Writer Wednesday – Finding Balance

It happens to every writer,  a life event of some form or another.   Some are joyous like weddings, babies, new puppy, new home, etc.   And of course, there are those that are not; death, illness, injury and job loss.

There are also Life Events that don’t fit into either category but cause chaos.  I’ll give you an example.

In 2014 I was part of a team that helped implement a new software throughout my company.  It involved training, travel and late nights.   This proved to be a wreckage on my writing habits, which were modest at best, and I can’t say I’ve fully recovered.

About this time my family dynamic had changed as well.  I went from a mom of two at my peak of productivity to an empty nester.

I thought both events would be advantageous to my writing.  I’d have all this time alone while traveling for my job to write.   I didn’t factor in the pure exhaustion I would feel when I hit the hotel room and how appealing a bed would be.

I thought once my children moved away I would have the weekends and really add to my productivity.  I didn’t factor in how much I would miss them or how their homework and sleep habits played into my writing time.

Life events have an impact on our writing because they affect us either emotionally, physically or both.   And often create a rather large writing block for us.

PLEASE NOTE:  If you are suffering from a mental illness or trauma, please seek professional help.  As someone who has loved ones with SAD and PTSD, these life-altering events should not be taken lightly.  They require sensitivity and care, and left untreated they can have devastating effects.

Because of my experience, I look for ways to achieve work/write/life balance.  I do this by setting goals.  Not just around writing but around my life too.   Granted I make more allowances for life because its mine and I can. 🙂

Here are some:

  1. Writing – Minimum writing of 200 words a day.   Mostly because I find once I start writing I usually go to 500 or 1000.   But at a minimum, I do 200.  This is 200 on anything including this blog. 🙂
  2. Sleeping – Sleep at least 8 hours a night.  Sometimes this means going to bed early, or sleeping in on the weekends, but I try and stick to this as a goal.  I find I’m well rested and generally feel better.
  3.  Bum Day – Because I have a day job still, I find Sundays the best day to do this.  I stay in sweats all day and generally watch movies or read.  Then I feel more like I had time off.
  4. Date Night –  My husband and I try and go out one night a week.  Middle of the week works best, but last week we did a play on Saturday, so that was nice. It’s not always so formal.  Sometimes its Pizza and TV or a campfire and s’mores.   Sometimes we count breakfast after a trip to the Gym, mostly to sit and talk.  Reconnect in a way that is important to us.
  5. Reading – I actually still read romance fiction.   I think reading is like filling the creative well, and generally, I prefer a good book over a good TV show.   I’ve just started Books on Tape for my commute and I really love that.
  6. Learn new things – I’ve got a passion to sew my own clothes though I haven’t done it in years, so I bought a book to relearn the skill.

These are just a few suggestions and what works for me right now in my current life.   If I have a life event that changes things, I’ll reevaluate what will work then.

 

 

 

 

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AuThursday -A. Catherine Noon

Please welcome my fellow Writer Zen Gardener,  A. Catherine Noon.  Tell us Ms. Noon, what books have most influenced your life most?

That’s an interesting question.  It depends on the period in my life, really.  The first book I remember reading was about a cat who lived at a firehouse.  I fell in love with that cat and with books.  I had trouble figuring out how to find good books for myself at the library, until I stumbled on Phyllis A. Whitney.  I devoured everything she wrote for young adults.  After that, it was on to fantasy with Tolkien, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, and Lloyd Alexander.  I found Anne McCaffrey and Steven Brust and from there I was hooked.  It wasn’t until I read Piers Anthony, and the “Author’s Notes” he included in the Incarnations of Immortality series, that I started to really want to be an author.  I’ve always been a writer; but Anthony made it clear that I could be a “real” author.

Q: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I don’t use formulae, because I like change.  What interests me is consequences: what happened?  Why did it happen?  Who did it affect?  I typically start with an image, of a person or a place or a feeling, and build from there.

Q: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?

Quiet time, a keyboard and word processing software, and paper with an assortment of pens and pencils.

Q:  What do you think is the biggest misconception in erotic romance fiction, and the m/m sub-genre?

I loathe the term “mommy porn.”  It’s insulting and degrading, and belittles women’s fiction.  The other misconception is that, “Oh, romance is all formulaic.”  People that say that haven’t read in the genre, period.  The days of the formula story are long over.  Readers are sophisticated and even in the Harlequin “lines,” the quintessential “formula” books, the stories have to be engaging and nuanced.

Q: Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We’ d love to hear all about them!)

I’m working on the next Chicagoland Shifters book, which features TJ Butler.  What’s exciting to me about this project is that I decided to take the gloves off.  TJ’s father is a Texas Baptist minister who tried to “cure” TJ of being gay by using electroshock therapy.  TJ ran away and joined the Marines.  When he went overseas in the second Gulf War, he was attacked by a Siberian tiger shifter and left for dead.  All the men he’d led were killed by their attacker, except for TJ.  He’s a bundle of PTSD.

So many stories that have PTSD characters seem to gloss over the fact that it’s a life-changing disorder.  One doesn’t get over it, one simply learns to cope with it.  Some days are better than others.  There is no magic band-aid or drug that will “cure” it, any more than there is one for homosexuality.  But how do you make that character sexy and compelling?  It’s not my intention to write a dark story, just a dark character.  It’s a challenge.

Q:  You’ve finally delved into the world of self-publishing, tell us a bit about that?

We decided to self-publish our popular Chicagoland Shifters series because it gave us the creative freedom to explore the characters in our own way, to tell the story that we see.  There are real consequences for any actions, and we wanted to tell that story in a real way that we hope readers will connect with.

It’s hard to self-publish, because you’re launching your own product.  You’re in charge of all the pieces of the puzzle, not just the writing.  I see first-time authors doing it and wouldn’t suggest that for anyone right now, because you need to have a following in order to be successful with it.  There’s so much dilution in the market that it’s hard for new authors to get themselves heard.

Q:  Who designed the cover for “Cat’s Cradle”?

That would be Dayna Hart, who also designed my website and the Noon and Wilder site.  She’s amazing.

Q:  Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

The Chicagoland Shifters:

Book 1 BURNING BRIGHT

Book 2 TIGER TIGER

Book 3, CAT’S CRADLE

 

The Persis Chronicles:

Book 1 EMERALD FIRE

Book 2, EMERALD KEEP

 

The Emerald City Shifters:

Book 1 SEALED BY FIRE

Book 2 SEALED BY MAGIC

 

Other Fun Stuff:

Check out COOK LIKE A WRITER

My links: Blog | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon | LinkedIn | Pandora

Knoontime Knitting:  Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Ravelry
Noon and Wilder links: Blog | Taurus and Taurus (NSFW) | Website | Facebook | Twitter

The Writer Zen Garden:  The Writers Retreat Blog | Forum | Twitter | Meetup

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo | ChiWriMo | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

NGW Group:  Nice Girls Writing Naughty | NGW FB | NGW Twitter

Join me on Saturday, when we read an excerpt from on of A. Catherine Noon & Rachel Wilder’s books. ~Tina