O is for…Outdoors

First, how are you all doing? You okay? I’ve been writing a lot lately and we’re still not all the way through the alphabet. So thanks for staying with me. And welcome to all the new visitors, too!

I was going to write about output today, but then it turned into the most perfect spring day imaginable so I jettisoned all my plans in favor of the great outdoors. On my long afternoon walk, I hashed out a ton of plot points and world building. I’m taking another stab at Some Flew North, tearing down (almost) all the walls and building it up even better and stronger. My goal is to start writing by the beginning of summer. I’m using the next month and a half to outline the book, which involves creating and then trying to solve a whole bunch of issues. Oh, fantasy novels, you are so fun and so frustrating to write.

Anyway, being outdoors has always boosted my writing. I take walks when I’m stuck or need to reflect on my work. I write outdoors (or close to it) whenever I can, usually on my screen porch. There’s something about the ambient noise of birds, wind chimes and the thud of the neighbors’ car doors that provides enough distraction so I can focus on writing.

Enjoy some pictures of blooming things!

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M is for…Music

I almost exclusively write while listening to music. Granted, sometimes 30 minutes will go by and I will have no idea what’s been playing, but music serves as a necessary distraction, occupying part of my mind so the other part can write.

In addition to being distracted by music, I’m also inspired by it. When I wrote about inspiration last week, I noted that some kind of deep, emotional resonance draws me in. There are a number of songs in my iTunes library that have directly inspired scenes, characters or entire stories.

And finally, I confess that OF COURSE I daydream about hearing a particular track during a scene in one of the many movies that will be based on my books.

Here are some of my favorite tracks:

DLZ by TV on the Radio – I fell in love with this song when they played it during the “Stay out of my territory” scene on Breaking Bad (warning, the link to the video has show spoilers). I love the pulsing beat, the lyrics (“never you mind, death professor” – how great is that!) and the relentless vocals. I often listen to this when I first sit down to write and let it pull me down the rabbit hole.

 Heaven When We’re Home by The Wailin’ Jennys – This lovely song (by one of my favorite groups) might have been written by one of my main characters. It speaks of journeys, of discernment, of being kind to ourselves. Also, if I suffer from an occasional night of insomnia, I often remember this line the next day: “I’ve been up for way to long and I’m too tired to sleep.”

Fire by Bruce Springsteen – Love this song, full of yearning, desire, hope, delicate longing. Love Bruce and all his Bruceness. Not surprisingly,  I often listen to this song when I’m writing romantic scenes.

Do you listen to music when you create? What are some of your favorite songs?

K is for…Kids

“You know how happy you feel when you’re playing legos?” I asked my son the other day as he was begging me to put down my computer and help him build yet another lego ship with him.

“Yeah?” he answered, clearly not sure where this was going.

“Well, that’s how Mommy feels when she’s writing,” I replied. It bought me a few extra minutes, which was a first. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Today’s post is about how my kids support my writing. Granted, it seems oxymoronic. At 4 and 6, my kids take up most of my time outside of work. And I’m happy to give it. I worship, love and adore those two little boys with a fierceness that continues to amaze and surprise me. But let’s be honest – little kids and big blocks of uninterrupted writing time do not mix.

While juggling kids and their schedules and their legos impact the amount of time I have to write, my children have expanded my writing in ways I never dreamed possible.

They force me to be intentional about my writing time. Time is a limited commodity (for all of us, really, but it especially feels that way now), so I’m intentional not only about what I do during each writing session, but also about my broader goals for my writing career.

They remind me that there’s a benefit to limited writing time. I can’t just sit and write for 8 hours a day, even if I had the time. I’ve learned that I can do about 1 – 2 hours max of generating new material and maybe 3 – 4 hours tops if I’m editing. Beyond that, my brain goes kaput.

Finally, my kids inspire me in so many countless ways. It shows up on the page all the time. They’ve inspired plots, characters and place names. I write about adoption, identity, race, diversity, loss, hope, life and death in ways that I would never have written if I didn’t know them. Because of them, my life and writing are enriched in ways I never thought possible.