Chris Marie Green — Life in a Cave

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Only the Good Die Young cover Hello! Thanks for stopping by again. :-)  This is my third post for the month and, so far, I’ve chatted about aspects of building a character and building a world. But this week, how about swerving away from a craft post and going into the nitty-gritty about the writer’s life?

The funniest thing about being a writer is that there’s this idea that it’s a glamorous career. Not so much. <G> I’m sure a lot of you are like me, writing in your pajamas and sitting in your bed with a laptop. You get to make your own hours but, man, my boss is a total hardcase! She’s really strict about deadlines and is constantly on my tail about getting back to work.

Of course, my boss is me. And if I don’t exercise some willpower and stay away from the TV during work hours, I don’t get paid, just like any other job. Yes, writers can dictate their own schedules, but sitting down and actually getting work done can be the toughest part of being self-employed. (No complaints though! <G>)

I think writers field a lot of questions about how we work because we’re perceived as having more than the usual freedom. Many people ask me how I schedule everything, and when I tell them that my day can be all over the place, it’s not a very productive or exciting answer. But there’s one tried and true component of my schedule that never changes.

I always have major cave time.

What I mean by that is I consider my home my writing cave. This is where I hunker down and get loads of work done, because I have peace and quiet in my cave. I can eat, sleep, and drink my story without very many distractions. I don’t have any semblance of a social life until it’s time to visit family and friends five hours away in another town every so often. In other words, I live a dual life—one that’s all about being inside my head and one that’s mostly about being outside my head  (although I still do work when I escape my cave. I’m just not a complete writing zombie when I’m “out in the world.”)

Lest you think that I’m a total zombie during cave time…nope. I might be Commando Writing Robot Girl, but my joints freeze up if I don’t maintain myself. When I’m not writing about ghosts, vampires, or romances, I actually enjoy getting out to go to the gym, especially for my yoga practice. Honestly, yoga is a writer’s best friend, because it recharges the batteries; it keeps your body flexible so you can fight off the sitting-at-my-desk-all-day blues and it offers positive affirmation for the times when a writer doubts herself (It happens, right?). Walking is also a highlight of my day when I’m not at the gym. There’s just something about the rhythm of striding along and something about the fresh air that gives me a second wind.

I also eat in my cave. That’s right—I do remember to schedule time for that. Luckily, when I’m at the keyboard, I don’t crave snacks. I’m obsessed with powering through the chapter I’m writing or editing. My worst temptation is the TV, which I watch a lot! (I tell people that watching TV is research and a part of my process. And you know what? It’s true! I keep paper and a pen next to me, and I can’t tell you how many plot holes I’ve filled and world building details I’ve come up with sitting there in front of the TV. The mind goes into a zone that gives the writer permission to relax, but it’s a zone in which ideas are floating around. It’s actually a meditative state for me.)

As for my official work time (because, really, TV watching is work. Seriously!), my schedule has changed recently. Before I dipped my toes into indie and self-publishing, my mind was free enough to write my chapters or polish pages during the day. That sure changed though. Now I feel compelled to keep up with East Coast business hours, and this is what my schedule looks like at the present time:

Morning: business (address issues that always come up in emails, do promotion and marketing)

Mid-morning: exercise

Afternoon: break time. TV.

Late afternoon/Night: write chapters, polish pages (creative time)

I still consider myself a morning person, and I do miss writing at that time. But I’ve adjusted. I’m sure there’ll be a lot more of that as I go along, too!

So what is your writer’s life like? Any quirks you can share with us? 

VB book photo Chris Marie Green is the author of ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG, the first book in the Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire series from Roc, which features a fun-loving spirit from the 80s. She also wrote the urban fantasy Vampire Babylon series from Ace Books

She tries her best to avoid international incidents whenever she takes a break from her first love, writing, and cheats on it with her other true love—traveling. She has alter egos named Christine Cody, who wrote the dark fantasy Bloodlands trilogy, and Crystal Green, who likes to write romance.

You can find her at www.chrismariegreen.com or hang out with her online at https://twitter.com/ChrisMarieGreen and http://www.facebook.com/chrismariegreen.

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Blog http://crystal-green.blogspot.com/ 
Website www.chrismariegreen.com 
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/chrismariegreen/ 
goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/785690-chris-marie-green 
twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisMarieGreen 
FB: http://www.facebook.com/chrismariegreen 

Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green
The She Code
www.chrismariegreen.com

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11 comments to Chris Marie Green — Life in a Cave

  • Chris, my cave has an “eatin'” table, and a TV, and a recliner. Like you, I seldom leave it during the day, even doing my exercise there in winter.

    My schedule has changed recently, to cut out the hours I used to fill with a day job and to fill those hours with family issues. But I am getting more yoga stretches in and eating better. (I’ve lost 3 of the 8 cruise/holiday eating lbs.) I guess the only thing I can think of as a quirk is the tea. I MUST have tea to write. Today is a hot, black tea, flavored with real coconut, and a vanilla cream. Yummy.

  • PS — and thank you for being here. You must come back when you have a release, so we can celebrate it with you!

  • I am SO happy you wrote that “TV is work.” No one ever seems to believe me when I say that, but I can’t count how many times I’ve jumped up from watching to write down an idea that just occurred to me. Other than that, I don’t think I have any writing life quirks. Right now my day job life is taking pretty much all of my time and energy (in a good way, but still–all my time and energy) so my writing life basically consists of trying to stay awake long enough to write words that make sense :)

  • CMGreen

    Faith, good job on the weight loss! And, oh boy, I hear you about personal issues interfering with work. And I’m a tea girl, too! I love Teavana. :)
    Thanks for the re-invite–you know I’ll be here! What a fantastic community.

    LOL, SiSi! I’m so happy you’re on the same page about the TV. And I admire you for being able to work *and* write. Wow. I haven’t done that since I quit teaching over ten years ago…

  • I share my cave with one who likes to treat the living room as his man-cave, and two kitties who like to treat various spots around the cave as theirs-and-how-dare-we-make-them-move, so space is sometimes a negotiation. Sometimes I have to leave my cave to be productive. Other times I have to hide away in the nooks and crannies. Sometimes time is a negotiation, too. The research I conduct watching our TV by studying plot and character on certain shows has to be fit in with our schedules and commitments. And then five days a week, I’m forced out of the cave for the Day Job.

    Really, I just try to squeeze as much as I can into my spare time. It mostly works. Mostly.

  • Razziecat

    I’m out of the house a minimum of 10 hours every day, from catching the bus to getting back home, and that’s not counting the days I have to stop somewhere after work. So my writing is limited to evenings, weekends and other days off. I’m a night person; to me, the best writing time is between midnight and dawn ;), and the best accompaniment is music (to block out other noise) and a big mug of hot coffee (maple walnut…mmmmm).

  • CMGreen

    LOL, Laura. They need to respect your cave!

    Razziecat–I would need that coffee to write during yours hours (and lots of sugar)!

  • Cindy

    Ok, I will confess to pajama writing sometimes, but it’s at a desk. I drink way to much diet coke when I write and I need to cut back on that. I always have a dog holding the floor down at my feet, but they don’t give much feedback if I’m stuck. But at least walking the dog makes me get exercise in the winter. I am not a winter person at all. Thanks, for the post.

  • CMGreen

    Cindy, I should be writing at a desk, too–and getting up to move around more. But you know how it is when you’re in the flow. You can’t get back to that groove if you interrupt it!

  • inkfire

    Classes consume most of my day five days a week, and then for two hours I work out. I must work out. Otherwise no productive activity will get done, for a class or my writing life. On the weekends I blockade myself in my cave and don’t get up except to use the bathroom, refill on refreshments, and let my family know I haven’t died. Music is a key ingredient to my writing, to my life really. And gum. Gum gets my creative jucies flowing.

  • CMGreen

    LOL about the gum, inkfire. Thanks for sharing, and you know I agree about the exercise! It really does make a writer feel better. :)