Gotta Get It While You Can

by Jonathan 10 Comments

Three things help a writer be more effective:

  1. A place to write
  2. scheduled time to write, and
  3. uterine vellum soaked, limed, and scudded, then dried on a stretching frame. Oh yeah, and a fountain pen Rudyard Kipling used to scratch his ear.

Alright, I made up that last bit. I added it because I’m somewhat bitter that the day job has upheaved my writing life and so decided to mock that which I cannot have.

In addition, I’ve had to decide how bad I want to finish my novel (to the point of querying agents). The answer, as it turns out, is A LOT.

Tangentially related Monty Python bit:

To do that, I have to be less choosy about when and where I write.

Jeff VanderMeer, of who I’m so fond of referencing, puts a nice fine point on it:

It’s this: what other writers do doesn’t matter. Syne Mitchell told my [Clarion West] class: “Figure out what works for you. And do it. Lots.” And I’m repeating it because that is seriously good advice. You don’t need to write two thousand words a day like Stephen King. You don’t have to write in silence, or with only classical musical playing, or while sticking your head in a Victrola after downing a bottle of cheap red wine. What you need to do is experiment and find what gets you writing, and keeps you writing. If someone tells you, “X is the only way to write,” kick them in the figurative nuts and go elsewhere.

Ever since I read this, I’ve worked to stretch myself, to shoehorn my writing in to small moments in between, well, living. I’ve managed better than I thought.

I’ve never been an early riser unless work demanded it. But I’ve been waking early as of late (is that possible?) and getting at it. So far so good. I may be tired, but it’s not the kind of tired I am at the end of the day. Also, I feel better about my day knowing I’ve gotten at least some writing done.

Comments ( 10 )

  1. ReplyRachel
    I always loved writing, but I never really thought I could make it as a writer. Then I lost my job and felt like I needed to do something each day to make me feel like I was doing something. So I joined Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month). It had you write 1,667 words a day to make your goal of 50,000 words by the end of November. I didn't make the goal, but I have set a new goal for myself. I try to write 1,000 words a day. It equals out to about 1.5 pages a day. Not huge, but I now have over 33,000 words in my novel and it's a starting point. Maybe later I can write more a day, but most of my day is spent doing other things. But I do meet my goal and sometimes surpass it and it's working so far.
    • ReplyJonathan
      It's crazy how the writing comes about, eh? Nice work finding the silver lining and using NaNo to kick start it. I hope you continue to write and continue to enjoy it!
  2. ReplyAndy
    Excellent advice! You have to get the words in when you can, and it means rearranging your schedule where you have that flexibility. I started getting up to write early as well--on a good day, I get an hour and a half of time I didn't otherwise have. Sure, 6am comes early, but it energizes me for the rest of the day. I'm happy to report that after two years, it's become a habit now and getting up is not as hard as it was. :)
    • ReplyJonathan
      It's amazing how much better it feels just to get that hour and a half in. Before I started doing it, I would get resentful late in the day when I hadn't written and was feeling exhausted. I'm glad to hear you've gotten used to the early schedule. I just asked my wife this evening if we would ever acclimate to this new schedule. I guess I used to do it in high school.
  3. ReplySarah
    I love that advice. and Cheers to living and writing simultaneously. (that's got to be an ideal). and here's to being patient in the waiting game. (not so ideal). and the snow is still falling so you still have time in the Writer's Season to get it all done. "skadoosh" (Kung Fu Panda is my hero)
    • ReplyJonathan
      It's a work in progress, to be sure, but it seems to be working alright. The patience thing definitely needs some work. I have yet to see Kung Fu Panda, but it's on the list ;-)
  4. ReplyK.M. Weiland
    I have recently become a huge Jeff VanderMeer fan, thanks to his marvelous book Booklife. He's a man who knows how to get it done, and I appreciate his often-kind-sometimes-snarky way of sharing his experiences and wisdom with the rest of us.
    • ReplyJonathan
      Booklife is a good read. I hope to get to the point to put some of his advice into action. VanderMeer's sensibilities (by that I mean his combination of compassion and edge) translate very nicely into his fiction. Definitely check out Finch, if nothing else.
  5. Replyjennifer
    Oh, with two young ones and a baby if I tried to write only under certain conditions, well, I'd never write! What I find most difficult is learning how to dip in and out of my work for minutes at a time...not sure how to get there, but I'm working on it. Great to hear you're getting time in there!
    • ReplyJonathan
      Yeah, that's the trick, isn't it. Being able to enter that state quickly, without two hours of surfing the web to warm up! :-0

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