Today we welcome, Lis Hoorweg who has kindly agreed to share a day in her writing life. Lis is another of our tireless volunteers. She is on the RWA Committee in the role of Contest Co-ordinator and also runs the Little Gems contest and Anthology. She writes as Elisabeth Rose.
Elisabeth …What time of the day do you write?
I write during the day but the time varies from morning to afternoon or both depending on my other activities. eg Tuesday afternoon is tennis–can’t interfere with that so any writing is done in the morning. I never write at night, too tired.
Where do you write? Do you have your own special place?
Since our children moved out my husband and I have a spare room each. Needless to say mine has the computer, desk and all my writing paraphernalia like dictionaries, ‘how to’ books etc in it. It also has a single bed which comes in handy as a storage bench particularly during Little Gems contest time. When one of the children comes to visit I have to clear some space for them which means finding somewhere else to put all that stuff 🙂
I don’t write properly anywhere else. I think a lot in other places and might make notes with pen and paper but I don’t have a laptop apart from my EePc. I’ve tried using the mini PC when I travel but I find the transfer of info between the two a real pain because it involves crawling about behind the desk plugging in the cable.
Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?
I do read over the last few pages or maybe from the beginning of the chapter I’m in to get back into the minds of my characters and also to see where the action is heading at that point and if I’ve veered off course. I don’t have any special systems. Not that I can pinpoint, anyway. I do like to get all my RWA committee or contest related things out of the way first so I can write without something hovering in my mind needing to be dealt with. I deal with emails first up which can take a whole morning depending what contests are running and what issues have arisen from both that and the general RWA committee business. There’s always something.
Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser? Do you edit as you go or prefer to edit after completion of the ms?
I’m a pantser. I jump in with an idea, a name or even a sentence. I see how far whatever the spark was can take me and then I start thinking about what is going to happen and who these people are. I like to have a title in my head and that acts as a compass point for the story–a theme. I like to get the initial thread down and work out scenes bit by bit then I go back each session and layer in more and more depth as my story comes to life and my characters grow. I can’t stand rotten spelling and bad grammar so my drafts are always very clean from that point of view. I also have my chapters pretty much organised as I go too, so I’m pacing my action at the same time in regard to chapter breaks. I write chronologically, too. I can’t write scenes out of sequence because my characters grow through the book and shape the plot. It’s like meeting a new person –you learn more about them the more time you spend with them. Often they’ll surprise you by reacting a certain way.
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?
I’ve been practising Tai Chi for twenty four years and instructing for twenty one so I’m very conscious of any stiffness and tension in my body. Because I’ve been doing the training for so long any tightness in shoulders or neck from sitting at the computer and any pain in the tendons from typing can be alleviated very quickly with some specific exercises from my repertoire. I practise Tai Chi every day so no physical issues arising from my writing have time to become chronic. When I’m sitting at the computer reading what I’ve written or thinking about what to write, I’ll often do some shoulder rolls, wrists rotations or overhead stretches palms up with fingers interlocked. Simple but effective. I do find my eyes become tired and the only solution to that is to stop and do something else.
Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?
1) My diary which is an A4 size double page month at a time one. I write in blog appearances, deadlines, reminders etc and can see the whole month at a glance.
2) My To Do notebook. This is crucial. It has 3 sections: 1 for personal writing reminders and notes, the second for RWA contest co-ordinator stuff–this is filling faster than any other section and the third for Little Gems reminders. Pink asterisks mark important stuff. I like writing things down on paper and ticking things off when they’re done. Very satisfying.
3) A glass of water
4) An RWA mug with a broken handle. I couldn’t bear to throw it out so it’s filled with pens and pencils
5)Lots of bits of paper with notes and phone numbers and goodness knows what else on them. Some of them have inspiring words and are stuck or propped around the desk top
My fifth book for Avalon, Instant Family, has just finalled in the Long Romance section of the R*BY. This is quite amazing to me, even more so when I look at my fellow finalists! Instant Family also won the Traditional Romance category of the 2011 Golden Quill. My sixth book for Avalon, The Tangled Web, also finalled in that same section.
Book number seven, The Wedding Party, is released on June 4th and number eight, Love On the North Shore Line, will be out in 2012.
Thank you Elisabeth for sharing your writing day.