Day 2: The Writer's Life with Author Rachelle Burk

Meet Rachelle Burk, author of Tree House in a Storm.  Discover her writing process and how she goes about coming up with ideas for children's books.

I’ve read many columns by writers describing how they organize their days, often writing in the wee hours before waking the kids for school, during lunch hour at work, or late into the night when the kids are in bed. They set attainable goals. How I admire these writers! But I am from a different planet.

Like theirs, my world is a balancing act. I juggle my writing life with family life, a “real” job (social work), my small business as a children’s entertainer (aliases include Tickles the Clown and Mother Goof Storyteller), and volunteering with my local rescue squad. My organizational skills are limited to making lists, which I promptly misplace or forget I’ve even made. Bottom line: I’m a poor role model for organization or balancing life.

My writing life, I’m afraid, has somewhat of a bipolar quality. There are times I can’t tear myself away from the computer. I stagger down the stairs and log on to my computer even before coffee or a shower, writing furiously. I make trips to the library and book store to research my subject matter. I study books of a similar genre to what I’m working on. I submit drafts to my writing groups, and work on revisions the minute the critiques arrive in my inbox. I go to bed with story-on-the-brain insomnia. During this “manic” phase, which can last weeks or even months, I can churn out two or three picture book manuscripts, while my house gets messier and dinner is chronically late.

Then I crash. This is the “depression” phase of the cycle. I’m not actually depressed, but the hurricane of creativity sort of dies out—the calm after the storm, as it were. Inspiration disappears as quickly as it came, and my writing world is limited to critiquing others’ work, staying involved in the online writing community, and keeping my Resources website current (*). I panic, wondering if my muse has abandoned me forever. (The silver lining is that, during these dry spells, my house is clean and dinner is on time.) Then one day, a writing contest, or perhaps a fascinating news article that screams to me, “STORY IDEA!” will prompt me to start something new. Then I’m back in the saddle (or office chair) again.

Check out day 3 of the tour here:


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