December 30th, 2009, 11:59 AM
Time and the Writing Life
We all have the same amount of time--24 hours/day. We all have other demands on our time--a day job, a night job, necessary chores of daily life (housekeeping, personal care), family, other relationships, etc. Even the full-time writers don't spend 24 hours/day writing...very often.
So...figuring out how to carve out the time for writing and then using it efficiently is essential for writers. When your writing is stuck, the temptation of other things (there are always other things to do) rises like mist from the water. One of the other things that tempts us is writing not connected to the current project, and that's what I'm going to write about...at the very moment of indulging in that temptation.
Let's say you've figured out how to have four hours a day to write. You have a project in mind. But...here you are at SFFworld, and there's a fascinating thread in one of the discussion groups, only some bozo just said something really stupid/wrongheaded, which you feel you simply must answer. And you have email from half a dozen people, and some tweets from people you follow on Twitter, and...
Two hours later, you finally get to your project.
For effective professional writing, not only must you give priority to writing time--protect your writing time from all the non-writing demands that want to encroach on it--you must protect your project-writing-time from all the writing that isn't project-related. How much time does your project need every day? If it needs four hours but you're only giving it two--and you're using up your writing energy on other things--then you're short-changing yourself and your project.
I won't say "Always do your project writing first," but if you don't do your project writing first most of the time...it may not get done. And your completion dates will lengthen out, and lengthen out, and...you'll be more likely to lose your oomph (technical term, of course) for the project. So when carving out writing time, be sure to put a special set of brackets around your project time, because non-project writing can fool you and cost you down the line.
And having said that, it's back to the s/a/l/t//m/i/n/e/s revisions for me. (This message interrupted by the farrier's arrival and the trimming of two horses in the mud.)
December 30th, 2009, 12:16 PM
Yes. I've recently carved out writing time. And I have a partner in crime. My partner usually has band practice four days a week. We're talking twelve hours/wk here. Right now he can't go to practice 'cos he has surgery for some stuff at the end of the month and he can't aggrevate said stuff. (He's a drummer, so he moves around a lot)
So, what we've done is taken that time that would have been spent in band practice and turned it into writing time. We both plop down at our desks and go at it. It also really helps to have someone next to you to bounce ideas off of. We've only been doing this for about two weeks and I can't tell you how much I've accomplished. I'm stunned. Even when he goes back to practicing in March, I'm keeping this schedule up.
December 30th, 2009, 12:22 PM
Nice. I've got to do the same and have known it for quite a long time now. I need to, not just make the schedule, but adhere to it.
Originally Posted by NickeeCoco
Thanks for encouraging me to give the flash fiction a try, btw. It's been good practice and I think I'll keep with it. I didn't appreciate how much 'rust' had accumulated until I started trying to knock it off.
December 30th, 2009, 12:40 PM
Boba Fett Lives
I am telling myself that in the new year I will carve out a couple of evenings a week. Sounds dangerously close to a New Year's resolution doesnt it? I really want to - but as EMoon has pointed out there are just so many distractions. Good luck all.
Last edited by Daddy Darth; December 30th, 2009 at 12:45 PM.
December 30th, 2009, 12:41 PM
I hear you. Don't let the inner demons of discouragement hold court on the matter, though. You'll get it done.
Originally Posted by Daddy Darth
December 30th, 2009, 12:46 PM
I'm glad you entered! I find it great practice as well.
Originally Posted by PeterWilliam
December 30th, 2009, 12:59 PM
Shadow's Lure (June 2011)
If I may, I would suggest making a little time each day rather than larger blocks every couple of days. The reason is habit. Getting your butt in front of your typewriter/computer/laptop every day puts you into the mindset that writing is your priority. Writing begets writing. Half an hour turns into an hour, and so on.
Originally Posted by Daddy Darth
At least that has been my experience.
December 30th, 2009, 01:48 PM
\m/ BEER \m/
I was carving out about an hour a day give or take. Since my wife and I purchased a new laptop, it is considerably more time. I try to hit 500 words per day in the 1 to 3 hours I'm on the laptop.
But other distractions tend to pop in. I figure if I hack at it 4-6 days a week then I'm working in a good groove.
December 30th, 2009, 02:11 PM
Boba Fett Lives
Dont tell anyone but I managed to hack out a couple of hours at work today. Awful I know. But I am pretty much the only one here and am caught up so...I managed about 700 words for the short story contest. Go Pirates.
Thanks Jon and PW for the encouragement.
I love you guys.
December 31st, 2009, 11:12 AM
East Indian NASCAR dad
I took a novel writing class through my local community college. That was inspiration enough for me to actually do my rewrite on a novel (spending 2-3 hours a day for 6 weeks got me there). Trouble is this: I love to read, but I also want to write just as much. I want my own work out there. Between work and family, I have those 2-3 hours a day of free time. I gave it to writing, but this means I've only read 1 book in the past 2 months. Don't like that. If only that stupid thing called sleeping weren't necessary.
December 31st, 2009, 11:17 AM
If interested, you can optimize your reading time by taking an Evelyn Wood Dynamic Reading course. An urban myth surrounding "speed reading" is that you don't retain as much. In fact, you retain more and each time you complete the exercises again, your speed and retention rate continues to increase. In the first lesson on the DVD, they state that President Clinton was able to read nearly 1500 words per minute with 91% retention and he had completed the course exercise three times.
Originally Posted by Radone
December 31st, 2009, 12:14 PM
I always find it interesting how different authors manage to juggle the many demands of life. Some write by the word count / page, others just hammer at it until a set time. Most make sure they have no distractions at all - no music, no Internet, no email, no phone - whilst others write with music in the background. (Black Sabbath helps write in angry mode, Verdi's Requiem less so, I gather.)
Roald Dahl used to write in a shed at the bottom of his garden, with a big 'No Entry' sign, evidently.
I remember Kevin Anderson tell me how he has a set running route every day. He goes running, dictating as he goes and when he's finished running there's a chapter to be typed up. His secretary types it up for him to look at the next day. He then checks the chapter from the previous day.
Unusual, I know: and I realise that not everyone has their own secretary/personal assistant!
But it is interesting to read who does/doesn't, when and where.
December 31st, 2009, 03:42 PM
Good point, Hobbit. There are likely a million ways to making time to write.
One of mine is to do what Elizabeth seems to be doing: letting emailing seduce me to get me physically at my desk and on the computer. Thus I am halfway to writing my stories - if I can pry myself away from writing emails!
Another tactic is to have several stories in play at once. When I dry up on one I switch to another. It helps if the stories are quite different, and so call on different writing "muscles."
January 3rd, 2010, 12:07 PM
I picked up a Acer notebook last April and it changed the way I write. It goes anywehre with ease and now I can write anywhere. It definetly has cut into my normal reading times but I guess art requires sacrifices. I've also cut the cable so I don't have the easy option of tv to entice me out of writing (I miss hockey so much). I write on my commute to and from work, at lunch and then again at home on a chair with my music blaring. I've also developed a Saturday night writing event where I get a glass of spirits, crank the tunes and write late into the morning hours. I have two small children (3 & 5) that like to help push buttons as well so I have to be flexible - no locked doors for me.
January 4th, 2010, 08:58 AM
Before I had a kid, I thought I had to have hours of time uninterrupted to be able to write. Ha. In the years when I had an autistic child at home full time (and thus could not have the door closed, let alone locked) I learned I could write in 15 minute increments. Sometimes even less. Holding a paragraph in my head, typing it in one sentence at a time (and, as he developed, I could get two sentences.,..then three) every time I had even a moment.
It's nearly always possible, but boy, does it take commitment and self-discipline.