Wednesday, October 05, 2011

My Fiction Day - When It Flows . . . and When I Need a Plunger

For the moment, while I'm waiting to hear back from my editor about line-edits, I'm focusing on nonfiction. The problem is that my most creative writing time for fiction is at night, when the world is asleep. And for some reason, writing nonfiction is like juggling paste. It's making me almost hate the nonfiction project.

We have productive and less productive times. For instance, I do not function before 9 AM. If I'm really smoking a manuscript the night before, thus staying up until 3 AM, my eyes don't open before 11 AM. It sounds lazy, but it's my eight-hour sleep cycle. It just happens to be when others are awake and kicking.If I went to bed at 10 PM, I'd lie awake until 2.

Nonfiction is work. It brings in the income. It's somewhat creative, but doesn't exactly tap my mystical forces, you know? I like it and it comes natural for me, but there's something about diving in the midst of an argument between Slade and Wayne (my main characters in my mystery series) that gets my juices flowing. Much more so than talking about the proper irrigation of grass or how to pitch literary agents.

Actually, I think that's why I try to insert some kick-butt attitude or humor in my pieces. It lets me be spunky instead of journalistic. Okay, not that you journalists out there don't have personalities, but face it. When you're limited to column inches and word counts so tight they creak, you understand how jokes and jabs get cut in the process.

I'm often asked about my writing schedule. It's not rocket science, it's definitely not locked in concrete, and it probably doesn't fit your lifestyle, but here goes.

10 or 11 or 12 noon (whenever I open my eyes) - Email, blog reading, maybe research for FundsforWriters

2-5 PM - gym (running), gardening, chickens, errands

5-8 PM - working on newsletters, research, nonfiction writing. I have been known to sit on the back porch with hubby, both with a bourbon, him with a cigar, while I read something aloud. He loves to hear it and I find all kinds of nasty mistakes when I do.

8-10 PM - time with family with frequent checks of email during commercials or lulls - if no serious family time or if I'm on deadline, I just work. I've been known to bring work to my lap while seated with family while watching a movie or cop/attorney show ( love mysteries). I can't stand down time, so I work during breaks.

10-2 or 3 AM - writing, writing, writing. Blogs, essays, editorials, novel, you name it. Some may notice that my Tweets and Facebook messages occur mid-day or during this time, at night.

Of course I'm flexible. I may be building a chicken coop or transplanting bushes, unable to start and stop at the computer because I'm covered with dirt and chicken . . . stuff. I lighten up when guests come to town, and for at least one day a week. But it's rare when my hands don't hit a keyboard each and every day.

But in terms of quality and the clock? There's just something about daylight that works better for me with nonfiction, while my fiction thrives at night. Right now I need a nonfiction plunger because it sure ain't flowing. Tomorrow will probably be a different story. Hope so.

How about you? What's your magical time to write?


Kelly Robinson said...

Nonfiction is far more than "somewhat" creative. There's a big difference between, say, a newspaper story and one of MFK Fisher's gorgeous hunks of food writing. I find my creative juices flow quite well when I have some facts at hand. It's like being a painter --only having a certain number of paints doesn't limit the masterpiece.

Diva Jefferson said...

Hope, I agree, night time is the best time for writing fiction. I haven't written much nonfiction, so I can't say if it's better during the day or not. I feel like there is more silence and time to really sit down and reflect what you are going to say when every one is gone to bed.

Night time is so magical.

Consider your nonfiction work an easier endeavor. At least you can write what you know most about! :)
Good luck with your new project.

-Diva J.

Anonymous said...

If I could ever get myself on a schedule, I might be able to figure out when my good writing time is. Right now I'm kind of all over the place and it's driving me crazy.

Looking at your schedule gives me schedule envy, Hope!

Hope Clark said...


Ha - it's not like that everyday. For instance, today was an hour of email, then building on a chicken coop, and now (5:30PM) I'm about to run out the door to a writer's critique group and won't get home until 11 PM. But then...I have until 2-3 AM to play catch up. Just know that haphazard schedules can still work for writers.

D.G. Hudson said...

I write better in the morning, being a 'early bird'. That comes from getting up at 5am for years for work. Now it's more like 7am, but still. . .it's peaceful then.

I like the quiet time before anyone else gets up to slowly sip my coffee and have no interruptions.

Thanks for the post, Hope.

Kyrsten Bean said...

This is the first time I've seen a schedule similar to mine! I'm two years into the freelance life, so I juggle a part-time gig at the library. Most nights I stay up until 1pm working on creative writing and blog entries and/or poetry. In the morning, I crank out the articles I write for newspapers or magazines. I work in the afternoon four days a week. In the evening, I hike or do kettlebell training and then I get back to the computer and work on music reviews or start on the creative writing I mentioned earlier.
In there is dinner with the husband, breakfasts out, and lots of walking the dog. But mostly, I write in every available moment. And also, on Wednesday nights I have a writing group I run with a friend.