Monday, October 19, 2009

Oh, look, a kitty!

By Jenna Byrnes

Writer's block doesn't 'hit me' so much as I allow myself to succumb to it. With my schedule, I have a limited amount of writing time set aside each day. When I sit down at the computer, it usually goes something like this:

1) Check three email accounts. Two are not very active, personal accounts. The third one is the biggie, where I get all my editor/publisher/important stuff. That gets attention first.

2) In another folder of my busy email account, the loop messages and digests from over 50 Yahoo groups (that's way down from the past!) sit waiting for me. I scan those, answering the important ones and deleting the stuff I can't take time for. Depending on how much important stuff there is, and the level of my patience for rating what's important and what's not, steps one and two could take from 15 minutes to an hour.

3) Open the file to my current work in progress. Reread the segment I wrote previously. Suddenly remember that I meant to look up online the names of some baseball players in the mid-nineties for current WIP. Surfing for those take another 15 minutes.

4) Names copied and pasted, I return to WIP and begin to write. An hour of my allotted two hours is already shot, but I'm ready to dig in. I realize I've used the word 'looked' too many times and go online to the Thesaurus to come up with something different. Spotted. Excellent. Back to work.

5) I see Jude come online via Instant Messenger. I should stop and talk with her a minute about some important edits/proofing/gossiping we need to do. Thirty minutes later she shoos me away, saying she needs to get to work. I'd like to, but my time allotment is up! The real world calls, and I have to move on to other things.

Okay, this isn't so much about writer's block as it is procrastination, but it's something I deal with every day. Finding a balance between life, writing, promoting and the business end is tricky, but lots of people do it and I usually do, too. Some weeks are tougher than others.

True writer's block usually hits me when something serious is going on in my real life. It's hard to flip a switch and put it out of my mind. I can usually do busy work, though, and try to use that time to catch up on small stuff, website work, promotions, Spider Solitaire, etc. I've even skipped over sex scenes and written other parts of a story when my mind wasn't truly into the act. Works for me.

Lisabet is correct that if you want to be a writer, you have to just write. I'm fairly prolific, so I guess I do a decent job of it. But there are days when I think I'm all set to write, and I end up spending an hour putting widgets on my blog. I suppose it happens to the best of us.

I've started logging words written on a daily calendar, so I can see if I'm making progress or not. Last week I wrote 7,500 words. And found the most amazing Jack-O-Lantern for my website header! *grin* Balance in all things, I guess.


  1. I love this breakdown of your day Jenna. I think we can all appreciate and commiserate. Great post!

  2. Sounds a bit like my day, Jenna. Lots of time-wasters if we want to indulge which is why I stay away from too many loops, widgets, videos, etc. And I certainly identify with moving a story along by leaving sex scenes until later--it actually works.

    Christiane France

  3. What you don't pat yourself on the back about is those 7,500 words you wrote last week. That's on a week you were having trouble focusing. Some personal stuff was on your mind and as one of the stories you're working on is one I'm also working on, it's not always easy to sit down and write, because I've got the thing.

    You bounce back and forth between stories, and that's not always easy. I've known you to write 3K-5K in one of your busy days. That's incredible!

    Procrastination, I'm not so sure that's what it it. Re-fueling, letting your mind catch up with what's going on maybe?

    I'm amazed by you often.

    And yes, that's a very nice kitty.


  4. Time flys past me when I'm online too

  5. Hi Chloe,

    I thought I sounded pretty pathetic but I guess I do get a lot accomplished. I just need to stay focused, sometimes, LOL

    Thanks for stopping by!

    ~ Jenna

  6. Hi Christiane,

    Yes, the internet is full of time wasters. I left Facebook because most of my friends on there just wanted to play games and send me virtual drinks. I know it's a promotion tool, but I haven't gathered the energy to go back yet. LOL

    Have a great day, and congrats on your Reincarnation release!

    ~ Jenna

  7. Hi Secretia,

    Time goes by so fast it's scary. Wish my work days flew by like that!

    Thanks for reading and commenting,

    ~ Jenna

  8. Hi Jude,

    You're too kind. Don't feel like you have to be, just because I'm bigger than you and have choked you once before... hee hee hee

    Thanks for the nice words! Now I really have to get back to that edit! LOL



  9. Jenna,

    7.5K words in a week is more than respectable. Kudos.

    Fantastic post and a great insight into the life of a working writer. Thanks for sharing.



  10. Hi, Jenna,

    I don't count all that email and promotion stuff as part of "writing". I do that every day. I don't consider myself to have started writing until I've put that out of the way.

    Still, I think your method (or your madness!) seems to work. 7500 in a week is damned good!


  11. Hi Ash,

    Working writer... *Jenna looks around to see who Ash is talking about*

    Will someone please tell my family? *G*

    Thanks for commenting,


  12. Hi Lisabet,

    You're right, the promotion/email stuff is not actually part of "writing", it's the necessary evil business end of it, I guess.

    Thanks for commenting!


  13. ROTFLMAO!! This is too real and way too funny. Your post above is the reason why I finally set aside a specific time each day to just handle e-mail, and then a separate block of time after lunch to do the writing. I can't mix the two together, or nothing gets done.


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