Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Early Bird Gets to Take a Nap -- Robin

This past week I’ve been trying to tweak my writing schedule so I can get the maximum amount of writing done, watch The Daily Show, and feed my son (on an almost daily basis). A certain very special editor has asked for another round of revisions on my middle grade manuscript and now I’m in frenzied writer mode!

I remembered some conversations I had in the past with other writers who are also mothers. Here’s their one piece of unwavering advice: “Oh, honey, you gotta get up at 5 a.m. before the kids get up to get any writing done.” At which point I smile at these “helpful” moms and then kick them in the shins (but only because I might hurt myself if I tried kicking them in the head).

I was feeling desperate, so I took their advice. Beep, beep, beep! My alarm sounded at 5 a.m. and I tried smothering it with a pillow to put it out of its misery. Only there I was… without a pillow and the stupid alarm kept going off and my husband kept kicking me in the shin. (See where I get these ideas?)

I loaded up on diesel fuel for coffee, broke out the butcher paper, put on some bluegrass…and guess what!? I got busy, y’all!

This was my kitchen table at 8 a.m. after hubby loaded up on my gourmet diesel fuel coffee and took this picture. It was a very productive morning and I now openly apologize to anyone I physically hurt in the past.

Hopefully all my mother/writer friends out there are smiling on me and saying, “Finally…she gets it.”

Except that it’s 7:30 p.m. now and I just passed out face down in a bowl of pasta. Anyone got any other advice?

- Robin


Becky Levine said...

Okay, I won't say, "Think how much easier it'll be to get up at five if you go to bed at 7:30!" Oops. I said it.

I don't know. I could never do it. I played with writing stuff when my son was that young, but basically I just sort of kept things alive until he was old enough to not need me every second (okay, sometimes, these days, it's more like not want me ANY second!). So, I guess...just huge admiration and awe from me for getting a novel done & to an editor with all else you have to do!

heidi said...

Hi Robin, great post. Daphne left a similiar post on the Longstockings blog and we've been chatting over there too about mommy writing. This is my saga: I didn't start writing my novel until my son was in preschool in the mornings. Once he was there, I'd drop him off, zip back home and write the whole time he was at school. You can imagine how clean my house was...something has to go, right? I had those two daily hours. Then, after I submitted the first 100 pages (10 chaps) to an editor and she asked for the whole ms., the real fun began. Not only was I writing every morning, but every night too sometimes until 2 or 3am. My wonderful husband would take our boy to the zoo etc. on saturdays and that was the only time I could do a full day. Basically, I transformed into a real writer with this novel. I get it now, the total dedication to the project. Whenever I wasn't writing, my scenes and dialog were popping up in my head. I was totally preoccupied with this book. So, now the whole thing is finished and I'm waiting to hear. Hence the blogging. Good luck! Hope the revisions go well! Oh yeah, I drank at least two large vanilla lattes a day to stay awake. Muy importante.

Natalie said...

First of all, if you're nodding off in your pasta, you may want to avoid sauce. ;-)

I used to get up early (around 5:00) and I'd get SO much done. Also because I'd take my laptop into the kitchen where I didn't have an internet connection. It was a great feeling to have something done before my family woke up. Once my son was born, though, all that changed...he has special toddler radar that beeps if I take a step out of bed, so I'll have to wait until he's a bit older before I go back to the early morning routine! Now I get most of my writing done while he's napping.

Great topic!

Disco Mermaids said...

Okay, so far I need to go to bed when it's still light out (which I actually did last night)...drink two vanilla lattes...and stay away from the sauce.

Good advice! Keep it coming!

:-) Robin

Disco Mermaids said...

I think the three of us should move in together (one mortgage instead of three!), quit our day jobs, trade off mothering and domestic duties, live on Jay's advance and royalties, write like crazy and sleep as much as we need to. That way we'll get a ton done, be well-rested, fulfill our "Luke-time" needs, and won't have to spend any time on the phone or driving to see each other. It's win-win all around.

Of course, then there's the spouse thing. They can move into the guest house next door and visit on our breaks!

I'ma start calling you "Wonder-Robin" from now's amazing how much you get done in a day!


heidi said...

Great posts while I was out teaching my peewee drama class (30 kids enrolled!) Yes, Robin, vanilla lattes are key. Also, don't cook or clean your house. Those kinds of hassles get in the way. Microwave mac&cheese only takes 3 minutes to cook.

That's so funny, Robin, that you say you should move in together. I've been trying to figure out which one of you was married to Jay! It's probably a mix of both of you and neither of you. The commune thing is a great idea, go for it!

cynjay said...

The whole "get up way before it's light out and write brilliantly" is vastly overrated. At least it is to a night owl like myself. I got up early once. I was so tired and cranky, not to mention having to pee incessantly because of all of the coffee that I got absolutely no quality work done whatsoever.

My advice: After the kid(s) go to bed, ignore spouse/roomate/domestic partner, hole up somewhere where they aren't and write until very, very late. Or, if you're a morning person, keep on keepin' on. Don't forget: eventually the kids get older and go to school. Sometimes for 6 hours at a stretch. But then they're not as cute as they are when they're little, so it's a trade-off. Enjoy.

heidi said...

That's the way I think of it too, cynjay--people can write well into their 90's (or 100's if you're REALLY lucky). But the cuties only stay cuties for such a short time. BTW, I totally agree about early morning writing. Just can't do it.

Steph said...

I'm VERY interested in this conversation because I'm struggling with this for the first time. I was single for years and used to work until I was done, then sleep until I naturally woke up and it really worked for me. I'm marrying a man with a toddler. Now, with a 3 year old running around, I'm up at 6:30am (a time I had not personally experienced in the awake state for years!). Then mornings are gone with feeding and getting the little guy off to daycare. I try to get work done during the day, but it's definitely not flowing like it did with late nights.. I have trouble focusing during the day. It's so different from just being able to shut the world out and get in my work zone.

Great topic, Robin! I'm taking notes and I'll pop back to see what other suggestions may post-


heidi said...

oh, steph, i feel for you. i can't imagine going directly into life w/ a three-year-old. must be severe culture shock. if i were you, i'd still try to do the late nights (obviously that's your best time). i loved your phrase, "i used to wake up naturally." kids are definitely battery-free alarm clocks (that sometimes you wish you could turn off). my friend just set up a live journal blog for me, so i think i'm going to make the focus mommy-writers--hope ya'll will join me.

heidi said...

MAMAS: Inspired by all this mama-writing stuff, the amazing Jenn (literacat) of the Not Your Mother's Book Club fame, created a live journal for me!! JUST NOW. It's BRAND NEW. Anyway, please come see me there! (and i'll be here of course).
sea heidi write
jenn made that part up. =)

Melanie Hope Greenberg said...

My apologies upfront for killing your buzz...
Hey people, get working.

How much time is spent/wasted reading blogs and blogging instead of writing/arting? Think about it.
Blogging is good for advertising your book, but will not guarantee good reviews. That's what really counts in this business.

Be nice to everyone on the way up, you're gonna see them on the way down. And this career is all about up and down. Can you handle surfing the waves, not just surfing the internet where any schmoe is a 'journalist' 'arty' because they say so.

I wrote a while back that one needs to have their own individual schedules that works for them and stop listening to what works for others, in fact forget the 'others' and be who YOU are. That is the job of the artist. This trying to 'fit in' is not teaching children anything but more conformity.
Only trendy people follow trends and it's inevitable a trend is gonna die out.

You already the Universe.
Now go express.

Robin, I require ALOT of sleep to function and painted a very detailed book in less than 4 months. It took my skill and discipline and good sleep inbetween. I could begin a blog and talk about it but I'd rather wait and see the reviews.

to those who raise a family, clean up after their spouses (dumb, my respect goes to those who share equally, and just not for your money as was said here once) and really do five careers, YOU ROCK!!!!!!!

Disco Mermaids said...

Hey,Cyn! I kinda wish I was a late night person. Seems like it would be ideal. But I may take your advice and just wait until my boy gets ugly. :-)

And Steph, I hear ya! If my boy turns over in the middle of the night, I wake up! Aaarrggh!

And hi, Melanie! Don't didn't kill my buzz. My alarm clock already did that! I totally get what you're saying about just doing what works for me. I used to just want to be Evie, because she gets her writing done AND she always looks rested (and has nice skin tone). But I'm just me--a morning person who has to use expensive facial products.
My blogging is a way to get my creative juices flowing--like a warm-up. And I feel I'm a more productive writer for it. Kinda weird! But it works.

Thanks for the warm, fuzzy thoughts! YOU guys rock!


Linda D. said...

I've tried getting up early to write. It does NOT work.

My alarm goes off at 5:00 and I run around the bed to the alarm side to shut it off before dh wakes up. I sit there for two minutes and focus on how tired I am and reset the alarm for 6:00, crawl back into bed and sleep until the alarm goes off again. After getting up the second time, I decide that writing in the morning isn't as important as I thought, reset the alarm one more time and get up when I'm supposed to at 6:45.

Not a smart thing to do. You end up tired, ready to strangle the next person who comments on how tired you look, and you've accomplished nothing other than annoying your dh (who went to bed at 3:00am).

heidi said...

I have any MORE procrastinating fun for ya'll--even more useless than blogging. har, har. the golden compass movie website has a quiz which shows you what kind of daemon you are matched with. mine is a gorgeous Ocelot named Nithreus. Course, I had a dress-rehearsal for my play, wrote the first chapter of my new novel, and had a ton of time w/ my boy, so I'm gifting myself w/ some screwing around playtime fun. check it out!

Laini Taylor said...

I don't have any kids, but once I made the switch to get up early and getting straight to work, there was no going back! I love the quiet, early morning hours. It's harder in the winter though, when it stays so dark for so long in the morning1

Rita said...

This is a truly inspiring post.

Thank you!! Keep on keepin' on!!