Monday, February 23, 2015

Guest Post by Laura Chapman, Author of "The Marrying Type"

An Irregular Routine
By Laura Chapman

When people ask me about my writing routine, I wish I had a good answer. Something like, “I wake up every morning at 4:30 am, at my computer by 5, and write ten pages before I go to the office at 8.” Despite my best intentions, like going to the gym every day, I’ve never been disciplined enough to make myself follow a schedule that lasts long-term.

I can’t even give a proper answer about where I write. My first novel, Hard Hats and Doormats, was written partially on airplanes and in airports and dodgy motels. My new book, The Marrying Type, was written primarily in coffee shops and cafes during National Novel Writing Month 2011 and in the months following. (Book 3, which is in editing, was written in bars or staring at the view of a bar visible outside the window of my home office.)

I’m still learning how to be the best writer--heck the best person--I can be, which means my process is adapting and evolving as I develop my craft. Still, in the past few years, I have developed a list of a few things I must have with me during my big, productive spurts of writing.

1. Coffee. It almost feels like a cliche to be a writer talking about her need of coffee, but what can I say? It’s a standard association for a reason. When I’m at home doing my early morning writing, I set my coffee timer to brew a fragrant hazelnut, cinnamon, or vanilla blend. I like flavored coffees that aren’t too dark. Once a week, I’ll venture to Starbucks and/or Panera, where I get the blonde roast and hazelnut respectively. There really is something about taking that first whiff and then sip of coffee that stirs my creative juices (and helps me stay awake despite the early hour).

2. Headphones. Back in the days when I traveled frequently, I learned to be able to write wherever I went. In a busy airport or a crowded coffee shop, that meant putting in headphones and listening to music to drown out the sound around me. Even now when I’m writing at home in the quiet, I almost always put my earbuds in before I write. While I don’t always listen to music while I work, just the motion of putting on my headphones and sitting with them in helps me feel like I’m in my writing world.

3. A gameplan. I’m a plotter by nature, which means I need to have at least a basic outline of my story and where I’m going when I write. My outlines aren’t super extensive (sometimes the only words on a point will be something like, “Elliot joins the bridal party for some bachelorette fun”), but I like having the prompt. In addition, I’m a listmaker, so I’ll frequently jot down some goals before a writing session, such as “write 1,000 words” or “finish the dress-fitting scene.”

4. A timer. This is a relatively new addition to my writing team, but this fall I invested in an egg-timer to give the Pomodoro Technique the old college try. If you haven’t heard of this before, basically you put 25 minutes on the clock and commit to doing that task for the full 25 minutes. That means no Facebook breaks, no giving the kittens a scratch behind the ears, no refilling your coffee mug. All of that can wait until after the timer rings. I had a lot of success using this to finish the first draft of my third book, and I’m sure it will be useful as I finish the first draft of my fourth book sometime this spring.

5. Frequent cat breaks. I try my best to focus on writing during the times I designate for it, but I also recognize that I’m human and need to take care of myself and those that depend on me. That means taking breaks to stretch, play with my cats (Jane and Bingley), and just living life. I always feel so much better after taking some time for myself, and I think it makes my writing that much stronger--or at least I don’t whine so much.

Thanks so much to Jonita for having me here, today, and thanks to all of you for letting me share a little bit about my writing world.

About the Book

Always the wedding planner, never a bride, Elliot Lynch is famous for orchestrating the splashiest
weddings in Charleston, South Carolina. When her father’s sloppy management practices leave them on the brink of bankruptcy, Elliot will do whatever it takes to save the family business. When asked to appear on “The Marrying Type,” a reality TV show about the people behind the scenes as couples exchange I dos, she says yes to the invasion of privacy (and the hefty paycheck that comes with it).

With a camera crew capturing every detail of her life, Elliot faces her most challenging contract yet: planning a wedding where her ex is involved in every part of the process. Add in a lazy assistant, liquor-loving bridesmaid, and rival planner encroaching on her turf, and Elliot’s wedding season goes from high-end to high-stress.

Forced to confront her past, Elliot must live out her troubled present on national TV if she has any hope of saving her future.

About the Author

Laura Chapman is the author of The Marrying Type, Hard Hats and Doormats and the Autumn and Tuck series, which appear in Merry & Bright and A Kind of Mad Courage. A native Nebraskan, she loves football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Until she fulfills her dream of landing a British husband or becoming a Disney princess, you can find her in a bar penning her next novel.

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