Monday, November 30, 2009

Being a writer, thirty minutes at a time

Thanksgiving break, a time for family, feasting, celebrating, and fighting for every writing second you can grab.

You bring your journal with you into the bathroom and lock the door, ignoring the knocks from your kids who ask, "What are you doing in there, Mommy?" You stay up past midnight revising your novel, even though you're so tired you keep erasing and rewriting the same sentence over and over. You prop your lap top on the edge of the steering wheel while you sit in the parking lot of the grocery store before you head inside to buy turkey and eggs.

Or is that just me?

During the holidays, I long for quiet time to write. The frenzy of food and family makes me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and have fun hanging out with my daughter reading books and going for walks. But day after day of activity, interruption, and conversation wears me down. I need time to recharge, be creative, write... things that are almost impossible to find time for during the holidays.

Time is extremely precious. Although I live for those rare days when I can luxuriate in two or three hours of writing time, I've had to learn to be productive in thirty minute spurts. It may not feel like much, but I've learned that it is possible to write a full length novel, or a play in two acts, in only thirty minutes at a time. And I no longer feel cheated. Just writing a few pages is progress.

Blogging has taught me a great deal about staying focused and managing my time. I've now written 300 posts just by sitting down for thirty minutes and typing it out. Then I go back and revise the post a few minutes at a time throughout the day until it's done. I do this three times a week on average, sometimes less when my time is needed elsewhere, but I don't let a week pass without at least writing a blog post for each of my blogs.

We dream of being writers, of spending all day, every day, working on our novels in our peaceful writing retreat with a view of the sea, only taking tea breaks or a short walk around the neighborhood to revive our tired minds. All the bills are paid, the children are happy, the house is clean, and we no longer have day jobs. Our entire life is focused on writing. What joy!

I know several successful, published writers and none of them live that life. They still have day jobs and they still cram all their writing into a few hours, mostly on weekends.

Don't let the dream of being a writer stop you from writing. You could spend your whole life waiting for "the time to write." If all you have is 30 minutes a day at your kitchen table before you have to get the kids ready for school, that's still enough time for writing. Thirty minutes, day after day, for month after month, can equal a novel, or several short stories, or 300 blog posts.


Jane Mackay said...

Wonderful posts. I just tweeted it (to my almost 300 followers :-).

Jane Mackay said...

I meant, of course, "post". Singular.

Terena said...

Thank you, Jane. Have I told you lately how awesome you are?

Désirée said...

Nothing can stop me from writing. Although there is no time to write. I've got a job, I've got small kids, I've got a husband.

Still I write. Thirty minutes at a time at the most. It's just the way it is.

No time is still time.

Anonymous said...

This post definitely gives me hope! My time has disappeared recently and the writing has been limited to blog only until after the new year.

You are doing great. An inspiration to all hopefuls.

CJ xx

Terri said...

"Don't let the dream of being a writer keep you from writing."

Love this.