Monday, August 27, 2012

Switching Things Up

I recently spent a week at an RV park beside California's American River, and while I was there I got a chance to write in the great outdoors. What an eye-opening experience this was! It made me remember what writing was like for me in the Old Days.

When my kids were young I could write on the fly, anywhere, anytime. I always carried a notebook with me so I could scribble in doctors' offices, on bleachers, in the car while waiting to pick somebody up from something, or wherever else I found myself. But when my kids hit high school I chained myself to my computer (a desktop, back then) and lost my ability to write elsewhere.

My time on the American River broke those chains. I nearly didn't take my laptop with me on the trip; I only did, in fact, because I had a nonfiction book deadline two days after our return, and although I'd already finished the manuscript I hadn't had a chance to proofread it yet. So my intent was not to write on vacation but to edit, a left-brain activity that for me isn't reliant on sitting down in just the right chair at just the right time. Once I had the laptop out, however, I found myself feeling creative -- so creative that I produced more work and better work each day than I normally do. Go figure.

So when I got home, I decided to switch things up a bit, varying not only the location for my writing but the time of day. And it's definitely made my work fresher, especially when it comes to my fiction. I'm seeing characters in a new light (both figuratively and literally!), and it's bringing me valuable insights into my work. It's also increasing my productivity, making it possible for me to write more words (both fiction and nonfiction) per day than ever before.

Again, go figure.

But now I know that my Muse likes variety more than she likes habits and ruts, and that she needs a good roadtrip every now and then to keep her happy. I think I'm going to take her down to the local public pool next, after warning her that we have to stay out of the splash zone. How about you? Is there someplace you can take your Muse today?

(And to provide further on-the-go help, next time around I'll talk about Noteshelf and other iPad apps I've found helpful to my writing.)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A New Start

Yup, it's been a long time, folks!

I apologize for the absence of posts over the past couple of years, but a lot was going on to keep me busy elsewhere -- books were written, courses taught, children shepherded through the transition from young adult to full adult. But now that two of my kids have flown the nest (well, actually, they were shoved!) and the third is nearly out (and engaged to be married next year), I have more time for sharing tips here.

My available blogging time has also increased due to my decision not to teach writing courses anymore. I do still coach writers (on a limited basis), because I enjoy one-on-one mentoring too much to give it up. But those courses were taking too much time away from my writing, and I have lots of books to write this year: four YA nonfiction manuscripts (two of which are already in production) and a YA sci-fi novel, the first in a trilogy. I'm also already committing myself to deadlines for 2013 projects, so things won't be slowing down for me any time soon.

This is all by way of saying, "Be patient with me!" I'm going to try my darnedest to post regularly from now on -- I'm determined to blot out the stain of my horrible blogging record to date -- but sometimes a deadline will take precedence.