Thursday, December 13, 2007

Writers Wednesday :: Writing Tips with Ally Blake

The Pink Heart Society's very own Ally Blake is currently at home trying to write her first book post-bub. In between feeds, settling, cuddles, cleaning up projectile poos, napping (ha!) and gazing at her beautifiul little girl, she is trying to write her next Modern Heat novel. Here's how she's doing it...

Okay, so I've written some of my next book.

It's a sequel of sorts to my third Modern Heat novel, THE MAGNATE'S INDECENT PROPOSAL, which I must admit is my most 'indecent' book yet ;). So how do I follow that up with a sexy, cosmopolitan, exciting, textured, fun, glamourous novel whihc I hope will be better than the last.

With sporadic sleep under my belt, with a little girl who wants more attention every day (and being a mum who is more than happy to give it!), my brain geared to clinic apointments, washing baby clothes and keeping the nappy bag stocked, the idea of forming a coherant and original sentence isn't as easy as it used to be.

  • My Alphie is permanently on the coffee table so that it can stare at me and make me feel guilty if I sit down to watch Deal or No Deal instead of writing.
  • I have notepaper on my bedside table to when I'm feeding in the middle of the night I can let my mind wander to the book not just to how much sleep I might get.
  • I allow myself to write in five minute splodges if that's all I get. Five minutes is better than nothing right?
  • And I remind myself I am writing about two young, unencumbered, kid-free people who don't have to worry about things like baby spew on their shoulders, or shopping for wipes, struggling with getting the mega-pram into the station wagon. I am writing about two glamourous young things who can instead worry about nothing more than the intricacies of falling in love. Heaven!

Reading romance is all about living a fantasy life far different from your own. Turns out writing it can be too...

Any other advice from mums trying to write with kids in tow, this is the place to leave it! Please!!!!! As I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd love to know how others manage...

Ally’s current release is Mills and Boon Sweet Romance MILLIONAIRE TO THE RESCUE. Out now in Australia & New Zealand!

The hero of this novel, Danny, cooks too! And he washes up. And he plays touch footy with the heroine's kids so she can take a break lying on the grass. Isn't that about as heroic as a guy can really get???

Check out her website for more about the book!


  1. Mothering a new baby is a full-time job - one that you do while battling fatigue and hormone disruption due to sleep interruption. Anyone who thinks otherwise probably has eager grandparents nearby, or money for a nanny.

    This is particularly true if you are also expected to bear the brunt of the domestic work 'since you are at home anyway'.

    I'm sure the more experienced writers will have lots of good tips, but I'd also like to gently suggest that you do give yourself a bit of a break, too - don't expect to stick to your former schedule, and enjoy your baby. Don't be wishing that you were writing - enjoy her, she'll be grown too soon.

    My baby turned 11 today!



  2. Ally, I'm in awe. I couldn't even begin to write a novel when my two boys were babs — eventhough they were both great feeders. didn't cry all that much and figured out how to get a good night's sleep at six months! I was writing a 200 word column once a week on film star biographies and it nearly killed me just trying to get that out. The sleep deprivation's definitely the worse thing, but once the little darlings get into a routine which includes a morning and afternoon nap (most days) and six hours sleep at night — usually around about six months if you're lucky — every else gets more doable. My one word of advice, when that happens DO NOT DO HOUSEWORK! Let the crap pile up I say and write to your heart's content.

  3. Helen's right - they grow up REALLY fast and you'll kick yourself later for missing the early days. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the baby.

    Once she's a few months old, she'll be in a routine and you can fit work round her naptimes. But get your priorities straight:

    1) SLEEP (this is important - if you're sleep-deprived, you'll be writing more slowly because you're tired, then panicking because your productivity is down - get the rest first, then you'll probably end up producing the same amount of words but without the guilt/stress/sleep deprivation)

    2) write when you can (but remember (1) above)

    3) forget housework - Heidi's SO right - people come to see you and the baby, not a dustfree zone. And if they ask if they can do anything to help, smile sweetly and let them do something (e.g. ironing, vacuuming).

    Another thing that helps is batch-cooking - do double the normal amount and freeze half (so you don't have to cook from scratch every night - even if you love cooking, you'll have days when you're just too tired).

    ... does it show that I used to write a lot of articles on precisely this topic for parenting magazines? *g*

  4. Kate has great advice.

    I started writing when my youngest daughter was just over one....and she'd just started sleeping through the night. At that point I was still struggling with insomnia sporadically, but it was too hard to write during the day with a 1 yr old and a 3 yr old underfoot. And I could never get them to nap at the same time!

    So my writing schedule was 5:30 a.m. to 7. My husband usually left for work at 5:30 and I'd have an hour and a half of peace and quiet. Once the kids got up at 7, I spent my day with them.

    Until you get into a schedule, you just muddle through. Julie Cohen might have some good tips about this too! I know she wrote when Fecklet was only weeks old.

  5. I started writing when my second was one - purely becuase he was a non-sleeper (like awake every two hours) and i was going nuts. I launched full into it and wrote every night when they'd first gone down and then at odd hours during the weekend when hubby was home to care for them. The I had the twins and you all know that story. I write at night when they go down - I never watch TV (we don't own one) and I work on a computer that isn't connected to the internet. I don't do anything much other than childcare and writing. Sometimes its pretty draining but at the end of the day I love writing and I would be very unhappy if I didn't do it.
    Personally I think you can do it all - you're not missing out on anything by writing while they're asleep - yes they grow up fast but you're still there for them! And you also have something for yourself - there is nothing wrong with that!!!!
    I know deadlines can put on an extra pressure etc but slow and steady wins the race right?
    For me writing is that wee escape - not that I don't love my kids of course I do - but its nice to be able to step into that fantasy world for a while.
    I batch cook in the weekends - I was on a fortnightly rota - one weekend meals for us and the big kids, one weekend baby food so during the week I'd only have to chop some fresh veg and defrost the main component.
    I don't iron and I never fold laundry. The house is a bit of a tip but hey, that's the thing that can slide - so long as we're clean, fed, warm and happy.
    Don't get me wrong, it is not easy - not at all... but life wounld't be nearly as much fun if the books weren't there huh? I mean... all those gorgeous men!!! ;)
    As for sleep - yep, get it when you can - but the fact is, its an interrupted pleasure for a few years to come! I figure I can sleep when I'm sixty... of course, I won't need to then!!! I find having a book to think on in the wee small hours makes me a lot less unhappy about being up inthe wee small hours!!!
    Anyway, that probably didn't help at all. Just remember, you're not alone :)

  6. Nat has echoed exactly how I feel.
    I write when they sleep.
    I figure I'll sleep again when they're older.
    Writing is my escape.
    And I adore the precious time with my kids.
    And my house is covered in dust!!

  7. DH was always telling me to nap when the babies did, but I just can't sleep in the day - I wake up feeling horrible. I should have just gone to be earlier, but I'd often be up late to 'spend time with' him (which in reality was just watching TV half the time). I had a constant sense of 'not coping' and thought it was because I was just a bad housekeeper and mother. Now I realize it was probably a combination of PND and lack of sleep.

    'Sleep when you're dead' might work for some people, but not for me. Maybe the fact that I was 30 when I had my first was a factor, I don't know. Some of the research on the importance of sleep is pretty astounding.

  8. Aaawww, thanks for all the lovely advice.

    Funny thing is I wrote this little piece a few weeks back (naughty huh?) and I've been following all your great advice already.

    Napping in the afternoon, and not writing a jot ;). Enjoying my precious bundle to bits has been a wonderful full-time job.

    Nat, actually the one thing that really hit home was the idea of picking perhaps one hour per day in which to write and giving over the rest of the day to be a mum guilt free. I reckon come tomorrow I might give that a go!!!

    But for now, she's been asleep three hours and I'm missing her too much. Pathetic aren't I ;)?

  9. Not pathetic Ally - nice and normal! I was going to add to that point before your comment too Ally - I think the key is to set an achieveable target (say 1000 words a day) and then STOP once you've met it - just do what you've set yourself, hopefully working no more than a couple of hours and then go to bed - Pomo housewife is right, sleep is really important, but you're not going to get a solid 8 hours in a row for quite some time - so its managing to get what you need in different ways. I find I sleep really well if i've met my tally for the day - I go to bed relaxed and pleased! At the same time, its best not to try to push it too far becuase you can end up more tired the next day - and from there it can be a slippery slope....
    Writing at the same time means you have your 'writing time' (good to co-incide it with someone else being at home too to get the scratchy critter or talk her for a walk if necessary) - and then you do'nt need to worry about it for the rest of the day - you can just scribble the ideas if/as they come. I can't tell you how many miles my hubby walked witht he gilkrs in the early months with the girls - Book two was due at the start of Feb, and I started it in early November - just under 3 months with two prem babies to care for - I was expressing 5 times a day (they couldn't latch) plus I had the older two to care for. I didn't do anything other than care for them all and write at night for a couple of hours. And that was the book that went through with the least amount of revisions etc!
    Nothing is impossible :)