Writer at work! A guide to acceptable writer interruptions #writing #amwriting

Writers know all about the writing zone.

About how easy it is to get distracted.

About how hard it can be to get started.

About how difficult it is to keep going.

And about how annoying it is when our nearest and dearest interrupt us in the middle of our writing flow.

So, for those who are unsure what constitutes an acceptable writer interruption, here is a handy guide.

To bring snacks or beverages!

Please drop snacks off promptly. Do not engage the writer in conversation or otherwise interrupt while leaving the treats. Definitely do not lean over the writer’s shoulder while dropping the snack off and speak the last sentence on the page in the voice of a pirate (as my husband does)!

The house is on fire!

First make all efforts to ‘deal’ with this before interrupting the writer. Only once the fire truck has arrived and you have ‘official’ confirmation from a trained expert that this is in fact an emergency should you interrupt the writer.

A medical emergency

Ask yourself – What would I do if the writer was not at home? – go with that.

The apocalypse has arrived

In the unlikely scenario that zombies or aliens are about to overrun your home, it’s okay to check in on your writer and see if they are at a convenient stopping point…

I am a prisoner in a book #writing #amwriting #writingquotes

Once I dive into these pages

I may not come out for ages.

Books have powers over me.

Inside a book I am not free.

I am a prisoner in a land

of print on paper in my hand.

But do not worry. Do not fear.

I am a happy captive here.


Captive by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater

You know you’re a writer when you’ve found a million ways to procrastinate #writer #writing

You know you’re a writer when you’ve found a million ways to procrastinate…here are a few tips to help you spot the procrastination pitfalls.

Reading really is the perfect excuse for any writer because you can convince yourself that it is actually helping you to become a better writer. Yes, it certainly is, but sometimes you do need to put the book down and get back to your keyboard and write.

Snacks. If you want to keep your writing brain in tip-top working order you need a snack, right? Yes, until you realise you’ve eaten enough food for a small party, and then it’s time to explore the possibility that you might be letting procrastination creep in.

Daydreaming is the birthplace of all good plot ideas. But maybe if you’re daydreaming about ‘fetching another snack’, it’s time to get on with actually writing the book!

Editing! Is the worst form of writer procrastination. You know you need to start the next chapter, but it’s so enticing to pop back to what you did yesterday . . . just for a quick check. The next thing you know, you’ve taken a bulldozer to it . . . and you’re not making any new progress on the book!

Desk tidy. Yes, we have all been there and done that, but after your 23rd pencil readjustment, you know you really need to get back to your book!

What’s your favourite procrastination habit? 🙂

The process of writing #amwriting #writing

This wonderful quote really captures the essence and process of writing for me.

I love that I don’t know exactly where the story will take me when I start.

I love that ideas just pop up as I am writing, and also when I am not.

I love that some ideas are so good you just want to jump up and down, and you wonder, where did that idea come from?

Ideas don’t arrive in a vacuum though. We feed and nurture them in our subconscious mind by reading other books, reading articles, and reading and thinking about what we have already written in our current work in progress.

So, if we want our ideas to flourish, we need to take the time and the care to provide the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

Doing this is really simple, we just need to Read, Read, Read!

6 Reasons why we write #writing #amwriting

When we write, we do so for a myriad of reasons that can shift depending on our mood, our environment, events that have happened, or even our time in life.

Sometimes, it is just a bone deep desire that we can neither quantify nor explain. Sometimes we write for a broad spectrum of needs, and sometimes for only one.

So, why do we write?

  1. To express how we feel.

Writing at its most fundamental level, is a expression of our inner-most feelings. It doesn’t matter whether you are writing an extreme horror, or a children’s book. We pour our feelings out onto the pages, and may put ourselves into the mind of a psychopath, a soldier, an abandoned child, or a miss-understood teenager. We use our imagination, or our experience, or both, to live through the eyes of that person for a time.

2. To move people

A writer who can move people is a word magician. As a writer it is our aspiration to make our reader feel. The greatest writers can take readers on a roller-coaster, from the highs of joy or humour, to the lows of the darkest, most desperate, despair.

3. To create

When we write we create, be it another world, or another life, with a rich tapestry of interactions. We can create beauty, and we can create terror. Here we become the master of a universe, an all powerful being with the responsibility of life and death. It is both heady and humbling.

I often think that my characters possess minds of their own, and yet they are the by-product of everything I have seen, done, and experienced, whether through my own reality, or the reverie of others books.

4. To provoke thought

Perhaps the greatest legacy of a book is its ability to provoke thought. Through writing, we may come to question our own lives, behaviour, or even our society. We may also allow our mind to ramble in a non-judgemental way that seeks simply to understand.

5. To forget or escape

Writing, just like reading, is a mechanism of escape. Perhaps you have had a stressful day, and you need to let those issues rest. Perhaps you simply enjoy the vibrant imaginative world that lets you experience a dark, wondrous, or incredible other life.

6. To remember

Finally, we also write to remember, or perhaps more, so that we do not forget. Maybe it is our childhood, a feeling, a time, or a by-gone era.

When we write, we capture moments that are little snapshots of our inner self, and by doing so they are immortalised forever, or at least until the legacy of their electronic presence or paper fades.

9 Reasons why you should never check a writer’s search history #amwriting #writing

We writers love to google stuff. If we’re not writing, or staring into space, or messing about on Facebook, or—Okay you get the idea—then there’s a good chance we’re googling something to do with our latest Work in Progress. Let this article serve to comfort both our loved ones (who should really know better than to check our search history anyway), or police investigating a missing person (because hey, we may be a writer, but we do draw the research line way before it gets close to reality. And that missing person case is totally different to the one we wrote about in our last book).

So, why you should never check a writer’s search history.

1. The shock: Looking up baby names doesn’t mean the family is about to expand. No, there are no new puppies or babies on the way—unless there are, which is technically possible because even writers procreate and / or can get suckered in by cute puppies with big eyes.

OMG I need a puppy!

writer search history...baby names

2.The criminal: It’s really important to know the consequence of committing <insert crime here> in <insert country here> in <insert year here>. That doesn’t mean we’re a time-traveller about to rob a bank in 1932 Peru.

Writer search history

3. The weapon: Finding a futuristic weapon design on our computer doesn’t make us the next mad scientist. We just wish we were, because we’re pretty sure even a mad scientist will earn more money than a writer.

writer search history...futuristic weapons

4. The killer:  No we have never made a bomb or killed someone in the vacuum of space, but it’s important to know how.

5. The Personality disorder: Searching ‘personality disorders’ doesn’t mean we think we’re a paranoid schizophrenic with OCD, nor do we suspect our nearest and dearest to be bipolar!

Oh, but now that we’ve googled it they do tick a number of the boxes…

Writer search history...personality disorders

6. The doctor: No, we’ve never needed to make a temporary splint for a broken leg, nor do we have that obscure and highly infectious disease.

<Pause here while I make a doctors appointment>

7. The survivalist: Just because we’ve researched how to live on grubs, can find water in a desert, and can make a temporary shelter out of old tin cans, doesn’t mean we think a dinosaur-ending sized asteroid is about to hit, but if it did we could probably survive.

8. The sexual deviant: Yes, we really did need to research that obscure sexual practice…for a story.

Err…and that wasn’t the kind of whipped I was looking for…

writer search history...whipped cream

9. The body: Googling ‘how to hide a body’ doesn’t mean we have just done away with our evil boss, and if our boss has suddenly disappeared, it’s nothing to do with us, honest!

Writer search history...how to hide a body

So, now you know better than to check a writer’s search history, and we can all sleep much easier tonight.

Happy googling and writing 🙂

The neurotic worries of a writer #amwriting

Worrying about our next review…

writer worries...what will our new review say

Wondering if building and extension and introducing a cataloging system means our reading list is a little out of control…

reading list out of control

Fearing we made a mistake by killing a character…Fearing we made a mistake by not killing a character…

writer worry...

Suffering a sense of concern that our edgy thriller has lost its edge…


Hoping we can survive the counselling after finishing a great book

So, you say her name was Alice?

Her name was alice

When writing becomes an obsession – to understand a writer #amwriting

I was watching the movie Capote at the weekend. It was after a long day of painting the house, and at the tail end of a week-off -work where I had done nothing but paint, so I was shattered and only half-way interested in the movie when my husband put it on.

It had won a number of awards and swiftly captivated me—as good movies generally do. It tells the story of the writer Truman Capote, and how he became obsessed with a particular writing project, and how it consumed him and ultimately left a profound scar on his life. It was a great movie, and not just the acting or because the main character was a writer, although that certainly helped. If you get a chance it is worth watching.

The movie got me thinking, as a good movie often does.

My first observation was the level of obsession a writer can fall prey to in the quest to finish a book. My husband has often commented that I almost disappear into myself when I am gripped by a particular project and seem to need nothing and no one else. It is not healthy, and it is not sustainable, and one of the things that struck me with Capote’s story was how crafting the book In Cold Blood took over his life and dragged him into the unhealthy, darker side of writing obsession.

Capote died still relatively young, and I cannot help but reflect that the way he conducted himself, and his behaviour and choices during the writing of In Cold Bloodmight have had some influence on his early alcoholic death. The book was destined to become his greatest masterpiece, but it was also the last book he ever finished, although his prior writing career had been littered with glittering successes.

It was a sad ending to a life filled with undoubted talent. Capote crossed lines in his quest for a story though, moral lines that no person, writer or otherwise, should cross.

My second observation was that both his partner and his best friend (Harper Lee), were writers. I was struck by how fortunate he was to have such close companions who understood both him and his obsession with writing. His partner and good friend were famous writers in there own right, and I loved the way they each simply accepted their need for time and space for the craft.

It is worth noting, that although understanding and supportive at first, they both cautioned and counselled Capote, and more so as the story progressed and his actions became increasingly morally blurred.

As with many things in life, it is hard to imagine something fully unless you experience it yourself. How many future parents will try to imagine what it will be like, only to admit ruefully that they didn’t have a clue. As a writer, we often place ourselves in others’ shoes, and see life through a myriad of perspectives. For the most part, I am sure we all have wonderful, caring, and incredibly understanding partners and friends, who although maybe not writers themselves, come to understand, if not the entirety of being a writer, at least the writer in us.

Few of us would follow Capote’s path, but to a lesser extent we can all become guilty of writing obsession, and it is at such times that we need our nearest and dearest to remind us that there is a world outside our book, a real world filled with real people who need us too, just as ultimately we need them.

Dear writing, I miss you. #amwriting

Three years ago we bought a cute little stone cottage in the Perth hills region, and we have finally got around to making it into the home we always dreamed of. We completed the kitchen last year, and intended to complete the bathroom and laundry room this year, however it has sort of morphed—as renovations sometimes do—into also ripping many, many meters  of diagonal wood paneling off and replacing it with plastered walls.

The entire contents of the house with the exclusion of two seats, a bed, and essential clothing, is in boxes. I haven’t seen my computer in a couple of weeks, it’s boxed up somewhere…I hope!

So needless to say I have had no time for writing, and I’m about to take a week off…to do nothing but paint.

On the plus side, I’m sure my writing will be twice as effective in the lovely new look house!

But for now…

Dear writing, I miss you, and I hope to see you soon.