What Every Writer Needs…

by Memoir Mentor on September 26, 2010

If you’re discouraged about distractions that keep you from your writing, you may find some inspiration in Mary McNamara’s article, “A Working Mother’s Guide to Writing a Novel,” that appeared in today’s Los Angeles Times. McNamara is both a television and movie critic. When I see her byline in the paper, I always read what she has to say. She’s a good writer, and I trust her judgment.

Besides her critiquing job, McNamara has somehow found time to write a few novels…in addition to raising a family. She says her first book was so bad, she couldn’t get an agent. She did get an agent but couldn’t find a publisher for her second book. Then came her third, Oscar Season, which was published by Simon & Schuster. Now there’s a sequel called The Starlet. These last two are set in the Hollywood entertainment culture. She writes what she knows.

Her LA Times article has some good advice for those who are juggling multiple obligations. Here’s her writer’s must-have list:

  1. A supportive partner. (Her husband took over child care after dinner each night and let her write until 11:30. Nice guy!)
  2. Kids who read. (They’ll value your need to write a book.)
  3. Kids who are involved in activities that require practice of more than one hour.
  4. A laptop. (She says laptops are the modern woman’s version of Virginia Woolf’s famous room of one’s own.)
  5. A daily goal. (Daily is the operative word here.)
  6. The ability to mentally multitask. (Think about your story when your washing dishes, commuting to work, or taking a shower. We write in our head before we ever write on paper, at least we should.)
  7. The willingness to give up a lot of other stuff. (This is the hard part. She includes such things as hour-long workouts, lunch with friends, hobbies, even vacations!)
  8. Patience and a stiff upper lip. (Plan that it will take longer than you’d ever expect.)
  9. Discretion. (Don’t tell people you’re writing a book until you’ve actually got a good start on it.)
  10. Realistic expectations about what you can do.

There’s much more to her article, and it’s well worth reading here.

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