I had a lovely weekend, the kind where you forget all about everything that happened in the previous week…including where you’re at in your novel. I spent the day getting reacquainted with Leads & Lynxes and then outlining the last scene before the epilogue. The outline is over 3 pages long for this single scene, but it’s detailed, and I like the way the events play out. Hooray! Tomorrow, I dictate it out. This book is so close to being done!

Over the weekend, I got a few questions from fans, so here we go:

1. Jackie T. asks,

“How did you get started writing?”

I can’t remember a time I didn’t make up stories. I used to think everyone did this. I made up stories about strangers I would see (lots of aliens inhabited those fantasies) or about places (many great adventures took place alongside whatever road my parents were driving me down). I still do this. I don’t know how to turn it off, and I don’t want to learn how. I have a rich inner life, and I really enjoy it.

I also don’t remember the first story I wrote, but the first time I knew I was meant to be an author was when I was in seventh grade. I had a wonderful teacher who inspired me to write and encouraged me to enter a school short story contest. My story was about a dragon (of course) and some sort of jewel. I had to illustrate my story, too. I placed second and got dinged because I was “too wordy.” (Ha!)

I’ve been hooked on writing ever since.

2. Linda H. asks,

“How many hours do you work on your projects each day?”

It varies. When I’m brainstorming or outlining, I aim for 4-6 hours of solid progress. When I’m writing, I set a word-count goal and keep going until I hit it. When I’m editing, I can work upwards of 8 hours in a day, but that’s rare and can lead to me needed to edit the same material multiple times. I think 6 hours is more common for editing.

I use Excel to keep a time sheet of my activities, recorded down to the minute. This way I can’t fool myself into thinking that I brainstormed for two hours when I actually spent 19 minutes in the middle fooling around on Facebook. Here’s today’s time sheet:

The rest of my time is spent on marketing and other business tasks. Sometimes, I have a novel and a short story going at the same time, so I’ll finish my daily goal for the main project, then put in another hour or two on the second project, depending on how much energy I have and how fast the deadline is approaching.

It took me a long time to come to grips with both how much, then how little time I spend being creative each day. At first, I was shocked by how fast I ran out of creative juice, but practice and training improved my stamina. Later, after burning out twice by pushing myself too hard, I had to come to terms with a marathon approach to writing. I’m not the author who works 12-hour days, jots out a book in 2 weeks, and thrives. (I still feel an overachiever’s guilt and sense of failure over this, too!) Alas, I need time to recharge my creativity daily.

If you’ve got any questions for me, don’t forget to post them according to the rules of this month’s giveaway so you’re entered to win. But no matter where you post a question, I’ll answer!