This month we're walking a mile in Jill Kemerer's shoes as she takes us through a day full of projects, plotting and the wonders of coffee!
It’s a dark Wednesday morning in northwestern Ohio when my alarm pesters me at six-fifteen a.m. As usual, I lay there for exactly four minutes, trying to wrap my head around the fact I have to get up.
I don’t want to.
After putting on workout clothes and waking my teenage son, I head downstairs to make the magic happen—no, I’m not talking about writing—I’m talking about coffee!
Mmm…I make a pot of delicious caffeine then settle on my couch with a bagel and the television remote. My son catches the bus, my hubby and I watch the morning news or catch up on sports, and, before I know it, the house is all mine. It takes a while for the old brain to fire up, so I spend thirty minutes writing in my journal and reading a few chapters of the Bible. When I finish, I feel centred. By now, it’s eight, and I’m ready to get moving. Since evenings can be chaotic, I do my workouts in the morning, usually alternating between yoga, boot camp DVDs, or walking. Works for me!
Once I’ve changed and caught up with a few writer friends using the Voxer app, I’m ready to make the long commute to my corner office. It’s up the stairs, so it takes all of fifteen seconds. Hey, I’m not complaining.
This might shock you, but I’m an expert time waster. Yes, it’s a talent. But, unfortunately, I cannot meet deadlines if I scroll through Facebook all day. So I have to set limits. Thirty minutes to check emails (deleting any that don’t need to be saved to keep my inbox at a minimum), post on Facebook and Twitter, and moderate blog comments. At ten-thirty, I’m officially ready to write.
Today I’m working on two projects. I spend an hour and a half adding to a draft of a romantic suspense. Then I take five minutes to check emails and Facebook and Twitter once more, and I’m off to lunch.
Lunch isn’t glamorous. Our small town offers few quick and easy lunch options, so I typically make something at home. Today it’s a can of Progresso soup, a few slices of cheese and some deli chicken breast for protein. Exciting, I know. If I have chocolate in the house, I like to have a piece. Gets me in the right frame of mind for a busy afternoon.
Since I have a proposal due at the end of the month, I dedicate the afternoon to nitty gritty plotting and expanding my original synopsis. I’m thankful I have a long stretch of time for this because I need to be in the zone. I already had a good handle on the basic plot points, but I still need to figure out what’s happening in the middle of the story. I search deeper into my characters’ motivations, their desires, their pasts.
All this plotting leads me to some interesting research about Wyoming. And postpartum depression. And quadruplets. And being raised by an alcoholic. I shudder to think of anyone studying my website browsing history. But it’s all worth it. I’m ready to tackle that synopsis.
I open the short synopsis, save it in a new file, and, before I can convince myself writing it today is a very bad, terrible, no-good idea, I dive in. Two hours later, I have a choppy, poorly written long synopsis, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Getting the words and ideas down is the hard part for me. Shaping them into something coherent is where I shine.
It’s five-thirty, and my son is off to driver’s training. Usually, he’s at baseball practice right now. Our daughter is away at college, so I’ve already texted her several times today. My husband isn’t home from work yet, and I decide to spend fifteen minutes sharing links with my street team on Facebook to promote my new book and, you guessed it, I check emails and Twitter, too.
Some days I have a bajillion errands—mailing books at the post office, meeting a writer friend for coffee, stopping at the library for a research book. Other days I might write a first draft for six to seven hours before going full-on comatose with drool running down the side of my mouth. If I’m revising, I either make changes directly to the file on my laptop, or I purple-line (I like purple pens better than red ones) a hard copy for hours.
Most days I fit other things in as well. I write blog posts and create graphics to promote my books and to connect with readers. Then there’s the business stuff. About once a week I update my income-expense report and file receipts. Every Monday I set weekly goals and daily goals, entering both into my planner. At the end of each day, I cross off the ones I met, and circle the ones I didn’t. It keeps me on track.
I’m blessed to write full time, and I do my best to keep my evenings free to spend with my family or to just chill out. Last night I worked for a few hours after dinner, but I try not to do that regularly.
Tonight I’m making a casserole (everyone will groan but they’ll happily eat it), grabbing a book off the stack I borrowed from the library and reading to my heart’s content. If I didn’t have to get up with the alarm, I’d read all night. But…the alarm is a must, tomorrow is another full day, and I’m already excited about the big pot of coffee!
Jill's latest release, The Rancher's Mistletoe Bride, is out now. For more information check out her website and her blog, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
Are you an early riser like Jill? Is coffee your first port of call in the morning? How do you fit writing into your day? Tell us what you think in the comments or use #MileInHerShoes on Social Media to join the #PHS readers discussing this subject.