Thursday, January 12, 2012

My Not So Glamorous Writing Life

For several years, I attended a writers’ retreat that was held in a somewhat rustic location. Among the lists of what to bring (and what not to bring) where instructions that encouraged attendees to “dress in whatever you wear when you’re writing.” That always gave me a laugh ‘cause no one—not even door-to-door salesmen—see me in my writing clothes. I’ve heard there are authors who dress, wear makeup, select jewelry and shoes for the day before sitting down to the keyboard. I’m not one of them. My writing day, and those of my writing friends, is more about hard work than glamour.

A couple of months ago, I told you about attending Blaze author Candace Haven’s Fast Draft workshop, and how that amped up the pace of my writing. Candace encourages writers to form groups that hold individuals accountable for meeting daily word counts. Lately, several graduates of her course have taken that accountability to a new level by working together. No, we don’t write each other’s books. But we do meet frequently in each other’s homes for days we like to call writing marathons.

Of course, we all know what happens when you put three or four women in the same room—we talk. And email/internet shopping/texting can be such a distraction. Then there’s lunch and coffee and breaks to deal with. We found out quickly that we needed rules to keep our get-togethers from dissolving into coffee klatches. So here they are:

Arrive on time. 15 minutes, max, of chit chat while we settle in, power up our laptops, grab a cup of coffee. The house phone is taken off the hook, internet connections are severed. Cell phones are muted and stored out sight (where, hopefully, they’ll remain out of mind). No Spider Solitaire, Mah Jong or other computer games.

Here’s the kicker--Each participant must write 1000 words before the group can stop for lunch. (I’ve heard a few tummies rumble as everyone waits for me to make that goal.)

After a quick lunch break, it's back to work. The afternoon session is usually even more productive, and several of us routinely hit the 3000-word mark before the day is over.

So, no, writing for a living is not a glamorous life. It’s hard work. It requires persistence, dedication and it’ll put calluses on your gluteus maximus. :)

But seeing your work in print, especially as a Harlequin American Romance, that’s what makes it all worthwhile.


Scarlet Wilson said...

Love this! I'm very impressed by your 3000 words a day. I find the first 1000 easy to manage, after that....

Tammy Yenalavitch said...

Hi Leigh,

I love your work ethic. The internet can be so distracting with Facebook, blogs and games. I bet Candy is very fun to write with. I am also a big Blaze fan and I love Candy's blogs.

Leigh Duncan said...

Thanks for writing in, Scarlet and Tammy. And for "getting it". Writing takes more dedication and perseverance than a lot of people are willing to give.

linda s said...

Hey Leigh, writing can be lonely. I'm happy you have friends to write with. Keeps the spirits from sagging.

Pamela Stone said...

Hi Leigh. I couldn't have said it better. We have an annual retreat where we plot. Same issues. It is so easy to get distracted. We're discussing the possibility of a group of us renting a beach house for a week to plot and write. My biggest fear - the beach will be more of a distraction for me than the inernet. But doesn't it sound fun.

Laura Barth said...

Hi Leigh,

This sounds like a great strategy. I used to call a friend in university and we'd race each other to see who could meet a word count first and then call the other person back. It really helped us get moving.