I'm back again on the Chain Gang. This round, we welcome two new members to our chain: Kat and Christina. Michelle posted before me, and Kat will be posting after me. Terri started the chain with one question, but since she thought it was too similar to our last topic, she added an alternate question. I'm going to go ahead and answer both, since I don't think I have much to say about the second question.
Question 1: Have you ever had anything cause you to step back from writing? If so, what was the cause and how long did it take you to get back into the swing of things? If not, do you have any advice for other writers about not letting life get in the way of writing?
My priorities have changed since becoming a wife and mother. When I was single, I could get on the computer as soon as I came home from work and be there until bedtime. I wasn't always productive, but I had time to goof off and still get things done. I can't do that anymore now that I have Alex. He's under two, and he still requires a lot of attention. He goes to bed late for a toddler, around 9:00. He mostly sleeps through the night, but he occasionally wakes up early. I've never been a great sleeper, but it's been worse since I became a mother; I think I subconsciously listen for Alex. While I wouldn't give him up for anything, all of these factors have reduced the time and energy I have for writing. I've also cut back on critiquing, reading, and attending conventions. Add to that the fact that I'm working full time and still have to cook and clean, and there's very little time left for writing--or much else.
One thing that helped me get back into writing is doing NaNoWriMo in 2007. If I was going to have any chance of completing it, I had to make writing a priority and find time for it. I started bringing my laptop to work so I can write on my lunch hour. It's still my most productive writing time. I also think it helps to have multiple projects going, so if you get stuck with one, you can switch to another. Finally, it helps to set goals for yourself. NaNoWriMo was a crazy goal for me; I generally can't manage 500 words a day, let alone 1660. I had to push myself and allow myself to write a real rough draft instead of obsessing over perfect sentences. It's not the best way for me to work, but it was useful for me to do, even if I didn't quite finish the novel. (I did somehow manage to get to 50,000 words, though.) As I've mentioned elsewhere, my current goal is to edit two chapters of Across Two Universes each month. So far I think I'm on target, and this version seems stronger to me. It does need some critting before it's ready to query, though. I have some side projects I also want to work on if time permits.
I do want to echo what others have said about living a full life so you have something to write about. Is it hard being a working and writing mother? Yes; that's a lot of hats to wear, and you can't wear them all at once. Things always have to be shifted around. Luckily I have a fantastic partner in Eugene. He understands that chores have to be done, and we work as a team. He has interests of his own that are also time-intensive, so I support him with them just as he supports me with my writing. Ultimately each different role brings something else into my life and makes me more of a well-rounded person. Except for sleeping and beauty primping, that is.
Question 2: Alternative question: Do you brainstorm with a friend when you are plotting, or do you prefer to be the only one who knows what your characters are going to do?
I work by myself. I mull my plots over in my head when I can, or sometimes the plotting comes as I'm writing. I don't chat online with my writing buddies on a daily basis anymore because I have to focus during my writing time now. It would be nice to brainstorm with someone else--maybe it would help me get the plot right on the first draft instead of tossing out a novel draft and starting over. But it doesn't matter so much how you arrive at a good final draft as long as you have a method that works for you.
That's all for now. Head on over to Kat's blog to see which question she'll answer and what her response will be!