Thursday, November 3, 2011
Tips for Writing at Home--by Elizabeth S. Craig
But what if you stay at home and write? What if your day job is parenting and running a household? It seems like it should be a lot easier to get writing done...but instead, the at-home writing can be a pretty big challenge all its own.
The biggest challenge of writing at home is the interruptions. These interruptions can be as major as rearranging a day around a sick child's doctor's appointment or as minor as the continual demand of dishwashers and dryers ending their cycles.
This is what I've found helpful:
A routine: At least a skeleton of one. It's good to have at least a *plan* for working at home. We all know what can *happen* to plans, of course. But it's good to have a routine in place so writing fits in naturally.
Flexibility: This is key. When your routine is completely shot, you need to have some flexibility to write on the go. Make sure you have pencils and index cards or a small notebook in your car so that you can write when you have a second. Sometimes I even have official plan bs and cs for days that go seriously awry.
Quick recognition of a problem: If you realize you're not getting anything done at home, assess what's going on. Do you have too many windows open on your computer? Are you getting constant interruptions from the children or the phone? Can you leave and write at the library or a coffee shop for a while?
Lists: I live by lists, and not just grocery ones. I make lists of what I want to accomplish with my book for the day. And, on days where I'm under a serious time crunch, I'll make lists instead of writing--lists about my characters (traits, their likes and dislikes, etc. ) ways to forward my plot, 5 different ways to end or begin my book, etc.)
Timers: I also live by timers. If I didn't use a timer (and there are some helpful free ones online), then I could easily lose an hour just replying to emails.
Wheel and deal with kids: Got children at home? I've had success in the past by making deals with mine--I'll play a game with them if they give me twenty uninterrupted minutes (fewer when they were very young). Then I gave *them* a timer.
Do something you didn't want to do first-thing: This is a great way to start off the day with a win. Even if the rest of your day is less-productive, you still feel that sense of accomplishment.
Make time to put the writing away: When my family is talking to me, I make a point to put the computer away and focus on them. That's another danger of writing at home--the novel is always around! Set a time to go off the clock.
Try not to multi-task: I'm a multi-tasker with *some* things (brainless activities like vaccumming or cleaning the kitchen combined with brainstorming, etc.) But if I try to update Facebook, check emails, and talk on the phone--I start feeling stressed. And I've found that I'm actually *less* productive.
Got any tips for working at home? How flexible are you with your writing routine?
Elizabeth’s latest book Hickory Smoked Homicide released Tuesday, November 1. Elizabeth writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin/Berkley (as Riley Adams), the Southern Quilting mysteries (2012) for Penguin/NAL, and the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink. She blogs daily at Mystery Writing is Murder, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers for 2010 and 2011.
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