Elizabeth Spann Craig writes the Memphis Barbeque series for Penguin as Riley Adams, the Myrtle Clover series for Midnight Ink (under her own name), and blogs daily at http://mysterywritingismurder.blogspot.com, which was named by Writer’s Digest as one of the 101 Best Websites for Writers in its current issue.
Delicious and Suspicious releases July 6, 2010.
As the mother of two, Elizabeth writes on the run as she juggles duties as Brownie leader, referees play dates, drives carpools, and is dragged along as a hostage/chaperone on field trips.
Adapting Our Writing Routine…and How to Survive Our Kids’ Summer Vacation
By Elizabeth Spann Craig
I have a week and a half until my children’s schools let out for the summer.
This time last year, I was completely horrified at that realization.
This year? Not so much. Because I managed to write the better part of a novel over summer break last year. It had to be done…I was under a deadline. I developed my own routine last summer.
Now I’ve got a routine for every occasion, not just summer break:
My routine when writing at home isn’t working for me and I need to escape:
Yes, sometimes writing at home isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s because when you’re faced by a dog that sleeps a lot
and cats that hang off the side of small tables while they sleep,
sometimes it can make you feel a little bit sleepy.
Or sometimes the house is too interactive. The dishwasher stops running, the dryer buzzer goes off, a table sassily says “dust me.”
So I go out and write where the background noise is there but means nothing to me.
- I’ll write at the library, the coffee shop, or a diner.
- If the background noise starts edging into the foreground, then I put headphones on and listen to music I’ve downloaded to my computer while I write.
The I’ve-only-got-15-minutes-to-write-today routine:
- I make it count by planning the writing the night before.
- What am I going to cover?
- Where am I picking up the story?
- What’s the point of the scene?
If I know ahead of time that I have a really, really limited timeframe to write in (I’m travelling, it’s a holiday, etc.) then I make every little minute count.
The it’s-a-beautiful-day writing routine
- I go to the park after school with the kids. I take a laptop and a folding chair (and, yes, I look nerdy as heck and don’t care a bit.)
- I write in the hammock
- I use a notebook and pencil if the sun is glinting too much on the computer screen.
And now, for you parents out there, my routine for surviving the kids’ summer vacation (and still get a book written):
Go completely with the flow. There is no routine over summer break…that’s how summer break works! But I do have tips for you:
Go on an outing—the kids and your manuscript. If your kids are older, the park, skating rink, bowling alley, swimming pool, etc, work out well. If they’re younger, try one of those indoor playgrounds with inflatables.
Bring a friend for your child. Or more than one. They’re much happier if they are on outings with a friend or two. And they’re more inclined to let you get some work done.
Plan some dedicated time with your child to play one on one. This time can be either before or after the time that you need to get some work done. Here’s the deal with this time: you need to be completely focused on your child. No thinking about anything else. You play Monopoly, read a few books, whatever they want to do with you---and then you explain you are going to spend X amount of time writing.
Quiet time works for everyone. Even my older child (12) needs time to unwind in the afternoon. My kids unplugged for a while with a book or played quietly in their room while I worked on my laptop. When I had a toddler, I’d put her in her room and give her books. The rule was that even if they couldn’t sleep, they had to “read” (look at pictures.)
Host playdates. I know—this sounds like more trouble than help. But usually (this depends on your kid and the kids you invite over), my children disappear to hang out with their friends. It’s the perfect time to write.
Remember that the more adaptable we are, the more writing we can get done! Best of luck, everyone! And Happy Memorial Day!
(My corgi, Chloe, desperately wanted a cameo in my post because she’s a huge admirer of Kaye’s Harley. So excuse the gratuitous corgi photos. :) )