Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Writing Genre Fiction: Finding Time


Time for one more question, and here it is:

How do you find the time to write?

That's a good one. Fortunately, finding time isn't really the issue. There's plenty of time. It's all around us, flying by every second. The trick is setting some of it aside for writing, something that can be pretty daunting for a new writer, especially if he or she is a graduate student with a job, family, or anything resembling a social life. Sometimes my students talk about taking leaves of absences from school or work. Other times they might consider locking themselves away from family and friends for a few weeks, long enough to get a good start on a project or meet a deadline. But I've never been a fan of those approaches. Walking away from or shutting out the stuff of life for weeks at a time isn't the answer. Working smart and prioritizing is.

Suppose you can set aside two hours a day for writing. That two hours needs to be productive, and it's during that block that you shut out the world's other demands. If your writing space has a door, close it. If it doesn't, put on some earphones and hit play. I favor electronica, jazz, and classical -- stuff without words. While I'm writing, the only words I want in my head are my own.

In my experience, it's also vital to tune out the telephone, email, instant messenger, and tweets. That stuff will all still be there when you finish your writing session. Remember, you're not abandoning those things, only asking them to retire back awhile, suffice at what they are, but never forgotten. (Thank you Uncle Walt.)

Then, for two hours, you write. Nothing else. Multitasking is a myth. The world of fiction demands concentration.

I have a colleague who, using this approach, has written a string of novels on his lunch hours at work. For me, I find the evening is best. Find a time that works for you, set it aside, and use it productively.

Naturally, there is a limit to what you can accomplish in two hours, and sometime you will find you have various writing projects competing for your attention. When deadlines loom, you may be faced with the prospect of setting one project aside in favor of another.

At the moment, I'm facing a number of looming project -- each growing ever closer as I sit typing these words. One is the final rewrite on my next novel. The other is a string of spoken word performances that begin in early February in anticipation of my forthcoming collection This Way to Egress (due out in March). And then there are two new short stories that I have promised to deliver before leaving for World Horror. That's a lot. Clearly, if I'm going to get those things done, something has got to go.

Can you guess what that is?

I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to shut the door for awhile, take another break from Teaching Visions, and hope to be back just as soon as I've got a handle on those other projects.

In the meantime, if you have any comments, please post one or drop me an email.

I'll be back as soon as I can. Until then, keep prioritizing . . . and share the vision.

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