Today on a Day in the Writing Life we welcome, Cathryn Hein, who writes Australian romantic fiction. Over to Cathryn.
What time of the day do you write? Definitely morning. I usually start around 7am and work until around 3pm, but I’m most productive first thing. Everything feels fresher in the morning.
Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? I started out as a complete pantser but with each book I’ve refined the process and now plot quite a bit. I don’t plot everything out, though. I find the thrill of discovery keeps the excitement going.
Although I’ve tried to break the habit I can’t stop editing as I write. It’s as if I can’t move on until the previous chapter is as perfect as I can make it at that point in time. The upside of the system is that my first drafts are extremely clean and usually only need a light run through to fix niggly things before they’re ready to send. The downside is that it’s not a very efficient way to work. At least, it doesn’t seem to be.
Do you use whiteboards, posters, visual aids to help in your creativity? I would be lost without my whiteboards. I have three, each with a specific purpose, but the most important is my cheat-sheet whiteboard. It has all the characters listed with a brief description of each, plus animal and place names and anything important about them. It also tends to get smothered in sticky-note edit reminders and comments.
I also have my precious ‘bibles’ which are 120 page A4-sized notebooks containing all my plot and brainstorming notes, scene drafts, research, title and character names, family trees, pictures of characters and scenery – anything and everything to do with the book. Usually by the time I finish writing I’ll have filled at least two of these.
Do you give yourself any writing rewards for achieving goals? Not usually. Although there’s an expensive bottle of champagne sitting in my fridge ready for when I finally hit ‘send’ on my current book. I’ll have earned that!
Do you take time out to stretch, rest your eyes etc and if so do you do any exercises at your desk or between sessions? Not as much as I should and I’ve had days where I’ve paid for my laxity with severe eye and/or wrist strain. But I did recently purchase some tennis balls to bounce around while brainstorming. This may yet prove a mistake. I’m pretty uncoordinated and bound to break something.
Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write? A glass of water. My Macquarie dictionary. A pencil. My diary. Sticky-note pads.
Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between? In between. There are some days when it’s calm, some days when it’s chaos. The closer I am to finishing a manuscript the worse it gets.
What is your favourite form of procrastination? Spider Solitaire! I can really zone out on that. I also like to flick through cookbooks pretending that I’m looking for dinner inspiration when really I’m just delaying knuckling down to work.
I have two ways of beating procrastination:
1/. I make lists (with wordcount at #1) and tick off jobs when they’re done. There’s something really satisfying about seeing a list with every item crossed out.
2/. Close all unnecessary programs. If I can’t see it, it can’t distract me.
What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session? Backup my files to multiple locations. The idea of losing work gives me the heebie-jeebies!
Thanks for having me on A Day In The Writing Life. That was fun!
Cathryn’s latest release is Heart of the Valley. Out now from Penguin Australia.
Thank you very much for sharing a day in your writing life, Cathryn. We wish you all the best with your new release.