No one pays you to write at first, so it’s sometimes hard to justify the amount of time you devote to your passion, if you can find the time at all. Maybe this is picky of me, but I prefer to “create” writing time, rather than “find” writing time. Finding time means I searched for time in ineffective places, then eventually said, “Oh, look. Five minutes.” Creating time means I consciously, proactively planned writing time and made it happen.
If you want to create writing time, you need a force field. A high-powered orb to block out all distractions.
The thing is, force fields can be dangerous. You don’t want to inadvertently zap the important people in your life.
They need to know when the force field is up. I really stunk at this in the beginning. But after opening up better lines of communication about writing time, we struck a deal that worked for us. Wednesday evenings I went to the library until it closed. Then I packed up and went to the diner until it closed. Then I went home to a quiet house and wrote until my eyes closed. When life changed, we adapted.
For a lot of us, big chunks of solid, lots-of-progress writing time have to be carefully planned, and during the rest of the week we scrounge up what we can. You can learn to sneak in a sentence here, a paragraph there, and let it simmer while you live real life. Sometimes you’ll end up with something wonderful because you slow roasted your thoughts throughout the day.
Whatever your situation, you’ll be less likely to zap anyone with your writing force field if they know when it’s coming.
A way to make the most of the time you create, is to learn to write it beautifully the first time. Cranking out 10,000 words as quickly as you can is great and all, but it might not save you time in the long run. I wish, in the beginning, that I had applied to writing some of the advice I give my piano students, and that my piano teacher gave me. Don’t crash through the whole song, start to finish, over and over and expect it to get better. Work on the song a measure at a time, perfecting as you go. More focus and effort up front, less wasted time and a better result at the end.
As another time saver, know where you’re going. Discovery writing is wonderful, and I do it all the time, but if you have a destination in mind, it can prevent your story from wandering down a path that leads to a lot of deleting.
Maybe you’ve already heard all of this. It might not be anything new. But I have to remind myself to be careful with my force field every single day. No amount of writing success will mean anything if I damage the relationships in my life, but I deserve to use my talent and pursue my goals.
Dreams are allowed. Just build them carefully.
Jessica Lee Parsons
Represented by Rachel Marks
Jess lives with her husband and four kids in a happy house. Before that she was a lawn mower, a sheep shearer, a burger flipper, a life guard, an umpire, a waitress and an old-time melodrama actress (how she met her husband). She’s a registered nurse, teaches piano lessons and plays mediocre but steadily improving bass guitar in a band with her husband, the drummer. She wishes the name of the band was Mystic Elven Spaceport, but alas, it is not. Maybe it’s for the best. Since she can’t time travel, she settles for world travel, which sometimes feels the same. Most importantly, she once served two spinach enchiladas with verde sauce to Harrison Ford. You should have seen her face when Han Solo walked through the door.