Writing

Not a Matter of Time

Before I forget: Writer’s Book Club will discuss WALK TWO MOONS by Sharon Creech on October 9th. Hope you’ll join us! Also, I’ve recently been posting Anne Lamott’s genius quotes on my Facebook. If you’re not following and would like to, send me a friend request (FB link on right side of this page).

And now. I attempt to blog. I know, I’m as shocked as you are.

Ever since school started, I’ve been struggling to find a writing schedule that works for me. My son attends preschool four days a week, three hours a day. I try to write for nearly all those twelve hours, unless something urgent comes up—emails, cleaning, cooking, laundry, Facebook, going back to sleep—you know, urgent things.

The one thing I’ve learned from all this struggling: it doesn’t matter how much time you have to write.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Of course it matters! A full-time writer can get so much more done than a writer who scrapes out an hour or two a day!” But this may or may not be true. It all depends on the writer’s attitude and drive. Consider these two examples:

Example 1: I sit down at my desk at 8:00 AM, intending to write until 11:00 AM. I have no clear goal other than keeping my butt in chair for those three hours (well, I might allow myself a bathroom break). So I pull up my manuscript and proceed to crawl through edits. I’m not a morning person—though I’m trying to be—and I don’t drink coffee, so I’m glaring sleepily at my computer screen. If I get too drowsy, I check my inbox or FB for a mental refresher, then slog back to my MS. I maybe edit one chapter in three hours.

Example 2: From 8:00 to 11:00 I am doing housework, running errands, putting food in the crockpot, etc etc. Then it’s time to pick up my son from preschool and I haven’t written a single word. That afternoon while he’s doing an art project, I grab my  laptop and furiously edit a whole chapter in less than an hour.

See my point? It’s a matter of motivation, NOT a matter of time. For me, it doesn’t work to say, “I’ll write for three hours.” What does that even mean? I’ve set no specific goal for myself. Instead I say, “I need to edit Ch. 10 today.” Then I scurry forth until Ch. 10 is done, whether it takes one hour or five.

Set easy goals for yourself at first, as you gauge what you’re capable of, because nothing is more satisfying than a sense of accomplishment. And if you happen to double or triple or quadruple your goal—WOOT, what a rush! You are rockin this gig!

It might take a while to find a process that works for you. Be flexible and forgiving. Don’t set yourself up to be a failure or give yourself reasons to quit. God knows we writers are full of excuses, so don’t let TIME be the excuse that breaks you.

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