Tuesday, March 30, 2010

When do you write?

The other day, a classmate of mine posted, on Facebook, a tongue-in-cheek note about the kind of book he wanted to write. A marketing major, he naturally worked backwards from the market to arrive at the book. The market had to be large yet differentiated, because “if you talk to a large primary market, if even a fraction of it swallows it, you would be famous.” A thousand words later, he had arrived at the title of the book- all that remained was to write it, and encash the royalty cheques.

I had only eight words to say – “Fantastic! Now write the book- I’ll read it.”
To which he responded, “ :) ah, with a day job…. will try.”

He is right – a day job is not exactly conducive to writing. But if you want to write, you can always write. I have a day job. I also have two kids. My day did not have enough hours for writing, and I put my writerly ambitions on hold, perhaps indefinitely. But one fine day, I decided I wanted to start writing now, and I was able to make time for it. I know at least half a dozen people who write, and all of them either have a day job, or a couple of kids, often both. If they can find time to write, so any practically anyone else.

I write on the train during my daily commute. One writes in her bath at night. Another carries pen and paper wherever she can grab any free moment to write. The point is that if you want to write, you can make time to write. Which is why I immediately sent him this mail -

After years of not having time to do all the things I wanted, I've figured out there is only one way to get writing. WRITE!

Yes, just that, write. Write something everyday. Either set yourself a word target (it could be something like 250 words, which is very doable), or a time slot when you shut out everything and write. I've found the word target easier to do than the time one - because you can write anywhere (most of my writing is on the local train) once you learn to shut the world out and do that.

When you start, you will be disappointed with almost everything you write, but that's the way it always is in the beginning. In a couple of weeks, you'll find it comes effortlessly, and then you can start putting it in some kind of order.

Try it! And if it works, be sure to mention me in the acknowledgements!

I know I am a bad example to take. I can write on the computer and I can write with pen and paper. In a pinch, I can even write in my mind, and transcribe later. Which effectively means that, as long as I can block out my surroundings, I can write anywhere and anytime. If, that is, I choose to.

There are days when I don’t feel like writing, but that is where the discipline of a blog comes in. If nothing else, I force myself to write 250 words as a blog post.

What about you? Have any of you consistently cited Time (or the lack of it) as a reason not to write? Do you know anyone else who did? How did you overcome it? Would you give similar advice to a friend who you know can write?

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Jan Morrison said...

This is the best, truest, writers' advice ever! Some people say they want to be astronauts but don't want to take math in school. Some people say they could open a restaurant but they don't want to be chained to the stove for so long. Writers do one thing differently than other people and one thing only. That is write - if you don't do that you aren't a writer even if you have a perfect picture for the back cover! So saying - I'm off to write my deario because my time is the early hours of the day.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Time is my biggest enemy! I write in deli lines, in carpool lines, in doctors' office waiting rooms, long stoplights...it's crazy. But otherwise...it wouldn't get done.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Ann Elle Altman said...

I consider myself a writer. However, so does my father. The difference between us is that I write and my dad doesn't. My dad dreams of books but he never really takes the craft seriously. I on the other hand do. I have to write because the urge to do so is strong. My dad, and I know this because he has told me, writes because he wants to profit from his doing so. Although it would be nice to make some money for all the hard work, I would do it even if no one paid me.

Just my opinion.


Watery Tart said...

*bath writer raises hand*

When I finally decided to get serious about writing, I looked at the day, and this was the only part of it that didn't have somebody infringing on my time. By the time I got there, the husband was plunked in front of the TV and the kids were in bed (as they've gotten older and now read to themselves, I've added some time--it is now about 90 minutes... originally it was more like 45). But EVERY DAY, I write.

GutsyWriter said...

This is a great post and reminds me of a class I took in Irvine, California. The teacher wrote a book, "Pen on Fire," which you can find on Amazon. It talks exactly about your subject: finding 15 minute segments of time to write.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My life is always in a state of chaos, so I'v enever had a scheduled time to write - I just do a little bit here and there all day long!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

I discovered there weren’t enough hours in the day even though I’m retired! To finish a manuscript I had to become more disciplined and set aside time to write every day. Though sometimes life gets in the way and I miss a day or two, it works fairly well for me. I’ve completed two manuscripts and am working on a third.


Good luck with the challenge.
Enjoyed your blog very much.

dipali said...

Just posted something especially for you, Rayna.

Sugar said...

Just stopping in to say hi.. I will come back to read more :)

Beth said...

Hi! I'm a new follower from Blogging A to Z. Looking forward to reading more of your work as we progress through this challenge. I've always loved to write, some times it seems that writing things down helps to clarify and organize my thoughts and enables clearer communication. I think people have been telling me I could/should write a book since I was a teen. Somehow the thought of a book was overwhelming but a blog? I love blogging! It feeds my writer's soul and I find moments to do it every day! :)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Jan - so true. I know people who want to be chartered accountants, but don't want to do maths. How on earth???
And happy writing.

@ Elizabeth - precisely. If you can make time to write, so can anyone!

@ Ann - I was like your dad till November, when the NaNoWriMo fever gripped me and I actually started writing instead of just thinking about it. But, unlike your father, I never wanted to profit from writing- still don't.

@ Tami - yes, it was you! And you are my inspiration.

@ Sonia - I must ask my friend to get that book. He loves reading, and that may just be what he needs to get writing. Thanks.

@ Diane - and yet your output is prolific. Ms. Inspiration.

@ Jane - discipline is the key, I guess. And a little bit of flexibility, but not too much.

@ Yvonne - thanks. And I really look forward to reading 26 poems of yours in April.

@ Dipali - I read it, but my computer is acting up, so will comment on Monday. Thank you so much, Dipali, it was lovely.

@ Sugar - welcome, and I shall drop by your blog on Monday.

@ Beth - if people have been telling you that you should write, and if you blog regularly, the day your story is ready to be told, it will be told. Trust me on that- I know.


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