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.
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.