Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Writers Need

This week at the OWD some of us are talking about how we got started writing paranormal. I couldn't think of anything enlightening or accurate to say about my genesis as a paranormal author, so I'm going to do something different.

I just read a fun post over at Mama Writers about things you need as a writer and a mother. Instead of putting my list in their comments section I thought I'd share it here!

12) My laptop. I don't think I could go back to pen and paper or a typewriter!

11) TiVo. I can tape shows for the kids to watch when I'm desperate to work just a little and I can tape my own shows to watch whenever I get a chance, which might be months later!

10) A comfortable place to sit. I'm struggling with this one right now because it seems like anywhere I sit for more than 45 minutes starts hurting some part of my body -- my back, my knees, my wrists, my neck...something. The result is I move around a lot, which isn't unhealthy but it sure does interrupt the flow.

9) Enough sleep. I don't know how people manage on insufficient sleep every night. We did that when the children were small, and let me just tell you how low my creative drive was! Heck, my drive for EVERYTHING was drive for socializing, hubby time, cooking, cleaning, working, standing up, taking showers, eating...everything was low except my drive for sleep. "Enough" varies by person, I do know that much, but for me it's 7-8 hours a night. I can run on a deficit every now and then but not every day. Been there, tried that, have the dangerous near-miss stories to prove it.

8) Interaction with other writers. I can't keep my chin up in a vacuum. I need to celebrate, commiserate, share ideas, gossip and complain with other folks who "get it". Not just on the computer, either, although internet interactions definitely help.

9) Something good...or read. Back to the vacuum thing, I need to know what's happening in the market. Not just to assess my own work but for my own enjoyment. The day I stop enjoying reading is the day I stop writing. If I were to quit writing, I'd still love to read. Granted, the BAD things to read serve a very different purpose than the good things, but they are still illuminating :)

8) Good health. I try to make myself eat right, do that sleeping thing, have regular check-ups and even sometimes exercise (more drastically than moving from the couch to the chair because my butt hurts on the couch.) If Mama gets sick, the household comes to a halt, as does my writing.

7) My husband. Because he's awesome and makes me want to write mushy love stories. Also because he is a very flexible, patient man who is happy to cook dinner or clean house or grocery shop or play with his girls while Mama works. Not all the time--but sometimes. I always worry he's going to get huffy about it and he never does. I must not be pushing my luck yet :)

6) Will power. I need it to limit myself to 2 cups of coffee a day, X minutes online a day, wise food choices, revisions, you name it. When you're a Mama Writer (or any writer), your time to yourself is frequently limited. You must maximize it instead of fritter it away. I'm not talking about 5 minutes here and there (more on that later), but when you have a block of time. Sometimes you have to sacrifice things you really LIKE in order to write. Especially when you're not under contract and when nobody's giving you deadlines, this can be hard. So will power is essential. (And if you give in on the extra coffee, your jitters may not lend themselves to useful writing!)

5) Air popped popcorn. On my "work days" -- when one kid's in school and the other's at our wonderful sitter -- I could easily munch the WHOLE DAY without stopping. Air popped popcorn with spray butter and popcorn sprinkles keeps me from feeling bilious and bloated by the end of the day. Plus after I eat one batch of it, I've got enough kernals stuck in my teeth to keep me busy the rest of the day, ha!

4) Some level of competency in the kitchen. This goes back to the "eat healthy" thing but also nurtures me and my family in a way that is hard to replace. If I don't cook a dinner that's not just edible but tasty--and not just tasty but healthy--then that's a day all of us enjoy less than we would have otherwise. I try not to obsess over health and food, especially not since we're setting an example for two girls in a society where body image issues are HUGE, but I don't want to teach them food and taste don't matter, either. Plus, a nice meal that I cooked myself exercises my creative spirit in a way that's sort of similar to writing, but I get my efforts "published" at 6 pm that night :). Also, if I cook I don't have to do the dishes.

3) On that note...frozen dinners or take-out options that don't make me want to stab myself in the meaty thigh! I can't cook EVERY night, man. I have been known to get a bit...distracted, especially on my work days, and fail in the kitchen.

2) A new laptop. Okay, I'm just saying that because I am paranoid my 3 yr old one is about to die. I have been backing it up quite frequently. If my laptop goes and I have to sit a spell without one because we haven't saved up enough cash for it...YIKES! I don't even want to think about it. Somebody give me a piggy bank so I can start saving now!

1) Some type of childcare. School, family member, noxious tv program, babysitter, duct tape (ok, not really duct tape), I don't care. Whatever you can afford and countenance. You may have cooperative children who don't raze the house down to the foundation whenever you take your attention off them for a moment. You may have older children, no children, I don’t know, but if you don't have any real writing time, time when you ONLY have to think about words on the page, it's going to put a serious crimp in your creativity.

Some people are great at switching gears--they can take 5 minutes waiting in the pick-up line or I don't know where and make it work for them. I cannot jump right into the writing, no matter how hard I try or what strategies I use. I've been trying for 7 years now and haven't gotten any better at it. It's like functioning on less sleep. Some people can do it or learn to do it and some are not built for speed, so to speak. Knowing this is just part of knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and how to work around them.

Either way, that's my number one lovely writer Mama thing--childcare. I can't even tell you how my overall mood and productivity have improved since #1 started school and we found a wonderful sitter for #2 to hang out with 2x a week. Now if only my writing income would improve to cover the expenses...

Jody W.
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--In Paper, Samhain Publishing
LIAM'S GOLD--In Electrons, Samhain Publishing


  1. Great list, Jody. The kids-school-childcare issue does get better once both are in school. Except you can't use them as excuses for NOT getting words down any more : )

    Will power is my biggest challenge in just about all aspects of my world, not just writing : P

  2. Wow, can I relate--especially about getting enough sleep and having something good to read. Thanks for sharing this.