Finding The Time To Write
By Annetta Ribken
In launching a writing career, it seems like an easy endeavor. Pick up a pen and a pad of paper; sit in front of a keyboard and your favorite writing program; hell, grab a crayon and a piece of cardboard. I mean really, they’re just words — how hard can it be?
Let me count the ways.
1. The Muse: Capricious under the best of circumstances, The Muse comes and goes at will. Her will, not mine. I’ve had many a late night conversation with the wench, and I thought I was stubborn. She’ll hit me at the most inconvenient of times, and make herself scarce when I need her most. I hate her and I love her.
2. Format: Depending on what I’m writing, the format often takes as much time as writing the piece. Fiction submissions follow a more-or-less universal structure, although every publisher, it seems, requires certain little tweaks found in their guidelines, which writers may or may not read. Every client has their own requirements, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep up. Baseball bats are not recommended when formatting in Word. Trust me on this.
3. Networking: The only way to attain more work, a writer must network. Time spent on writing must also include time set aside for MySpacing, Facebooking, LinkIn-ing, Squidooing, Stumbling, Digging, RSSing, and a whole slew of “ings”. No one tells you this when you embark on a writing career. The upside to this is connecting with people from the past and with people who share similar interests. It’s easy to get caught up in just your tiny portion of the world as a writer, and it’s great to be reminded that no man (or woman) is an island.
4. The Lure of Research: One click is all it takes. One click here, another there, then just one more. Links are like Lay’s Potato Chips to me — I can’t stop at one. I tell myself I’m going to stop, but fifty clicks from where I started (say, researching dog breeds) and three hours later, I’m reading about the mating habits of the tse-tse fly and marveling. Good for future fodder, but not helping me with dog breeds. *sigh*
5. Procrastination: Ooooh, when the Muse has gone out for Starbucks and you’re sitting in front of a blank screen, it’s oh-so-easy to put off that project for just five more minutes. A game of Bejeweled will help loosen the block, and if that doesn’t work, there’s always NeoPets, Amazon, or a favorite forum to prowl. I know! I’ll clean out my mail box, or rearrange the website. Maybe play with a new program — I just know the Muse will be back at any minute with a Caramel Frappuchino, topped by whipped cream. THEN I can get back to work.
6. Finding a Comfortable Work Space: I’ve written from a cramped up kitchen counter to a wide-open meeting room in a hotel. I’ve written from bed, from a dining room table, from work, from the bathroom (I know, like you needed to know this.) The one place I have never written from is an actual desk with all the accouterments.
The most inspiring story I’ve ever read about work space was this blog entry by Peter V. Brett. It really impressed me, and although he’s on his way to becoming the next Fantasy Fiction Rock Star, it certainly wasn’t an overnight success. Although I’m certain when he’s accepting his Nebula, the comment will be made. No, my friend Peat worked his ASS off for this, let nothing stop him, and his plan of World Domination is almost Complete and Total. How can you not be inspired by this?
The truth of the matter is, if writing is in your blood and DNA, you will find a way. If writing is who you are, it won’t matter WHERE you are — a place is just geography.
Difficult? At times. But I can honestly say there’s nothing else I’d rather do.
Now, where is that Muse with the Starbucks??