Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Beg, Borrow and Steal

Want to know what you should be begging, borrowing and stealing?  Time.  For yourself, for your writing.  I've come to realize in the last couple weeks that it doesn't matter how much time you think you have, it doesn't matter how little time you think you have either.  If you're serious about this craft and about finishing anything that requires a little patience, time is one thing you need to have to devote toward it and it's never about finding time either.

I've realized that "finding" time is a misnomer.  If all you do is look for time, ironically you'll probably never find it.  You'll always have something more important to do and something that will take priority over your writing or you just won't feel like it because that time could be equally useful in resting or in doing something else that you really want to do because you don't really feel like writing.  Often it's because it's just one more thing in your day to do, just one more thing to keep you tired that's all too easy to shove off to one side and let it go for a day.  There's always "tomorrow" right?  When you're writing your first novels especially this can be hard because you're not likely to have a deadline or an agent waiting for your book and keeping you to task to get it in on time.

This is a problem even when you have loads of time.  In fact, it might be more of a problem when you have lots of time because your sense of "i can do it later" is somewhat true.  Trite sayings like "never put off what you can do today until tomorrow" are painfully true in this situation.  If you want to write the words need to get on the page.  If you're never "finding" enough time to write, re-evaluate whether you really want to be writing or not.  If you don't, go do somethign you're rather do and don't waste your time, but if you do, make that decision and do it.

A good author friend of mine (who will know who she is when she reads this I expect), has set a goal for herself to write 500 words every day.  It's not a lot, but when you're dealing with two kids in the 2-3 year range that suddenly becomes a mammoth task, and yet more times than not she manages to make time to write it.  I suggested to another author friend of mine (who will also probably know who she is) to try just 100 words a day because she was feeling particularly burdened with time and with the writing.  She was doing something I'm terrible for doing, she looked for time but couldn't find it and then spent a lot of time feeling guilty that she couldn't do it.  The small word goal and a determination has been enough to see her in front of the computer and she's already written two chapters up from not writing at all!

I'm the worst culprit for spending too much time "looking" for time (and yes, it's active so you can waste time while you're looking).  I've written two novels (that will likely never see the light of day because they're not up to my standards and I don't think they can be PUT up to my standards, they're terrible), and I'm working on my third.  The biggest differences come in my ability to time manage.  The first two novels I wrote I wrote the biggest chunks of them in under three weeks.  Partly due to a deadline and partly due to not being able to find "inspiration" or "time" or whatever other excuse I could think of.  I found reasons to put it off and procrastinate and even as I was doing it I felt guilty because I KNEW I could spend all that time writing instead.  If I had spent as much time writing as I had trying to find time to write I probably could have written six novels already!  (and believe me with the number of "idea's" folders sitting next to me that I've come up with over the course of the novel I'm writing right now?  It wouldn't be hard!)

When I wrote the first two I didn't have enough time, but it was a priority, I wanted to get it done and I had to get it done and instead of putting it off I begged, borrowed, stole whatever moment I could to get it done and it worked.  Now, writing my third, I have too much time, not enough to fill my space and perversely it's even harder to make myself sit down and type anything, let alone my novel.  It's too easy to feel discouraged and then guilty about the time I've 'looked for' and then ended up wasting.  If you're serious about it, make a decision, set a small goal that will be really, really easy to reach and set it for every day, don't  miss a day and the thing you're working on will get done.  Maybe not as fast as you would like, but it will get there and that's part of the beauty of doing it.

There's an ending to the cliche I mentioned earlier and the whole thing put together makes me smile and think that's exactly what I've been doing with all my "free" time.  Never put off until tomorrow the things that you can do today, because today is just yesterday's tomorrow.  It's good advice when you hear the whole thing, and it's all about making time to do things, even when you maybe don't feel like it.  But don't kill yourself with guilt either, just recognize why you didn't do it and if you are still serious about writing, change it.  It's always going to be one step at a time, regardless of what you're doing and writers need to remember that too.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice post and so true for all of us. It is hard work getting those words in but you feel so much better, so much more productive if you can even write a paragraph or two. One thing that has always stuck with me is: "You can't edit a blank page". Even if what you write is absolute garbage, at least it can be improved upon, or at least it is a stepping stone to something better. Nothing is just that.... nothing.

    But you're right. Beg, borrow, and steal that time. Like you would anything else important to you. Time for your mate, time for a shower, time for some sleep. Whatever you guard, you should guard even a half an hour a day to squeeze in a few words!