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LoriFoster.jpg (8108 bytes)   Finding the Write Time

By Sherry Vaughn

So many new writers are amazed at the sheer weight of concerns existing that seem to combine to keep them from writing. You start out thinking it’s just a simple matter of sitting down and writing out a story that’s been floating around in your head for ages. Then it hits you that you’d better find out what kind of format it has to be in. Then as you continue to research this new thing of writing for a living, you find out you have to know tons of other things. Like, how to do a synopsis, a biography of yourself and a query letter. And, the list goes on! However, the real concern, the one that doesn’t occur to you until you try to actually sit down and write, is when do you get the time? In order to help with this very mundane, but important issue, I asked Lori Foster how she manages to do it. I chose Lori because, she is truly an incredible woman, by anyone’s standards. She has a husband, three children, a house to take care of and her mother to nurse. She told me she has, as of this reading, seven novels coming out next year…yes, I did say SEVEN. I absolutely had to know how she does it. This is what she had to say on the subject.

Q: Lori, what advice would you give new writers on how to organize their time in order to get the work done? Since you have a family, and this is a topic that comes up often, I think you could help a great deal here.

LORI: How do I organize my time in order to get the work done? Hmmm....Okay, here goes. But I give fair warning that I don't organize my time really. I do what I can, when I can, fitting things in as an ever-changing schedule allows. I'm a frenetic, obsessive person by nature-- which helps. Under every day normal circumstances, my kids and he come first, period. I fit writing in around that. This is actually a pretty complicated thing, because when a woman is an attentive mother and a fast writer and a conscientious professional, she generally has some sort of help. For me, that's my husband. If I'm writing and involved, he'll start dinner or change the laundry for me. Neither of us considers this a "favor." We both stay busy, doing what needs to be done. It's just part of our marriage.

My kids also pitch in now that they're older (17, 13, 11) but when they were younger I used their play time to write -- and to gradually teach them to pitch in when they got older. I'm incredibly fortunate that I write well with distractions. Most people who have children have learned to use several parts of their brains. I use mine to do many things at once. No, I don't ignore my kids ever, but ,I don't mind telling them if nothing is wrong, they need to wait just a few minutes for me to finish a thought. If they can't wait, then I hold that writing muse in one part of my brain while I deal with whatever has come up.

Contrary to popular belief, if your writing idea is a good one, it will NOT go away just because you put it on hold. It's usually the thoughts that weren't going to work out anyway that you tend to forget with distractions. I think the most important part to juggling life in general and writing in particular is to prioritize. Always. Every day. Priorities change, so you have to also. Don't tell yourself you *have* to write if your child is sick or has an athletic or school function you want or need to attend. Don't decide you *have* to write if your husband wants private time with you, or just wants to talk. Figure out what days you can write, then stick to it. But be flexible because those priorities do have a way of getting juggled. If it is your day to write, and the phone rings, don't answer it. If it's important, you'll hear about it on the answering machine. But to get the most out of the time you spend writing, think about your story a lot! Specifically the scene you'll need to write next.

This is where motivation comes in. In your spare time (I know, ha! But you do have it. When you're brushing your teeth? Putting in laundry? Driving?) Anyway, in your spare time, consider all the possibilities of what can happen in that scene. Go over it in your mind until you hit on something you're just dying to get down on paper. Then write it. If you try to force a scene, you'll get in the mind set of 'writing is a horrible chore' and you'll *learn* to dread it, rather than look forward to it. Don't do that to yourself. If the writing isn't coming, do one of those other priorities that'll free up your time for when the muse is churning!

Make writing fun, by being creative and excited about what you have to write. And above all, don't do anything you'll feel guilty for. Guilt is *so* destructive. If you feel guilty for writing, find out why and fix it! Yes, you can fix it. I felt guilty way back when for spending so much money on trying to get published. My husband had just had knee surgery was off work and money was tight. With his being the only income, we had to watch every penny. We've all been there, done that, right? Well, I got a part time job that fit in with my kids' schedules and made the money necessary to continue. Was it harder? Heck yeah! But I didn't have to deal with guilt. And understand, the guilt wasn't from my husband. He *always* told me he knew I'd get published. He always supported me. But I knew it could be years and years (it *was* years and years) and writing when you're not published often seems like a very expensive hobby to many of us. I know it did to me.

Another guilt -- writing when you think you should be doing something else. So do the something else and get it out of the way! If you can, fit writing in around his schedule if you think he might be right. If he's just plain wrong and making unnecessary demands, well... I'd tell him so. And then I'd write guilt free. Gosh, now I'm rambling and offering marital advice! In all seriousness, I hope some of what I've said makes sense. This is how I handle things, but if there's one thing I've learned through 40 years of living, it's that everyone has to handle their lives, their hobbies, their careers and their families in a way that works best for them.

Happy writing!


About Lori Foster
Lori Foster lives in Ohio with her husband of 20 years, Allen, and their three sons. She started writing when her sons were still in diapers. Her first book was written in long hand, the next nine on a typewriter. Lori vowed not to buy a computer until she sold her first book. She now owns a computer and has many novels to her credit. She writes romances for Harlequin’s Temptation series and is very good at it! A frenetic person by nature, Lori is always moving, always busy. Her husband swears she's obsessive, but since he knew that before the wedding, it's not a criticism. She writes amazingly well with distractions -- laundry, little league, the telephone . . . She loves her characters as much as she loves to laugh. Lori loves hearing from readers and promises to answer any and all email messages. Feel free to send her a message at:! or write to her at: Lori Foster P.O. Box 854 Ross, OH 45061

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