The Perfect Time to Write: Inside a Harlequin Author’s Writing Process

Danica Winters is the author of SMOKE AND ASHES, DUST-UP WITH THE DETECTIVE, and the forthcoming WILD MONTANA from Harlequin Intrigue.

I was so very pleased to be asked to write a blog on my writing process for SYTYCW. Yet, as soon as the realization hit that I was actually going to have to reveal my secrets, well… I panicked.

First, you have to know a little bit about me. I started out in this business not even letting other people call me an author. I thought of myself as simply a wife and a mom who had a dream—and an insatiable passion for writing. Before long, I found myself devouring information about the how-tos of publishing romance novels and, before I finished my first book, I wrote a business plan for what I wished to attain as an author. On its pages, I had a single five-year goal: to write for Harlequin. No kidding, almost exactly five years later, I got the call. I’ve been writing for Harlequin for the last eighteen months, and I’m currently writing book five. I couldn’t feel more blessed.

Back to my writing process… As a mom, a co-owner of a small company, and keeper of four furry almost-kids, to say time is limited is an understatement. I’m not one of those lucky authors who gets to sequester themselves away in their office out of sight of any other living being, or one who has silence. Ever. My life and my writing is set to the soundtrack of thundering children, barking dogs, hissing cats, and even the occasional gobble of a turkey in my backyard.


(Calli is one of Danica’s furry almost-kids)

 I have yet to find “the perfect time” to write. I am constantly in search of the elusive beast, but I swear it’s like Peter Pan’s shadow and every time I get close to finally catching it, it slips out of my fingers. What I have found are minutes. I have found hidden minutes sitting in the carpool lane while I wait to pick up the kids after school. I have found hidden minutes after the kids go to bed and before I must watch the Bachelorette (I call it research). I have even found hidden minutes while my husband drives from our little menagerie into the city.

After nearly seven years, I have found that I can, and do, work best in these little chunks of time. My perfect fit is twenty-five to thirty minutes. That’s it. In that little chunk, I can write around a thousand words. Some days I find three or four chunks if I’m on a looming deadline or if I have additional projects waiting in the wings. That means in less than two working hours I usually end up with about three thousand words (about ten pages in a manuscript).

I do have some rules. During these chunks I can’t get up, no internet, and I can’t answer the phone (this one is especially tough). Sometimes, if I’m having a really hard time ignoring the world, I pop in my headphones. Yes, I can still hear the thundering of kids, the dogs barking, and the cats hissing, but the headphones are my sign that, no matter what, I will steal my precious minutes.

I have heard many new authors complain they don’t have the time to write. I can’t help when I laugh. Sure, I know the feeling, but if writing is truly your insatiable passion, you will find the time. You will seize those minutes. And, if you are determined and open to continuously learning, you will succeed.


Check out Danica’s books here!

 9780373699070      9780373699377