My bio starts out saying, “My greatest claim to fame is that I write from a nursing home.” People seem to find that amazing. I’m not sure why--I talk with authors struggling with cancer, heartbreaking family situations, crippling pain and arthritis—and they think I have it hard.
Here are my insights from inside. He, he, I’m a poet and don’t know it.
People are right. Writing from a nursing home is difficult, and not only because of the physical problems that landed me here. My time is not my own. I’m never sure when I’ll have meals, a shower, or a doctor’s appointment. I’ll show up for an activity only to learn that it’s been postponed or cancelled. Access to the internet and social media depends on the home.
And yes, at times I don’t feel well.
But I spent most of my life working full time, raising an emotionally disturbed daughter, traveling by bus. So I just see the nursing home as a different setting for the same challenges that face every author.
How do I do it? A few lessons learned:
- · Keep my priorities straight. Keep God first. For instance, I thought about skipping parts of my devotional time during NANO (National Novel Writing Month.) God reminded me to keep Him first. My writing will be stronger for it.
- · Use time wisely. I strive to have devotions before breakfast. After that, I’m never sure when interruptions will come. For projects that require privacy, like listening to audio recordings of my books, I remind myself to start when I roommate leaves the room. Otherwise she might return in the middle of a chapter.
- · Set realistic goals. I wish I could write 2000 words a day easily. I’ve learned the hard way to aim for 800-1000 words a day, with time built in to catch up each week. Judge your capabilities by your abilities, not someone else’s.
- · Consistency. I have a lot of days like today, when I feel blah. Whatever I write feels wooden and worthless. But if there’s nothing with me, I don’t stop. I write, 15 painful minutes at a time. Over time, I’ve learned the process works.
- · Choose wisely. That means I have to say no to some things I would like to do. Just this week I had the unpleasant task of telling my editor I would have to pull out of one project. Much better not to agree in the first place.
- · Write when I can. I write when I can, even if it’s for only ten minutes. I used to write longhand while riding on the bus. I’ve also eliminated my pre-writing routine, and just jump in.
- · Work in short spurts. I plan for write 15-20 minutes at a time. I may be able to write for fifteen minutes four times in a row to reach an hour. Or I might be interrupted. If I make it through fifteen minutes, that’s 200 words less to meet my daily goal.
- · Be realistic. Every year for the past five, I’ve spent weeks in the hospital. I never know when it will happen again. So I keep my goals and schedule low enough to allow me to catch up if necessary after a hospital stay. Again, lesson learned the hard way: publishers are less eager to work with me after a couple of missed deadlines.
- · The Internet is my lifeline. It allows me to research anything I need to know, although an onsite trip might be better. Social media keeps me in touch with the world and prevents isolation.
- · Structure my time. This is similar to using my time wisely. I work on my “big” project (writing or editing) until I’ve reached my goal. Once that’s done, I work through my list of “do as often as possible” projects—book promotions, writing devotionals, short contracted projects, listening to audio tapes of my books.
- · Take Care of Myself. This one’s probably the hardest for me. Yup, get up, exercise, walk, shower, leave my room—take a break from writing.
Wisdom learned over twenty years of writing helps me continue even now. Now, as then, writing keeps me sane.
: Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at http://darlenefranklinwrites.com/, http://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Franklin/e/B001K8993A/ and https://www.facebook.com/Poet.Darlene.Franklin/, Twitter: @darlenefranklin
Giveaway for a minimum of 5 comments: An Advent Journey through Matthew 2015
Take a step away from the busy days that fill Advent. Begin with the miraculous birth and get caught up in the story which adds layers of understanding of Jesus’s extraordinary life.
If there are more than 12 comments: I will also give away Tobogganing for Two, which is a Thanksgiving romance.
Notes about the Giveaway: To enter, just leave a comment in the section below, leaving contact information so we can let you know if you are the winner.
There will be two (2) winners. The first winner will be selected from among the first five (5) entries, and will win An Advent Journey Through Matthew. The second winner will be drawn from all other entries provided there are a total of 12 or more, and will receive a copy of Tobogganing for Two.
Giveaway ends one week from today, on Tuesday, November 24, at Midnight, Central Time, and the winner/s will be drawn and notified the following day.
[bctt tweet="Writing from a Nursing Home, with Darlene Franklin @darlenefranklin on #WhispersinPurple #WritingTalkTuesday"]
[bctt tweet="Proof that you can write anywhere #writing #nursinghome @darlenefranklin, #WhispersinPurple #giveaway"]