Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Your life, with writing

Photo courtesy of

post by Lynn

In order to get some fresh ideas for blog posts, I asked my writing buddies to send questions. I got this one:

Dear Lynn,
I know I have enough hours in my day to write, but I also find that by the time I get to those hours, I am often exhausted – more mentally than physically. I feel blank and mentally fried. Writing a grocery list feels like it would take more creativity than I have. How do I get past this and get something done?

Me, out of it sometimes

Oh my, that’s frustrating. I appreciate that you don’t just complain about not having the time to write, but own up to lacking the energy.

First off, I suggest you establish that you are not out to write a novel, short story, memoir, essay, or poem. Your goal is to develop a writing life. A life, with writing, customized to your routines, available time, and personal quirks. Plus, you are going to make it fun. Why else would you write?

And while you’re at it, broaden your definition of “writing time.” Stretch it wide to include such things as eavesdropping, jotting down a description of that weird thing your coworker does with her nose when she’s pissed off, and looking up “trichotillomania.” It’s all part of the creative process. Just be sure to keep your notes.

Now, let’s experiment:

1. After work today, go buy some color-drenched pens and paper so silky that you want to rub your hands all over it.

2.Tomorrow morning get up ten minutes early and, using your new pen and paper, do a free write, with a prompt you select before you go to bed tonight.

3. Lunch time: what’s available in additional to eating? Another quick free write? Re-read a chapter of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird? Write an old-fashioned letter to your favorite sibling and let loose the hounds of your humor? It’s all good. It’s all part of your writing life.

4. The weekend: decide what time of day your reserve of energy is highest and schedule an hour during that period to write. Extend one of your free writes, maybe? Pen a page of dialogue? Whatever calls to you in the moment, do it. Lightly, irreverently.

5. This last one is very important: when you have written, something/anything, celebrate. I’m talking a goal-line victory dance, complete with fist pumping. Woohoo! Yesssss!

6. Repeat steps 1 through 5 as necessary.

The key here is not simply making time to write, but making the writing time pleasurable. Because I don’t know about you, but my muses won’t come for anything but a party.

My prediction: the more you write, and the more you enjoy your writing time, the more energy you’ll have for writing.

What say you, writer folks out there? Help our gal out. How do you find the energy to write?


Anonymous said...

I like the idea of it being a party and not a chore. They say the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I enjoyed this post, Lynn, so I linked to it from my own post today. I totally agree that we can take a lot of pressure off ourselves when we broaden our definition of "writing." I now include blogging (which involves networking and promotion), research, writing in my head while I'm gardening or cooking, and work I do with NCW and RMFW. Sooner or later, the urge to sit down and create something new takes over, and I'll be on a roll for several weeks. We all have to find our own way to relax into the adventure.

Lynn said...

Thanks for the comments. I was half expecting a "just get your butt in the chair" comeback from somebody. And I'm not at all opposed to discipline. I just know from looooong experience that we'll do more (and better) writing if we lighten up!

Luana Krause said...

Attitude. Time. And coffee.

Chick 1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stephan Train said...

I posted and then deleted by accident! Way to go me! Here is what I said . . . .

I had to learn how to make time after I had my daughter. No more half-day binges for me. And I was in school. And I was working.

I learned how to write "Drive-by" style. If I had 5 minutes, I sat down and cranked out a few sentences. If I had 15, I might get a paragraph out of the way. There are pages in my work in progress that I wrote sitting at "The Breaksfast Club" in Fort Collins, waiting for my food.

I think I reached a point where starting something (or returning to something) didn't require 5-10 minutes of "settling in" time. I just wrote. I turned off that internal editor and went for it. Even if I only got out the idea, at least it was there for me to look at again and say, "Hmm, I know what to do with this."

It took some getting used to.

Those words add up and soon I realized that I could get in at LEAST 500 words a day by sneaking it in. Hand-written, typed, you name it.

Nicole R. Hill said...

Wow! You are lucky indeed! thanks for sharing a lot

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