Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Writing in quantity

One of the writing panels I attended at GenCon was about fitting writing time into a busy life (the "day jobs" panel). It was eye-opening, seeing how a pile of published authors manage to cram a novel a year into their lives. One of my favorite panelists, Jim Hines, wrote his first three novels during his lunch hour at work, which is an impressive feat; another wrote on a regular schedule of two evenings and a weekend morning every week. I have trouble finding writing time in my schedule, so I was happy to hear from other people facing the same problem.

Really, my day job fits pretty well with writing. I've got odd hours, which means I get odd days off. And irregular days off are good for writing. I also work a block away from a Borders Books, which is a good place to sit and write, and six blocks from the new library, which is the perfect place to write. And, a few days a week, I've got the time to grab a laptop and wander up to the Artsgarden balcony on my lunch break and pound out a few words.

A bigger problem for me is self-discipline. It's easy for me to rationalize not writing, just like it's easy to rationalize eating crappy food and not exercising. I've got a problem with write-ish activities that I substitute for writing. Blogging? Almost like writing. E-mail's almost as bad. And reading author blogs? It's almost like building my craft, with the added bonus that it's easier than actually putting words on the page! So I end up squandering a lot of my writing time by doing write-ish things, instead of real writing.

That said, though, I had a few good days in the past week with big chunks of free time to devote to writing. The more I do it, the easier it is to write for long chunks of time. I still peak around four hours; at that point, I need to do something that doesn't involve staring at a computer screen. I even managed a day in which I pulled two four-hour chunks of writing (balanced by the fact that I did no writing at all yesterday). I suspect this would be the real advantage of writing for a living: you can fit your life around your writing, instead of fitting your life and your writing around your job....

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