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Nicole Murphy & Elizabeth Dunk

Nicole Murphy & Elizabeth Dunk

A writer's habits - Kaaron Warren

25 Jun 2012

Okay, so here’s the thing about Kaaron Warren. You meet her and she’s absolutely delightful - warm, witty, charming, great fun to be around. Then you read her work - her utterly twisted, disturbing, beautiful work - and it not only makes you question HER, but everyone you’ve ever know. I mean, if someone as nice as Kaaron can write stuff like that, what’s going on in other people’s brains…

Meanwhile, despite this, Kaaron is still on my list of writers I want to be when I grow up cause DAMN she’s good.

1) What is your writing schedule?

I write when my kids are at school, so from 10 till 2 each day, although I take breaks.

2) Do you set yourself word count aims or time limits to keep yourself on track? What are your aims/limits?

The time limits are placed on me, really. I do work when the family are around, but anyone with kids knows how much attention they command, so it would be research or things I can do without too much concentration. As for word counts, I don’t worry about that too much.

3) Do you work on more than one project at a time? If so, how do you organise it?

Almost always! I’ve got two novels on the go at different stages, plus a third edging in. I also have a number of stories I work on at same time.

Usually I’ll make a plan on Sunday night as to what deadline is approaching, and what story is grabbing me. I like to start Monday morning full of vim and vigour, so always try to set up to work on the story I’m most taken by at that moment.

4) If you have family, how do you organise your time so you can write?

It can be really hard to balance. My kids totally understand what I do, but it still doesn’t mean they want me to do it when they’re around! It’s mostly a matter of not wasting time when you have it. When my son was only a few years old, I was finishing work on my collection The Grinding House, which includes a novella. This was one of my toughest times as a writer, because I had an important deadline, and very little time to myself. I remember one day, close to deadline, a friend came over for a playdate and I escaped to the library for 20 minutes. 20 minutes! But it wasenough. I wrote like a fury and felt as if I’d taken it all a step forward.

5) How do you get family and friends to respect the writing time and leave you be?

Not sure I’ve completely cracked this one. They all do absolutely respect what I do, but then I don’t usually do it when there are family things to be done. I will take weekend days sometimes, but this is usually at the National library, away from the temptations of home.

6) How do you ensure your health is a priority?

This is a great point! It is so tempting to drink coffee or tea all day, and to eat eat eat and eat. I manage the coffee by only making one pot in the morning, and try to have snacks such as dried apricots and nuts in the house, to distract me from the chocolate and chips.

I also tend to do shopping and laundry during the week, which is a good thing in a way, because it means I’m not spending the whole time on my bum.

7) What do you do to keep your ‘well of creativity’ stocked up?

Read, talk, observe, watch, take cuttings, think, dream, live.

8) How do you cope with the days/weeks that you just don’t want to write?

This may be rather annoying, but this doesn’t happen to me. If I don’t have something to actually write, there is always research and reading.

There are very few days since I was 14 that I haven’t at least scribbled a note.

9) How do you fit other writer career commitments into your schedule so it doesn’t unduly affect the writing? Eg publicity, attending conventions

Again, I’m not sure I’ve cracked this. Although writing is such a transportable career, isn’t it? We can write on the plane, at the airport, in hotel rooms. So I try to do that if I have deadlines. I look after publicity stuff in the evenings, when I’m not in the frame of mind for writing.

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?

I’m not really habit driven, rather I’m circumstance driven. An early mistake in planning was when I worked part time. I worked in the morning, then came home to write in the afternoon, and I often fell asleep. I should have slept at work instead!

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?

Probably what most people have suggested; good chair, good posture, moving around, good keyboard, exercise.

Kaaron Warren’s short story collection The Grinding House (CSFG Publishing) won the ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Fiction Award and two Ditmar Awards. Her second collection, Dead Sea Fruit, published by Ticonderoga Books, won the ACT Writers’ and Publishers’ Fiction Award. Her critically acclaimed novel Slights (Angry Robot Books) won the Australian Shadows Award fiction, the Ditmar Award and the Canberra Critics’ Award for Fiction. Angry Robot Books also published her novels Walking the Tree,) and Mistification, both shortlisted for a Ditmar Award.

Her stories have appeared in Ellen Datlow’s “Year’s Best Horror and Fantasy” as well as the Australian Years Best Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies.

She has recently been named Special Guest for the Australian National Science Fiction Convention in 2013, and her latest book is Through Splintered Walls, out in June from Twelfth Planet Press.

You can read more habits and processes here:

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