Posted by Guest Blogger Dean James
Some mystery writers have only one job - writing. Many others, like me, have either full-time jobs or part-time jobs in addition to writing. I spend five days a week as a medical librarian (cataloging and metadata, if you really want to know), and readers very often ask me, "When do you write?"
The short answer is "on the weekends." My schedule has been like this for more years now than I care to count. Full-time job during the week, sometimes a part-time job on the weekends, and then writing somewhere in the hours that I'm not occupied with gainful employment. I know other writers with full-time jobs who get up early in the morning and write for an hour or two before heading off to the day job, and there are others who write late at night after everyone else in the house is sound asleep.
I'm not one of those perky people who can get up at five, be creative for a couple of hours, and then head in to the library. Nor, after a day at work, much of it spent at a computer, can I sit down at my home computer for two hours and write before collapsing in bed. That pretty much leaves me with the weekends, and it works for me. In the past decade, I've written ten novels that way.
One of the reasons I believe this works for me is because of the way a writer's subconscious works. I might not sit down to write at my computer until the weekend, but once I start a book, the characters, the plot, the twists and turns, are all there in the back of my mind. I have five days during the week when my subconscious is very busy, so that by the time Saturday comes and I turn on the computer, my conscious mind has been prepared by the subconscious. Off I go.
I also know that creativity can be much like a muscle. If you get on the treadmill only once a week for ten minutes, you're not going to make much progress. If you get on it for ten minutes a day, five or six days a week, you'll soon see the results. Writing a book can be just like getting on that treadmill. If you start and stick to a regular schedule, you will see results. Once you get the creative juices flowing, keep them flowing. Let your subconscious do its work, and the conscious mind will chip in. Before you know it, your book will be done.
Someone once asked Nora Roberts if she ever suffered from writer's block. Her response (and I'm paraphrasing here, because I don't have the exact quote) was: 'Writing is my job. A plumber doesn't wake up one morning and say, "I've got plumber's block. I'm not going to work today".' Nora Roberts takes her job very seriously, and she works hard at it. She keeps that treadmill in almost constant motion.
The rest of us probably can't keep up to her on our own treadmills, but the most important thing is getting on it in the first place and just starting the process. Keep walking at regular intervals, and you'll get results.
Jimmie Ruth Evans (aka Dean James and Honor Hartman)