Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dancing with Cats and Writing on a Schedule

It turns out there are some similarities between cats and the writing process.

Last weekend I picked up my very old cat, Side Table, and cradled her. I danced with her and sang a song of my own making that had lyrics made of her name. "Side Table! Side Table!" I sang. We skipped around the room and danced and swayed and sang.

She was not at all pleased.

When I put her down, she huffed off. And I thought, But Side Table! You're always asking to be cuddled. And now is when I had the time to cuddle you, and you didn't like it.

Side Table, you see, is incredibly annoying and wants my attention almost always (except when I gave it to her in the form of a frolic). I am, accordingly, almost always busy or not prepared to cuddle her (i.e. when I'm writing). As a result, Side Table gets few cuddles, and the one she got during the dance wasn't to her liking.

We're often told how we should write every day, no matter what. I have a lot of "no matter whats" -- days when my brain is pureed peas, or I'm so tired that I just don't have it in me to write. I know that if I force myself, I'll produce pureed peas, too. Even worse, my most creative periods are during the day while I'm working (luckily for my employer). My brain-mush time is at night after the whippersnapper is asleep and the Side Table has begun her irritating supplications. And of course, that's my writing time. That isn't to say that all I produce during that time is pureed peas. It just means I use what I can, because life is busy. And I want to write, while working full time and mothering a toddler. I just want to. And I'm going to. And I do.

I guess I always make time at night to write, whether I can or not. Having that time consistently is important. Using it is up to me. But if I take nights off, that's okay too. I tend to be too disciplined sometimes, and constantly have to remind myself that everything should be in moderation.

How do you handle this? Do you write on a schedule? Do you make yourself write every day no matter what? Do you have problems writing if you don't have a schedule? Do you dance with your cats in a manner that annoys them?

11 comments:

Meika said...

My cat gets super angry if I even try to pick him up, so...no impromptu dancing, sadly.

Your kitty pictures are adorable. And I'm pretty sure we have the same laptop.

Also, I don't really have a writing schedule, although I've tried to implement one. I'm sure I would get a LOT more done, but...my muse refuses to cooperate.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

No schedule here, and I don't write every day. This month I've done awesome, and written most every day...but then again, I'm not working. My usual way is fits and starts.

And I'm allergic to cats.

Linda G. said...

I play mind games with myself. Contrary soul that I am, I always want to do whatever it is that I'm not doing at the moment. So if I tell myself I can't write on a certain day, because I am too busy with real life or not feeling particularly inspired, you can bet Madame Contrarian will jump to the fore with some ideas that are just too good not to commit to pixels.

What's truly sad is that I'm such a dupe I fall for my own mind games. ;)

KLM said...

I think a disciplined writing schedule is all well and good except when you reach a point when the well is dry. Then, as you say, you're just wasting your time, producing words for the sake of being able to say, "Oh, I did my 500 words for the day." But really, what have you done other than check a box?

My feeling is that thinking is writing. Day-dreaming is writing. "A-ha!" moments on the train ride home are the BEST kind of writing. I try always to remember that excitement about what I'm writing -- the LOVE of what I'm writing -- is as important to being productive as anything else. I do whatever I can to preserve that feeling and sometimes to do that, I DON'T write anything at all for a few days.

As for cats, I could tell you an annoying cat story that would curl your toes. I may do a blog post about it at some point.

Indigo said...

A schedule, like a designated time slot, or certain number of words? *eyes grow big* Lands no...

I'm the most disorganized person I know. Yet if I figured the numbers out right, I managed close to 500-600 words minimum a day. That's not to say I wrote every single day. To me processing the storyline in your mind and researching equate a certain equilibrium of a writers time as well.

Without revisions, mere first drafts - I wrote a sum of 230,ooo words this past year (3 books). I may not schedule or program myself to a regimen, but I write. At the end of the day we write, because we can't imagine NOT. (Hugs)Indigo

demery bader-saye said...

So far I tend to write in waves... many days all in a row and then nothing for a stretch. I think that needs to smooth out a bit. My blog is stretching me to write every day - but some evenings after I've finished writing my post for the next day I realize I used up all of my spare time working on the blog and that I missed the chance to work on my novel. Seeking balance...

Maybe if you keep dancing with Side Table he will realize it's fun someday :)

demery bader-saye said...

oops... Side Table=SHE :)

Jessica Lemmon said...

The only writing I have "scheduled" (if you can say that) is that I post a blog everyday. The only reason I mustered up the courage to commit to M-F blog posts is because I wanted to create a habit and be open & available for all my lovely tweeps and peeps who visit me. Some of you are here. ::HUGS::

I have yet to open my MS to read over what I wrote yesterday... and trust me, I NEED TO READ IT OVER. I fear it might be pureed peas. But, lucky for me I know the recipe for "pea-sto" which is basically pesto, but instead of basil, peas. So see? Sometimes pureed peas can be salvaged.

But if not, I'm going to toss it down the garbage disposal and attempt something fancy. Like a quiche.

Travener said...

I have a very long, slow buildup as I plot things out, develop characters, etc. Then, once I start writing, I go full-stop until it's done. I am presently in the very slow stage.

coffeelvnmom said...

I don't write every day, but when I do, the spurts churn out a decent amount of words. I do best in the morning once the kids are at school or in the evening after dinner. I found that stressing to write every day took away the creativity of the entire process. And what, I ask, is the point in writing if you can't create? ;)

Meghan Ward said...

I agree with KLM that as long as you're THINKING about your book every day, you're getting some work done. That said, I haven't been thinking about my book a whole lot lately. When I do write on a schedule, it's 10-12 hours per week, usually Mon, Wed and a Saturday or a Sunday. I can't write at night. After 14 hours with a toddler and an infant, the most energy I have is to lift a glass of wine to my lips before reading myself to sleep.

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