Balancing Life and Writing (can it be done?)
Do you have a hard time finding time to write? Or do you have a secret strategy that works?
Is writing an obsession that grips you by the throat and won't let you go until you've spewed hundreds of words per day? Do your characters haunt you and force you to listen to their bizarre plot twists while you're driving to work or doing the laundry? How do you quench that thirst?
I've been asked those questions dozens of times on radio shows and in print interviews, probably because I've written fifteen books.
Folks want to know how we writers manage to produce complete books while working full time, caring for homes and gardens, cooking healthy meals, grocery shopping, chauffeuring kids to practices or lessons, walking the dog, and more.
(grandson Julian's handprints in heavy frost)
It's a great question, and the answer involves a skill I've honed for the past decade.
I thought I'd share some of my answers here. First of all, here's a little background:
As some of you already know, I work full time as an applications engineer. I commute over an hour daily to and from Rochester, NY and we also run a small chair caning business nights and weekends. I take on most of the household chores, because my wife has MS, and although she manages wonderfully considering her ailments (you should SEE the chairs she canes!), she can't do things like taking out the trash or doing the shopping. Most of the jobs such as cleaning, cooking, tending my huge gardens, bringing up the firewood, shopping, etc. are mine.
In spite of this, I'm currently working on book number fifteen.
How do I do it?
It's all part of the delicate negotiation of my time.
(this maple leaf was floating in the crystal clear water of Keuka Lake in November - in a delicate balance of its own)
I put family first and writing second. The rest comes along for the ride. I also cook healthy feasts on Sundays and we eat off of that every night during the week. Plenty of veggies, poultry, and fish. And if the oil change in the car is a little overdue, or if my weeds aren't all neat and tidy like Sam Moore's gardens (the creep is retired; I'm so jealous!), or the kitchen floor isn't shining... well, so be it. I've gotta write. I have no choice.
It's always a struggle to find enough time. But if you're a writer, you must find a way.
I gave up television. What do I miss? Nothing. What do I gain? Everything, including that freedom of spirit that comes with immersing oneself in a parallel universe, or, reveling in the pure joy of putting words on paper that sing, or smiling when my characters grow and evolve, just like real people. (What's that you said? They aren't real?) I love my writing time. I crave it. And it scratches an itch that must be tended.
I often go to bed at 8:00, and rise at 4:00, when the house is dark and quiet and the atmosphere is perfect for transporting oneself into another realm. It's my favorite time to write. And yes - I still get my eight hours of sleep. So what if I miss that episode of "House"? There are always reruns if I ever get the craving to see television again.
It helps to take care of yourself. I eat very well, with plenty of fruits and veggies and always home cooked foods. Well, most of the time. Sometimes I give in and buy a grilled stuffed chicken burrito with extra fiesta sauce.
Exercise sharpens the mind, too. Lately I've had to change priorities to allow for long walks with my twenty-three-year-old daughter, Allison. We walk four to five miles at a stretch. I have less time to do all the other stuff (okay, that kitchen floor REALLY needs mopping now), but I find it so exhilarating and refreshing that I can't give it up. We take photos along the way, which is a shared passion. And I try to picture my heart getting "cleaned out," every time we walk. It's so good for us, in every aspect. Great bonding time. The fresh air is cathartic. I love writing after a long walk in the country.
Somehow I fit in the cleaning, laundry, home repairs, and bills. Oh, I hate doing the bills. Maybe someday when I'm rich and famous (LOL) I won't have to worry about the struggle. But it never seems to end, even when you think it's going to "get easier this year."
But things worthwhile are never easy, are they?
Let us know how you manage to squeeze in your writing time below. All tips are welcome.
Perhaps we'll inspire the next award-winning author to change his or her life and finish their novel. Maybe it will be a book that changes our lives. You never know...
Meanwhile, get yourself organized, pull out that laptop or boot up your PC, and start writing like the wind!
P.S. Come join Gus LeGarde and his endearing family in the rolling hills of Upstate NY, where villains lurk in the wintry woods while the family congregates at the dinner table, enjoying mouth-watering meals prepared by our own Renaissance man. I'm offering a holiday special right now - three books for the price of two. Email me at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com if you're interested in the details. Or you can purchase the books at all online or brick and mortar bookstores.
Double Forte' is a chilling mystery set in the verdant landscape of Upstate New York's Genesee Valley. Packed with memorable characters, hair-raising chase scenes, and touching family moments, it's a solid page-turner.
Desolate over his wife's suicide four years earlier, small-town college professor Gus LeGarde faces bewildering emotions when he falls for Camille, the vivacious, dark-eyed daughter of his secretary. Yet troubling events in her past cause her to rebuff Gus's affections. Romance glimmers, however, as both become embroiled in an adventure when Gus discovers a mute child shackled to a bedpost in a secluded cabin.
The mystery turns deadly when the child's kidnapper escapes on a snowmobile that tumbles into the deep Letchworth Gorge. The villain's fate is questioned when Gus's little grandson disappears and threats arrive against Camille. And where is the business partner of Gus's philandering son-in-law? Does a murderer lurk in the dark, wintry woods?
BUY Read Excerpt
In Upstaged, the second book in the LeGarde Mystery Series, Gus LeGarde is in for another wild ride as he faces a disturbed stage mother, a deviant predator, and a twisted saboteur who lurks backstage, terrorizing the drama club with deadly, psychotic games.
Who's playing bizarre pranks on Gus's fiancée, Camille? Gus suspects handsome Brazilian student, Armand, whose behavior is laced with sexual improprieties. His suspicion shifts as a jealous stage-mother goes berserk when her daughter isn't cast in the lead role. As the attacks escalate, even the school superintendent is questioned when it's learned that his shadowy past is sealed in an official file.
The action turns lethal as opening night approaches. A sniper fires shots. Camille's home is ransacked and her beloved dog is missing. The star performer takes a bone-shattering fall when the stage railing mysteriously falls apart. Was the set rigged? Will Gus prevent the villain from upstaging the show?
BUY Read Excerpt
Tremolo: cry of the loon
Summer, 1964: Beatlemania hits the States, and the world mourns the loss of JFK. For eleven-year-old Gus LeGarde, the powerful events that rocked the nation serve as a backdrop for the most challenging summer of his life.
After Gus and his best friends capsize their boat at his grandparents’ lakeside camp, they witness a drunk chasing a girl through the foggy Maine woods. She’s scared. She’s hurt. And she disappears.
The camp is thrown into turmoil as the frantic search for Sharon begins. Reports of stolen relics arise, including a church bell cast by Paul Revere. When Gus and his friends stumble on a scepter that may be part of the spoils, they become targets for the evil lurking around the lake. Will they find Sharon before the villain does? And how can Gus–armed only with a big heart, a motorboat, and a nosy beagle–survive the menacing attacks on his life?
BUY Read Excerpt
When Siegfried receives a puzzling invitation to visit an ailing relative in Germany on the eve of Gus and Camille’s wedding, their honeymoon plans change. Siegfried – Gus’s socially challenged brother-in-law – can’t travel alone, so they gather the gentle giant under their wings and fly to Paris.
After luscious hours in the city of lights, a twist of fate propels them into a deadly web of neo-Nazis. A bloody brawl on the Champs Élysées thrusts Siegfried and Gus into the news, where a flawed report casts Siegfried as the Nazi leader’s murderer, sealing his death warrant.
While Siegfried recovers in a Parisian hospital, Nazi terrorists stalk Gus and Camille. Hunted and left for dead in the underground Parisian Catacombs among millions of Frenchmen’s bones, they barely escape. Siegfried is moved to safety at his aunt’s in Denkendorf, where he learns a shocking family secret about Chopin’s steamy past.
The calm is soon shattered, when the threesome is plunged into a cat-and-mouse game where the stakes are lethal and the future of Europe hangs in the balance.
BUY Read Excerpt
Firesong (coming in 2011)
Moore Mysteries (AKA Green Marble Mysteries)
Healey's Cave - Book One in the Green Marble Mystery series
Sam Moore's little brother vanished fifty years ago. No body. No answers. What Sam has is a boatload of guilt, since he failed to accompany Billy on his final, fateful bike ride.
While digging in his garden, Sam discovers a green marble with a startling secret—it whisks him back to his childhood, connecting him to Billy. Thrust back and forth through time, Sam struggles to unlock the secret of his brother’s fate.
When the FBI investigates remains found nearby, Sam learns of a serial killer with a grisly fifty-year record. Sam’s certain it’s Billy’s killer. But what’s worse, his grandson fits the profile of the murdered boys. Will the killer return to Sam’s town to claim his final kill? Can Sam untangle the truth in time to save him?
BUY Read Excerpt
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Cover artwork copyright © GinELF
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