Monday, November 2, 2009

On Time

Last week, I came across this blog article by Miss Snark's First Victim, Authoress. And while I love the MSFV and Authoress herself, I have to admit that I had some immediate, gut-wrenching feelings of bitterness when I read this:

Suffice it to say that the main thing that keeps my writing going is an almost religious adherence to my Daily Writing Time.

1:30 to 4:00. That's my weekly time-of-day during which nothing else is demanded of me. I have no commitments or obligations, no pre-scheduled poop. And I refuse to make appointments or have meetings during this time.

Monday through Friday, 1:30 to 4:00, you'll find me with Beatrice [her computer]. Don't bother me.

Now don't think I don't still love MSFV (I do!), but my first reaction to reading this was a combination of bitterness and jealousy.

I don't have a Daily Writing Time.

I would *love* to have a Daily Writing Time, but I'm more likely to grow a third arm.

And I admit that I, like Authoress, sometimes feel less of a writer when I don't write daily.

But...let me show you my schedule last week (the week where, ironically, the only blog post I could post was a short one on how I had no time):
  • Monday: 
    • 5:30-6:10am: Wake up, get dressed, etc., etc.
    • 6:10-7:00am: Drive to school, while eating breakfast in the car and thinking of lesson plans 
    • 7:00-8:00am: Arrive at school, finish lesson plans, copy work, prepare for class
    • 8:00-3:30: School, which included:
      • Comforting a student who broke up with her boyfriend and the world has now ended omfg
      • Doing three complete lesson plans, made from scratch, comparing the poetry of the Chinese T'ang Dynasty and Japanese Heian period, complete with graphics, power-points, interactive features, and student work
      • Lead the yearbook class in developing the school's yearbook
      • Conferenced with another teacher on method of essay writing
      • ET CETERA
    • Around 4:30-5:00: Arrive home
    • 5:00-6:30: Cook, wash dishes, talk with husband, try to be human
    • 6:30-8:00: Various sundry activities, including calling my mother who thinks I'm dead if I don't call once a week, washing the dog who thinks life isn't complete unless he rolls in mud, changing the sheets (again) after the muddy dog decides he can clean himself (on the bed), keeping up with friends who I love but live all across the country
  • Tuesday:
    • All the same activities as Monday, but add to that a 1 hour Creative Writing Club meeting with a group of students across the school--which includes reading their work, counseling them on writing, and preparing questions to ask the author who was visiting that week via Skype 
  • Wednesday:
    • Repeat Monday, but add in:
      • SIX FREAKING HOURS OF GRADING STUDENT WORK SO THEY CAN HAVE THEIR STINKING REPORT CARDS ON TIME.
      • Yes, you read that right: six hours. From about 6:30-12:30, I sat in my chair and graded.
  • Thursday:
    • Repeat Monday, but add in a husband who was late from his own college class, and me, who was so exhausted from Wednesday that I just collapsed into bed
  • Friday:
    • Do you sense a pattern yet?
So, it's Saturday now (I'm scheduling this to post on Monday).

Now, take a glance at my schedule. Can you tell how jealous I am of *anyone* who has a Daily Writing Time?

And it's all nice and good to say, "If you really wanted it, you'd do it." But...it's. Not. That. Easy.

What am I supposed to sacrifice? The day job? That pays the bills. Dinner with my husband, who I already neglect? A clean house?

Well, in truth, I do already sacrifice those things. The husband bought dinner one of those nights, and I let the dishes go a few days. And in that, I gained myself about 3 hours of writing this week.

Three hours.

Authoress does that a day.

Hell yes, I'm jealous.

But then, when I see things like this, I'm no longer jealous--I'm also mad.   Do you know the number one thing, according to that list, that's a "nasty" habit of writers?

1. Not Keeping A Regular Schedule

Somewhere along the line, you’ve either fallen out of your previous writing schedule, or you never had one to begin with. Very bad, indeed.

If you have a 9-5 job, schedule an hour of writing (or more) each day, either early in the morning or later at night. For those of you under few time constraints, use that to your advantage. Try to schedule several hours of writing at the most convenient time for you.
Most of all, once you have a routine, stick to it as much as possible.

*bangs head on wall*

So...I should wake up at 4:30am? Or I should stay up until 2 (and then wake up 3 1/2 hours later) to get that writing in...?

Very early on, I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn't have a regular writing schedule...and I never would. And here's the kicker:
That is OK.

Really. It's fine that I don't have a writing schedule. I might not be able to write every single flipping day, but that doesn't make me less of a writer. Because when I do get a break--a holiday, or a long weekend, or the ever-longed-for summer break...well, then I can write for hours and hours and hours at a time. It doesn't matter that I write every day. In all honesty, if I wrote every day, I'd write crap. During the workweek, I'm too focused on teaching in the morning and too burnt-out in the evening. I know. I've tried. I actually have done the wake up at 4:30am, or stay up until 2am before. And what I wrote was drivel.

Here's the thing:
 
We all write differently.

I write best when I write in huge chunks. I think it's because time *is* so precious to me--when I can set aside a day for writing, I really write--I focus 100%, and can crank out 5,000+ words in one sitting...and they're better than if I had done them a thousand words a day. 

A four hour block works for Authoress. A strict schedule works for the author of the list of "8 Nasty Habits You Should Quit to Fuel Your Writing." And writing in flurries whenever I can snatch some time works for me. Whatever way *you* write, don't ever think it's wrong--as long as you're writing, you're a writer. A block of time in your day planner doesn't make you a writer--it's the words you can put on the page, whenever you do actually get them there.


(And, PS, the same goes for NaNo, whether you're participating or not. Which, for the record, I'm not.)


Post a Comment