Haley Whitehall, in her blog “Soldiering Through the Writing World,” recently wrote about finding time to write. Actually, she wrote about how difficult it can be to find that time, how willing we writers are to let the “real world” interfere with our writing schedule. (Okay, so maybe ‘willing’ isn’t the correct word, but sometimes we don’t fight very hard and I’ve heard more writers admit to this than you might imagine.)
Maybe it’s because writing is hard work. To non-writers, they can’t imagine anything easier. All you have to do is sit down at the computer and do it, right? As Red Smith said: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”
Or maybe it’s that they don’t realize books come from people. Go ahead and laugh, but I had a young man once ask me what part of my book I wrote. When I told him I didn’t understand the question, he waved the book in my face and loudly proclaimed, “What part of this did you write?” (Like I hadn’t heard him the first time.) I responded with “All of it.” He was dumbfounded. “You wrote EVERY WORD in here?” He couldn’t get his head around the notion, hard as I tried to convey it. I guess it never occurred to him that the words don’t just show up on the page, that it sometimes takes the application of blood, sweat, tears, and a crowbar to make it happen.
So perhaps that’s why we writers are so adept at sliding the work aside. I know I’m bad sometimes. What calls me away? Laundry. Yard work. Walking the dogs (when I had dogs to walk). Errands.
It’s easier to succumb to real-world shit when I’ve hit a random glitch in the work, when I’m not sure what happens next. At those times, I like to think that doing something else, something mindless, frees up my brain to focus on the task at hand. And it often does. There have been plenty of times when I’ve had a break-through while raking the yard, dropped the rake, and rushed inside to note it down before I lost it.
So dilly-dallying has its place. The problem is in not letting it become habit, in not letting “stuff” slowly erode you’re writing time until nothing remains. I have it pretty well licked at the moment — I write for 3-4 hours in the mornings, break for lunch (and a few errands, if necessary), and do a couple hours of “writing business” (promotions, etc) in the afternoon.
But there are mornings when, say, a doctor’s visit intrudes or I have to reschedule something with a friend. Could I schedule the doctor’s visit to an afternoon? Betcherass. Same with the friend? You got it. Why don’t I?
I try to trust my instincts on this — to let the flow ebb when it needs to — but I must be watchful that it doesn’t get out of hand, that I don’t let one day slide, and the next, and the next until there is no work being done at all.
Oh…and blogs get in the way, too. <puckish smile>
So, I’ll bid you all adieu and start work on chapter 4 of “Call of Blood.” Wait — what’s that?
Oh, the rinse cycle.
Gimme a minute….