Monday, February 24, 2014

Writers’ Downtime

By Cheyenne Blue (Guest Blogger)

I’ve been a fan of Lisabet’s writing for a long, long time. So I’m very happy to be here on her blog today. Thanks, Lisabet!

If you’re like me, you read a lot of other writers’ blogs. I’m often in awe of their productivity and word counts. Write every day. Write often. Write all the time. Write 1,000 words a day. 1,000? That’s for pussycats. 10,000 is more like it! There are books a-plenty telling us how to increase our word counts, and outline our novels.

Then there are productivity tools: Scrivener, Write or Die, Evernote, editorial calendars, Focus Booster. I use Write or Die when I’m desperate, and I’m easing my way into Scrivener, but basically I use good ol’ unembellished Word.

Writers talk about the importance of keeping the bum on the seat, turning off Twitter, letting the laundry pile up until you have no clean knickers left, because what is more important than The Muse? A writer’s life is a driven one, and sometimes I get the impression that to be a Proper Writer you need to write all the time, and when you’re not writing you’re reading a book about writing, boning up on the esoteric features of Scrivener, thinking about writing, or studying strangers, family, and friends so that you can write about them later.

Obviously this works for some people, but it doesn’t work for me – not on a constant basis. Yes, sometimes I’m like that, but not every day, every week, every month. When I’ve got a deadline, or I’m sucked into a story such that it consumes me, then yes, my bum is welded to that seat with the best of them.

I’ve got an upcoming story in Cowboy Heat: Western Romance for Women, an anthology of erotic cowboy stories edited by Delilah Devlin, which will be released by Cleis Press in June 2014. My story, “Cowboy Downtime” is about what cowboys do to relax. Because it’s not all roping and branding and mustering and feeding and fencing. My cowboys, Mel and Jake, play polocrosse for sport, a rugged Australian-invented game played on horseback that’s a million miles away from the refined English version of polo. Relax they do. ;)

Like Mel and Jake, writers need downtime. I sure as hell do. I need to turn my brain off from words and how they sound and what they mean. I need time away from the computer, from writing, blogging, tweeting, reading, time to rest my eyes and let my brain sink down into a peaceful blue mist of relaxation. I also need time to work at my other job, and time to spend with my loved ones. Time to keep fit, to look after my health, to recharge with the beauty of landscape around me. Time to laugh with friends, eat good food, and watch Battlestar Galactica for the third time. Time for a glass (or three) of wine and a whole packet of Tim Tams.

This life experience, this downtime, is a large part of what keeps people fresh, and I think it holds true whether you’re a cardiologist saving lives or an erotica writer saving sex lives.

Sure, you can swing the other way and there is such a thing as too much downtime. I could procrastinate for Queensland when I’m in the mood, but sometimes I need to go down the beach and jump in the surf. Or grocery shopping.

We’re writing about life – make sure you’re having one somewhere in there.

Finally, just to prove it’s not all about the downtime, I’m dropping in my current Call for Submissions. I hope that some of you productive (and non-procrastinating) writers will send me a story.

Cheyenne Blue

Cheyenne Blue’s erotica has appeared in over 90 erotic anthologies since 2000 and she’s still going. She lives and writes by the beach in Queensland, Australia. Visit her website at or find her on Twitter @iamcheyenneblue

Link for the CFS if you prefer to link:

Forbidden Fruit: stories of unwise lesbian desire

Editor: Cheyenne Blue

Publisher: Ladylit (

Deadline: 15 May 2014

Payment: US$40.00 plus a copy of e-book and paperback

Rights: First worldwide digital rights and print rights.

Forbidden Fruit. She’s off limits but the attraction burns so bright it’s impossible to resist.

Cheyenne Blue is seeking stories of lesbian passion on this theme. Think teacher and student. A best friend’s ex—or current—lover. A monogamous couple tempted by a threesome. A traveler leaving on the next plane. A much younger—or older—woman. A straight woman. The bad girl heartbreaker. The attraction between characters should scorch the pages and sexual tension is as important as the actual sex. As for the sex, think hot and desperate. Think once-to-get-it-out-of-our-system sex. Or this-really-is-the-last-time sex.

Please note the usual no-nos still apply: no incest / underage sex / rape / necrophilia / bestiality / scat. No poetry please.

Preferred length: 2500 – 5000 words

Unpublished stories strongly preferred, although a couple of reprints might be used. Reprints must be solely owned by the author.

US English. Please submit a double-spaced Microsoft Word document, using a 12-point serif font, such as Georgia or Times New Roman. One inch margins. If using a pen name, include both real and pen name on the manuscript.

Send your story as a .doc or .rtf file attachment to Cheyenne Blue at Please include Forbidden Fruit and your story title in the subject line.

In the body of the email please include your legal name, pseudonym, a short bio, and previous publication information if the story is a reprint.

Established authors welcomed, newcomers encouraged. I look forward to reading your work.

All submissions acknowledged within 3 days and acceptances notified by 15 June 2014.

About the editor: Cheyenne Blue’s erotic fiction has been included in over 90 erotic anthologies since 2000. Under her own name she has written travel books and articles, and edited anthologies of local writing in Ireland.


Annabeth Leong said...

This is a great point about downtime, thank you. I don't know if I'm just feeling irascible this year or what, but when I started seeing the New Year's posts going up, I realized that I am done, for the moment, with counting words. I have carried out my writing in a relentless, driven way for many years, and the need to cut myself some slack has become very clear to me. As you point out when discussing your story, every profession calls for breaks from time to time and I think there are natural rhythms that lie in opposition to various productivity tools.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hey Cheyenne! Delighted to have you here. And oh, do I empathize with your post. I don't know how some of my colleagues put out so many books. Do they not have any other life?

I don't write every day. In fact, I'm lucky if I can write two days a week. And yes, I feel guilty sometimes, but darn it, that's all I can manage.

Pressure. I hate it. I refuse to feel it.

I'm off to make dinner. Enough of being Lisabet for one evening!

Cheyenne Blue said...

That's it exactly, Annabeth, the ups and downs. In a way, I do envy those who can get their wordcount in no matter what. This is a job, after all. But IMHO, allowing for the ebb and flow can create fresher stories - at least for me.

Cheyenne Blue said...

Delighted to be here, Lisabet. I manage to write 3 or 4 days most weeks, but there's been times when I've had to walk away (often this coincides with holidays... Coincidence? I don't think so). More like total downtime. And when I return, I'm better for it.

Enjoy your dinner.

Jeremy Edwards said...

Well, well, one of my favorite people hosting another one of my favorite people! Now that's what I call quality programming.

And hear, hear to what you've said. It's not a contest. (It may be a rat race... but it's not a contest. (:v>)

Cheyenne Blue said...

Well, well, one of my favorite people commenting on my post hosted by another one of my favorite people! Definitely quality programming! ;)

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