A Day in the Writing Life of … Margaret Midwood

Today we welcome, Margaret Midwood, another of our amazing volunteers. Margaret, who is the RWA Judge Co-ordinator, has kindly agreed to share with us a day in her writing life.

What time of the day do you write?

I set my alarm to get up at 6.30am, I find it peaceful and I can write undisturbed while the family sleep.  Definitely a morning person, too much noise and too many interruptions throughout the day. I have been known to sit at my computer into the early hours only to wake with my head on the keyboard and rows of the same letter.

 Where do you write?

I have a large messy desk where I surround myself with books, stationery, pictures of my kids, storyboards and a wall covered with images of where I’d like to travel. I’m not lucky enough to have a room with a door I can close, but I do my best writing at my desk, which is downstairs in the rumpus room.   I carry my laptop with me mostly and I’ve tried to write in parks, in the car while waiting to pick up the kids but I find it distracting and difficult to read the screen with the glare.

Is there any particular rituals you do to set the mood / harness your muse?

With coffee in hand I head downstairs, put the washing on. I assure myself I’ve done some housework, start up the computer and check my emails before I open my file to write. I’m a very visual person and like to look at pictures of my characters, settings, even a pair of sexy stilettos. I focus on my characters and think about how I can torture this beautiful hero and heroine.

Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work?

I’m a compulsive reviser and it drives me crazy. This is where I have to confess I’m stuck in the re-editing rut.  As long as I have quiet and order with all the things buzzing in me head dealt with or jotted down I’m ready to write. Sometimes the words are ready to flow, other times I reread the lovely rejection letter from Lucy Gilmore or just have a little daydream or meditate.

Are you a plotter / planner or a pantser?

When I started writing I plotted to the very last detail, writing fifteen to thirty thousand words and the story was finished in my mind – dead in the water and I lost interest. Now, I’m a pantser through and through. Once I have my idea, I work out my characters’ internal and external conflicts and my story unfolds as I write – love it!

Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing?

I like to write early every morning and get frustrated if I don’t get my fix. I’m also a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, a fantastic, supportive face to face critique group and we meet monthly to set our goals for the coming month and share how we did last month. I find this goal process is very motivating and makes me accountable. And the chocolate rewards are a great incentive.

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer …..

A computer is the only way I write now and I love my iMac. I still write ideas or scenes in the notebook I carry, but am always keen to get them into my computer. I love storyboards, everything is there before my eyes, which means I don’t have to remember details. I use pictures as a way to feel the characters pasts or the differences between them in a blink. A picture of a palatial mansion against a rundown old cottage tell me a lot about where the characters come from or their internal conflicts.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?

My storyboard, pictures of my kids and my dear friends, a few favourite how-to books, my frog collection, and a book cover, for my yet to be published manuscript, a beautiful friend made for me!

Is your writing space messy, organized or somewhere in between?

My writing space is very messy! I do try to be organized and file things away but with an ever-growing pile of books along with the pictures, articles and magazines I keep it’s a challenge. I know anything I have in hard copy can be found on the net but I’m from the generation that likes to hold the real item in their hand.

What is your favourite form of procrastination?

Researching, reading articles, Facebook and emails are all good avoidance tools. I sometimes wish we didn’t have wireless internet and I could keep one computer internet free. I find my MRWG goal setting and writing buddies keep me on track, knowing I have to face them is a good deterrent to procrastination. Also reminding myself of my desire to see my Mills and Boon Sexy or Nocturne on shelf! I want to hold that book, nearly as much as I wanted to hold my firstborn.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?

Usually I have to stop because of family, not because I want to, and I don’t have much time, but I always, always, back up on usb and email the file to my hotmail and yahoo accounts. I’ve lost too much work in the past.

 www.margaretmidwood.com/  To learn more about Margaret, please visit her website.

Thank you very much, Margaret for sharing a day in your writing life.

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  1. Hi Margaret,
    Lovely to see you here. I can’t wait to see one of your fabulous stories in print either.
    PS. Great writing space!

    • Thank you Louise. Belonging to the fantastic Romance Writers of Australia along with the wonderful support of my Melbourne Romance Writers Guild friends I can’t fail and what a party we’d have!!


  2. Sue Rees

     /  February 3, 2012

    Hi Margaret,
    I believe that a strong support group is of inestimable value, as is a good CP with drive and energy (thank you to mine!). Procrastination seems to be the chief enemy to our work and I do blame wireless internet in our home too!

    I have yet to work out how to keep my writing space tidy as I hate giving up valuable and all too brief writing time to filing. If only I could give up the day job!
    Looking forward to reading your first release.
    Cheers, Sue

    • Hi Sue,

      Support from like minded people is very important and what wonderful, generous and supportive writers and authors we have at RWA.

      Having my work critiqued was a real challenge for me when I started bringing it to group but now I just take it on the chin. And it’s easy to do when you know the ideas and comments come from the heart and with the best of intentions which is why it’s imperative to have the right critique buddy or group.

      As much as we love family and non-writing friends they aren’t writers and they really can’t give us the feedback we need to improve our WIP.

      Many thanks,

  3. Thanks Suz for inviting me to share my writing day.

    When I’m in the writing flow I hate interruptions, unfortunately I haven’t trained the family to leave me be.

    I’ve been busy chasing judges for the various contests since August last year when I took over from the lovely Serena Tatti as RWA’S Judge Coordinator. Serena has been a wonderful help through this learning phase. I’ve enjoyed the position and was delighted to receive Volunteer of The Month.

    Many thanks,

  4. Hi Margaret,
    Great to see you here! You do such a fantastic job as the Romance Writers of Australia Judge Coordinator. It’s such a huge job (as you so kindly pointed out, I know from experience!) and you’re doing it wonderfully. What you forgot to let people know is that you’re not only a member of the Melbourne Romance Writers Guild, you are our Secretary, Webmistress AND Librarian! And you’re sensational in all your roles 🙂

    Hold on to that dream of being published by Mills & Boon Sexy or Nocturne! You have got the talent – especially for Sexy (can’t speak for Nocturne because I haven’t read many) It’s only a matter of time!

    • Hi Serena,

      It’s great to be here and thank you for your kind words. I enjoy volunteering and both RWAus and MRWG give so much to the writing community.it’s wonderful to be able to give back.

      My dream is fixed in place, my current M&B Sexy story is with Mills and Boon London and I’m waiting.

      And writing of course.


  5. Hi Margaret

    Was great to get a little more insight into the life and times of Margaret Midwood!

    I’m holding my breath, waiting for the day I can buy your wonderful books.

    I don’t know how you do it, write, juggle family life, friends, housework, not to mention all the roles you’ve taken on in the RWA and MRWG! You’re amazing!


    • Thank you Michelle and I hope the insight wasn’t too scary. 🙂

      I’m very lucky to have great supportive writing friends who help me through the tough times and celebrate the successes – she waves at yet another MRWG member.

      We’ll definitely celebrate it style.


  6. LIa Kamp

     /  February 3, 2012

    Thanks so much for sharing your writing life with us, Margaret.
    I can relate to having a desk away from the rest of the house (also cluttered) my computer as my preferred writing instrument, being a pantser, and of course procrastinating in front of said computer.
    I can’t wait to read your first novel, and know it’s coming soon.


    • Thank you Lia and I’m relieved I’m not alone.

      Writing tends to be isolating and that’s why we need to have a circle of writing friends and fantastic writing organisations.


  7. Love hearing about the way other writers work, Margaret. You could be my twin!

  8. I like your backup ideas, and when I used to have a growing family, and husband 🙂 I can definatly sympaphise with the interuptions! thanks for sharing
    julie A. D’Arcy

    • Hi Julie,

      My baby is 21 in two weeks 🙂 but when the words are flowing I need me time and that’s short in a full house.

      I’m glad you like the back up.

      Many thanks,

  9. Margaret, sincerely appreciate your participation on this blog and thank you for such a great post.

  10. Hi Margaret,

    I have the same problem as you with interruptions 🙂 which is why I love to write at night when everyone else is asleep!

    It was lovely reading more about your writing life. You have so much inspiration in your work space. What a great world to escape to. Good luck with the writing and the awesome job you do as judge coordinator.

    Regards, Juanita

    • Hi Juanita,

      It’s lovely to have the house to yourself, night or early morning, just you, a cup of coffee and the interesting characters running around in our heads.

      Many thanks and I love being able to give back.


  11. It was great to learn a little more about your process, and happy to know your desk is just a messy as mine! Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Angela Castle

    • Hi Angela,

      I’m never been known for my tidiness and I read somewhere the state of your desk reflects the state of your mind!


  12. Ebony McKenna

     /  February 3, 2012

    Hey Margaret, great interview!
    I’m a morning person too, and the words don’t seem to come unless I tempt them with good coffee!

  13. Love your approach to writing Margaret. The messy desk is my friend also. I have a very tiny desk at the moment and find the muse is not there without room to nest. However I’m inspired to get moving and create a story board for the book I’ve been starting for sometime now. See if I can get past chapter one and pants it. Thank you for a very enjoyable insight into your writing life.

    • Hope the words flow for you Dora and you get back to creating your wonderful stories.

      I need images to write. If you save or scan your photos into your computer before you paste them to your storyboard you can easily create a collage in Picasa and save it as your desktop, then you always have it with you.

      Many thanks,

  14. Fiona

     /  February 3, 2012

    Great hearing about your process, Margaret!

  15. Hi Margaret,
    Great to hear about your writing day. I have a messy desk also, I think it must be almost a mandatory requirement for a writer, like chocolate.
    Good luck with your submission, it is only a matter of time before an astute editor snaps up your work. Not only are you a talented wrtier but a great organizer and giver as your many voluntarily roles attest.



    • Hi Margaret,

      Messy desks do seem to be a common theme and with your coffee you need chocolate.

      Many thanks for your kind words,


  16. Hi Margaret — I think your desk space looks inspiring, not messy! I love all the bits and pieces you keep around you to keep you feeling creative.

    • Hi Emmie,

      I must say, I like inspiring. Thank you.

      I do love having them around and I’m crazy about family, friends and my characters when they do what I want them to.

      One day I hope to travel the world but for now I have to make do with my pictures.


  17. And I thought I had a great writing area, your area is fantastic. Hmm… I might have to revamp mine now. lol It is so inspiring, and shows that a writer who is serious about her work lives there.

    • Thanks Suzanne, it’s great to get more positive feedback and I am serious about my writing, if only I wasn’t held back by self-doubt.

      Good luck with your revamp and thanks again for inviting me.

      The Valerie Parv Competition is coming up soon and we’re always looking for writer and published judges. 🙂


  18. Maryde

     /  February 5, 2012

    Hi Marg,
    Lovely to learn more about you.
    Although our meeting was a brief hug and and quick catch up, it is always a real pleasure when one comes face-to-face with a friend met through this wonderful association – RWA & its affiliated loops 🙂

    You made me smile when you talked about putting a load of washing on before settling at your PC… No matter how much we love to get to the things we love to do most, there is always room to do the things we must …. funny that.
    I do like the notion of not having one household PC networked… that would work for me too!
    Thanks for the wonderful work you do as contest co-ordinator and best luck with your writing. I know you’ll get there 🙂

    • Hi Maryde,

      Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

      I consider myself lucky to belong to such wonderful writing organizations and I’m always impressed by the generosity and support of the members.

      I’ve learned so much and feel I belong to a community.

      I hope to catch up again soon.


  19. Elvina Payet

     /  February 5, 2012

    What a great article. Your desk is not cluttered, it’s creative organisation. And your stories are wonderful. I can’t wait for the day when the MRWG will celebrate your first book sale and millions of people will know what I already do – that you’re an amazing storyteller.
    Love and hugs

  20. Thank you Elvina for your praise and who would think I’d ever have the courage to put my working space out there and that I actually got positive comments is amazing.

    I’ve put the champers on ice although the daughters tell me sparkling wine only has a short shelf life which means I’d better get busy.

    Love and hugs,

  21. Thank you to the JEMS, MRWG, RWA and the wonderful people who make up these fantastic groups and thank you for taking the time to leave comments.

    Bye for now,

  22. Better late than never, but I did finally get here!

    Margaret, great interview. Love your desk! (For those who don’t know, click the image to get a full-sized view!) I can see how having those wonderful images around you would very inspiring.

    As others have said already, you do an amazing job with all the positions you volunteer for. But you are also an amazing friend and fellow MRWG’er.


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