Thursday, September 07, 2006

When and Where

Kelly and Eleanor asked two interesting questions, and as I am coming late to the party, I'm going to answer them both at once.

I've found that over the years, my writing time has fluctuated a great deal. I used to be night writer, with my most productive period being generaly after 10:00 pm. Once we had our first son, though, that changed. Then I became and afternoon and/or evening writer, working either when he napped or after my wife got home. This is how I finished my book. Then our second son came along, and I ended up taking a hiatus from writing for about two years. There were other factors involved in this (I had other commitments that I couldn't ignore), but the end result is that I didn't do any writing for quite a while.

About a year and a half ago, I returned to the Wyrdsmiths and also tried to reorganize my writing schedule yet again. For a while, I got up early and wrote before the rest of the house woke up. That worked fairly well until our second son decided to become an early riser. Also, I found that I needed a couple of hours after the kids went to bed to decompress, and this worked in direct opposition to an early bed time for me. Then I tired writing at night, but often found I was either too exhausted, or too easily distracted by the chaos in the house, that I ended up more frustrated than productive. Weekends have always been a wash, since that is the only time we either get to do something as a family, or necessary things get done around the house.

Fortunately for me, our youngest is now going to pre-school three mornings a week, and our older boy is back in school full-time. This theortically gives me three mornings a week to work on finally revising the book. I say "theoretically" because there are always things that come up to interfere with this time (sickness, doctor or dentist appointments, holidays, etc.). So, in some ways, the latest schedule isn't one of my own doing, but rather one determined by outside factors. Still, I'll take what I can get.

With luck, next year both boys will be in school full-time, which will give me more free time. This is both good and bad, since I am by nature terribly unorganized and a procrastinator of epic proportions. I am somewhat concerned that I will end up getting less done because my time will be more flexible. For that reason, I am trying to develop better habits now.

As for where I write, until this year, it was always in my office, at my desk, with papers strewn around me and the door closed. I've never liked laptops much, and prefer a full sized keyboard and screen. However, my son's pre-school is now across town. This means that I would lose between 45 minutes to an hour of writing time driving back and forth from school to home each day, so instead I have found a handy coffee shop to perch in. This isn't an ideal arrangement, since I am easily distraced and still tend to do best in a quiet environment, but it is working to a degree. Plus, I cannot get up from the computer if I am stuck and find something else that "needs" doing (laundry, cleaing, mowing the grass, etc.), which has always been a problem at home. Five minute breaks often become two hours for me. Since I tend to work in small bursts anyhow (I can't write continuously for longer than an hour without having to take at least one break), the less "big" distractions I have to keep me from getting back to work, the better.

So for me, it has been a study in change, adaptation and resignation for the past eight years when it comes to when and where I write. I can't say it's been fun, but it has been educational.

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