|Pembroke Sinclair, aka Jessica Robinson|
Pembroke Sinclair, aka Jessica Robinson, is a rock star when it comes to getting her work done. She has two darling boys and a husband, she works full time as an editor for a foundation, and she occasionally freelance edits for publishing houses. Yet she has six excellent fiction works and two nonfiction books to her name and lots of short pieces, and she’s a model of how writers can get their work done. You should check out her Road to Salvation series—the second of which (Dealing with Devils) just came out—and also her Life After the Undead series, especially if you’re a fan of zombies.
One of the many things I admire about you is that you get your shit done. You are not only very productive in your personal life and work life but most importantly in your writing life. How do you do it? Maybe talk about your mindset in approaching getting your writing done.
I’m anal retentive and obsessive compulsive and I have no friends. Ha!
In all seriousness, when it comes to writing—first and foremost—I have to remember that not everything is going to get done. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, so I have to be OK with what is left unfinished. And, believe me, I’m fine with floors not getting vacuumed or dishes sitting in the sink for a few days. All of that stuff waits for me, so I can come back and do it whenever I need to.
It’s a sense of priorities, really. And those change on a daily basis. My family always comes first, but there are times when they can entertain themselves for a while so I can disappear and work.
What’s your daily schedule of writing? Do you have any rituals?
My daily schedule of writing is that I fit it in when I can. Thankfully, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, my boys have wrestling practice, so I have a dedicated hour and a half that I can work on what I want to work on. When they have tournaments, I work on my stuff in between matches (we’re usually there all day).
On the weekends, I try to balance my schedule between doing laundry, cleaning the house, and getting writing done. That usually means I’ll limit myself to writing/editing a chapter, then start a load of laundry, fold a load, or get the bathrooms clean. Then I’ll do another chapter, and when that’s done, another piece of house cleaning. To me, writing is a reward after working on my other obligations.
Do you write on the computer or on paper or both?
I do both. It’s so much easier to carry a notebook and a pen with me where I go rather than a laptop. But I do find that when I write on paper, my writing tends to be a bit sparse. Knowing that, however, means that in the editing process I have to flesh the story out.
Talk about a project in particular, maybe your latest book. How long did it take you to write? To revise? What was the process?
The latest project I worked on is called Good Intentions, and it’s the third book in The Road to Salvation series. That took me 5 months to write, including initial editing. (At the moment, it’s with the editor, who will no doubt come back with things I need to fix.) I handwrote that entire story in a notebook before transferring it to the computer. People keep telling me I got through it really fast, but it didn’t feel like. Five months felt like a very long time. I just worked on it every free chance I got and in between all of my other obligations.
How do you get yourself motivated and focused when there are so many other responsibilities and fun things to do?
I’m not going to lie, some days are tougher than others. Some days I just want to veg in front of the TV or play games on my phone—anything other than write. And I do. But writing is a compulsion for me, and most of the time, I enjoy doing it, so it doesn’t feel like work to me. If it wasn’t fun, I wouldn’t do it. It’s my escape, my way to explore new worlds.
I wasn’t lying about being anal retentive and obsessive compulsive, hence the schedule on the weekends about working. But I feel like if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t get anything done. As I mentioned earlier, there’s only a certain amount of time in the day, and it’s about priorities. More often than not, writing is a priority of mine—especially if I have to decide between writing and cleaning a toilet. Duh! No brainer! So being motivated and focused is only about taking the time to sit down.
Any advice for writers on this topic?
Writing is work. Words don’t magically appear on the page, you have to put them there. You’re the one who decides how you’re going to spend your days. You’re the one in control of your schedule. If you want to spend it writing, you’re going to spend it writing. But something will have to be neglected for writing to happen. If you want to make excuses, that’s what you’ll do. The world stands in your way. It doesn’t care if you accomplish your goals. It constantly keeps throwing distractions at you. Only you get to decide if you’ll let them get in your way.
Thank you so much for stopping by the blog today, Pembroke! And, readers, please check out Dealing with Devils!