Writing Secrets #2 - Start Times
A body at rest will remain at rest unless an outside force acts on it.
“Gotta get back on the computer.”
“Just 2000 more words today.”
“I really need to write that chapter!”
All of these can melt creativity because "planning to" or "fixin' to" as Southerners sometimes say, can spin and build anxiety around the undone task.
Writing a book is not typically a weekend chore like opening the pool this season. Instead it is a long term conversation writers have with themselves. We struggle to shape and develop scenes, characters, and structure. All of this simmers ... or festers.
When I set a start time, I can live in the moment, my moment. I am more present and able to experience and feel ... the weight ... the love ... the peace of now. This is life too - right now!
Most authors have work beyond the manuscript along with family and people to love and tend. I have two small children ages four and ten but writing still happens. I carve brief 10-30 minute periods while at my daughter's piano lesson or waiting for the coffee to brew. These quick windows can be exceedingly productive. I also use larger chunks of time but I set start times. I've seen colleagues in academia fail because they teach, grade, prepare their classes, but "Friday is my writing day." FRIDAY is too much time and pressure. It's overwhelming to write all day, any day. Instead of sprinting all day Friday, jog around the block regularly.
By setting start times for any work – “10am I'll work on the coffee shop scene" - it allows us to do other tasks, whatever they may be - making dinner, reading, day job, playing with the kids - and focus on living, feeling, and breathing.
If we live well, we'll write well. Be present in the life a writer should be living. Breathe in, observe, enjoy, drink life and what it means to be human. Being present brings clarity and meaning to our moments and later to our craft.
PS. The coffee shop scene in my next book is sweet with a big S!