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Finding time to write


People often ask how I find time to write. The answer is simple:
I try not to think about it.

 

There are 168 hours in a week. If I added up all the commitments I’m supposed to address, there simply would not be enough time to write. So I carry a notebook everywhere I go, and I’m not embarrassed to use it.  In any given week, you can find me making stories in grocery store parking lots, on soccer sidelines, inside ballet studio waiting rooms, perched atop bleachers, and, very occasionally, at stop lights waiting for the green. Lately, I’ve also been getting in 30 – 60 minutes of writing time before work every morning. I try hard to give myself a scheduled time to write every day so that I can always hit my goal of producing at least 2 pages/day at least 5 times/week. But sometimes, things don’t work out.  Like yesterday:

 

I started out by hitting the snooze alarm and staying in bed 10 minutes longer than I should have.  My bad. Goodbye 10 minutes.

 

I did not set up the coffee pot before I went to bed … so I had to do it this morning. 5 minutes.

 

I also did not prepare my lunch before bed so I had to do it in the morning. Goodbye 5 more minutes.

 

I spilled coffee on my pants. Had to change pants. 5 minutes.

 

Dogs. I love my dogs. I do not love when I step in my dogs’ poop. 10 minutes to clean work shoes.

 

Finally, my son reminded me that I promised to bring him to school 10 minutes early so that he could meet with a teacher before class. And that leads us to…

 

ZERO.

 

ZERO writing during my regularly scheduled morning writing time.

 

Was I feeling a little persnickety about it?

Definitely yes. I hate when I conspire to defeat myself.

 

Did I get my two pages done before the day was out?

Yes. The dogs and I walked my daughter to the park for soccer practice after work. From there, we hung out on the sidelines to cheer and write. Honestly, the dogs could have produced better work than I did, but I’m working on a first draft right now. Quality has very little to do with it. In fact my goal at the moment is to simply write a very bad novel. It’s a good goal because when it comes to first drafts, it’s the only kind of novel I can write. If I finish at all, that will be a huge success.

 

Finally, will I set up the coffee pot, make my lunch and let the dogs out before I go to bed? And also, avoid the snooze alarm in the morning?!

Yup. Yup. Yup and yup. Because these are very small things. And it’s easy to knock them down one by one by one by one. If I don’t, then they gang up on me like a pack of pigeons heading for a man wearing a birdseed coat. I have nothing against pigeons, but I’d rather save up my extra minutes for writing stories rather than throw them away for the birds.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
davidlubar
Sep. 18th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC)
So if you join the LDS church, you'll give up caffeine, gaining a minimum of 5 minutes per morning, or possibly 10 if you tend to spill things frequently.
acampora
Sep. 19th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
I lived in Utah for a spell. I can't join the LDS church because 1) they're all nicer than me and 2) in comparing the Mormon faith with the Catholic faith, I always come out on the creepier side.
davidlubar
Sep. 20th, 2010 04:39 pm (UTC)
That's scary to hear, because you're the nicest guy I know.

:-)
kellyrfineman
Sep. 18th, 2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
Oh dear. The photo of the guy with all the pigeons nearly caused a panic attack. ACK!

But the rest of the post was wonderful. And I am particularly impressed by your comments about writing a bad book, as I gear up to start a new project myself.

Thanks for this, Paul.
acampora
Sep. 20th, 2010 02:30 am (UTC)
Hi Kelly,
My favorite instructions for writing a good novel are: First write a bad novel, then fix it. Good luck with your project. Getting started is the hardest part. Except for getting finished. :)
Paul
kellyrfineman
Sep. 20th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
And writing the middle. Don't forget that part. :)
marjwatkins
Sep. 21st, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
First Drafts
Hey, copes with dogs, and finds time to make and drink from scratch coffee, as opposed to instant, and anybody who goes to work, has already impressed me. Finding time to write,too, makes you a hero in my (not very good yet) book.
(Anonymous)
Sep. 21st, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
Re: First Drafts
Hi Marj,
Thanks for your kind note. Good luck with your book!
Paul
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )