Tag Archives: write

flying clocks

What are you doing this week to make time? Me? I’m willing to change.

Most weekday mornings I wake at four AM and get to work. I’ve even gotten better at writing on weekends, which I explained in an earlier post–to my surprise–proves harder to make time than they days I work a full day. Yet, I still crave more time, feel it’s too little. My days, once I set off for work in the morning, lately don’t slow down until bed time. It’s hard for me to imagine that I used to write in the afternoons. Whatever time I had then, life and other interests have filled to brimming.
Last week–Tuesday, I think–I was feeling pretty whiny about how quickly my writing time passed, how soon I had to jump up and start getting ready for work. 6:00 AM to be out the door by 6:30, to Capital by 7:15. You see I walk to work most days, have walked to work most days for the last eleven years. I refused to change this habit even when we moved and my three-minute walk became a 45-minute walk two and a half years ago. It’s not just work. I have a thing about walking everywhere I can. I walk to yoga from work. I walk downtown often. When the weather is nice, you’re likely to see me walking just about anywhere. This walking is a life-long habit that started when I was young, maybe even as young as 11–certainly by 13.
Walking calms my anxiety. My thoughts unwind and reconfigure. Walking is my idea space. So many poems, story ideas, understandings about myself and the world occur when I’m out walking. Just as Tuesday while walking to work this idea occurred to me:
If I rode to work with Chris on the days he doesn’t leave early to take his boy to zero hour (1-2 days per week), I would extend my morning writing time by 45 minutes. I could double my word count in 45 minutes. And who says I can’t take a 45-minute walk in the evenings instead?

The idea is obviously good, yet I struggled with is pretty hard.
Why?
Habit is a powerful part of identity. Would I still be me if I no longer walked to work every day? No longer set out each morning, sometimes in the dark and pouring rain, sometimes with a too-heavy book bag, a yoga mat, and a lunch sack too?
Routine is the backbone of a healthy writing practice. Just read a few writers on the subject and you’ll hear the advice reverberate. But a routine that is too rigid can make us stagnate, keep ourselves and probably our writing too confined.
Be willing to change. Change the time of day you write. Change your word count goal. Change another habit (like walking to work) that frees up space to create.
When people hear what time I wake up to write, they say I could never do that.
That’s a lie.
You can.
If you want to make time badly enough, you will.
What habit can you change right now to make time?
I am writing this just after coming in from evening walk. Tomorrow morning I look forward to double the writing time.

 

Buy my books here.

Please follow and like us:
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
Twitter
Visit Us
Pinterest
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Instagram
Soundcloud
Tumblr

What it took.

I woke at four, made coffee, walked the dogs. I sat down to write a little bit later than usual, but only about five minutes. But five minutes turned to fifteen once I followed the impulse to check my email. I felt cold, so I got up to get a sweater.

“Getting dressed?” Chris asked.

Startled, because he usually sleeps another forty-five minutes, I said, “I’m cold. I’m getting a sweater.”

“It’s warm here. You can come back to bed.”

It would have been sweet if it wasn’t so torturous. Shivering, on five and a half hours sleep, going back to bed seemed like a damned good idea.

I sat down and tried to write. Chris groaned in disgust at something in his newsfeed. Don’t ask, I told myself. Don’t do it. I looked at the clock. I had a half hour of writing time left and this space, usually a space where I can easily slip in and out of solitude was alive with distractions. I thought about giving up. I even texted my writing buddy that I was quitting for the day after a paltry, distracted output.

Then, an idea hit. Though I still had a half hour of lounging in my pajamas left on the clock, I got dressed, gathered my things, and left. I walked the two miles to the Starbucks across from the high school where I teach.

I sat down with exactly thirty-five minutes left on the clock before I’d have to cross the street to work, start my day. In half the time I normally would have taken, I wrote 500+ word count (over my daily goal). I’ve had a lot of success lately getting the writing done because of the routine. This morning I was reminded how sometimes the opposite gets the work done. Change the routine and the scenery. Take a walk. Try again.

Here’s a sentence from what I wrote today: “In the light of the full moon, they moved the last of the boxes from the Uhaul into the house which had already begun to change.”

Wishing you a prosperous writing week, however you make it happen.

Namaste.

 

Buy my books here.

Please follow and like us:
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
Twitter
Visit Us
Pinterest
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Instagram
Soundcloud
Tumblr

“Bird by Bird” – Sunday Book Review

“Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott

bird by bird

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

I think most of us writers get ourselves so worked up over the big picture, the completed work, the masterpiece, that we forget larger, greater things can only come together when all the little pieces fit. Everything we write comes together the in the same way: word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph.

That isn’t to say there is no creativity or mystery involved.  Those words we choose, or that choose us, to build those sentences come in a surprising array of ways.  It is helpful though to remind ourselves to take it all “Bird by Bird,” to relax and let go of some of that control, to tell our internal editor to shut his or her mouth, and to just focus on taking it step by step.

“Bird by Bird” is probably the most hilarious book of writing advice I have ever read, but it is also one of the most practical.  Lamott is frank about the fact that sometimes writing really sucks.  Sometimes you pour your heart and soul into a draft, and re-read it only to find out it was pure rubbish.  Guess what?  Not only is that okay, it happens to all of us.

I know some great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much…Very few writers know what they’re going to do until they’ve done it.

Reading this book is like listening to one side (sometimes more) of a conversation with a close friend (one of those friends who is funny and encouraging, but isn’t afraid to call your bluff).  “Bird by Bird” was published in 1994, and since that time I have read it cover to cover at least three times. I thumb through it constantly.  When I can’t find where I left it the last time I was reading it, I panic.  Whether I need a prompt, a smile, a hug, or a kick in the butt, I can count on this book to give it to me.

 

Buy my books here. 

Please follow and like us:
RSS
Follow by Email
Facebook
Facebook
Google+
Google+
Twitter
Visit Us
Pinterest
Pinterest
LinkedIn
Instagram
Soundcloud
Tumblr