Tuesday 17 August 2010

Einstein did say that time is all relative

I follow an awful lot of blogs, and I have to admit that I'm a very big fan of Dan Goodwin's A Big Creative Yes blog. I love his writing style, and the fact that he manages to encapsulate such common sense advice that can be applied to so many creative endeavours. So when I came across his post about developing creative motivation, it really struck a nerve with me, for two reasons. Firstly, I feel like I don't do enough writing myself, and secondly, it seems like not many other people do, either.

I don't do enough writing myself
I write my Friday flashes and my ongoing serial every week without fail, and I sometimes even work on separate flashes or short stories on top of these. I'm also in the process of editing my first novel, Fowlis Westerby. Still, I feel like I could be doing more. I have the time to write, I just get easily distracted. My problem is not necessarily one of motivation, more one of attention span. Once I get into the "writing zone" I can keep writing until something intrudes, but getting into that zone is tricky. I've already talked about 'unplugging' before as a way to eliminate distractions, so I'm taking small steps towards utilising the time I have. But if I don't write, then I have no one to blame but myself.

You tell me you'd love to write, but don't have the time
I'm often struck by quite how many people I know want to write. Some of them are writers, and they work hard on novels, flashes and serials. They fit all of this in around day jobs, or busy family lives. They are writers because, quite simply, they write. However, many people tell me they'd love to write, or "get back into writing", but they don't have the time. It's a common complaint, but it just tells me they don't really want to be writers. They like the idea of it, but the theory is more attractive than the practice. They're "far too busy" to squeeze in ten minutes of scribbling. Doesn't sound like they really want to do it, if you ask me.

Snatch time
Yes, I know you have a day job. So do I. Australian writer Benjamin Solah tackled this very subject on his blog recently. Now, I have quite a draining day job, and I often find I feel too tired to write when I finally get home at 7pm, so I snatch time where I can. I have an hour's lunchbreak - sixty whole minutes of writing time! Half of my hour-long commute to and from work is spent simply sitting on a tube train, so I grab writing time then.

Get creative
To start with, you only need to fit in a short period of writing. Even ten minutes is enough to get you used to making writing a part of your daily life. If you use public transport, you can write there instead of pulling out a paperback. Write in short bursts during the advert breaks of your favourite TV show. Schedule a ten minute writing session instead of gossiping on the phone. Wake up ten minutes earlier, and write before you go out. Skip watching that trashy soap and use the time to write instead. Hell, even write on the toilet - at least you know you won't be disturbed (I hope).

Give yourself permission to write
If you were an athlete, or an actor, or a musician, then you wouldn't hesitate in giving up time to practice or train. No one thinks twice if someone gets up at the crack of dawn to go swimming for an hour before work, and if someone spends their Tuesday evenings at a drama class, no one thinks any the less of them. Hell, even artists are given the time and space to be arty without anyone giving them any grief. But writers often feel silly asking for the room to write. Why? Is it because, realistically, the only equipment you need is a pencil and a piece of paper? Are we somehow maligned because our chosen vocation can be done anywhere, therefore we don't need to be left alone to do it? Well, as silly or uncomfortable as you might feel asking not to be disturbed for half an hour, or trying to justify why you can't stay for that last drink because you want to go home to write, it's what you're going to have to do if you want to write. It's a sacrifice, but you never get anything for nothing.

It's only because I love you
Maybe this all sounds incredibly harsh, but I'm only being cruel to be kind. If you want to write, then you will. You'll find a way. If you still feel that you can't spare the time...maybe take up something else. Writing isn't something you'd like to do - it's something that you must do.

The image for this post is by Col Adamson, and can be found in its original home here.


Mr. Divine said...

Time of course is relative. It is relative to what other perceive it as being. some of us are fortunate that time doesn't require us to snatch it in ten minute bursts between things we don't want to do.

It's funny, all of a sudden the Tine Lord says to you, 'No worries mate. coast from here on in.' Some of us are destined to life outside the bars of work when we are very young. We get a glimpse of it when we're cycling through India in a haze of smoke and we find we can have a special perm that lasts forever. But it is not for the unlucky ones that scrabble the trains of wet stations, never to reach the sunshine.

Jen said...

Wise words, Icy.

Benjamin Solah said...

I loved this post. It really tackles everything and I agree that there's always time you can make to write.

I think one of the things with that is often you do it by yourself so there's not a commitment to someone else as well like say with a band, you all decide on a rehearsal time so it forces you to it even if you don't 'feel' like it because you owe other people.

I find that with politics. I turn up to events and demos because it's part of a commitment to other people, comrades.

Perhaps this is something that CW really benefits from because we have deadlines and work with other people.

I had another point but I've rambled too much already.

Anonymous said...

lol, I snatch some time at work, like now! Nice post.

Unknown said...

Such wise words for our first meeting! I found your blog through the sea of awesome blogs! Your profile picture made me stop by, I love it!

My view on writing is just as you listed... snatching time where I can! I work full-time during the day and before work I snatch time for blogging and writing. After work I do the same, until it's time to attend school. It's a busy life but it's my life and without writing I don't think I'd survive!

Writing is my life, I love it, and even though we have a love/hate relationship my muse is always available, therefore I am.

Great piece!

Icy Sedgwick said...

I'm glad people have found something useful in this post! Time is one of those things we rarely have enough of, so it's good that we can use it when we can grab some.

And I do think Benjamin is right, we will always find time to write when there's a deadline...

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