Being a writer takes discipline. I try to follow in the footsteps of literary greats, like Ernest Hemingway. I visited his home in Key West. Hemingway and I have much in common: We both live in Florida, write for a living and have cats.
"Hemingway woke at 7:30, ate breakfast, and started writing at 9 AM," an admiring blogger wrote. "He stopped around 2 PM. When Hemingway was writing, he was completely present—when he was done, he stopped obsessing over it and left it until the next day. If you want to produce great work, you have to find a creative routine that’s effective for you and stick to it. Be present when working. Be absent when not."
Good advice. This week, I’m slammed with three deadlines: Read the final page proofs for my May Dead-End Job hardcover, "Board Stiff." Write a speech for a convention in Sarasota, Florida. Start my new Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper novel, "Fixing to Die."
7:30 AM: Awakened by Harry and Mystery, our two cats, howling for breakfast.
NOTE: I never read anywhere that Hemingway fed his cats. They must have been self-reliant and hunted their own food.
8:30 AM: Wake up again. Stumble to kitchen. Put tea bag in cup. Stare at tea kettle. Microwave bowl of heart-healthy oatmeal.
8:50: Scratch Mystery. Fairness is important. Get dressed. Throw in load of laundry.
9:00 AM: At my desk, ready to write, just like Hemingway. Except I have to check the Internet first. Laugh at Simon’s Cat cartoon, "Fly Guy." http://tinyurl.com/m9bdzs
Then check out cute puppy video: http://tinyurl.com/aqgxjt7
9:10: Post Simon’s Cat video on Facebook. Invite 50 Facebook friends to "like" my new Elaine Viets Mystery Writer page. http://www.facebook.com/ElaineVietsMysteryWriter
9:15: Yikes! I have 110 e-mails. Answer two. Try to find a polite way to refuse a nice person who wants a book for a charity auction, the fourth freebie request this week.
9:20: Fail miserably. Save charity book request for later. See the e-mail reminder that I have a Femmes blog due.
9:30: Don finishes his feature story for the newspaper and e-mails it to his editor.
9:45: I have written 481 words, almost Hemingway’s entire daily output!
9:50: Water plant in living room. Notice cats have chewed on the leaves. Throw laundry into dryer.
10:00 AM: Read another chapter of "Board Stiff." Find an error. Hope the mistake won’t distract reviewers who will read these uncorrected proofs as bound galleys. Pray novel gets reviewed.
Ask myself, "WWHD – What would Hemingway do?"
Decide he’d look at the photos, too, but in a different way. Go back to writing.
10:25: Don is on the phone, interviewing sources for his next story.
10:30: Take break from blogging to water wilting basil plant.
11:00 AM: Don is interviewing a third source for his story.
11:05: Take a break from writing to read more "Board Stiff." Fold laundry. Look for cats to scratch but they’re asleep in the bathtub.
11:30: Finish blog. I’ve exceeded Hemingway’s daily output by more than 175 words long before his two o’clock deadline.
All it takes is concentration.