Where/How Do You Write?

catwritingIt’s Friday Night, and I have a question for the writers in the group.

I mean all writers:  fun writers, journal writers, heavy-duty novel writers, joke writers, grocery list writers. Even those of you who are just thinking about writing.

I am beginning to think that what my mind thinks is a writing atmosphere and what my body thinks is writing atmosphere are two different things.

I love writing…I wish I had hours and hours to devote to the whole creative thing. For now, my alone time is limited. So here I am, Friday night, editing one of my short novels. But I’m also surrounded by take-home Chinese, glass of ice water, two TV flippers, incense burning, phone, flash drive and computer next to me, cat above my head, and and some 3 star horor flick in the background.

How serious can this be?

I would like to know how you get your writing done. Do you have a routine? A place? An atmosphere? Does it change with the waxing and waning moon? How long do you sit and write? Do you work on the same piece during your alloted creative time? Do you write at work?

Maybe its my A.D.D., maybe its just my personality. It’s like I can’t be happy unless I’m multitasking. Unless it’s a serious movie that my son says I have to pay attention to, I’m writing while I’m listening to TV or music and doing laundry and stopping to yell at my dogs for pulling the stuffing out of some toy and spreading it around the living room.

Oh, I have been known to sit and write straight for hours…especially during the intense scenes of my work. But to look at this atmosphere, to watch me through the window from the outside, it all looks so…disorganized. Scattered. Inefficient.

But I swear I love writing, even if it’s a short story, a blog, a poem, or an article. So what if there’s a scary movie on in the background? Stimuli for future stories. Get up for a dish of ice cream? Why not? Creativity loves sugar!  Side tracked by research way deep sideways on the Web? Stories abound where you least expect them.

That’s my story…and I’m sticking to it.

But please…let me know what your writing life is like. Let me know if I’m the odd one, or if you are out in left field nearby. In the end, it doesn’t matter how you get your writing done. As long as we continue on the journey, our methods work.

And don’t they say it’s not the destination, but the journey, that counts?

 

 

 

Computer Hoarder or Zen Master?

animated-gifs-computers-48 (1)Considering how haphazardly I live, organization is not a word that frequently passes my lips. I just have too much information, and not enough room/time/energy to organize it all. But then last week my Irish Muse stopped by, and I’ve been working on Big O 101. Most things around me are falling more-or-less in place.

One place I haven’t had much of a problem, though, is my laptop.

I used to fill notebooks with thoughts, ideas, research, menus for the week. The old-old ones were more like journals, full of angst and awakenings, blah blah blah. Necessary but over. The new ones, though, are a different animal. They are full of things I don’t recognize. Names. Lots of numbers that don’t mean a thing.  Notebooks became jotting books. Need a piece of paper to write down that stupid email address? Write it in the middle of a notebook. Need to add something to the grocery list but don’t have a piece of paper handy? Write it in the middle of the notebook.

I now prefer to document my writing, research, images, and ideas on my laptop.

I must admit I have kept things in much better order than the days of pen and paper. I keep/download too many things on my desktop, but they all eventually find a folder home of their own. I have folders for Stories, Chapters, Essays – Finished, and Stories, Chapters, Essays – Unfinished. I have a Humoring the Goddess folder with dozens of sub-folders.  I have one called Recipes, one called Resumes, and one called Research (which, btw, has the largest, oddest assortment of information I’ve ever seen). Novels have their own folder; inside those are sub-folders of character backgrounds, copy I’ve cut and couldn’t part with, earlier versions from cavemen days, maps of ancient landscapes that may or may not be relevant – all kinds of weird stuff.

I have folders with images: with my downloading prowess I’ve no doubt got three copies of every photo I’ve ever downloaded from my phone. I’ve got family photos, photos I’ve used in blogs, photos I think are cool, photos that are inspiration for other projects, and photos that are…just photos.

I’ve got a very busy Sunday Evening Art Gallery folder, with one subbie for “dones” and another subbie with “futures.” I’ve got folders with names of novels I’ve never finished, folders of novels I’ve finished, and books I’ve downloaded and have yet to read. I’ve got cute little folders such as Girl Things, Books-Music-Words, and Family Cards and Art, and boring ones like Taxes and Passwords.

The cool thing about keeping all those folders and documents around is once I open them,  it’s like time-traveling through the galaxy. Where did I get these things? Why were they important to me at the time? What did I want to do with these things?

Through the years I have carried these folders and documents and images with me, from computer to computer, from flash drive to flash drive. This is the most organized I have been, organizing the most useless information. But then again, that’s not really true. If I look closely, there is a growth pattern here. Much like the journals I kept in my 40s, there is a growth curve here somewhere. There is an emotional maturity I’ve slowly achieved, even though my future horizons are as open as ever.

I do like the fact that this is one area of my life that I’ve been able to categorize. I mean, I do detailed work at work, I keep a clean house, my DVDs are alphabetized (so I don’t have to go through piles every time I’m looking for a movie), and I’ve even attempted to clean out my kitchen cabinets.

But there’s something satisfying about opening a pretzel logic database and actually being able to find something. There’s something fun about thumbing through my Research folder and perusing auras, Rite of Pan, Medieval words, wormholes, and clichés.

What a weirdo! And what a galaxy to explore!

Tell me about YOUR computer. Are you organized? Do you have more ideas than gigabites? Or are you a catcher-catch-can kinda laptopper?

Time Management — or Really the Lack Thereof

Round and Round and Round She Goes…….Where She Stops Nobody Knows……

Does your life often feel like that?? Lately my life has been that! No time to blog, no time to write, barely time to breathe. As I sit here jotting down a few words of wisdom, I am scratching and digging and itching the skin off the top of my feet where chiggers fed a few days ago. What kind of wisdom is that?

I really believe the drought in the Midwest has drained the sanity out of us mere mortals. If I thought I had little patience before, ask me how I feel after camping for two days in 90 degree breezeless weather. (On second thought, don’t ask…) On one hand, chiggered ankles were a small price to pay to be with my grandson for the weekend. But, upon reflection, I could have thought of 50 other places more suitable to both my “temperament” and “temperature.”  We won’t talk about sweating, but with temperatures at 100 one tends to sweat in places you never knew you could sweat in.

The heat also messes with my sense of organization. (Like I had any to begin with…)  I look around the house and see all the things I should do but don’t have time to do because I’m busy doing other things. We all have days of disorganization. But why does it seem lately that I’ve had weeks of it? Maybe I need a little time management or something.  A search in Yahoo brings up time management games, tips, skills, techniques, strategies, software, training, books, articles, and activities. Wow. I am overwhelmed just by so many choices. This is more than just turn right or left; this is riding on the twirliest roller coaster in the land.

Is my madness just a case of time mismanagement? Of poor planning? Or is it that our world has gotten so big, so advanced, so fast, that there are literally millions (as opposed to dozens) of activity melons that are ripe for the picking? Our ancestors didn’t have such a cornucopia of delights to choose from. Extra curricular activities were limited by your pocketbook and your proximity to town.  Reading (how about sinking your teeth into The Scarlet Pimpernel?), walking (didn’t you see Sense and Sensibility?), checkers or chess, or singing around the piano (think Christmas Carol), were the highlights of adult play.  Granddaughter in another state having a birthday? Too bad — too far. Want to go swimming to cool off? Too bad — closest body of water is five hours by mule.  Want to go out for dinner? Too bad. Town is ten miles by mule.

These people didn’t have an unlimited choice of entertainment like we do. Blogging, surfing the Net, playing online or video games, talking on the phone, watching 20 Closer reruns you’d DVR’d, reading Star Magazine, dancing to your IPod — all are activities that would be chinese to them.  I know we don’t do all those things, but admit it — we get pretty darn close. Add going to work,  grocery shopping, driving to birthday parties and soccer games, watering the garden, mowing the lawn, washing clothes, getting a hair cut, going to the dentist or doctor, all contribute to the roller coaster ride we put ourselves on.

Here are a few tips I found on the “Time Management Tips” List:

Carry a schedule and record all your thoughts, conversations and activities for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your precious moments are going.  How many three-ringed notebooks do I have to carry around??

Any activity or conversation that’s important to your success should have a time assigned to it. To-do lists get longer and longer to the point where they’re unworkable. See my blog https://humoringthegoddess.wordpress.com/2011/05/20/real-lists-vs-fantasy-lists/ to clarify real lists vs. fantasy lists.

Plan to spend at least 50 percent of your time engaged in the thoughts, activities and conversations that produce our results.  I already spend 110 percent of my time doing this – where did they get 50??

Schedule time for interruptions. Plan time to be pulled away from what you’re doing.  Oh, does that mean I can pull into McDonalds for a hot fudge sundae on my way to the grocery store?

Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan your day. Don’t start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.  I do this before I go to sleep and between alarm snoozes in the morning. Plans sound better when you’re half asleep.

Take five minutes before every call and task to decide what result you want to attain. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. When you only get 10 minutes for morning break and you’ve got three phone calls to make, that’s tacking on another 15 minutes to an already squished schedule. Mmmm…

Put up a “Do not disturb” sign when you absolutely have to get work done. Yeah, tell that to your dogs and cats and kids…

Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. About the only free time I have lately is on the toilet — not what I consider a conducive atmosphere for answering emails and phone calls.

Block out other distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media unless you use these tools to generate business.  I use these to generate the business of friendship and gossip…whatchu talkin’ about??

Remember that it’s impossible to get everything done. Also remember that odds are good that 20 percent of your thoughts, conversations and activities produce 80 percent of your results. Now that’s the smartest thing I’ve heard all day.

I guess I’ll just have to do what I can when I can. After all, there’s so much more to see, to do, to write.  And I’m sure there will be plenty of time to get organized on the “other” side.

Won’t there?