Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Piecemeal writing

This is my first blog post-baby, and I have to say, right now, I'm not writing a whole lot. I want to be writing, but I have an adorable one-month-old demanding pretty much all my attention.

When I do get to write, it's in piecemeal chuncks. 15 minutes here, 10 minutes there. No more Saturday afternoon stretches, no more staying up late to crack out a few more paragraphs.

Some authors write well like this -- thinking things through, then just taking a few minutes to write that much down, then going back to thinking. Other authors need whole stretches of time, in order to find any rhythm in their writing and really get those creative juices flowing.

I've been known to write for hours at a time. Once I get near the end of a manuscript, I'll do super-ninja-writing, only coming up for food and sustenance in a 14 or 15 hour stretch.

I'd figure most of us are somewhere in the middle in our writing rhythms. And our current lifestyle or household has a lot to do with what rhythms are available to us, never mind which rhythms are ideal.

I think I'll get used to writing piecemeal, and it certainly has its advantages. While it's harder to get lost in the story like you can in a longer stretch, it also seems easier to keep my energy up, instead of getting drained by long marathons.

So what's your current writing rhythm look like? Are you a marathon writer, piecemeal writer, or somewhere in the middle? Are you able to achieve your ideal rhythm, or do your current surroundings dictate your writing time? Does your creativity benefit from regular breaks or long, deep submerges?

And most importantly . . . . baby pictures!! Our newest little pirate!

He fell asleep mid-bottle :)


2nd Chance said...

I like to write in nice huge chunks, or at least that is how I used to write. Anymore, it's smaller chunks. I really need to spend more time with the ipod strapped to my ears, that will push me further generally.

I've known people to hammer out full-length novels piece meal at a time. A snippet here, during a lunch break, a snippet there...and they sold! So, hang in there and let's hope the little pirate will cooperate so you can snippet your way to success!

Donna said...

What a cutie pie! Now that's a great reason to be distracted from writing. :)

I've done both kinds of writing, most of it was done around the day job--coming home after a draining day and spending the next 6-8 hours working on writing. And I've done the snippets recently, when I was doing seasonal retail work, and I was surprised how much I got done on a lunch break.

I prefer having a long stretch to write because it gives my brain plenty of time and space to wander around. But sometimes it can wander off to a non-writing arena. LOL

I guess it's good to have both skills, to take advantage of whichever writing scenario is available to you. :)

Melissa said...

Love the baby pictures! I remember those days and nights that ran together with a newborn's schedule, even though it's ten years since I was in your shoes. Hard to believe!

I know I've never found a writing rhythm to sustain me through a whole book. As you say, it's dependent on a current lifestyle. And I always expect to have more time to write than is realistically possible! Always.

These days, with the school schedule, I'm definitely piecemeal writing, but I feel like I need all day before I'll get started. I haven't figured out how to do more than scribble out a few ideas for the eternal "later" when I only have an hour here or there. Yesterday, I got in a stretch of writing with the help of the writing prompt here. I didn't post because it became too long so that's a good thing! But I had all day since I'm on Spring Break.

Too much time and I don't get a lot done either. LOL

Hellion said...

I think I'm more piecemeal. I usually write best at a one hour stretch, then I need to do something else for a bit. Now if I did that off and on all day, it'd work out fine, but that hasn't occurred yet.

With the previous manuscript, I think I wrote for at least 2-3 hours at a time. But usually I can only pound out about 4-8 pages in one sitting before I grow restless. I have to think about what I'm doing again. Puzzle a bit. Handwrite some potential snip its.

Your peanut is so darned adorable. His little pensive looks at the camera are killing me!

Bosun said...

Far as I can tell, I'm not the piecemeal type. I need longer stretches, but my problem is that time flies so quickly when I'm writing. I can sit down at 7, get on a roll, and then it's nearly midnight before I notice.

I can't write half a scene and then finish it later. I have to have enough time to finish whatever scene I'm in. If I stop and come back, it'll be totally different, and where I stopped would be obvious.

Look at the baby!!! I have pictures like that, with my dog, Dozer, looking over Isabelle. He was the BEST at taking care of her. Stormed through the house everytime she cried. Went through a screen door once just to make sure she was okay. I had to have my husband's grandmother's door fixed, but I didn't mind. LOL!

Janga said...

What a darling! I'm so glad you included pics of your little one in the post, Hal.

Tessa Dare has said that she wrote her FanLit entries that earned her the big win while nursing her youngest. I guess mothers who care for infants and write learn to be ingenious in finding writing time. :)

I'd love to be able to write in snippets of time, but I can't seem to accomplish much in under an hour. I am most productive when I can block out 3-4 hours to work without interruption.

Bosun said...

Forgot to mention, I have no idea how I would have written when kiddo was new to the world. Hell, I could barely find time for a shower!

Marnee said...

Awh, Hal, he's adorable. :) I love the milk drunk look. So cute. :)

I'm piecemeal right now too. Ten minutes here, five minutes there. Sometimes I get half hour stretches because that's how long the littlest naps. Three or four half hour stretches in a day. No hours and hours in an afternoon like some speak of. Maybe when the kids are older.

I think one of the pros is that it's focused. When I sit down I think to myself, "I HAVE to focus here or I'm going to run out of time. So, GO!" And then I write as fast as I can until someone makes noise in a monitor somewhere.

But the downfall for me is that I don't always feel like I'm IN the story. I don't feel as wrapped up in it as I do if I get more time.

My youngest is starting to get around really well (eek) so he isn't demanding as much of my attention, though I definitely have to watch him close all the time to make sure he's not sticking his finger in an electrical socket. I don't think it'll be long before my two will entertain themselves better and I'll maybe be able to squeak out a little more piecemeal time during the day.

At least I hope.

Hal said...

Chance, I do better with headphones as well. There's something about pumping the music directly into my brain that's more effective in shutting out the world than just having it on in the background :) Thanks for the encouragement!

Hal said...

Thanks Melissa. Yes, there's no more separation between day and night - very strange to get used to! But he's starting to sleep a little longer at night, so there's progress!

Ah, the eternal "later", when we're going to get to it. I have all sorts of things I'm saving for "later." I'm such a procrastinator that even knowing there is no later doesn't kick my butt into gear. lol.

Nicely done yesterday on the long stretch! Isn't Spring Break great for things like that?

Hal said...

Thanks Hellie. Our camera has a red-light thing that flashes first to reduce red-eye. I think it pisses him off because he always starts frowning when the red light flashes just before I snap the picture. It's so cute. I shouldn't antagonize the kid, but he's just so adorable when he's mad :)

4-8 pages is a good amount for me as well. For my last WIP, I was writing for 1-2 hours in the morning, and would write about 4 pages, which was a good schedule. Your plan of writing for an hour, then doing something else, then coming back to it sounds like a good one. Keeps it fresh, but gives you nice bits of time. Of course, I'd wander off and forget to come back to

Hal said...

Ah, Ter, I love that about Dozer. Ours will put her chin on the little seat he's in and whimper if he starts crying. It's really cute. She's still very unsure about this whole thing, which is just funny.

That's awesome that you lose track of time while writing. When you're *that* far into the story that everything else fades. That always produces the best writing for me. That's interesting that you finish a whole scene before stopping. I'd think that would produce much more structured scenes (in a good way). I tend to stop a scene where-ever I trail off writing, rather than at a good ending point :)

Hal said...

Thanks Janga! Writing while nursing - that's impressive! I don't think I would have found two free hands! My little one refuses to nurse, so I'm pumping, but I realized yesterday that if I write the 15 minutes I sit down to pump, each time, I'd have over 2 hours a day of writing time, which is quite a bit. Not a bad idea at all!

Hal said...

okay - he's content in his swing, so I'm off to do a blitz-shower :) Be back in a bit!

Hal said...

Marn, I could see how the focus would be better in short segments. I think I'd force myself to write *something* just so it didn't feel like I wasted that block of time, you know? and half the time, when I force myself to write crap, it turns out later that it's not-so-bad-crap-at-all. But it's definitely harder to get lost in the story that way.

Bosun said...

There are times I finish a scene only to realize the next day the scene wasn't over. LOL! And now that I think about it, this is the same way I read. I have to read to at least the end of a scene, if not the chapter. Even if I'm not totally engrossed, I can't just stop in the middle of the page and put the book down.

Irisheyes said...

He's a keeper, Hal!!! Too cute - I love when they're just born and they always have that rag doll look when you put them in a bouncey seat or try to sit them up.

I think I'm a little of both. When something hits me I can sit down for a short period and write it out and hope it takes me off on a long writing frenzy. Otherwise, I sit and ponder and it can take hours to get something on the page.

I think, like Donna said, you gotta take your chances when you get them. You're probably gonna look at writing the way you do everything else in your life now - if he's content time to get something done. LOL

The dog is adorable too! Ours would sleep under the crib when mine were babies. Now my sheepdog hops up on my daughter's bed and wrestles her for her teddy bear - in the middle of the night while she's asleep! You can hear the dog growling and her yelling "give it back!" It's hilarious.

Hal said...

And now that I think about it, this is the same way I read. I have to read to at least the end of a scene, if not the chapter

That's hilarious that it's the same reading or writing. I read the same way I write too - I wander off mid-sentence and forget to come back *g*

Hal said...

Irish - that's hilarious about the dog and your daughter!

I like those times, when sitting down to write one little bit gets you off and running. It's always a nice little surprise. WAY better than those times you sit and stare at a blank page for hours on end!

Bosun said...

The "sit and stare" thing is why I have to plot. I have to know what scene is next and then spend a good day or two thinking about it before I write it. If I don't know and think ahead, the pages stay blank.

You stop mid-sentence?? LOL! That's crazy to me.

Marnee said...

What's sad is that even with the little amount of time I have, even with an idea of what happens next, sometimes I STILL sit and stare....


Bosun said...

The scene is just cooking in your head, Marn. A valid and productive part of the process.

Marnee said...

Yeah, like a crock pot. :(

Bosun said...

Better than a pressure cooker.

Marnee said...

LOL! True, I suppose.

Julie said...

Great pictures!
What a lil’ sweetheart you have there, Hal. Part of me misses my Baby Days. Or should that be Daze? The other part is like “Been working soooo hard …”

A bit late posting I know … but that’s how life is when you have kids. Even if those kids don’t wear diapers You rarely get to do the stuff you want to do when you want to do it , cuz you’re to busy doing the stuff you have to do.
Which isn’t to say that you won’t have time to do the things you want to do. Eventually.
I think one of the pros is that it’s focused. When I sit down I think to myself, “I HAVE to focus here or I’m going to run out of time.
Marnee makes an excellent point. Knowing that you have to be focused when you have some free time is a great motivator. IMO.
The other plus to having kids is that they give you a different perspective on life. You will look at old situations in a different way. You will learn a new wisdom. And wanting to preserve your perspective … your wisdom … even if it is presented in a fictional story … can be a powerful motivator.
Some of my favorite pieces? Well most really are stories that I wrote for my children.

Julie said...

Ask me why I'm up late and have time to write ... go on.

I'm waiting for my youngest to get home. School play ... cast party ... blah blah blah.
With out kids I wouldn't be writing!

I'd be in bed! LOL

Sin said...

Hal, he so handsome. Congrats dear.