Thursday, March 6, 2014

How I Write

There is this great regular feature in The Writer  magazine called "How I Write" where they focus on a well known author and his/her writing habits.

They will ask about their writing routine, how they do research, what PC writing programs do they use, who they rely on for sounding boards etc...and although I always read this entire feature every month, I am always left wanting MORE.

I want to know the really important stuff like, do they brush their teeth, feed the cat, start the dishwasher before they start to write? Do they bother to get dressed or do they write in old underwear and their husbands flannel shirt? Do they take breaks every 15 minutes to check EBAY for any new swimsuits available in size fat for this years summer vacation?

Do they sit at a perfectly organized solid oak desk complete with a stunning reproduction bankers light , Lucite files, and brand new laptop or do they create on something that looks like this?

Yes, that is my writing desk. It is crammed into a corner of our guest bedroom upstairs where our granddaughters sleep when they visit. The typewriter on the left is just for show. I have never, not once, taken a typing class in my life. The desk was made for my husband by an uncle of his over 40 years ago. I painted it green over 20 years ago when I put it in this room (then belonging to our son who is now 25 and long gone from the room)
I hate that shade of green.
The memos taped on the shelf above contain a few inspiring quotes from other but mostly remind me to do laundry and buy more of those cool blue writing tablets. Yes, that is a picture of my mother towards the back of my desk, and those are wooden fruit crates on the left propping up more books. One day I'll get a real bookshelf.
So lets go on as if I am the well known author being interviewed by The Writer.
So Ms. O'Shaughnessy what is your writing routine?
"I'm very structured. I write every day between 8-10 am unless there is farm paperwork to be done, then I write every afternoon between 12-3 unless we have piglets to castrate then I write every evening from 10-1am unless I have fallen asleep with my head resting on the keyboard and drool dripping into the letter B. Then I write during the night when I get up to go to the bathroom. I always keep a copy of my manuscript next to the toilet, except when I forget"
What is your revision process?
" I always write an entire chapter before I revise. I think it is imperative to get the entire scene nailed down before you start playing with muse interrupters like grammar and spelling."
I see. How long are your chapters ?
1-2 pages.
Who is your biggest influence?
"That's easy. Mother Teresa, and Joan of Arc. Only real martyrs understand what writers go through.
What are you working on currently?
"Well I started to clean the frig yesterday but when I found the 1/2 onion I put in there last week wasn't all that mushy I thought I might as well dice it up for an omelet since I've been eating way too many carbs lately and my hind end is really showing it..."
I meant WRITING, what writing project are you working on?
"Oh that. Well I am still editing  and revising my first novel, even though I have sent it out to a few agents it could be so much better and I figure the longer I keep playing with it the longer I can put off starting my second novel which is about 4 sisters traveling in Ireland and will most likely tick off my siblings even though its FICTION I will tell them. "
So there it is. My future interview with The Writer magazine. And you didn't even have to pay the subscription price.
"You get what you pay for."
Hey! Who said that?


  1. Just ran across your blogs, thanks for the laugh. I will be back, I also write, garden, and have an unpublished novel, actually several, but that's another story.

    1. Ah Neil, thanks for dropping by. Would love to see your own writing story. Do you have a blog?

  2. When I was writing I'd get up 2 hours before I had to get ready for work and would write then. I'd write short stories. The first one was over 10,000 words, twice what my market wanted. I sent it anyway. They bought it. I wrote all my stories in the wee morning hours and edited them on the weekends. I remember I was always *yawn* tired...

    Whatever works for you. It's fun to read how others do it. Bottom line is - just do it. You go girl!

    1. Kris, I wish I could do the mornings, so bright, so pretty, so hopeful, but I hate them, despise them. Have always been a horrible night owl with even more horrible insomnia. Perhaps I'll just start writing at 3am and then when the sun comes up I'll be an early morning writer. Thanks so much for your comments and support.

  3. LOL. Donna, your posts are always a joy to read. I'm with Kris on early mornings. It's the only uninterrupted, guild-free (like I ought to be doing something else) time I seem to have.

    1. Leigh, you are so kind. ONE DAY you and I will commiserate and support in person.....Oh how I admire that morning drive. I worked nights as a nurse aide for 11 years, then after becoming an RN spent 13 of those 25 years on night shift. My circadian rhythm will be forever screwed up! I am, these last few weeks earning to write wherever and whenever, carrying notebooks and pens with me at all times even when doing chores outside. It is becoming my new "routine"