One of the great, often un-sung benefits of signing with a publisher is that you find yourself an instant writers community. HarperCollins seems to attract the nicest authors, it seems, because we all help each other out a great deal. Mary Victoria is one of my publishing buddies. She sold to HC around the same time as I and has followed a relatively similar publishing schedule. She’s funny and supportive and just fabulous - not to mention talented!
1) What is your writing schedule?
I write when my young daughter is in school, so 4-5 hours a day, five days a week. I do editing late in the evening if I still have a bit of energy. I start the day with a hymn to coffee…
2) Do you set yourself word count aims or time limits to keep yourself on track? What are your aims/limits?
I aim for 1000 words per writing session, but I’m not too fussed now when that doesn’t happen. When I wrote to schedule it had to be more, but then my body protested by Causing Pain. As I object to being in pain, I’ve decided to avoid that route until someone invents Amazing Bionic Writer’s Arms, which I’ll be the first to buy. Or else the Amazing Book Direct From Your Brain interface, TM.
3) Do you work on more than one project at a time? If so, how do you organise it?
I tend to concentrate on one project. That one story invades me and I can’t stop thinking about it!
4) If you have paid employment apart from writing, how do you organise your time so you can write?
I’m a mother. Damn, I wish that was paid… :D
5) If you have family, how do you organise your time so you can write?
Aha! Well, the short answer is, I fit around my family, for now. If my daughter is watching a film or out with her dad, I might sneak away and write. But otherwise, there’s too much else to do, and the headspace for writing isn’t there. I suspect all this will change in a few years when the kid hits her tweens and suddenly it’s utterly uncool to be within 100 feet of dad or mum, at least during the day. And then we have the teenage years to look forward to, when she’ll seek to extend that anti-parental restraining order to evening hours, too.
...Basically, I'm enjoying kid time while I can get it.
6) How do you get family and friends to respect the writing time and leave you be?
I work in the bedroom, usually a bit of a thoroughfare. I dream of having an office to myself one day. When deadlines loom or something goes horribly wrong, I do Shut The Door. (Shock! Horror!)
7) How do you ensure your health is a priority?
This is where I have slipped up badly in the past. I sacrificed my health to write to a publishing schedule. Some things you just don't get back. I've sworn off the masochism and am now swearing onto the exercise... I'm far too prone to sitting on my rump as it is.
8) What do you do to keep your ‘well of creativity’ stocked up?
So far, it hasn't left me in peace. Maybe writer's block will occur in the future but my problem at the moment is finding the time to do justice to the ideas that are there... it's a good problem. Long may it continue.
9) How do you cope with the days/weeks that you just don’t want to write?
It doesn't happen. Writing is my lifeline - when times are tough I hold onto it. I'm not sure what I'd do if the writing bottomed out. Panic!
10) How do you fit other writer career commitments into your schedule so it doesn’t unduly affect the writing? Eg publicity, attending conventions
I try to keep internet and bookshop publicity to a specific period leading up to and following the release of the book, say a month or two around the release date. I haven't done much traveling overseas yet for promotional purposes (apart from attend Aussiecon in 2010.)
11) What changes have you made to your habits over the years? What are the mistakes that you used to make, habits that didn’t work for you?
Well, I'm trying to write more for myself. That sounds like a cliche but honestly... I've spent so many years worrying about writing something people would like. Currently I'm experimenting with Not Giving a Damn.
12) RSI and skeletal problems are proving to be big problems for writers – what suggestions would you make to ensure up and comers don’t suffer?
My advice would be, don't ignore the warnings! You aren't made of steel. Know your limits. Know what you can and can't achieve. Know that sometimes, life intervenes. Illness happens. Family happens. Get up from the keyboard from time to time, remember to live!
Mary Victoria was born in 1973 in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Despite this she managed to live most of her life in other places, including Cyprus, Canada, Sierra Leone, France and the UK. She studied art and film and worked as an animator before turning to full time writing. She now lives in Wellington, New Zealand with her husband and daughter. Her website is at [http://maryvictoria.net/](http://maryvictoria.net/)
You can read more habits and processes here: [http://nicolermurphy.com/writers-habits-and-processes/](/writers-habits-and-processes/)