Monday, October 24, 2011

Writer's Therapy

Imagine Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter all happening in the same month. Now make one of them a week long. (Are you panicked yet?)

That's been my life for the last month.

The cooking, the cleaning, the decorating, the prayer-services-going, the dressing up, the laundry, the managing children on vacation from school. It's all the same for Jewish holidays as for Christian ones, just in the early autumn when it's not, for the rest of American society, normal.

On top of the normal household holiday stress, it's my day job to plan and facilitate prayers services and events for all of it.

 I looked up in the sky last night and almost cried when I saw this:

The lunar month is nearly over. The holidays have died down until Chanukah, which is actually not that big of a deal. I finally took a deep breath.

So, at this point, you won't be surprised that the writing part of my life has fallen far short. It's no secret I've been ignoring my WiP, but I'm ashamed to say that I've ignored a lot of other stuff that writers need to do to succeed, too.  

I need some writer's therapy. So here's the plan.

Real, Solid Writing Time
I've been doing a couple hundred words in the 23 minutes it takes my challah to bake, another fifty while I wait for my kid to finish using the bathroom, a couple sentences waiting in line at the grocery store. There's a reason I've only done about 6K in 23 days, and even those words suck. I need some solid writing time, uninterrupted by beeping kitchen timers, laundry that needs to be turned over, temper tantrums or tussles over toys.

And no one's going to give it to me - I've got to claim it for myself.

Here's an inspirational photograph about how something can sprout, flourish and blossom
(Or: what happens when I don't clean out the potato bin for two months. Oops.)

I've had an absolutely amazing project in my inbox for a month, and another one just arrived. These writers are also part of the critiquing team for ONE, and of course I owe it to them to do my critiquing best on their work.

More than that, though, critiquing makes me a better writer. Not to mention that it's pure writer's therapy to weed passive voice out of a mostly gorgeous manuscript, or to get that "Aha!" moment when you figure out which two words to move around it a sentence to make it really sparkle.

Plus, you know, all the kissing scenes you get to read. Because you can only put so many of those in your own book. (I know. It's sad.)

I'm back to critiquing an hour every morning before the kids wake up, and maybe another hour after they go down to bed, and it feels SO. GOOD.

The last published book I read obsessively cover-to-cover was over a month ago. Not. Okay. Not at all. Especially when I have at least EIGHT on my Kindle I'm dying to read.

First of all, you can't write if you don't read, widely and raptly. I know this. But the fact that I haven't dropped everything to devour these books says a lot about how stressed I've been. Normally I'd be finished with them in less than a week. Yikes.
The Scorpio Races
Here's just one of the many.
 Seriously, just looking at this COVER is making me want to call in sick to work.

Taking Care of Myself
I'm a working mother trying to write and publish a book, so I don't even spend TONS of time taking care of myself physically on a good day. But before the holidays, I was at least exercising regularly, taking care of hair cuts and colors, and painting my nails once in awhile.

Another biggie is sleeping enough. Because I don't. As it is, my only really productive writing time is morning through midday, because by 8 PM I am so exhausted I can't formulate original thoughts, let alone make them into coherent and beautiful sentences. When I don't get enough sleep, even the morning/afternoon hours are forfeit, because I'm dozing off or riding a caffeine buzz (also not great for the fetus, sorry baby) that only really makes me jittery, not productive.

So, that's my plan for getting back to healthy writer-dom! When you need writer's therapy, what works for you? I could always use more suggestions.


  1. Life's been pulling me away from the writing too, so I'm right there with you. I'm looking forward to reading The Scorpio Races too.

  2. When I have to have some "me" time when the kids are home, I send them outside. Fortunately, my oldest is 13 so she can watch the younger two kids:) Also, I've made more time for reading published books. I try to analyze what the author does right/wrong when I read. I've learned so much by doing that and applied what I've learned to my writing.

  3. 1. I doubt anything about ONE sucks, even your 6k this month, because everything I've read so far is so awesome.

    2. You totally do need more sleep. I was shocked to find out that you get up so early and are still up being hilarious on Twitter until late-ish!

    3. You are a serious optimist. When I discover a potato that has started to do that, I usually curse a lot more than take photos and find it inspirational. :)

    4. Kissing scenes! (No point to this one.)

    Good luck! We are looking forward to reading ONE!

  4. Oh man, Leigh Ann. And I thought I was busy! It's great that you've got all this therapy stuff planned out and are taking the initiative to make time for yourself. I need to do all the things you pointed out, as well. (It's been MORE than a month since I've read a published book for fun. The Scorpio Races has been sitting sadly on my bedside table since I got it! D:) Good luck with your plans...and yes, do take care of yourself! <3 you!

  5. You definitely need to take care of yourself. Fetus #4 shouldn't get the shaft just because she's #4. And you need to look out for your own well-being too. Otherwise, you'll receive stalker-esque e-mails and texts from me. And you know I mean that. :)))

    I am grateful that work seems to have slowed down a bit that I can get some writing in, at least on some days. I truly feel better when I write. Aleeza and Heidi also gave me things to read, and I find my ego gets a much-needed boost when I feel like people value my opinion. Since I can't get an agent to value my book!

  6. Yup, sometimes life gets in the way of writing. But you just have to find the time. Steal those little moments and write your heart out. Writing, getting lost in your own little world, it's the ultimate vacation.


  7. Thanks. My MS is in others hands right now. So this gives me more time to read and chew my nails. But as writers we need to find that balance of writing, family, etc.

    I love to critique too. And I agree it makes you a better writer when you read other peoples work.

  8. Um... I don't know what really works for me. Can I just steal your list? It sounds fabulous! I'm still trying to figure out how to balance everything. And failing miserably. Ooo! Maybe I should put "prioritizing everything" on my list!

  9. Love this post. October HAS been crazy. My kids go to day school and now this week they have two half-days for conferences. CONFERENCES!?!?! What is there to discuss?? They've hardly been in school! Anyway, it's great you'll have more time. I'm expecting this baby so soon, I'm not expecting any more time, but I'm excited anyway. :)


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