obligated to start that early, I just need to get the papers delivered by nine, but I need to get back to get the kids up and ready for school. During the holidays, I won't have that responsibility, so I can do the papers a bit later and get a bit of work done beforehand. This approach has the added advantage of knowing I only have a limited timeframe before I need to leave, thus hopefully making me more productive. When you have all day to write, it's that much easier to find other essential jobs to do first, like polishing your collection of priceless Ming vases (not that I have any of those). Plus, there's the bonus of complete silence, when even the dogs are fast asleep.

The last thing you want is to be batting your kids off with one hand while you try to scrap out fifty words with the other. It's not fair on them, and is only going to lead to tension and bad tempers. I came over all parenting coach there! I'm not an expert by any means, but the main point is to make sure your kids have a great time, because it's their summer and a time of what feels like dizzying freedom. I will still have articles and editing to do, but I can be a bit more multitasking with them, attending to the kids at the same time. It's not as intensive as my writing where I need to have absolute concentration or things go badly wrong.

And, like I said, if you don't have kids, this advice can be applied to any situation where you find yourself with seemingly less time to write.

One more thing before I go. I didn't mean for this post to be so long! My awesome friend and CP, Kyra Lennon, recently became a volunteer for her local branch of Cats Protection, helping rescued and abandoned moggies to find a forever home. An excellent endeavour in itself, but she's come up with the added idea of creating an anthology to help raise extra funds. This will feature short stories and possibly even longer works, poetry, and real life stories all based around cats. I think it'll be a lot of fun, and I already have an idea floating around my cranium. You can go here to find the Linky List and sign up. I really hope Kyra has loads of interest for this because it's a great cause!

33 comments:

Cherie Reich said...

Keep on writing!

Love Kyra's idea for an anthology!

Sarah Foster said...

You have a good attitude with keeping in mind it's only the first draft. Just get the ideas out. You can always edit later.

So glad you mentioned Kyra's anthology since I've been neglecting other blogs on my vacation and missed her post! That's definitely something I'd want to do.

Melissa said...

'Ice lollies'
Love the dialectic differences. :D

Good advice about summer writing and kids. Hope you resolve your computer problems soon. (Nothing wrong with resorting to a spiral notebook and a pencil if you have to. ;)

Yay for Kyra!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sorry about your wife's computer!
I admire those of you with kids who manage to make time to write. Your tips also work for spouses, as they don't like being brushed aside either.
Hope this is a good week for you!

Donna Hole said...

Work is my biggest obstacle to writing. Well, and an addiction to procrastination.

Its been a long time since I had to share a computer. I shudder at the thought!

Good idea Kyra :)

Kyra Lennon said...

Good tips about how to handle kids and writing!

Thanks for the shoutout, Nick!

Kyra Lennon said...

Good tips about how to handle kids and writing!

Thanks for the shoutout, Nick!

Kyra Lennon said...

Good tips about how to handle kids and writing!

Thanks for the shoutout, Nick!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm going to enjoy the next month of child-free writing (well, child-free procrastinating and housework) and then definitely make the most of the holidays!

Have a great summer :-)

JeffO said...

I am fortunate in that my kids are older and can be much more self-sufficient. And they respect the "Don't Poke The Bear" sign I hang on my desk. However, they still tend to need a lot of ferrying around to jobs, etc. Ah, well, carve out time where you can.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Nick - good for you ... just managing life is challenging - but at least you can share the techie bits and keep writing ... my laptop died on me during the A-Z and thankfully I've been able to upgrade - and now to learn all the bits I want to learn.

Good luck and the idea of the cat anthology is a great one .. they make enjoyable reading .. and cat lovers will be bewitched .. cheers Hilary

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm having a hard time getting focused this summer with the kids home. I figured it would be that way though so I timed my novel to go out to beta readers just about the time summer started. It's relieved some of the pressure and guilt because I have to wait for their response and I have to have time to ponder over their crit and plan revisions, right?

Patsy said...
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Patsy said...
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Patsy said...

I find summer is an excellent distraction from my WIP - and I don't have any kids to take the blame!

DRC said...

I don't have any kids that demand my time, but I do have a demanding cat :) I'll be looking up that anthology.

And those middle bits are the hardest parts to write. I'm there myself. And no matter how many times you tell yourself it's only a first draft, it's still a struggle. Still, keep on writing and we'll get through :)

Jean Davis said...

Hope you find more time for writing soon and a solution to the single laptop situation. I've tried being productive on a tablet, it's just not the same.

Thankfully my kids are older and mostly occupy themselves in the summer. It's a wonderful thing.

J.L. Murphey said...

Write when you can for as long as you can was my mantra when my children were at home.

L.G. Smith said...

When my son was little, mornings and nap times were my favorite (only) time to write. Fortunately he took long afternoon naps and we both came away refreshed when they were over. :)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

You've got the right idea by not trying to make up those words and just staying on track. Just. Keep. Going. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for these tips, Nick. I'm giving thanks that my son is now at the age where he can entertain himself most of the time.

The cat anthology sounds like a great way to help Kyra's cause.

David P. King said...

That's a 1000 more than you had before. Type away when time permits. You'll get there. :)

Loni Townsend said...

Oooh, rats about the computer motherboard. That's no good.

Great attitude about continuing forward. Yeah, trying to play catch-up usually does end up in distressing burn out.

I'm a morning writer too, before the kiddos wake. Unfortunately, my youngest is only 9 months (today actually). And he still likes to wake up at 4 AM. But someday, he'll sleep a little later and I'll be able to get more than 200 words down in a day.

Connie Keller said...

So sorry about all the computer problems. UGH.

As for the draft, keep persevering. When I start to struggle with first drafts, I always remind myself, "A first draft is a celebration of everything that can go wrong on a page." It helps me put things in perspective. Good luck! You can do it!

Crystal Collier said...

Summer...ah, summer. While some parents are busy planning out a ton of crazy and fun things to do, I like to kick back, let the kids play with their neighborhood friends, and go to the occasional movie, or miniature golf, or bowling. Life is too short to be rushing everywhere all the time, eh? Besides, I can totally write while their playing pretend in the playroom. =)

M Pax said...

Great idea for an anthology.

Life is always a juggle. You have a good strategy.

Suzanne Furness said...

I'm a morning person writer too. As my kids are all grown up for me the school holidays mean time away from the day job to get more writing done.But the advice you give here is good and the way I used to work when the kids were younger. Also quite good when you have guests staying because they tend to have a lie in too!
Hope to join in with Kyra's anthology.
Hope you get your computer issues sorted soon.

Leigh Covington said...

You're a good sport to be sharing the laptop. We have to make due too, and it's never fun to hand over my sweet baby (aka, computer!) but... such is life!

And Kyra's idea sounds super fun! I will have to look into it. Love her and her cat fetish. I tend to feed my own cat as well as all the neighbors cats too. :)

Krista McLaughlin said...

Sharing a computer can make writing harder, but you can do it. :)

I don't have any kids of my own, but I hope to someday. But I know a little bit of how it feels when I'm a nanny for 3 days of the week. The 6 yr old boy is home for summer and it used to just be me and the little baby. She would take a nap and I'd write or read. But now I don't have that nap-time for work. I'm busy playing with the boy. I've learned so far that it can be nice to have him do something by himself quietly while his sister naps. It gives us both a break. We still play games and things, but we both like a little alone time. :)

Elise Fallson said...

I'm a cat person so if a story hits me, I'll sign up for Kyra's anthology. With my two active kids, I've had to get really creative with my writing time, but also reasonable. I don't want to miss out on quality time with them, plus they are at an age where I'm still 'cool' and fun to hang out with, so I want to enjoy it while it lasts. After that, they'll be teenagers and well, things will be different. :)

DMS said...

Helpful advice about working out time to write when other obligations take center stage. :) I don't have kids, but I know summer has other demands on my time.

I like that you have a writing goal for yourself and that even though you missed the goal one week, you aren't trying to cram in extra writing to make up for it. That sounds smart to me!

Wishing you the best of luck. :)
~Jess

Medeia Sharif said...

I don't have kids, but I believe in squeezing in writing time here and there to get it done.

I like Kyra's anthology idea. I bookmarked it and will wait for an idea to hit me.

Gina Stoneheart said...

I don't have children but I do have a fulltime relationship and job which keep me very busy at times. Like yourself, I am an early riser and thinker. My creativity reaches a peak during the wee hours of the morning and as the day drifts by, the thoughts tend to become muffled; especially after 5pm. I usually begin my writing around 530am and go until the day job boots me out of my favorite chair.
If we manage our time wisely, our passion can be fulfilled. I think the most important thing is to never walk away from a project for too long. I'm dealing with this right now because instead of editing my novel over the last months of the school year, I was giving children presentations and author visits. Besides a class I will be teaching next week for middle grade writing, I will hopefully conquer my WIP this summer! Good luck with your 2nd book, Nick!