Guest Author: Anne Barwell – Time To Write
Time to Write
Thanks, Andrew, for hosting me here today
I’m often asked how I find time to write, considering I work full time, play in an orchestra, and still manage to read, and watch movies and TV shows. Every time I have a new book coming out, it’s a question that is asked again along with ‘and how many books is this now?’
Shades of Sepia is my sixth title with Dreamspinner Press. To answer the easy part of that first.
The other not quite so easy question has a two-fold answer. Firstly I make time, and secondly if I don’t write I get twitchy and not nice to live with which leads back to making time.
I work full time at a library, and unfortunately there are only so many hours in a day. Because of that I need to be a) very organised and b) write when I have the time whether I’m in the mood or not. The three days I start the day job at lunchtime, and work through until mid evening, I don’t tend to get home until well after nine. I’m not a morning person so these hours suit me well, plus there is the added bonus that I can set my alarm for eight in the morning and still have time to write before work. The first hour is breakfast, checking email and replying to it etc—often that includes coding/posting a guest blog post. After that it’s onto writing, although I need to finish up by eleven, wherever I am, as there’s early lunch and getting ready for work to factor in.
As I said, organisation is the key. So is streamlining whatever I can. It’s why I make meals and baking which I can freeze on weekends so they’re ready to grab on weekdays as I don’t have time to be making it then. Some days, though I’m tired, and I feel a little too scheduled out especially if there is other things going on in my life such as sick cats, fences having to be organised with the neighbours and family members in hospital. This is where the discipline to write whether I’m in the mood or not comes in. It would be so easy just to turn off the alarm, sleep late and still be up in time for the day job.
Saturday mornings are a write off as I work a late Friday evening then have an early start the next day. I’m not fond of Saturday mornings. Writing on Saturdays tends to happen after work in the evenings, depending on what I have going on. Once a month there’s classic movie night to factor in and I catch up with a friend on another Saturday for dinner and a movie. But, when I can, I try to do something writing related before settling down in front of the TV to catch up on an episode or two of the shows I’m following. Often if I’m really tired, I’ll work on blog posts or website stuff instead of writing as it takes less energy, but it’s still a part of the ‘author job’ that needs attention.
By the time I get to Sunday I’m knackered, so if I do anything, it’s usually email and blog type things. I sleep in an hour later on Sunday mornings – need it by the time I get to that part of the week especially after the Friday/Saturday combination. Weekends are very busy at the library. It’s all go.
Then, finally it’s onto my weekend. Time for some lovely uninterrupted writing time, and to try and fit in that evil thing called housework, and the other stuff that really needs doing because I’ve ignored it all week. Lawns are also the bane of my existence. I’m looking out the window now and seeing flowers over the back lawn. They love the NZ climate. It’s also time to spend evenings catching up with friends at orchestra and for movie nights. If I didn’t schedule in those breaks, I’d just keep working. That’s what I do on the evenings I don’t have something on.
Sometimes finding writing time feels like an uphill battle which I’m constantly struggling to stay on top of, and I wonder if I really get anywhere. Surely an hour or so a day isn’t enough? But then I look at big picture and the fact I wrote about 140K last year, part of which was my new novel, Shades of Sepia, and I think yes, this is working. At least for me, and most of the time. But then, nothing works all the time, right?
What do others do to find writing time, and what’s your writing schedule like for a typical week?
Shades of Sepia is book 1 of The Sleepless City, an urban fantasy series co-written with Elizabeth Noble.
Simon Hawthorne has been a vampire for nearly a hundred years, and he has never seen anything like it. Neither have the other supernaturals he works with to keep the streets safe for both their kind and the humans.
One meeting with Simon finds Ben Leyton falling for a man he knows is keeping secrets, but he can’t ignore the growing attraction between them. A recent arrival in Flint, Ben finds it very different from his native New Zealand, but something about Simon makes Ben feel as though he’s found a new home.
After a close friend falls victim to the killer, Simon is torn between revealing his true nature to Ben, and walking away to avoid the reaction he fears. But with the body count rising and the murders becoming more frequent, either, or both of them, could be the killer’s next target.
“Cool. I knew you guys were like the Justice League or something.”
Lucas laughed. “I was going more for the Legion of Super Heroes, actually.”
“Yeah, but the League has Batman in it,” Blair began, “and the Legion is—” Luckily, whatever he was going to say was interrupted by the sound of a telephone ringing. Once he and Lucas started on one of their comics conversations, they’d go for what seemed forever.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?” Forge asked Simon.
“What?” Simon glanced around for the source of the ringing. He didn’t get telephone calls and had presumed the noise was coming from wherever Blair was.
“You’re the only one around here who insists on that horrible ringtone,” Forge pointed out, “so it’s obviously your phone.” He’d complained about it ever since Simon had explained—quite logically he’d thought—that if he was to carry a telephone, it made sense for it to at least sound like one.
“Try your pockets?” said Lucas helpfully.
“Oh, right.” Simon fished his telephone out of his pocket. Its screen was flashing with the name of the caller. Simon stared at it.
“You’re supposed to answer it, not stare at it,” Forge said. “Or have you forgotten how to again?”
“I know how to answer it.” Simon poked at the appropriate button, then held the telephone up to his ear. “Simon speaking. How can I help you?”
Forge snickered. Simon glared at him, thought for a moment about retreating to somewhere more private, then realized it would be a waste of time. Damn vampire hearing. Not that werewolves and ghosts were much better.
“Hey, Simon. It’s Ben.”
Perhaps he was calling to say he’d thought twice about meeting for coffee. But why would he take the time to do that? Surely if that were the case, he’d just not contact Simon again at all?
“Hello, Ben.” Simon took a couple of steps toward the door, half turning his back on the other occupants of the room.
“I rang to apologize,” Ben said, his words tumbling out over each other.
“Apologize?” Simon frowned. “Why?” If anyone should be apologizing for the way in which their conversation had ended, it should be him.
“I obviously upset you, and I’m sorry.”
“You didn’t,” Simon reassured him. “I overreacted. I do that sometimes.” He reached for his glass of milk and took a long drink. Feeling a little calmer, he collected his thoughts before breaking the silence. “Would you still like to meet for coffee?”
Lucas and Forge high fiving was something best ignored, as was the smug expression on both their faces.
“Yeah, sure, that would be great,” Ben answered very quickly. “When and where? I’m working a long shift tomorrow so that won’t work, but I don’t start until eleven on Thursday.”
After mentally consulting his calendar, Simon nodded. “That would be fine. I don’t have lectures on Thursday mornings. Do you know Hunter’s on West Thirteenth Street? We could meet there at nine.”
“I haven’t been there, but I’ll find it,” Ben said. “See you at nine then on Thursday?”
“Yes. Good-bye, Ben.”
“Bye, Ben,” called out Lucas.
“Bye….” Ben trailed off. “Hey, who is that?” His voice took on a rather suspicious tone. “Simon, is there someone listening in on us?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” Simon said. “I share my… building… with some friends who don’t understand the concept of privacy. That was Lucas. I’ll explain on Thursday.”
“Good-bye,” Simon said again, this time to a darkened telephone. He shoved it back in his pocket.
“He sounds cute,” said Lucas. “I like the accent.” He grinned. “Can I come too? I want to hear how you explain me.”
Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.
In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.
She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth.