Today’s writing tip is not about writing but about finding the time to write and to live a writer’s life. This is, in no small part, motivated by the fact that I am soon to be done with cubicle life and will be a full-time writer/freelancer. This means I am going to have to develop that has been missing for much of my life.
Even though I am still at the day job (22 working days left, if I were a counting down sort of person) I am starting to work toward the transition. I found an old book on my shelf and am rereading it with different eyes then when I first got it – A Writer’s Time by Kenneth Atchity.
Here are just a few snippets.
From the book:
“Productive people have a love affair with time, with all of love’s ups and downs. They get more from time than others, seem to know how to use time much better than nonproductive people-so much so that they can waste immense quantities of time and still be enormously creative and productive.”
I know some people like that. They seem to have time for everything they want to do and time to waste and play and relax. I want to be more like that.
From the book:
“I firmly believe that anyone can be productive once the decision is made to master time and the necessary skills.”
Oh man, I hope so. I think the key is making a decision you are willing to commit to, like changing eating habits or trying to stop smoking or exercise more. You can’t just say the words. You have to be willing, ready and willing, to walk the walk. For years I have just repeated the words about being a disciplined writer because the thought of becoming disciplined took more energy than it seemed like I had in me at the time. Here’s hoping that being off of work will give me the time to commit and to develop the disciplined state of mind.
From the book:
He talks about laying a foundation for your writing career. “Immerse yourself in the planning process and build the foundation, and take your satisfaction from the doing of it, not from the having done it…….Your career, you’ll discover, will take the shape of your foundation. ”
I’ve always believed this, believed you should treat yourself as a professional long before you started paying taxes on your writing income. And for those of us who have been writing a long time, does that mean you can skip this? It depends? Is your writing career, your writing life, is it working out the way you want it to? If so, good for you. You must have your foundation firmly set into place. But if not, if you want more out of your writing life or you want to explore some new areas, maybe you can build an addition which, of course, begins with a strong foundation.
From the book:
“Before anything reaches paper, the business of being a writer is the business of developing self-awareness and honest introspection. Keats called the profession of writing “soul-making” and the first step toward success is recognizing the psychological discipline that writing requires.”
No two ways around it, discipline is the answer. And here all along I had hoped the answer would involve chocolate. Darn.
To be sure, this disciplined approach is important. Thanks for the reminder (grrrr). 🙂
Have you ever read WILD MINDS: LIVING THE WRITER’S LIFE, by Natalie Goldberg? We’re reading it in my critique group, and it’s wonderful! (Ignore the reviews on Amazon, srsly.) Each chapter runs about 3 pages, and it’s chock-full of right-brain, motivational thoughts about living as a writer. Seems to me, this book would serve as a nice complement to the one you’re reading.
I have read Natalie’s book. It was one of the first writing books I ever bought and I return to it often. Thanks for the reminder to pull it back off the shelf.
Before anything reaches paper, the business of being a writer is the business of developing self-awareness and honest introspection.
Ain’t it the truth.
There really aren’t any shortcuts, aren’t there?
Nope, no shortcuts. Alas. But knowledge is power, right?
Commitment then discipline
I think the commitment part comes first
I try to remember this–
“Discipline means we make up our minds not to let ourselves down.”
Oh and chocolate IS involved — make Milton Hershey one of your role models =) he was committed to making chocolate and giving his workers and their families a decent life and he was committed to children.
Re: Commitment then discipline
I love this quote! “Discipline means we make up our minds not to let ourselves down.”
Thanks for posting it. I am going to tape it to my monitor.
Oooh, and the Milton Hershey POV is right on. Thanks!
Boy, I’m trying to figure this out. Well, not actively, because I’m still absorbing, but not processing yet. I’m looking at this new project as going back to work, and if people out there can make jobs and fiction writing work, well, I’d better be able to, also.
I think there’s a way to make it work and a lot of it involves balance. But I also think a goodly portion of it involves friends supporting each other. 🙂
Oh, yeah. 🙂
“And here all along I had hoped the answer would involve chocolate.”
I’m just about to have some. So for me the answer involves chocolate, although not exclusively. 😉
LOL. I love Lizanne’s comment above though, where the answer can and should involve chocolate.
That book sounds wonderful, Susan. I’m going to check it out. Congrats on your upcoming transition!
Thanks, Mary. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.
Great quotes. And no, I don’t think anyone should skip the steps. Every year, when I do my new business plan, I also think really deeply about what and how I want to be writing, and whether I’m on the right track–not just whether I’ll make enough to pay the bills:>/
You’re gonna do great, Susan!
“I also think really deeply about what and how I want to be writing”
I think this is really important, Laura. We don’t want to expend a lot of energy toward something that doesn’t excite us.
LOL. I am always willing to write when I’m tired, I’m just not able.