Friday, March 21, 2008

Who has their time?

On Writer's Rainbow, Tamara asks about writers who don't write. She continues:

They mess with their writing schedules, or they go to readings clearly to put in face time with friends, or they spend lots of time in coffeehouses answering email or playing around on Facebook (which is what it really means to be on Facebook for 95% of its users, let's face it), or they say "When this or that happens, I'll get back into writing."

I would like to be a writer who writes every day, without fail. At times, I have been a writer who writes every day. Not currently. I think that I write more than I think I'm writing, but I'm not writing every day. I'm not even messing with my writing schedule. I'm thinking about messing with my writing schedule. (I'm planning.)

Continuing with this schedule idea:
Kelli posted an excerpt from Gretchen Roberts who quotes Marcia Conner's writings about chronobiology—the body and its clock. My quick summary: Even though we tend to think of ourselves as morning people or night owls (larks or nightingales), really we're cycling throughout the day between brain time (brilliant), body time (sleepy), and butt time (in between).

Although I describe myself as a morning person, I've noticed that my peak creativity times are both 7:00-10:00 in the morning and 3:00-6:00 in the afternoon. Oh, that's when I'm on my commute. That's when I'm in transition. (I rebel against transition, but it looks like it's good for me.) Unfortunately, it's harder to write something down when I'm in transit. I can write it on paper, but it often stays there and never moves beyond the initial free write. Now that sounds like an excuse.

In the
most recent issue of Weber, Carolyn Forche talks about the writing advice she gives her students: Sit down and write anything for half an hour—and if that anything starts to look like it could become something, stick with it as long as possible until you have to start the rest of your day.

I'm excited by this approach. It isn't new, and yet somehow it is new.

Now, I just need to fit that half hour into a time when I'm really ready for it.


Premium T. said...

I remember Leslie Norris saying that he wrote for thirty minutes every morning --not more, not less. I think he had something there. Good luck with the new plan!

Yokel (TKS) said...

Hi Joannie
Thanks for your reflections on the question of time and writing.

One of the thing I always ask my coaching clients to do is exactly what you've said here. Write for __ minutes a day, regardless whether you feel like it etc. I send them a little timer for their laptop that they can set to check them, and in some cases, that makes the writing "assignment" even more productive as they furiously try to beat the clock.

The other thing I highly recommend is looking into one's own biorhythms. People consult crystals, runes, tarot cards, all that stuff, and while I don't think that's a bad idea, I do truly believe that we all have our own rhythms, and paying attention to their peaks and valleys can go a long way to inform us about how we might best use our time in the coming days.

I used to be a night owl and now I am up before 6am to pry open the hood of my day and see what needs tuning. I think I trained the idea that I am only a night owl writer completely out of my psyche when I had my first baby and wrote between nursings/diapers/naps. Around the clock, whenever I had a spare moment. Over time, I discovered I could be productive at any time of day and could no longer use that as an excuse! I also know that I rise to the occasion of full moon periods and can confirm that with my own biorhythm patterns. But that doesn't mean I don't write otherwise; it just means I write more and, perhaps, take more risks and do more things outside the box during the full moon than at other times.

There's a new book out by Waverly Fitzgerald, Slow Time, which I highly recommend. It forces you to think about your relationship to time in a whole new way. By doing that, you have many opportunities to change what may have been a power struggle into a complete lifestyle shift that supports the life you want to have. Definitely work picking up.


Calder said...

Interesting subject Joannie!

Happy easter BTW!!

I guess dependant on a person's personality, having a set time to write every day can work or not. For me, this would seem constrictive to my creative flow, but everyone is different.

It's also a question of balance. The yin and yang of life, it all interacts together to make you whole and a whole person can create with more ease. I always have writing materials avalable as certain words, prases, ideas, or things we see lightning bolt into our brains at all times and if you are prepared to write these things down, document them before they are forgotten, then review them later during your "writing" time, it provides you a lot more material to build from. I have a special journal just for these items and I transfer my scribbles into it and then take things out of it periodically to expand upon. I have written complete poems from a single three word thought or phrase that I scibbled down while driving or sitting in a place I couldn't write from at the time.

Definitely just write and write, and write some more. Keep filling up those journals! Also experiment with all kinds of things because you never know when something you try that is new will be a thing that really works for you.


K. said...

Nice pix! Here are a few from a horse show that Premium T. and I went to in Westport, Ireland. They are at the end of the gallery:

Joannie said...

Thanks for the encouragement and for the book recommendation. Ironically, since I wrote this post, I haven't had time to write--actually write--at all (much less half an hour). I will do it, though (and I have some downtime coming up, which should help).

And K., thanks for the link to the pictures--like a mini vacation, with ponies.