Friday, May 17, 2013

Writing Time Rain or Shine - Interview With Nuala Ní Chonchúir

I'm fascinated as to how other writers write, especially those who write across forms, Nuala Ní Chonchúir who blogs at WomenRuleWriter has has published one novel, four collections of short fiction, three poetry collections AND she teaches creative writing part time- so I'm delighted to be able to ask her some nosey questions about how she juggles it all!

Welcome to the blog Nuala, can you tell me how many writing hours you have on an average week, or is there an average week?

I have 3 and a half to four hours a day (mornings, while the kids are at college, school and creche). So that's 18 to 20 hours a week. I can also get to my desk in the afternoons sometimes but I usually just do admin stuff then (emails, subs, a little research etc.) I do the bulk of my research reading at night in bed and take notes then. That reading is for the next day's writing. I am not reading much for pleasure at the mo as I am writing a historical novel and it requires a lot of research.

You write novels, short stories and poems, how do you prioritise one form over another time wise, do you have a set system allocating sections of that time for poetry, your novel, stories or does it vary?

I try to be good and use my mornings for 'real' work (at the moment my novel). I go to the novel first and write as much as I can, hoping to reach 500 words minimum but, more often than not, I don't reach that. If I am working on a story, I get to that next (mostly short-shorts these days because the novel doesn't allow the head space for anything longer). I usually have an essay, article or review to work on too, and that is third in line after the creative work. Poems only come occasionally and I don't worry too much about them.

Do you find different forms almost have their season? I like Sept for starting into a novel as the month has a ‘knuckle down’ kind of energy for me and summer can be difficult for sustained writing sessions as my children are at home so in an ideal world  it would be my short story season.
I'm the same - I like to start something big in September. I think it's because I always loved school and college and I love that feeling of starting something fresh. The novel in hand has proved so up-and-downish that I swear I am going back to stories in September (or when I have finished this current novel).
Also, the kids being around during school holidays is distracting. No matter how much I warn them that I don't want interruptions, invariably one of them comes in needing a lift or saying they are 'starving'. It's no wonder Edna O'Brien sent her boys off to boarding school!

I know, mine are always 'starving' - you wouldn't know it to look at them though! What would you say to your younger self about writing time Nuala, is there anything you wish you had known say ten years ago?
I have always been very organised with my writing time. I had my first kid at 23, so as long as I have been serious about writing, I have been a mother and in demand, so I just had to be organised. What I'd say to others is: Get organised! Books are written one word at a time and if you do not gift yourself the time to write, you won't write a book. Turn off the TV. Get up early. Do whatever it is you have to do to carve out writing time. Anyone I know who is seriously compelled to write, does not use the time excuse. They make the time regardless of what other people want/say/do. Prioritise!

Thanks to Nuala for coming over, and if there are any other writers out there who'd like to be interviews on how they juggle time let me know :)  And have a good weekend!


Emily said...

I love hearing how other "creatives" manage their time! Really interesting interview from one of my **favourite** writers.

Words A Day said...

you juggle a lot yourself emily! if you fancy a chat on the blog let me know, it would be nice to feature some of you gorgeous art?

Words A Day said...


damn fingers!

Jinksy said...

Can't wait to read the book...

Jane Barry said...

Thanks for the great interview and insights. I too love to here how other people do it! Getting up scandalously early is working well for me especially as two of my children are not at school yet. That and single mindedness I guess!

Emily said...

Wow, I'd love to!!!

Words A Day said...

I admire you for that -I used to get up very early, it worked for a while but I ended up going to bed the same time as the kids!

Words A Day said...

Thats great, i'll email you :)

Ruth Quinlan said...

Lovely interview. I don't know how Nuala does it all! The big problem I find is not so much time as switching from one side of the brain to the other. The job I do requires a very logical, focused state of mind so it's hard sometimes to get away from that practical viewpoint and go on a flight of the imagination. I'll keep persevering :-)


I left a message here to say thanks but it sems to have disappeared into that place where lost comments go.

So, thank you, Niamh, and I look forward to reading how others manage their time.

Nuala x

shaunag said...

Great interview, just coming to it now, I hear you re kids, starving and bored.. or look at this. I have tried saying 'look at THIS' and holding up the laptop or a page! (doesn't work), tried the early rising as well, also ended up going to bed the same time as the kids. It's a tough one.