Do you have a "day job?" What is it and how do you write around it?
A few years ago, I retired from the insurance business and, after a while, discovered I didn’t like retirement. If you don’t have to get up in the morning, go somewhere and do something, you can get old. I wasn’t ready to get old. There was too much I still wanted to do. The solution? A part time job.
Finding a part time job, however, wasn’t easy. I wasn’t ready to put on a Walmart vest, stand by the entrance, smile and say, “Welcome to Walmart. Want a cart?”
After a few weeks of looking, I found a sheet of paper in my front yard. It turned out to be a flyer from the local school district saying they had job openings for school bus drivers. “Hmmmmm,” I said. “Might as well check it out.” In my first year of driving, I clipped the side view mirror off a parked car. Not just any car, mind you. A brand new Cadillac.
I love the job, though, and think it’s the best part time job in the world for a writer. I work two hours in the morning getting the kids to school and another two hours in the afternoon taking them home. In between are about six hours free for my writing.
Do you have a writing routine or ritual?
My writing routine involves quiet solitude and a cup of coffee. Music distracts me, and I’m sure a flickering candle would also. Wine makes me sleepy. In fact, even the radio in my car is never turned on. I write while I drive. Not literally, but in my mind. A lot of plot details have been ironed out while commuting to and from work in complete silence and with a cup of coffee beside me.
Some writers I know prepare a complete outline before they begin and follow it from beginning to end. I tried it once. It lasted about ten minutes. I start writing with an idea. Actually, many ideas. I have an idea how the story will begin, ideas for what will happen during the story, and an idea how it will end. All of those, however, are subject to change during the writing process. I love it when I’m working from one idea to another and a new idea occurs that is better. I also love it when my characters take over and their ideas about what they will do and say in a situation are better than mine. I find that if I’ve created characters that are distinct and solidly formed, they’ll do that. All I have to do is type fast and try to keep up.
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