Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Guest Blogger -- Helen Lacey

We have a special guest today from the opposite side of the playground... er... world. Helen's first book hit the shelves this month so let's help her celebrate and give her a big welcome!

A Day in the Life of . . . Helen Lacey

I can openly admit I have a wonderful life. I am a full time writer, I have a very nice husband and live in a house just a couple of hundred meters from the Pacific Ocean, at the southern most point of the Great Barrier Reef. There are dolphins and turtles and sometimes even migrating whales almost on my doorstep. There are
Lorikeet parrots on my patio most mornings. Plus I get to seriously indulge my passion for horses. Oh, and dogs. I have three dogs, three birds, eight horses and a house cow named Ginger. Did I say I had a very nice husband too?

But I also have youngest child syndrome, little patience and a short attention span. So sitting at a computer for hours a day can sometimes be a monumental challenge. Even though writing is a pleasure and now something I can do as a career. Of course I’m delighted to be in this position, and try to be grateful for my luck every day. I start out early – around 4.45am. I usually crank up the computer and then the kettle. I get emails done straight away – particularly anything that comes over night from my agent or editor. My husband leaves early so I see him off to work and then attend to my horses and dogs. After that, its full steam ahead …. Right? Well, only in the fantasy world of nothing-interrupts-my-writing-time. You know that place? No telephone calls, no knocks on the front door, no kids to drop off, no errands to run or people to see. Yeah, that place … I’ve heard it exists. Just not in my house.

Ideally I like to write one thousand words a day, seven days a week. Which means I should be able to write a novel every 8.5 weeks. Then again, maybe not. In the middle of those good intentions edits arrive, revisions need to be done, blogs have to be written, contests need to be judged etc. Things get in the way. Sometimes those elusive one thousand words come out at barely a hundred. And sometimes none at all.

I often wonder if really organized people suffer from the same kind of distractions. Or if my lack of attention to things is my way of procrastinating. I know some authors who steadfastly work for four hours, write their projected word count and then down their tools for the day. I mean, it’s not as though I’m avoiding writing the book, right? Maybe that depends on the book. Like right now I’m in the middle of revising book four in my series before I send it to my editor for consideration. I know these characters, I know the town they live in, I know their family and friends. It should be a breeze. I should be able to sit at my desk, look out at the ocean for a moment, call on my muse and write. Or at least revise and polish. But like every job on the planet, some days are diamonds, some days are... well, you get the picture.

Maybe that’s why some of my favourite romances are the ones where the heroine has those really bad days at work. Where she hasn’t always got it all together. Where she daydreams and stares out the window or has a meltdown in the boardroom. This girl knows. She gets how it feels to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, to break a heel, to get someone else’s coffee order, to miss the train home by a second. When she gets her happy ending it feels all the sweeter.

So when the procrastination passes I get back to the book. If I get four hour work in the day I’m happy and I like to write at night when it’s quiet. I also like to hear the faint hum of the television in the background, or music playing. (Maybe they are just more things to distract me?). Everyone has a different process and no one way is the right way. Some writers like complete silence, some have plugs attached to their ears and Coldplay or Adele belting out tunes. If I get my thousand words I’m happy, if not . . . well, Scarlett said it best – tomorrow is another day.

Do you plan? Makes lists? Have a itinerary of your day? Or do you fly by the seat of your pants and wait for things to happen? Leave a comment and go into the draw to win a copy of my January 2012 release from Harlequin Special Edition, Made For Marriage.


Equestrian Callie Jones was used to difficult parents at her riding school. But Noah Preston took the cake.
How dare he question her teaching abilities, after his headstrong daughter paid no heed to rules—her teacher's or her father's?
Single dad Noah was ready to apologize for overreacting. But he wasn't sorry for the way the stunning American riding instructor made him feel. And he soon learned that there was more to Callie than her smarts, sass and fire: a shattered heart that threatened to splinter even further. Could he make her see that he — and his family — were for keeps?

Learn more on Helen's website.


JaneB said...

Helen great post. I'm sooo a planner in that i plan every day - usually the night before when i've just gone to bed. I plan down to 5 minute increments - i kid u not. Such a sad existence huh! But that way i do get stuff done - mostly.

Happye writing Helen

Anonymous said...

I aim for 1000w a day too but things get in the way... life and stuff!
I like a to do list and often writing the list is at the top. it's all about accomplishing _something_....

Lee Christine said...

I strive for 1,000 words a day but too often fall short. Yesterday, I wrote 800, today - zip!So, the answer for me is to prioritize.Love your post as always Helen.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Jane - I so envy your planning skills :) Thanks for stopping by.

Natalie said...

Hi Helen
I love your post, especially the bit about the heroine who has bad days - it's so easy to relate. I roughly plan my week - I have a planner on the fridge - and each day I roughly plan that too. I say roughly because anything can, and does happen. If I write as soon as I get home from kid drop off, it gets done. If not, it doesn't. resolution is to write two book this year. I might have to revise my MO.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Bec - 1k a day is a great goal. Like you I find things sometimes get in the way, but I'll keep trying :) Thanks for stopping by.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi there Lee - greta to see you here. There seems to be a trend with 1k a day :)

Laurie G said...

I'm in the process of getting my 30+ hour a week job back. In the mean time, I'm enjoying a break from vigorously planning my free time.

Normally, I keep ongoing lists with: things to buy, things to do,things to make, bills to pay, grocery list etc.

As I grow older the need for lists has increased. I can't remember as much as I used to remember.

Helene Young said...

How did I miss seeing your blog tour!!

Congrats on the release of Made for Marriage. Enjoy the excitement of seeing your debut novel out in the world!

Love your post - procrastination is the most fun a writer can have while pretending to work! I'd miss all the useless information I story up while I 'research' on the internet!! Having said that I'm a list maker - it goes with the day job where I have to be so organised...

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Natalie - I love that you have a plan for the year. Good luck with those two books. Thanks so much for stopping by.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Laurie - how I envy those who can make lists and stick to them :)Good luck with your job! And great to see you at the Writing Playground for my guest spot.

Cheryl C. said...

Hey Helen, glad to see you on the Playground! These girls are all fabulous! I am like you, up early, chores with the animals (we have a farm in hills of North Alabama) and seeing the hubby off to work at 5 a.m. I like to write early in the morning before the distractions begin. I strive for at least a thousand words a day and sometimes I make it. I have to make lists or nothing will get done. Thanks for sharing your life and work with us!

Smarty Pants said...

I'm more of a feast and famine writer - nothing for several days, then 5k all at once. I don't recommend it, though. I have to work around the day job. It would be better if I could work a little each day, keep my head in the story. I'm working on it!

Congrats on your first book. Mine comes out in April!

Playground Monitor said...

I'm a list person and right now I have a couple lists going on. Primary is the one related to an auto accident I was in on December 30. I'm still dealing with injuries I received and still handling paperwork for that as well as getting my car replaced. I long for the day when it's over. Add in a part-time job and the work I do with a divorce recovery group and that's two more lists in addition to just the ordinary list for me with things like "buy food, clean the bathroom, clean off computer desk, etc."

Thanks for joining us today!

Nas Dean said...

Hi Helen and the PlayGround Players!

Lol! Helen I'm a complete list person. If I don't write it down I'll never be able to keep to my schedules!

Congratulations on the release of your fabulous MADE FOR MARRIAGE and wishing you mega sales success!

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Cheryl - thanks for dropping by. Great to see I'm not the only one up doing animal chores in the morning :)

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Smarty Pants - huge congrat's on your April release.

Angel said...

Lists, oh how I love thee, let me count the ways! I can't do anything without a list; I make them for everything. The start of any plan, project, or activity is a list (or the activity is on the To Do list for the day).

Yep, I'm a list junkie. :)

Thanks for visiting the Playground today, Helen!

chey said...

Great post!
Congrats on the release of Made for Marriage.
I'm a really good procrastinator. There's always something on my list I put off.

Helen Lacey said...

Hi Playground Monitor - I so envy list makers. You are so organized :) It's great to be here today.