Friday, April 27, 2012

Discipline, Dedication, and Very Old TV Shows

Writer’s Block: It happens. It’s happening right now. I’m halfway into book four in my Underworld Detection Agency series and a mere three weeks away from deadline. Technically, the book should have been done two weeks ago, but I was afforded a lucky reprieve because my editor has (thankfully) extended his European vacation. And before you think “extra-long European vacation?! Writers and book people must make tons of money!” Let me just mention that my last vacation? Involved a tent, sixteen pounds of DEET, and an air mattress with a slow leak. Not that I’m complaining. Except I am.

Anyway, my thought was that I would wake up this morning and, just before settling down to hammer out a good chunk of the as-yet untitled Under-Something, I would drop in here and impart the kind of deep, thought-provoking prose I read from authors I loved just as I was starting out. Something like Anne Lamott’s invaluable (and inspiring) bits in Bird by Bird. Or maybe I’d offer some of those fabulous character studies I love so much from Janet Evanovich’s How I Write. I used to love sitting down with those books, knowing that those authors woke up fresh faced and sat at a clean desk, just recording genius as it flowed from their collective brains. Easy, I thought then, and elegant.

I still believe in their ease and genius and clean desks, even as I sit here, trying to finagle five inches of couch space from my cat who, like water, can randomly spread her body to fit (read: take over) any space she wishes. While I watch a decade old repeat of Boy Meets World on mute. And think about pancakes and how I don’t want to go to the gym this morning because it might interfere with my lunch plans. Genius, right! Creative tidbits! Thought-provoking prose and prompts! Ummm…

Here’s the thing: I love my job. I love it more than donuts, Johnny Depp, and an Army Wives marathon. I might love it even more than me, nibbling on a donut-covered Johnny Depp while watching an Army Wives marathon. And that’s saying a lot, because those are all things I love and things that would likely make up my perfect last day on earth. But just because I love my job doesn’t mean it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle or that sometimes, I don’t spend full days staring at a near blank screen, certain that the blinking cursor is a mocking ploy by Microsoft to get me to off myself. I love it, but my job is a job and when people say “I admire your discipline!” or “how do you get yourself to keep going?” my answer is always this: how many days have you dragged yourself out of bed, slogged your way to work, only to stare at the clock, willing it to be time to go home? Probably more often than you can count. But do you still get up the next morning and do it again? So do I.  Some days I love to write. Some days I think I’ve just sat down and when I look up, hours have passed and Sophie Lawson has gone from being smiley and chocolate-mouthed to eyebrow deep in danger and zombie parts. Other days… well, other days, I try desperately to stay relevant while watching old TV and bargaining for couch space with the cat. It’s about discipline, and dedication, and your editor’s travel schedule. It’s about doing what you love when you don’t always love it. It might not be as elegant as Anne Lamott or Janet Evanovich but if you want to write – if you want to do anything – the key isn’t to throwing yourself full boar into it when you want to, it’s doing it even when you don’t.

Especially if you have nowhere to sit.

Do you have tips and tricks to get yourself motivated or favorite books that help? Whether it’s to write, to exercise, or just to get out of bed, I’d love to hear them!  One lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of Under Suspicion. US and Canada only, please. Winner will be drawn randomly from all entries. Good luck!

Visit Hannah at or Tweet me @Hannah_Jayne! Like the Hannah Jayne author page for more fun giveaways!

As always, thank you for reading and I’m sorry my book covers don’t match the content (Sophie doesn't like leather!). Seriously, I have nothing to do with cover choices...

***Hannah's winner is Ev!  Ev, please email me at with your mailing info.  Thank you!***


E.J. Wesley said...

" the key isn’t to throwing yourself full boar into it when you want to, it’s doing it even when you don’t."

Oh so painfully true, sister. : ) Really enjoyed reading this! Sad about the cover, but at least she's hot? (Not 'hot' hot, but smoking. Literally. She's pretty too.)

We're all allowed a little time to bang our head against a wall and curse the gods. It's part of the writerly expression of the soul (see-drama) we're privy to. Makes our words stronger, I think.


erin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
erin said...

LOL... great post!!!! I can't even imagine what it would feel like to suffer from writer's block. I'd probably be done the first time it happened (which is why I'm not a writer :) )

Whenever I need motivation, I start with a walk w/ my dogs. I find that I do a lot of thinking on those walks (when I'm not yelling at the dogs) and I don't know if it's the exercise or fresh air, but I definitely feel that things have a better clarity after walking :)

Congrats on the new release! The cover is beautiful! Definitely looking forward to starting this series! (I just got books 1 and 2!!!! yay!!!)

Maureen said...

For me it is about setting up a routine because, after raising two kids, a routine is what gets things done.

ev said...

I spent the morning (I had today off) with two of my dogs laying in my lap while I read. Motivation was not easy to come by. I finally had to get up and go to the bathroom, so I got dressed, threw them out in the back yard and we raked and mowed the lawn. In less than 40 degree, windy weather. Where did the warmth go??

I have absolutely no motivating ideas for you at all. When the alarm goes off at 5am I know I have to get up and go to work. I finally got rid of an alarm that has a snooze button. That was my only motivation.

*yadkny* said...

I love my job too, but there are days I still need motivation, but I try not to think about it and like Nike says - just do it! So I guess I don't really have any tips of tricks:) I've just got myself down to a routine and so it's almost robotic and before I know it I am at work. I try not to look at the clock.

Di said...

some days I have trouble getting motivated to get tasks done. On some of those days it's because I'm not feeling 100%, and sometimes I realize it's because I'm not drinking enough fluids & I'm a bit dehydrated. So remember to hydrate - drink water - starting with 2 glasses when you get up & thru the day. Then break your tasks down, maybe start with something easy, then you'll feel good that something is completed & then the rest of the day may go better.
sallans d at yahoo dot com

Lil said...

Motivation is needed when I am too tired to work on the various projects at home and at my job. Normally, I try to pre-empt this problem by getting enough sleep to begin with, but on days when I feel the lack, I try to eat particularly well for breakfast to give me a healthy boost of energy to start my day.

little lamb lst at yahoo dot com

Dina said...

no I don 't have any tips to help me, I am looking for something though as somedays I need alittle motivation to get going in the day, a work in progress. :)

Michele L. said...

Smokin cover! My trick to motivating myself to get something I done, is to have my drink nearby, munchies handy, take my morning vitamins and have my daily cup of tea, a good stretch, and off I go, my engine a-puttering. Works like a charm for me! Something about those favorite snacks and drink nearby is a good incentive. Sometimes I light a candle to have a nice smell in the air to rev my engines. I guess it is all about the right chi for me! Ha,ha! Good luck finding your right chi to put the purr in your engine!

Chrisbails said...

I just get up because I know that if I stay in bed, nothing will get done. My kids motivate me a lot. I know that I have to get up and take care of them, like breakfast or getting them up and ready for school.
This is a new author for me and would love to win and read this book. Great cover.