A Day in the Writing Life of …. Jenny Schwartz

Today we are featuring Jenny Schwartz who has kindly agreed to share a day in her writing life. Welcome, Jenny.

What time of the day do you write?  I’m most definitely a morning person…albeit a morning person who loves her coffee.

 What’s the first thing you do before you begin to write?   I go online. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but given the timezone challenges of living in Western Australia, I find that by hitting social media early in the morning I can catch up with people over east and in the USA. It’s nice to be a bit social before retreating into my own world.

 Do you spend much time reading over the previous day’s work? Do you have a special system in place in order to begin writing or go with the flow?   I might re-read a few paragraphs, but generally I finish a scene before I shut down for the day, so the next day it’s “new scene, go!”. Well, that’s with the first draft. When it’s second draft, then there’s lots of re-reading, checking details, making sure the voice is consistent, worrying about pacing, adding description.

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 learning to plot – and on that topic, I can’t recommend highly enough “Goals, Motivations and Conflict” by Debra Dixon. I only relatively recently found this book on an editor’s recommendation and it’s brilliant. Reading it while plotting keeps me on the straight and narrow.

 Problem…increasing tension…solution to problem that sets up for a new, bigger problem.

 Do you have a schedule that you follow for your writing time? Are you a goal setter with your writing? When it comes to writing my biggest struggle is not to beat myself up. I read about all these amazing writers who do 3,000, 4,000 words, even more, every day. That’s not me. If I manage 2,000 words a day I’m satisfied. If I do less…the world won’t end ß I say that, but to be honest, I don’t believe it.

What writing tools do you favour? Long hand, computer ….. Definitely computer. I like writing longhand, but my wrists hate the double-effort of writing then entering into the computer, so I’ve taught myself to write on the computer (not literally, obviously!). I use MS Word which is nice and familiar.  I have a notebook in which I scribble an outline, timeline, character descriptions and any key ideas that I think I might forget. Apart from that, I’m pretty boring. No corkboards with snazzy pics pinned to them for me.

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 always stare in amazement when people say they set a timer or some such to remind themselves to get up, move away from the computer, rest their eyes, whatever. Me, I can’t sit still that long. After an hour I’m naturally up and wandering around…making a coffee, annoying the dog, putting on a load of laundry.  I have to admit, that tendency to get up and roam around after an hour or so makes me a less than ideal companion to go to the movies with.

Can you name five objects that are always on or near your work desk while you write?   Pen, paper, Minerva, calendar, to do list. (I’ve taken a photo of Minerva outside so you can see the lovely zebrastone she’s carved from.)

What is your favourite form of procrastination? Do you have any tips to beat off that old foe “procrastination”?   I think that understanding procrastination as “shifting priorities” really helps. You stop beating yourself up for “wasting time”. There are lots of little tasks in life that need to be done. If you acknowledge them as equally important as the novel you’re trying to finish in “oh, blast, horror, the next two weeks” then you can shift between novel-writing and the other tasks, without wasting energy on guilt and while maintaining some semblance of sanity because *cliché alert* a change is as good as a holiday.

What’s the last thing do you do before you finish your daily writing session?  Generally it’s to think, “I’m tired”. At which point, I close the computer and move on to do something different. I don’t (and please don’t let me jinx myself) run a backup or all those other sensible things. I just shut the computer and wander off.

Website: http://authorjennyschwartz.com

My latest release is “Wanted: One Scoundrel” http://bit.ly/WantedScoundrel a steampunk novella that’s part of the anthology “A Clockwork Christmas” http://bit.ly/ClockworkX and set in Western Australia in 1895.

Jenny, thank you very much for your contribution to our blog and all the best for your recent release.

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  1. Hi Jenny

    Great to know more about your writing day. 🙂

  2. Great insight into your process and day. Always nice to get to know my favorite authors/people more 😉

  3. Ref:…annoying the dog…

    I KNEW we were kindred spirits! lol

    My day’s not complete if I haven’t annoyed the dogs at least once.

    • LOL, you know who would be REAL kindred spirits? Our dogs! They’d get together and compare notes on the irritating habits of their owners. “Ya know, that way, just when I’m snoring and twitching and chasing dream rabbits, she wakes me up and says ‘let’s go!’ So annoying. But of course, I do go. Can’t let her get away unsupervised!”

  4. Thank you for taking the time and talking about a day in your writing life.

    I must agree with you on the coffee. It’s top of the list when I need a break and the walk to the nearest cafe, rounds it out.

    I used to write a lot in cafes using notebooks but hate the typing afterwards – so I now just get important points down or write dialogue snippets.

    I’m looking forward to catching up on your published work.

  5. I love Minerva. I love the name ‘Minerva’. Nice to know more about you and your writing – and what a great name YOU have too!!!!!

    • All the best people are called “Jen” 🙂

      Minerva was irresistable. I saw her in the local markets and HAD to take her home. Learned she’d been carved in the North West from local stone by an eighty year old artist…don’t think I know/remember his name. But nice story, I thought.

  6. Hi Jenny, I’m going to adopt your definition of procrastination! That’s a wonderful way of thinking of it – I feel less guilty already.

    I’m a panster who loves the Goal, Motivation and Conflict approach as well!

    Good luck with your new release. It sounds fabulous!

    • Glad you like the procrastination attitude. I still fall back into old habits of guilt, but I’m trying to be kinder to myself. After all, sometimes the bathroom *does* need scrubbing & maybe re-grouting (kidding!) as the writing deadline approaches 😉

      Goal Motivation Conflict is a huge rescuer of my stories. I tend to be too nice to my characters. I want everyone to be happy!

  7. Great to read more about you, Jenny. And love Minerva (love owls) 🙂

    • Apparently we’re in the fashion, Eleni. Who knew? We’re cool cats 🙂 I read an article that said owls are the latest thing. Like dragons used to be. And now (Saturday morning brain death) I can’t remember the reason the journalist gave for their popularity. I’m going with the cuteness factor 🙂

  8. Jenny you sound “grounded in reality” and that is good for someone who writes fantasy romance. Nice to know that my husband is not the only “restless” type, after an hour he needs to get up and move away when watching a movie on DVD so no idea how he lasts in the theatres when we go see movies over 2 hours long.

    • Jackie! *waves hi all the way to Texas* So glad to see you here in Aus 🙂 Nice to know I didn’t sound a complete ditz in my answers. Interviews make me so self-conscious. Photos are worse! Sounds like your husband would likely agree with me that the best way to watch a movie is on commercial TV. Then you can get up and wander around in the ad breaks without anyone threatening to kill you for disrupting their viewing 🙂

  9. Thanks everyone for making this interview fun 🙂 Most especially, thanks to Suz!

  10. Hi Jenny,

    Thanks for sharing. I love hearing how other people write and what helps them keep focus.

    Your advice on not beating yourself up is spot on, it’s something a lot of writers seem to do along with never being satisfied with their work.

    Good luck with your writing.


    • Margaret, the notification service didn’t send me your comment. *embarrassed face* Thanks for popping in! I so believe in not beating ourselves up — but show me that notification service and I’ll sneak in a sly kick 😉


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