If you’re a real person with a real life, completing a full-length manuscript is a daunting task. It requires a commitment to the long haul divided into small writing segments.
Observe yourself when you write. What length of time constitutes the "ideal writing session" for you? One hour? How about two thirty-minute blocks with a break in between? Look at your own physical, emotional and mental cycles. When are you most alert, creative and imaginative? If you have a day job and family responsibilities, note the times when you have the fewest demands or distractions. Is it during your lunch hour, before the family gets up, or after the kids go to bed?
Notice both the times you are most creative and the span where you have fewest distractions. Any overlap in the two is your ideal time to write. If there is no relationship between your creative bursts and the actual time you have to write, be practical. Write when you can, not when you feel like it. Use your creative moments to scribble in your journal. Many plots thickened while commuting to work.
I get up early and write for one hour every morning. Regardless of how the rest of the day unfolds, I have written. I literally have to haul myself to the computer. A wise saying tells us to "do the thing and the power will come." I have found that the act of writing brings inspiration, not the other way around. If I waited to write only when inspired, I’d still be on book one.
Even though I have days when I feel like I'm writing gibberish, the overall personal effect of my writing is enjoyment. If it weren't, I'd quit and look for new adventures. Writing is the same as anything else we love—some days are better than others.
Put your writing times on your calendar and give them the same priority you give any other pressing engagement. Schedule your time in comfortable, productive blocks. Yes, I have been known to do the marathon, but I usually wind up with caffeine jitters, a sore back and an overflowing recycle bin. It doesn't pay.
If you've grown fond of eating, you can find the time to write and still keep your day job. Become a fierce protector of your writing dates. When your time for writing arrives, use it for writing and not for anything else. Turn off your cell phone, lock your door, and block the instant messages. The laundry, dishes and correspondence can wait as you transform "someday" into now. The only real writing deadline you have is your own death. You are mortal. Start writing today.
Next Issue: The Creative Silence
Christine Jette, RN, BA in psychology, is a Therapeutic Touch practitioner and professional tarot consultant and author of Tarot Shadow Work, Tarot for the Healing Heart and Tarot for All Seasons. (Llewellyn Publications, 2000 / 2001)
Forthcoming books: Writing for the New Age Market (Crossquarter Pub. Group, early 2003) and Professional Tarot: The Business of Reading, Consulting and Teaching (Llewellyn July 2003) www.findingthemuse.com