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May 21, 2014

Leslie Liautaud: Writing in Real Life

Black Bear Lake
As I’m sitting here writing this post, I have 3 sets of eyes boring into the back of my skull. I can feel them and it makes my skin crawl, like in those horror movie when the girl is walking down the street and senses someone’s presence. She won’t look behind her but starts waling faster and you scream at the screen, “RUN!”

It’s like that. Except that there’s no axe murderer. The eyes belong to my three dogs. And they want to be fed. NOW.

This is the reality of being a writer who works at home. Real life happens and it usually takes precedence over whatever piece I’m working on. The dogs need to be fed. And watered. And walked. And petted. (Let’s face it, these guys are high maintenance and needy!) My kids need rides to school events and sports. And while I’m lucky enough to be a stay at home mom, it means that all “home” stuff falls in my lap. Cooking, laundry, grocery shopping, and house cleaning all fall under this. There are also the every day things we all do: exercising, answering emails, phoning mom to check it.

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In a dream world, I’d have a cabin in the woods I could escape to four days a week, where I’d eat sleep and breathe writing. Or maybe a loft apartment in the middle of a major city with all the creative energy buzzing through the air, pushing me forward as I concentrate on a new manuscript. Honestly, I could easily spend more time daydreaming about writing by the ocean than actually writing.

But I live in Real Life and Real Life makes it tricky to carve out time to sit and concentrate on plot, character development and structure. So, what’s a gal (or guy) to do? For me, this meant turning off my phone and email for one hour intervals, because every phone call and every new message brings on a new set of tasks I need to complete. I close my office door and set the timer. When it goes off, I stop, switch out the laundry, feed the dogs, check my phone and do a quick email check. Then I set the timer for another hour. And so on and so on.

The crazy thing is that this can apply to ANYTHING, not just writing If you’re passionate about playing guitar, you can find a way to carve out an hour. And if you’re lucky, there’s a second hour waiting after that. If you love theatre, take time to read plays. If you love sewing, lay out your pattern and start pinning for an hour. We all have loves and passions and we all have responsibilities that keep us from spending every second on those things. Some of us may be lucky enough to work in our field of passion and some are able to enjoy them as hobbies. The point is, whatever you are passionate about, find time in Real Life to pursue those passions. And there’s always a way to find time.

I’d like to go on and on about all the little things that can be done to reclaim time…such as turning off the TV for an hour or shutting down FaceBook for an hour. I’d give more examples but I have to go. My son is staring at the back of my head. He needs a ride to the movies. NOW.

About the Author:

Leslie Liautaud is the author of Midnight Waltzes (2006), He Is Us (2008), The Wreck (2009), SALIGIA (2011), The Mansion (2012) and Summer Nights and Dreams (2012). She is also the author of the coming-of-age novel, Black Bear Lake (CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014).
Leslie is originally from Kansas City, MO where she worked in the performing arts. Currently, she divides her time between between Key Largo, FL and Champaign, IL with her husband, three teenage children and three rambunctious dogs.
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