|Using my Little Red Book |
to organise my time.
I can’t count the times that promising writer says to me -
‘If only I had the time I could really focus on this novel/article/poem/short story.’
A Weird Situation
For a writer the only answer to this dilemma is to take time, to take control of your time. In doing this you will create dedicated time for you to imagine and for you to write afresh.
Writing creatively is often viewed as an inchoate, random,
uncontrollable act -weirdly beyond the writer’s control based on the notion
writers are dreamers. How does this compare with the expressive arts? Contrast
this frenzied image with an artist going into her or his studio or a musician
turning up at her or his rehearsal room.
Contrast this also with the reputation of highly successful present day and earlier writers - part of whose success is built on their ability to organise their time to ensure systematic daily, weekly and monthly blocks of time to devote purely to their imagining and their writing.
Perhaps to be so successful and productive, needs the
quality of what the world calls ‘selfish’. (We
need a new word for this quality …) I sometimes feel that – because of their
cultural brainwashing - women writers are worse at this ‘selfish’ thing than male
I have often said that making time to write creatively is ‘my
first priority after the safety of my children – before the house, the table,
the call of friends. And these days, surfing the Internet, tweeting. Even blogging
(Though I have to say that does have its creative element.)
I have become used to to the faintly judgemental looks when
I make this statement. The disbelief or disapproval comes equally from men and
women of my acquaintance. But still I get my head down and write my stories, my
novels and articles.
My Theory Is Based On Blocks Of Time
These blocks of time evolved during the time I was teaching full time - first in schools then in higher education and wrote and had accepted for publication several stories and three Young Adult Novels.
This Is How My Method Evolved.
My life in school and then college was keyed around
the academic year: three terms and three longish holidays. This gave me six blocks of time to attend to my writing as an important part
not just of my time but my of identity. Of
course my preparation and my teaching also had to be properly planned in. My teaching commitments trained me to focus intently on a major creative task (teaching) and meet deadlines (for preparation and marking).
the holidays I would use these skills in the free-lance way to research and
write first short stories then novels which were accepted for publication. And during term times I would work spasmodically
on my creations, close editing prose and developing characters and listing, brainstorming
new ideas for new ideas.
After that when I moved into writing full time I
knew how to make time to write and went on write a book a year for twenty years – not ‘churning them
out’ but giving them special time and space in my life to ensure quality, credibility
and qualitative development.
So I thought I’d share with you my idiosyncratic views on how to make proper time in your life for your writing.
(This is not a recipe for everyone but perhaps aninvitation to look at your own time-control more objectively as a writer and develop it systematically and – most important – give it priority in your life – first after the safety of your household perhaps.)
First you need to consider your own creative approach
Look back and estimate the
light and shade of your normal practice as a writer. Estimate when you are in a good mood and in full flow, how much writing
you can do in a morning, an afternoon, a day in the week. Grahame Greene did
this and aimed for and achieved 800 words a day – about five thousand words a
week. This adds up.Work out how many days in a
week you can make your writing your absoluter priority. This
can be as little as one our two but if you build it into your life you will be
surprised how productive you become.
When – during ‘holidays’ or purposeful
breaks you increase this to four or five days you have practices in place which
will ensure that you go straight into creative mode. If you have it in you’re a
fine novel will grow out of this process.
When – during ‘holidays’ or purposeful breaks you increase this to four or five days you have practices in place which will ensure that you go straight into creative mode. If you have it in you’re a fine novel will grow out of this process.