Unemployment != Lots of Time to Write

I've always dreamed of having the chance just to hang out and plenty of time to write, with no other employment obligations. What writer doesn't think, "Wow. If I didn't have to do X, Y, and Z for 40 hours a week, I'd be so productive. My  writing would take off like crazy because I'd have 40 hours free every week just to focus on my imaginary worlds." In December, I was informed by my boss that I'd be laid off at the end of the year due to lack of work. I was excited, knowing that I'd collect some unemployment and have "free time" to write. I assumed I'd get a couple rough drafts completed, start revising, do an outline of a new idea, and even get in the habit of blogging regularly (on both my blogs).

After a couple months, I accepted that I was delusional and reassessed my goals. I would be happy if I was blogging regularly and finished the rough draft I've been focusing on lately. If I could move along with Alaskan Hope, that'd be a bonus.

However, in the past five months, I've got so little accomplished that it's embarrassing. I should have finished at least a draft on one (two would be better) stories that are all outlined. Instead, I've been spending my time sleeping and playing facebook games. I've also compiled an enormous list of things I'd like to buy. Funny how much I think I should purchase when I have no paycheck.

I could make a pile of excuses like:

  • My husband has been working lots of hours, so when he's home (and needs to sleep), I have a hard time saying, "Hey, watch your kids for a few hours so I can concentrate on writing."
  • I'm pregnant and tired.
  • It's hard to concentrate with two little kids running around.
  • I don't sleep well, so when I get a chance I want to nap.
  • I'm not inspired. And when I do get inspired, it's generally at some ungodly hour of the night and I know I have to get up with my kids in a few hours, so I make a note and go back to sleep. By the time I get a chance to work on the idea that inspired me, my interest has waned.

But the truth is, I'm not doing what I need to be doing in order to get my stuff finished. I have three novels completely outlined, rough drafts of two others that need some major work, and ideas up the proverbial wazoo. But nothing is getting done. I'm not sure if it's because I lack any sense of urgency to complete my current projects, I've lost interest in my projects, or I just plain enjoy being lazy and spending time playing with my kids.

While I'm not going to end up living in a cardboard box when my unemployment runs out, money is a nice commodity. I applied for a few jobs in my "chosen profession" this week. And I suspect if I get hired, magically, all I will be interested in is writing. But for now, I still want to sit on the couch with the dogs and kids while playing Words with Friends.

Does anyone else have issues being productive when there isn't a deadline looming? Do you work better under pressure? Have tips to force myself to work?

Censorship and how it affects me

How often have you heard about censorship lately? I know, I know. Everyone believes in their own right of free speech, and some people even believe in free speech for others. Mostly just when their free speaking matches our thoughts. But this isn't about other people, or even the government, censoring anyone. How often do you censor yourself and how much does it affect your writing? How often do you bite your tongue instead of telling someone exactly what you think? How often have you changed a character's traits because you were afraid of what someone important would say?

I often bite my tongue, just so I don't upset people, even if they're upsetting me. So instead of them being aware that they're annoying or frustrating me, I just suck it up instead of them being upset.

I have a hard time writing certain things because I'm always worrying, in the back of my mind, what so-and-so will think if they read it. Will they think I'm talking about them? Will they think I'm insulting them? Or will they be flattered that they mattered enough for me to think of them while I was writing a story?

What's Grandma going to think if she reads something I wrote that has actual sex scenes instead of alluding to them and magically having a scene break right the characters are doing the nasty? Good lord, what if one of my drinking buddies thinks the alcoholic in a novel is based on them? Will they ever believe that I created that character long before I met them?

If I write about a woman who's cheating on her husband, is my husband going to think I'm cheating on him? Or that I want to cheat on him?

All of these questions go through my mind when I'm writing. It's ridiculous; isn't it? At some point, if I want to be productive, I have to get back to where I was writing for myself. The story is what matters and if someone doesn't understand that my experiences all play into my writing, i guess I'll never be able to explain it to them. Right? As for Grandma, I suspect she knows what sex is. She did have kids of her own.

My current work-in-progress has some scenes that I'm uncomfortable writing because I'm worried what people will think when they read it. However, the scenes are demanded by the story and the characters. I don't write sex scenes just to make sure there are sex scenes.

How does self-censorship affect you and your writing? Or even your daily life?

Can an author write in multiple genres?

As I was going through things the other day (notebooks, CDs, printed drafts from 5 computers ago, etc) I found some stories I wrote that I still like. Most of them are in the rough draft stage, but I'm not sure anyone would want to read them. I'm curious what you guys think when you start reading a book by an author you like (because hopefully you all like me) and it's not like the previous book(s) you've read by that author.

Do you feel let down because they changed things on you? Or is it okay? Should an author stick to one genre or can they have books in slightly different genres? Can I go from Alaskan Healing to characters who time travel? Or believe in reincarnation? Or what if they practice magick (and it really works)?

Am I going to annoy people if I write books with different elements (that some people don't believe in)? Or should I use a pen name for them? Because, yes, they will be written. However, I only have so many ideas for pen names, and I'm not sure that all of my ideas fit into any one category.


**To clarify, my story ideas will only be published as novels. Short stories scare the crap out of me. I ramble too much to have short stories. Even if I refer to it as a "story", I mean really really rough draft of a novel that needs to be expanded into a novel.