Monday, December 19, 2011

Writing Routinely

This is a companion piece to my previous post in which I wrote about the importance of writing throughout the day whenever you can find a morsel of time. I should elaborate to say I find it helpful to devote routine, solid chunks of time to writing and only writing.

Just this second a friend texted me on this very phone on which I'm writing, and with lightning speed I denied a response. This is how seriously I guard my writing time these days; I refuse to sacrifice even ten seconds for anything else. The problem is not sacrificing those ten seconds. It's the sixty or one hundred and twenty seconds or on some days much, much longer my brain requires to shift back into writing gear. My writing time is nothing less than sacred. That speaks nothing of the potential turds I churn out during writing time, but I think it's important to respect your work enough to let everything else take a back seat for at least one solid, sustained period every day.

It should be the exact same time every day too - thats's hugely important. You'll find that by forcing yourself to write always at 2 PM no matter if you're not in the mood, eventually you'll feel the urge to write at 2 PM just as you get hungry around midday and tired at night. Conditioning your mind for creativity is absolutely essential in being a productive, prolific writer.

I think often of prolific writers and wonder about their creative methods. Just how do they write so damn much?! I used to believe R.L. Stein was just a pen name used by many writers because hell, there are over 150 Goosebumps books. Turns out he's one guy who made a habit of writing one to two novels per month. Per month! I haven't even written one in all my 29 years! Did the man not sleep, ignore his wife and kids, and wear earplugs 24/7? Did he never have a doctor's appointment, a friend asking to hang out, or a picnic to pack for? Is he still racking up overdue fees with unwatched Blockbuster VHSs from fifteen years ago? Just how did he manage the rest of his life?

To find that time will require that you budget the rest of your time wisely too. This is where writing really stops being a hobby and becomes a discipline. You cannot ignore the other equally important aspects of your life in favor of writing time. I'm still in the process of figuring this out myself, that you must have balance in your non-writing hours to sustain your creative ability and motivation. I have a terrible tendency to gung-ho my way about everything I'm presently doing to the total exclusion of everything else, and let me tell you that twenty-hour nonstop writing sessions do not make you a good writer. They make you an odorous, grumpy person, who's pissed off those whose calls he ignored and the cats whose litterbox he didn't clean, with a stack of dishes in the sink, unpaid bills stuffing the mailbox, a flickering light above that still needs to be fixed, and fifty pages of mediocre writing for the day who will not want to write again for a month.

You can't really think in terms of "writing time" and "other time" because they are so entwined that if you've got too much "other time" stuff on your mind, it's a clog in your creative pipes, and if you never write (or draw, sing, or whatever your creative outlet may be), then you'll be too depressed to do anything to your full ability. Just give every necessary activity its very own routine timeslot, and quickly you'll fall into a daily rhythm of productivity and naturally-occuring motivation to be creative.

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