When I do school visits, one of the first questions I get asked is, “What is the life of an author like?”
It’s a good question.
History has often portrayed writers in the past as solitary people who are lost in their words and walk through life scrawling ideas down on scrap pieces of paper.
But it’s definitely not like that for me. I’m a teacher, a mom, and a wife. I don’t have the time or the luxury to languish over words and sit for long hours to write. Instead, my books are written in stolen moments that I can find throughout the day. The time before everyone wakes up, during naps, or after my son goes to sleep. There are days when I can find a long stretch of time to write and other days where I don’t get to write for more than five or ten minutes. But that’s life for me. It’s the way it’s always been.
So I usually respond by saying that writing life for me is a pretty normal life with a lot more words written and characters living in my head.
And here’s a glimpse at what that life looks like in pictures…
WRITING LIFE IS COFFEE
It includes lots of coffee. It fuels my writing! In fact, I have a whole variety of coffee makers just in case I need a backup, because you never want to run out of coffee.
WRITING LIFE IS CANDY
If I’m not drinking coffee, I’m eating gummy candy. It’s my favorite. I can’t get enough of it, so I always have a bag handy while I’m writing.
WRITING LIFE IS NOTEBOOKS AND PENS
As crazy as it sounds, I handwrite all my books first. My self-editor can be very harsh, so when I handwrite, I’m not able to go back and correct my work. It forces me to keep moving forward and get the story out no matter how messy that might look. And believe me, my notebooks definitely look messy! So it’s very important to have gel pens. Lots of gel pens. Below are pictures of my excessive collection of gel pens and some of the notebooks I’ve filled with drafts of books.
WRITING LIFE IS PLOTTING AND REVISING
After I handwrite all of my books, I write each scene out on a piece of paper or notecard and piece it together. Sometimes I even tape it to my wall to be able to step back and look at the entire book in front of me. I then look for holes in the plot, write those chapters, and from there, type up a new draft of the book. It can look a bit chaotic, but trust me, there’s a method to my writing madness!
WRITING LIFE IS MESSY
There are things that I’ve had to give up in order to write. Watching a ton of TV is one of them. Sleeping in is another. And cleaning. There never seems to be time for cleaning. So writing life for me is often big messes like the one below in my writing office. I usually just push stuff to the side and write. I’ve gotten pretty good at ignoring the messes, which is a good thing, because there are lots of messes in my house!
WRITING LIFE IS FINDING TIME
Writing life is writing in those stolen moments to get words in. My family lives on the opposite side of Cleveland, so it’s usually about a 45 minute car ride to get there. We drove out there a lot when my son was a newborn, so I set up a little writing office in the car and would write on the drive! I now find myself making writing nests in little nooks or crannies of my house to get work done when I’m on a deadline. It’s lucky that being a writer is portable, because I’m always finding new places to work!
So there you have it. What the life of a writer looks like. Well, what the life of being a writer looks like for me!