Sorry, Gotta Go Do, Ummm….

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?

Beats me.

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….


About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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6 Responses to Sorry, Gotta Go Do, Ummm….

  1. Oh that guy asking you what part you wrote is still on my nerves. What is with such people? I’ve had people ask similiar weird questions about my art also. They dumbfound me. “Did you mean to put that red dot there?” Huh???

    • LOL! I hear you! All I can figure is that they are not creatively moved, so the thought of actually doing something of that nature is completely foreign to them. I’m grateful that it’s NOT foreign to me. Crazy as I am, I’d be a lot less sane without a creative outlet.

  2. Great entry! Sign me up! I’m so frustrated with myself and my approach to my writing lately that I don’t even have the patience to ridicule myself anymore. After having a story’s rights sold last April, you’d think I’d be pounding the keys and spitting out the stories–but that just hasn’t been the case. Just four completed stories in the past year, no new novels (though lots of started novels!)…Writing time, writing space, clearing my head, focusing–all those are problems, but another that I’ve realized lately is drive and passion. I still have them–they’re constantly brimming just below the surface–but when I was a poor, starving writer and college student, I had so much of that! I wrote TONS! (Of varying quality.) I miss that! I realize that my career, the other demands on my time, life getting in the way–it’s all made me soft. I miss that drive and focus and I want them back. And I want them back NOW.

  3. Corey Popp says:

    I can totally relate to this. I should be halfway through my book, but I’m letting procrastination and terrible excuses get in the way. I’m only 8,000 words into a 50,000 word book.

    I read somewhere that writing has to be a routine; a job that you start and end on specific days and times just like a “real” job. I totally agree.

    I’ll have to set that up some day. 🙂

    • Ha! You made me laugh. But it’s true — treat it like the job it is. I get up at a regular hour, get ready (breakfast, dressed) and go into the office for a set amount of time. Tedious? Sometimes. But it gets the work done.

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