As writers we always seem to find other writer’s work spaces and habits inspiring. Perhaps, we’re all hoping some other writer’s interesting behavior will spark something in us and suddenly what is so hard will miraculously stream brilliantly from our fingers.
I’m the first person to say my work habits are strange. I’m still working a regular job and have a husband, two kids, two dogs, two cats, a fish, a gerbil, nosey neighbors, cranky plumbing, a ten-year-old car, and a serious inability to stay on a diet. Besides all of that nonsense, I am obligated to write a daily blog and contracted books. I don’t know about anyone else, but I can’t write with short people interrupting me every thirty seconds and all the rest of the hilarity that surrounds normal people hours. Fortunately, I’m a natural night owl and have some weird chemical ability to function with very little sleep. Usually, I go to sleep around 2:00am. Sadly, I have to drag myself out of bed at 7:00am to get the kids to school and myself to that dreaded day job. Of course, eventually I fall asleep in my spaghetti like a temperamental two-year-old who insists she’s not tired, but I can go for several weeks like this.
What this gives me is four or five hours to myself to try to get everything done. Some days are good. Some are bad. I’m mystified by writers who say they write ten pages. No more. No less. If it takes two hours or ten, that’s how long they work that day. I’ve read this of sort of thing from Larry McMurtry, Thomas Wolfe, and others, yet it totally eludes me. There are more days than I’d like to admit where the curser blinks and blinks and blinks on the blank page and nothing good ever comes of it. There are days where not one single funny or emotional sentence is squeezed out. It’s really difficult not to give yourself a hard time over it, especially when all those other guys can do it.
If you think chemical stimulation is the answer, you need to know that Balzac drank an estimated fifty cups of coffee a day to keep his juices flowing. The man actually died of caffeine poisoning. Perhaps moderation is something we should all look into. And, maybe if you drink that much coffee, you don’t get too far from the bathroom. I’m just sayin’.
Victor Hugo and Ben Franklin liked to write in the nude. Let that ramble around in your head for a bit and be thankful that neither wrote erotica. John Cheever at least preferred his underwear. I happen to prefer pajamas. Truman Capote mercifully remained clothed, but he did do all his writing horizontal on the couch with a beverage, a cigarette, and a pencil at the ready. When I tried this I spilled Diet Coke all over me, the sofa, and a very irritated cat. If Truman was around today, I’d ask how he accomplished it. Bendy straws?
What this should tell us is whatever funky thing makes us comfortable enough to write the words, that’s what we need to do. Perhaps we stare at a wall like Eudora Welty so as to not be over simulated. Can you imagine if she lived in the world we do today with the internet and cell phones and everything else poking at us constantly? Distraction is ever at the ready and damn near impossible to ignore.
No matter what your obstacles, you’re a writer. I’m a writer. We write. Whatever wacky thing you need to do to find that place where the words flow, find it. Set goals but know what your limitations are. Be gentle, but firm with yourself. Do it in your underwear, or confiscate your husband’s flannel pajamas like Francine Prose. I give you permission to create your own bizarre traditions, but you’re never going to top Dame Edith Sitwell who climbed in a coffin to meditate before putting pen to paper. She said it inspired her poetry. Um-kay.
Amylynn read her first romance novel in 2008 after being a lifelong literary snob. By the time she was done, she was hooked. Now she pens Regency and contemporary romances that will make you laugh.
She is an Arizona native and lives in the same house her husband owned before they were married. Amylynn fears she will never call another state home unless someone tells her husband there are forty-nine others to choose from. In reality, she’d settle for a walk-in closet.
Her family consists of the aforementioned husband, two beautiful children, two dogs, two cats, some fish, and a hankering for a panda. She’d like it mentioned she’s never been in prison, but we’ll see how that panda thing works out.