Monday, July 17, 2006

Changing Gears

We're back from vacation, and here I am in front of my computer even though there's tons of work still to do. Clothes to put away, cat hair to vacuum, stuff everywhere. And there's a funky smell in the kitchen. Anyway, it'll keep, and once this mess is gone there will be another one underneath it, so I'm taking naptime for writing. For me.

One of the things I find is challenging about writing is changing gears. I don't just mean the inevitable speedbump caused by the return home after a week away. I mean going from the 50 mph required from me as a mother to the full, contemplative stop that I need as a writer. For me, sitting down in front of my computer isn't enough to make the transition. So I'm doing for myself what I'm doing for my baby - developing a series of cues that help me to recognise when it's time for what. A blanket, some music and slowdancing means bedtime for baby, and for me, a cup of decaf, a deep breath, a candle and a jot in here are helping me to open the door to the room where my fiction lives.

Someday I'd like to chat about the different hats we wear and how each one makes up a part of who we are as people and writers, but naptime is short and, as Vicki lately pointed out, talking about writing isn't writing.

I'm interested to know whether there are rituals or signals that other writers use. I know Susan must have a trick or two, she wrote a novel on her lunchbreaks at work. Anyone want to share?


Susan Adrian said...


For me it's a matter of getting lunch out, setting a drink next to me, closing my door, and opening the file. Sometimes I need extra little things like checking blogs or websites, little busy-work to get me into the mood, but oftentimes those can last too long, and lunch time is up! If I only have an hour, I have to get hopping right away.

I also always read the last section I wrote before moving on. I make a few small edits here and there usually, and it updates me to where my characters were when I left them. As long as I don't revise too much, that's also a good transition.

Renée (R.E.) Chambliss said...

Great blog! As a mom and a very slow writer, I can completely relate to your last two entries.

I get up early to write...when the house is quiet. (I have two kids too, so that's unusual!) The alarm goes off at 4:25, I start some water for coffee (_not_ decaf :o), feed the cats, make a quick breakfast and sit down in front of the computer. Usually that's enough to get me in writing mode, but if I'm in a low-confidence phase I read a paragraph I wrote months ago, that's a sort of pep talk, which usually helps.

Sometimes, however, the only thing that helps me switch gears from real life to creative life is the writing itself. And sometimes I'm never able to switch completely and leave the computer feeling _very_ frustrated.

Cindy said...

Dear Susan:

That doesn't leave a lot of time, just the same!

Cindy said...

Dear Renee:
4:30 am? Not me! I'll have to settle for the in between times for now. Which isn't too bad, I've written 2200 words so far today! Yay, me!

Is your paragraph you read a motivational thing? Like, about who you meant to be and what you want from your time here on earth?

Vicki Pettersson said...

2200 words! It doesn't sound like you need any tips!
I'm like Susan these days. I just dive in. I know I won't get that time back.

Susan Adrian said...


You'll be amazed how the time adds up. And congrats on your new character and your huge spate of words. Woo-hoo!


Renée (R.E.) Chambliss said...


I used to write during naps, but naps are now a thing of the past, so 4:30 it is. Now that I'm used to it, it's one of my favorite times of day. Love that quiet!

The paragraph isn't too profound. It's a pep talk telling me to trust myself. Cheesy, probably, but it helps. :o)

2200 words sounds great to me too! And you call yourself a slow writer!