Making the time


Making the time to write is a tricky thing. As I skimmed through my bloglines this morning, I came across Elizabeth’s post at Fluent and Nova’s post at Distraction No. 99, both detailing their writing struggles–getting out of that box, making the time to write, watching others do it, willing themselves to do it, too.

I am in the privileged position of working part-time and having the temporal space for writing. And still, I do not write as much as I should–why? Because I am tired. But then I think about Laura Hillenbrand and how she wrote Sea Biscuit with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and I start with the bouts of self-flagellation.

It never ends.

But yet, we all persevere, for that moment of beauty. For The Good Writing Day.

When I do have a good writing day, I get so high off the achievement–my feet barely touch the ground as I think about all the good words I’ve put down, all the good words that in such a particular order make for good story, character, theme, language! How does it happen? It’s like magic.

This weekend, I went on a long motorcycle ride with friends through the coastal mountains of California, down to a small cove on a beach. (no, I am not gutsy enough to ride my own motorcycle for such a long stint yet–I rode on the back of my hubby’s motorcycle). My back ached from sitting in such a fixed position for hours but still, it was an intensely pleasurable ride. At times, I looked up, the visor on my helmet flipped open, at the glimmering green trees and the blue sky peeping out between, and the golden sunlight streaming down…and imagined I was flying. That is how it feels to have a good writing day, at least for me. Everything looks beautiful, and I feel unhindered and free.

And yet that magic doesn’t happen everyday. I just have to sit at the steps of the Muse and just BE there when she comes out. If I’m not there, and she comes out, then I’ve missed her appearance. So I have to wait, like a forlorn lover, at her feet, for her random appearances, and wish and wish and WISH for the meeting, when it happens, to last as long as possible.

In the interim, I just pound out the words, sometimes very lifeless, knowing that they suck so hard I’ll probably edit them out. In fact, I just edited out an entire character and subplot of a short story I’m writing. It didn’t fit–what was I doing?

And now I search for that magical subplot, the thing that the character needs, that is part of that character’s life, that I can’t see right now, past my haze of exhaustion and frustration.

Well, I’m not searching so much as waiting at the steps of the Muse’s house.

And that’s what making the time is all about. Half of it is waiting. Well, maybe more than half.


Filed under Writing

3 responses to “Making the time

  1. Violeta

    I loved your description of the motorcycle ride! And I agree that such a part of the writing time is the waiting to hit that perfect groove.

  2. I love those Good Writing Days. When I think of them, the struggle to get to them seems totally worth it. And you’re right… *waiting for it* is so important (often my impatience gets in the way). I hope to someday work freelance or part-time, but that’s not in the cards for me right now.

    And, I’ll admit, I can’t even blame it on the full-time job. I think taking on the extra freelance projects on top of that is a problem for me, but also I seem to remember a time years back when I was working part-time and had many hours to write, and did I? Not as much as I should have. Then another time I quit a job to write, and I did write, an incredible amount, but only because the panic of not having a job and knowing I could only do it for a couple months gave me something of a kickstart.

    So, really, I do know it’s all on me. (Insert my own bouts of self-flagellation here.)

    But is your exhaustion getting any better? Is this more serious than I realize?

    The muse may come to you in the moments when you are just waking up. I had a friend in grad school who when he was frustrated and tired from writing his novel (recently published, actually, it won some awards), he would take a nap on the floor under his desk. Never in the bed, always under the desk. Then, immediately upon waking up from the nap, before his eyes even fully focused, he would climb up to sit at his desk and start typing. I can’t say that method has worked so far for me, but hey… it obviously worked for him.

  3. Violeta: thank you–there are some truly liberating moments in life, and may many of them involve our writing!

    nova: I also think the Muse gets very shy and antisocial. I guess if she visited all the time, writing would be easy and everyone would do it, and it would be a mundane achievement, rather than the otherworldly one we all know. (And I am totally fascinated by your friend who would nap! I hear other authors also become inspired after sleep).

    My exhaustion is persistent–not devastating, because I can put in a whole day at work (just not consecutively, because I spend the next day taking it easy and getting my energy back up). It’s also not so devastating that I can’t “fake it” now and then. But I am constantly tired and I have to be careful how I plan things out because I hit a wall pretty early on. It also seems that my exhaustion stems from mental exhaustion (my mental exhaustion actually makes me physically tired and sleepy). Totally lame.

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