Hello from the midwest! My son and I are on our annual two-week visit to Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, to be exact, so he can attend sailing school.

(Whenever I say that, I am hit by liberal PC guilt, as though it’s entitled and all for me to talk about sailing school. Which is run by the Minnetonka Yacht Club, fer chrissakes. And it is all entitled and stuff, but it’s a great opportunity for him, so I gotta just feel guilty and move on).

So I’ve been without son for at least seven hours every day, sometimes longer, depending. Bliss!

But, as I know better than anyone, I can procrastinate like nobody’s business. So today, my friend Liz Maverick and I had a virtual writing date: We got onto IM, I set a timer for 20 minutes, IMed “20 minutes–GO!” and we both wrote, not letting distractions like email or random cups of tea get in the way. It was an amazing way to work, and we were both stunned by our productivity. I wrote 1800 words, good words, too, which is almost twice what a ‘good’ writing day is for me.

When we are in the same state, Liz and I do the same thing at one of our houses; we set our laptops opposite each other, set a timer in-between (mine is painted like a ladybug, and I try not to set the ladybug butt opposite Liz, ’cause that bothers her), and we write for designated periods.

I think this method works for us because we are both competitive (as in, “I don’t want that bitch to have written more than me/I can sit in this chair pounding at the keyboard for longer than her”), both like companionship and if one of us is stuck on a plot point or something, we can just wave a hand and take a time-out. It’s really great, especially if you work alone most of the time, wich most writers do.

Today, actually, Liz and I brainstormed on IM about my hero’s backstory, and just a few minutes of back and forth conversation really helped me understand him. And hey, surprise, he looks like a cross between Clive Owen and Richard Armitage. Seriously, if I were any more predictable I’d be a Barbara Cartland novel.

I am back to writing a Regency-set historical, and I am loving it. It’s got the most “me” voice I’ve ever tried, besides my first book, which took three tries to get the voice right. Here’s a peek, as it stands now:

This was quite possibly the most boring evening he’d spent since he’d had his first drink, James thought as he walked into the room. The same dull people gossiping about other dull people, the same petty intrigues and scandals only obfuscating the inevitable ennui that enveloped every member of Society within a few years.

No wonder he’d bought a commission so many years ago. Yes, there was the threat of dying, but at least he wasn’t bored.

My hero, in case you couldn’t tell, has a dark soul. My favorite kind.

So how do you combat procrastination? If you’re a writer, do you have a writing buddy? And where are you going/did you go on vacation?