Questions for Writers
By Lazette Gifford
Copyright © 2009 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved
The holidays are nearly upon
us, and authors can have a hard time balancing the need to work against
the need to join into family celebrations. Here is how some
writers handle the situation!
These are the questions for this issue:
1. How do you handle the solitary pursuit of
writing during the family and friends time of holidays? Do you put the writing
aside entirely for a while, or still set some time for your story?
2. Do you set any writing goals as you head into a new year?
C. J. Cherryh
Both of us in this
household are writers. We generally take a whole day off on a
holiday, play video games, or otherwise laze about, watch telly, and
eat too much. The following day, back to work.
I have deadlines, or at least---being totally a freelancer and
living off my writing, I know that if I donít work, I donít eat.
Thereís no need to set a goal beyond that. Every day with few
exceptions the butt goes into the chair and the computer is on.
RSS feed blog:
publications: [to come]
with Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher
Holidays? Oh yes, those are the days they give me off from work!
Ideal writing time, actually. I'm sure my family is yelling
something to me about "tree" or "turkey" or something, but I have
Seriously: I do have to write on holidays. I don't have a choice,
really. Time pressures!
"survive" count? Because that's pretty much my goal ...
first, absolutely. In order to manage that, my holiday preparations include
achieving a good stopping point as well as what needs to be done ahead for
the event and visit. It's not fair to the family or the story to try to do
both. What I mean by "good stopping point" is ideally being able to shift
the manuscript over to my editor by setting my deadline before the holiday.
If that's not feasible -- and half the time it isn't -- then I try to end
where it's clear what happens next, a spot with momentum, and make notes.
Many notes. Then I back everything up and lock it all away. It's never easy,
not if the story's going well, not if the deadline's soon after the holiday.
But the day I can't put my family ahead of a story, I'll change careers.
::laughs:: I've never been a resolution person. I try to improve every day.
I do set myself new challenges with each new book. That keeps me fresh and
hopefully keeps me improving! For example, for the current project, my first
fantasy novel, I spent a month building a scale model of the setting and
that's been great. Now I know the landscape, what each character will see
through their windows, how the light will move over the hills. It's the kind
of story where such things matter. For my next, though, it makes more sense
to spend that time on outlining, since I'll be into a new trilogy.
This is not a simple answer because it really depends on the
situation. If I have some spare time and I'm in the middle of
something, I will sneak away to write...or write in the middle of
everything sometimes, such as working on my laptop while we all
watch a movie together. Generally, I use December to edit short
stories and take the week we're away off. I have been known to get
extra feedback from my family, though, on the stories I'm editing,
so I guess I make them work for the holidays as well.
Always. I map out the big projects I want to work on and set general goals.
At the same time, I try to make the goals flexible, because things change.
So for example, I would plan to edit one novel to submission ready, with a
note of the specific novel I'd like to tackle, but the goal is to edit any
one novel to submission ready.
Margaret McGaffey Fisk
Curve of Her Claw
From the Ashes
The Author's Grimoire
For the last couple
years, I've spent the holidays alone, so this is not a problem I
need to deal with. This will be my third set of holidays by
myself. The cats generally don't complain if I'm at the computer.
They will celebrate with some of the good canned food, though.
I don't set goals so much as try to set a challenge. Is there
a genre I would like to try my hand at writing in the upcoming year?
Is it the year of the 'Big Rewrite?' I did that in 2009 and it
worked very well for me. I now have several novels that are
updated and improved. I'm still not sure what I'll do in 2010.
Available at Amazon.com
I get up earlier, and work later, through the holidays.
Many is the Christmas morning when I'm up at four, working happily away. I
will also sneak away and work between cooking, serving, and cleaning,
especially if they are all gathered watching some sports event.
Goals: I used to do yearly goals, but so much of
publishing is utterly beyond our control that I stopped. Too much of what I
want lies beyond things dust-gathering on editors' desks. I'm never not
writing, so there's no use in setting goals. That said, this next year I
want to try to record an audio book.
Jim C. Hines
my writing is done during my lunch break at work, and I only get a few days
off around the holidays, so it doesn't end up having much of an impact. I do
tend to slow down a little due to those vacation days, though.
as I don't have a December 31 deadline breathing down my neck, I'm okay with
that. It's nice having more time to actually see my kids and socialize a
New Year resolutions have never worked for me. January 1 is an arbitrary
date. If I realize there are habits I need to change or goals I need to
reach, it makes more sense to just start working on 'em.
THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, by Jim C. Hines
""These princesses will give Charlie's Angels a serious run for the
money and leave 'em in the dust."" -Esther Friesner
Read the first chapter at
Diana Pharaoh Francis
I work a day job and am now writing two books a year, I frequently find
myself devoting every uncommitted waking second to writing. Or I did.
But I realized this wasn't healthy, and so what I try to do is schedule
better. I tell myself taking time off of work, both writing work and day
job work, is healthy and necessary. So I plan hours that I work and I
plan play/down time and I make a point of going to all my kids'
activities without thinking about work. I used to fret a lot while at
those activities, but realized it was bad for them, bad for me and did
no one any good. Balance is the key, even when that deadline is staring
down a double barrel at you.
don't. My goals are short term. So much per day, so much per month.
Basically to keep a discipline. If anything, my writing goal usually
revolves around being more organized and disciplined.
I put my writing aside because I would be going away on holiday, but
while Iím holidaying I am thinking about plots etc. I am retired so I
can write most anytime anyway.
try to finish as many of my partly written stuff, screenplays, stage-plays
etc. And this year I am going to.
My writing goal now is to get published at least once a year- a novel of
The Meltin' Pot From Wreck to Rescue and Recovery, published by the
History Press is to be launched on March the sixth, and already
released by the Inishowen sub-aqua club who found the B 17 bomber.
Challenge of the Red Unicorn is out in March aswell. Published by
Our family is mostly local now,
with the exception of my mother. So, the time crunch isn't really an issue
except for locking my office door during "business hours" other than a
one-day trip to Indy.
_Rogue Destiny_ and _Spell Weaver_, my two pending novels.
The Viking and I have
eleven children between us, and the same number of grandchildren.
And each of us has two great grandchildren. But since we moved to
the south shore of Lake Superior, with most of them living in warmer
climes, they tend to visit us in the summer--not in mid-winter. I've
never taken much time off at any holiday, but the writing and
sending of Christams letters has always been up to me, whether
single. married ( twice) or now with my Life Partner--although he
does address and send his own. So, of course, this comsumes a day or
two of my time and so does finding the appropriate presents for
everyone, though I tend to buy the presents throughout the year when
I see something that's just right for someone. As we've gotten older
local relatives, who are younger then we are, always invite us for
Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, for which I'm intensely
grateful. So I do get a lot of writing done in December.
I have a month by month
writing schedule of books that need to be finished or written. I never quite
get all done by the end of December, but I certainly try. And, of course,
whatever I haven't finished takes first place in January of the following
year. I'm not much of a goal setter otherwise.
Unfortunately, I frequently find it easy enough to set aside a story unless
I'm really hot on it. I actually wrote much of HOME IS THE HUNTER on planes
and at my daughter's home in Seattle. One can almost always find some dead
time in which to work.
it difficult to set goals because I'm project-activated. If I don't have
anything to say, I find it very difficult to write. If I have a story I need
to tell, I find it difficult not to write.
is the Hunter:
early riser, up at 4am so it's no problem being able to write before anyone
else is up or about.
all of my books at
If you are a published author -- not self-published
(though you can be both) -- and would like to take
part, email me at Vision@lazette.net and I will add you onto the list!