Writing Spaces and Processes

Posted Aug 28 2012, 11:33 am in , , , , , ,

I’m finally feeling like I’m getting back into the groove of things. Kids are back in school and I finally feel like I can establish some routine (although that might just be wishful thinking on my part). Last night at my RWA chapter meeting, one of our members, Allie Pleiter, presented what she calls her Chunky method for time management. She writes full time and is working on her 19th book. At any given time, she’d got 4 projects going (writing one, editing one, selling one, proposing one). I’m not going to try to really recap her workshop, but a big part of it is figuring out what kind of chunks you need to be productive. Some people are big chunk people — they need an uninterrupted period of time where they can just focus on writing. Those people need their own space and because they’re writing for longer periods of time, atmosphere (including ergonomics) is very important. Other people tend to work best in little chunks — they write wherever, whenever and tend to flit around to do other things. Those people don’t need a special space and distractions don’t really bother them. Allie jokes that her first book was written in the ball pit at McDonalds.

After listening to her explanation, I immediately knew that I’m a small chunk person. I’ve taught myself to sit down and write in about 1 hours chunks of time and in that hour I can usually get 1K words in. An hour is the typical time for any extracurricular activity my kids have been in — ballet class= 1 hour, Tae Kwon Do=1 hour. I’m not easily distracted, so I can write in a restaurant or in the hall outside class without issue, but interruptions do make me nuts. This is why I rarely write while my kids are at home.

Once my youngest started first grade, I thought it would be great and I’d get so much more done. It hasn’t really happened. I am more productive, but I don’t spend all day writing. I can’t focus for that length of time without flitting to something else (day job, laundry, dishes, etc). I’ve found that I can edit during the day, but most of my writing still comes while the kids are in their after school activities.

my actual desk

I did, however, create a separate writing space for myself a few months ago. My husband didn’t get it. I have a desk in our room, but I almost never write there. I’m blogging from there now, but it’s rare for me to work on a manuscript here. The piles of paper you see all over? That’s normal. I’ve always been an organized chaos kind of person, even as a full-time teacher. I’d push the desk in my classroom against a wall because all it did was hold my mess. I never sat at it. My current organized chaos comes from running 3 different jobs from this desk. I have information from my husband’s construction company, my daytime editing job, and prep work for the college course I’m teaching at night. There’s really no wonder why I can’t write here.

my writing space

My new space is not cluttered with anything. I have a cup for pens, a notebook in case I need to write something quickly, and my laptop (which isn’t in the photo since I haven’t it taken out of my bag). I haven’t quite figured out how I’ve managed to keep it neat and orderly, and it might not last, but it’s worked long enough for me to finish editing book 2 and get it to my agent (Yay!) I have my bulletin board with my collages for my WIPs facing me for inspiration as I write (that’s another post altogether), but there are no other distractions. Maybe it’s because the room is at the other end of the house and it’s easy for people to forget I’m there, but it’s a pretty peaceful space.

Where do you write? Do you write in big chunks or little chunks? As a reader do you like this little bit of insight into an author’s world? (I know I do)



11 responses to “Writing Spaces and Processes”

  1. Diana says:

    Im definitely a small chunk writer. If I can get 30 minutes of writing time without hearing “mo-om!” then I’m way excited. 🙂

  2. Lyric James says:

    I actually have a couple of spaces I “could” write….but too many distractions. I tend to write sitting up in my bed with my laptop on my lap hopefully with the TV off…but sometimes I leave it on for background noise. I wish wish wish I had an office. If the housing market didn’t suck right now…I’d convince my hubby to move just so I could find a house with an actual office. I love both your spaces because they serve two seperate purposes. Great post!

  3. Great post! I’m definitely a small chunk person. I can, when motivated, write in large chunks. But I do better with small bits of time. Otherwise I’m too easily distracted by other things. 🙂

    • I recently found out that I have the ability to be a big chunk person. A friend hosted a writers retreat at her house over the summer. All day, just writing (and the occasional conversation in the kitchen). I figured if I could hit 6K for the day, I’d be happy. Imagine my surprise when I surpassed 8K. I don’t think I could do it often, but that large chunk was great, and it put the end of my WIP in sight.

  4. Kate Meader says:

    Put me in the small chunks column, too. A half hour at lunch during my day job, an hour or two at night if I’m lucky. And I have to close my browser and force myself not to check email, Twitter, etc. Like Lyric, I write on my bed with my laptop on my lap – not the best space, but it’s the best for now.

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