It’s About Time

Good morning…2AM, dark-of-the-night morning. Hey, if I can’t sleep, I might as well write. And I do owe you all a blog post. This one has been formulating in my mind for the last few days as I went from one chore to another – laundry, barn, grocery store, vet’s office, making appointments, etc. The other thing that I’ve been mentally carting around town with me is my current WIP.

When the heck am I going to get some writing done? And how the heck do other writers do it?

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I can imagine that most of you are nodding your heads and saying “I hear ya’.” It’s no secret that very few writers live in a solitary vacuum, able to devote uniterrupted hours of time to their craft. Yet, there are many busy with jobs, families and community who are highly productive writers as well.

Author Sarah Sullivan, one of the faculty members at our last conference, said that while she worked as an attorney, she would write every night from 12am – 2am. Not just on an insomniac-riddled one, but every night! That’s some serious time management and dedication.

The blog Daring to Live Fully posted “57 Tips for Writers, from Writers.” In it the author spoke about John Grisham and his approach to productivity. “He goes on to say that at first you have to treat writing as a hobby; you write a page a day in your spare time. Grisham explains that he created spare time to write, although he had a full time job. He adds that he always tells young aspiring writers that if they’re not writing a page a day, then nothing is going to happen. But if they make sure to write a page a day it becomes a habit, and before long they have a lot of pages piled up.”

A page a day. I can do that.

I poked around the internet futher and came across some more pearls of writing wisdom:

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.” -E.B. White

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Ouch. I think he’s speaking to me. Who am I to ignore the advice of the man who wrote the book that lives with me to this day from my childhood?

“Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.” – Henry Miller

Oh, Henry…you plagued me in school, but there is no denying the soundness of your advice!

“For me, writing time has always been precious, something I wait for and am eager for and make the best use of.” – Barbara Kingsolver (prolific author and mother)

Each of them and others I didn’t quote had specific times that they wrote, but that wasn’t what stood out. We all have different schedules and responsibilities, so trying to match someone else’s is unrealistic. What inspired me was their determination and drive. Their willingness  to make time, no matter how many people and things pulled on them. That’s what makes a productive writer and often a published one.

So, now it’s your turn. How do you do it? What’s your routine that buoys your determination and what is your best time of day to write? Share your secrets in the comments below.

I really could use your advice.

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About Susan Mannix

Susan worked as a biomedical research editor for the Department of the Navy for fourteen years and has been a member of SCBWI since 2007. She writes young adult and middle grade novels. When she isn’t writing, she spends her time doing all things horses, including attending her teenaged daughters’ many competitions. Susan lives in Maryland on a small farm with her husband, two children, an adorable black lab, two cats, and three horses.
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16 Responses to It’s About Time

  1. I really needed this post to kick me in the pants and make me get back to real work. I write daily for the newspaper but have been dragging my feet worse than ever about getting to “my” writing. And now that I’ve taken a part time position back at McDaniel College on top of my weekly Carroll County Times work I have to manage time even better. I used to do my own writing from noon to 2 p.m. and again late at night. You have me thinking on how to make it work again. Thanks Susan!

    • Susan Mannix says:

      Lois, you have always been an inspiration. Your plate is so full – I frankly don’t know how you do it! I’m so happy that this little post helped you to refocus on the writing that’s closest do your heart. 🙂

  2. Joe says:

    You have to think of writing like the stock market — you’re in it for the long haul. Don’t get discouraged if you have an unproductive day. Shrug it off and try again the next. I’m self-employed and may have weeks where I’m putting in eighteen hour days. It’s frustrating but I’ve accepted that I have to write when I can. I hereby challenge all readers of this comment to deactivate their Facebook or other social networking accounts for a month. Whenever you feel the urge to check Facebook, open your WIP instead, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Fine-tune a sentence or a paragraph. Remember how Andy Dufresne broke out of Shawshank Prison? A few pebbles at a time. It took a long time, but he accomplished his goal. Never give up.

    • Mamour Dieng says:

      Joe,

      It was easy for me to accept your challenge. I don’t have a Facebook account. I am currently writing my 5th manuscript.

    • Susan Mannix says:

      Thanks Joe, for such constructive and encouraging advice. You are right – nothing good comes from beating yourself up for not living up to your writing expectations. In fact, it’s often counter-productive. Love that challenge. Although I’m not sure I can go cold turkey, you have given me the push to use my time more wisely!

  3. Joann says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write It’s about time. I am going to take John Grisham’s advice and write or edit a page a day.

  4. mikecrowl says:

    I am using Scrivener to outline my new manuscript. So far–and I have everything outlined except for the last chapter or two–I have found that part quite stimulating. I work out most of those details when I have quiet time… in the shower, in my car on my way to work, or even after I have finished reading before bed. I jot those things down and then get them into the outline. I will be ready for NaNoWriMo, and I firmly believe that my story will, for the most part, just flow right out into a first draft, because this time, I’ve thought through most of the details. (We’ll see, of course) The actual writing part will almost certainly be done in the evening from my recliner while the TV is on. I’m guessing that John Grisham would not approve, but I don’t care. I write when and where I can. And… to me, thinking about writing counts too, as long as it is truly productive thinking.

    • Susan Mannix says:

      Hi Mike! I love Scrivener! It’s a great productivity tool. And I couldn’t agree with you more – thinking about, pondering, planning your work is a very important part of the writing process. I have a feeling John Grisham would agree with you and has done quite a bit of that himself! Sounds like you are more than ready for NaNoWriMo. Good luck!!

      • mikecrowl says:

        “Sounds like you are more than ready for NaNoWriMo.” Let’s not get carried away now, Susan. 🙂

  5. At first I created my own Thursday evening class and wrote for two hours, before making dinner, walking dogs, or chasing growing dust bunnies. Then Valerie Heller convinced me join #Octwritingchallenge wiith a 500 word a day goal. I don’t get there everyday yet I’m increasing stamina and my weekly word count is beginning to average closer to the daily goal. I’m losing sleep and gaining words and living it!

    • Susan Mannix says:

      Good for you Cheryl! How did I miss #Octwritingchallenge? Guess I need to pay better attention on Twitter! That Thursday evening writing class is a great idea! I’m so glad you shared it here.

  6. Pingback: 1000 is the Magic Number | Kathy MacMillan

  7. Ginny Vroblesky says:

    Thank you so much for this. I take care of my 90+ year old parents full time and sometimes feel I don’t have time to write. But I also know that if I don’t I can feel more frustrated. So, this morning, before everything I took a bit of time to write my one page, that grew to three. Just need to break it down into small bites. It is like quilting in a way – there are times to plan, times to decide on fabric, cut, and then sew. The sewing is the easy part but all are needed for a quilt. Thank you.

    • Susan Mannix says:

      You are so welcome, Ginny! Love your quilting/writing analogy! The creative process truly is a universal one. I’m so happy that you are writing. You are a kind soul – please keep at what gives you joy. Your voice must be heard. I have a friend who was in a similar situation as yours. She kept writing, honing her craft and her voice. She has just sold her first book. Never give up!

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