Everyone talks a lot about making time to write, but do you take time to write?
I have a lot of transition points throughout the day, times when I'm segueing from one project to the next, or switching from being out and about to sitting at my desk, working. At these junctures, I often find myself clicking onto my yahoo home page to mindlessly scan the sites I have collected there. Or I'll write a quick email. It is a brainless, restful transitional activity. And judging by the long emails and instant messaging conversations I have with people who I know are at work, I'm not the only one who uses the internet in this way.
All fine and good, when used in moderation (like all things, dammit).
The problem is that it is so very, very easy to get carried away. One innocent headline on your news reader leads you to another story you just have to read. You tell yourself it is an important part of your career to stay up-to-date on current events. Right, but do current events include whether or not Lindsay Lohan is in jail? I think not. You remind yourself that in your position it is very important to stay in touch with people. Yes, but do those people expect you to answer their emails instantaneously? Of course not.
I know, I know, you've heard this a million times before. But try taking a look at it from a slightly different lens. What if, instead of indulging engaging in mindless activity when you have a bit of downtime, what if instead you turned to your writing? What if you kept your current project open on your computer, or your journal at hand, and when you had a minute, you re-read the last paragraph you wrote? Or edited a sentence or two, or wrote a few lines based on a prompt.
What if you actually took the extra time you have throughout the day and used it for writing?
Many's the time I've read of writers who claim to have written their books in small chunks of time here and there. The poet and novelist Darnell Arnoult tells of the years she was working full-time and raising her children, and how she would sit in the car and write while she waited for them to finish their sports practice. Out of this, eventually, a novel grew.
Start taking a look at your down time or your transition points. And don't discount what value there is in taking time to look at your writing. Even if you only have five minutes, reading over your work keeps it alive and fresh in your mind. It helps you to establish that magical momentum. And it will keep your subconscious pondering connections and ideas to contribute.
I think the reason we don't take these little bits of time throughout the day is because we're tired, and dealing with our writing takes energy. But get into the habit of it, and soon it is the opposite. Your writing habit will energize and refresh you, much more so than surfing the net. And besides, wouldn't you rather reach the end of the day exhausted because you gave it your all? Because you used every minute, because you threw words at the page every chance you got, because you remained engaged with your writing–and thus the world–throughout the day? I know I would.
How do you take the time to write? Or if you don't, do you have any ideas for how you can?