Soraya Lane sold to Harlequin after I did. Somehow, though, she managed to not only write as many HQ titles as I have, but squeeze in some indie titles as well (including her critically-acclaimed Montana Series) and recently signed a multi-book deal with another publisher. Oh, and yeah, and she had two children. She’s the woman I look at when I start whining that I don’t have enough time to get everything done. (Interestingly, she doesn’t think she’s as productive as she used to be.) If she weren’t so nice, I’d be very jealous of her accomplishments.
Since balancing family and career is an issue many writers deal with – especially women writers – I thought I’d ask her how she manages to be as productive as she is. Personally, I think part of the reason is because she’s from New Zealand. I don’t know what it is, but writers from that part of the world (Australia, New Zealand) are incredibly productive and intelligent. Seriously, at least half my writing idols are from that area.
Anyway, here’s what Soraya had to say:
So here goes…
1. How do you structure your writing day? Do you set a daily word count? Page count? Work hours?
Right now, I’m just writing whenever I get a spare hour! I have an 8 week old baby plus a 3 yr old son, so it’s hard to structure my day, but I will go back to some kind of routine very soon once toddler boy starts pre-school 3 mornings a week. I’m very lucky that I have a fantastic mum, and she helps me for a few hours every day during the week so I can write. This year I can finally give up my “day job” as a freelance journalist and editor (last year I went from full time to part time, a job I’ve always been able to do from home), and that will mean I can write more books as well as being the full time mum that I like being.
In general, I prefer to settle down and write for at least an hour at a time, and when I’m uninterrupted I write quite fast. (Editor’s note: I am so jealous of this.) When I’m working on a manuscript, I always write at least 1k a day, and I usually aim for more. If I have a few solid hours, or an entire afternoon to myself, I’ll often try to have a bumper day of 3-5k words, which helps to boost my word count for the week! I also find that “sprinting” with a writing buddy helps, and I do this regularly with the fabulous Yvonne Lindsay – we “race” for an hour and then text each other our word count, and it helps to just know that someone else is writing at the same time as I am.
2. How do you balance writing with the business of writing- that is, the promotion, the proposals, the social media, etc.
I definitely approach my writing as a business, and I need to – my writing helps to pay our mortgage, bills and soon schoolfees too! I do some promo for my self published books, but I honestly don’t feel that blog tours etc are worth the huge time drain. Writing content for blogs is time better spent writing books, and I don’t see any impact on sales whether I blog etc or not. The only social media I do is for my own personal enjoyment – I enjoy popping on to Twitter and connecting briefly with other authors when I can, but I just don’t have time to be part of forums/groups/blogs etc. I miss connecting with other authors regularly in yahoo groups etc, but I just don’t have time. Once both my kids are in school I’ll definitely spend more time doing that though!
3. You just said you have a newborn and a toddler. How do you balance all your writing with your home life? I’m guessing you want to spend as much time with the kids as possible while they’re this age.
Up until now, I’ve always written/edited every day, including weekends, but this year I’m going to try to avoid working weekends when I can. I need to write 1-2k every weekday to meet my deadlines, with the odd day writing a lot more, and I only need 2-3 hours a day, most days, to meet this goal. I love being a very hands on, always available mum though, so it’s always a tough balancing act to steal a couple of hours for me, and I’m too tired to sit up late and work these days.
4. What kind of negotiations did you have to make with your husband so he is supportive yet not feeling like you’re “writing all the time”. Was this even an issue?
My husband is great, and he has always been my biggest cheerleader in regards to my writing career, even when I was subbing and not selling for years. Then, I was working full time and writing books whenever I could, and he never begrudged me doing that, telling me that one day I’d be a huge success and he’d be able to retire! My career is equally as important as his from a financial standpoint though, so we both need to support each other. I generally write when he’s at work during the day (and my mum is here helping with the kids) but he often doesn’t have to start work until late morning so he tags in and looks after the kids when he needs to so I can write, especially if I’m on deadline. To be honest, I found that I was under so much pressure to be the mum doing everything as well as working, and I decided that I needed to get a house cleaner once a week to do all the main housework. This has helped enormously, and really taken some pressure off and let me just focus on what’s important to me. We live on a small farm, so there’s so much to do with our four horses, the garden etc etc, so we are pretty busy! I think sometimes we need to admit we need help – I couldn’t do what I do without my mum helping so much, and I couldn’t go back to not having a cleaner!
5. Do you ever worry about burn out?
Burn out is a scary term, and all I can say is that I hope it doesn’t happen to me anytime soon. Just prior to Christmas I sold a new 3 book single title series, and I also sold the rights to my most successful self published book, so this is going to be a very busy year for me – I don’t have time for things like writer’s block!!
Soraya Lane is known for her heartwarming, emotional romances. Her two latest releases THE NAVY SEAL’S PROMISE and THE RETURNING HERO, are both available through Amazon. You can learn more about Soraya at her website: www.sorayalane.com