Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Integrating Writing & Life

My to do list includes short term projects, like sending out a poem to a contest and doing to the laundry, to long term projects, like finishing a memoir and learning Greek. The list is endless and takes many forms. It can seem simply ridiculous at times.

So how does a daily writing practice fit between the cracks of a daily work schedule, errands and long term projects, not to mention sleeping at night?

It can fit in, although perhaps not daily.

Every writer has a different method that works for her. Some writers will tell you that they wake up an hour before everyone else or stay up an extra hour. Others might sneak in some writing on the bus or on lunch breaks. Some rely on writing retreats for focused periods of writing. Many of us write in spurts, myself included.

It is important to know your body’s rhythm and use it to your advantage. Some of us are naturally morning, afternoon or night people. Take advantage of the time of day when you feel most productive. Save the errands and the other thoughtless activities for the period when you are least thoughtful.

Set deadlines for yourself. Decide to have a draft/chapter/page count by a certain date. Workshopping your work with peers helps a lot with this. If you decide to meet monthly to discuss new work, you will be motivated to find the time to write and edit before the meeting. Use peer pressure positively. It can be helpful to take a class, too, to motivate you to craft something new regularly.

Keep submission opportunities listed by date. Then, you can not only write, but also edit in time for contests, open submission periods, etc.

Whatever you do, it is important to write, edit and read as much as possible. Be reasonable with yourself, though. Don’t set impossible deadlines. Sometimes there is something urgent to deal with and you can’t write for a period. Never give up. Once you have some time, start writing again. And again.

2 comments:

Rich Cover said...

Integration of writing and life, for me, comes down to this: I write when overcome by the urge to do so. Sometimes, I am pushed over the edge by a memory or an email from a family member, or just the events of the day. When I am at the tipping point, it doesn't take much. Besides, real writers can not only write about anything, they can make anything interesting. That should be motivation enough. The trouble is that my job is always in the way, a higher priority demanding that I do something that is more likely to generate income. I should probably reverse the process. Instead of procrastinating until driven to write, I should just write an hour every day, whether inpired or not. Perhaps today is the turning point.

Rich Cover

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

Thanks for reading, Rich! If you set a schedule, I imagine you'll be able to write everyday! Good luck and I look forward to reading it.