Fay: April is when we hope to have all our work in and edited.
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Millie: If you want it by this Christmas, you have to get it done early.
So how do you all write at home — longhand? Type on a computer? Write at 3 in the morning? What’s your writing style?
Millie: I still write in longhand. I write now because my typewriter’s down, so I have nowhere to type it, but I have it all ready. Usually (I write) in the living room in my recliner. I think that’s where I come up with my best ideas.
Darlene: I write at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. And I do longhand. Usually, after 37 revisions — all longhand — I think it’s OK.
Steve: I write anytime of day. I wake up five, six times during the night with another idea. I keep a pad of paper and a pen, just to scribble down, but sometimes I think, “This is too good, and I got to go to the computer right now.” I’ll work on my stuff every day on the computer.
Susan: My poetry (composing) is similar (to Steve’s) — where you get hit with a moment. I rhyme, and you can tell when the rhymes are coming to you: Even when you’re not trying, it’s rhyming. So I just let it flow, then come back to it and clean it up. When I’m writing the romance novel, I’m one that needs kind of quiet to stay in what I’m doing. Sometimes, (I get in a groove). My husband comes home (in the evening) and I’m exactly (as) he left me — I haven’t left the room. You feel like, “Wow, I accomplished a great deal.”
George: Well, at my age, at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, I gotta get up and go to the bathroom. I do this in a semi-stupor. That’s where I get some good ideas. I write longhand.
Fay: I have a little HP mini (computer), like a laptop shrunk. And I like that, because I can take it anywhere. I’m like Millie. I do most of my writing in the living room in my La-Z-Boy, or on the couch. But I’ve done it in the car. Done it anywhere. Because I work on several pieces at once.
Tom: My shower every morning is my time for what I call sorting. The water coming down is like a drone, and I can think. Generally, the story ideas will pop into my head sometime during that shower. Many of them are based on occurrences from the day before or the week before. And I’ll get out of the shower and get some ideas, and turn the computer on.
Tell me about problems or pitfalls you encounter while writing.
Fay: (My) novel — it’s been fits and starts, fits and starts. I’ll go for a while, and then all of a sudden, my characters shut up. You, know, they have to tell me where this is going. And so, I’ll go (write) something (else), until one of the characters (talks to me).
Susan: When you (George) started with us, you had writers block. You came to this group so frustrated. And you were at a point at which some of us were asking you to write and were giving you a topic that wasn’t true to your heart. And we talked it through, about why (we) write what (we) write, how you can tell when someone writes because they love it or because they feel like they have an assignment.
Lauren: At one point I had writers block for a year, between my second and third book. My father-in-law had passed away, and I had been his primary caregiver. I just sat and stared at my laptop for a year. I decided I’m not going to write anymore. And I went out and did volunteer work. I started meeting people. I started talking to people. I got out of the house, and suddenly I was inspired. That’s one of the things that writers will often forget. You think, “I’m going to sit and write.” But what inspires you is getting out, meeting people. Even fellow writers (can) hold each other accountable.
Fay: When Tom joined us, he had this novel he started 30 years ago. It’s great. And we said, “Finish the novel.” But he was stymied. He wasn’t writing. He wanted to write, but he wasn’t. Then he found a genre — 55-word stories — and now he writes all the time.
So how have you benefitted from being in the group?
George: We motivate each other.
Lauren: That’s one of the things that’s difficult for writers to do, because writing is a solitary thing. You sit by yourself to write. You lock yourself in your study, or in your studio. But then to get your inspiration, you need to go out.
Susan: I think what helps is the fact that as a group, each meeting has an expectation, a deadline. For each meeting, we had things to do and they were done.