Friday, October 18, 2013

The Daily Grind

by Matt Sinclair

It’s become a basic truism that we all lead busy lives. Many of us struggle to eke out what writing time we can out of a day. I consider myself lucky to have a half hour or so on the train to read, write, edit, and organize my writing life. In fact, as I’m typing this blog the train is exiting the tunnel and about to cross a river. At times reminiscent of the opening sequence of The Sopranos, but it’s home…

Unless we're careful, it’s easy to get distracted from our writing routine. Sometimes that’s fine, as a writing mind is an exploring mind, and I don’t want to stunt anyone’s imagination. But at the same time, writers need to be able to focus and use their time wisely. A routine might seem like drudgery to some, but to others it's the only way things get done.

Perhaps the easiest way to approach that discipline is to write down things on a calendar and keep notes. But when there's so much going on, notes aren’t always enough. And as the old cliché goes, there are only so many hours in a day.

The future will only bring more change – some we must anticipate and some to which we must adapt quickly. I’m curious: how do you manage your time? Here at FTWA, we’ve posted a few blogs about whether we’re pantsers or planners when it comes to our writing. But what about when it comes to our lives?

Are we pantsers about when we write? I know lots of writers who plan to write a thousand words every day – usually to varying levels of success. But do you vary when you do that? Do you write in increments and squeeze fifteen minutes of writing here and another ten later and maybe a half hour just before or just after bed? Has that changed for you over the years?

Do you have specific days when you write? How easy or hard is it to get through your writing days? I know many writers aren’t able or don’t feel compelled to write every day. Trust me, I get it.

But do you know when you write your best? Are you able to optimize your peak writing moments?

What do you guys think? How do you approach that daily (or not quite daily) grind?

Matt Sinclair, a New York City-based journalist and fiction writer, is also president and chief elephant officer of Elephant's Bookshelf Press, which recently published Summer's Edge and Summer's Double Edge, which are available through Smashwords (SE) (SDE) and Amazon (SE) (SDE), and include stories from several FTWA writers. In 2012, EBP published its initial anthologies: The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse, (available viaAmazon and Smashwords) and Spring Fevers (also available through Smashwords, andAmazon). Matt blogs at the Elephant's Bookshelf and is on Twitter @elephantguy68.


Crystal Collier said...

I have a routine, and the more I adhere to it, the more effective I become. The brain is a machine that can be trained, so whatever you train it toward is the way it will work. If you program it for writing every day at 4:00 PM, it will kick into gear and be ready to go. It only takes 21 days to establish new habits. ;)

Jemi Fraser said...

I rarely get writing time until after work and family life are winding up for the day. It can be very hard for my brain to work effectively at that point! In the summer, it's so much easier to get things done during the day! :)

JeffO said...

I was 'fortunate' enough to be unemployed for some time, which got me in a great writing-every-day routine. Now that I'm fortunate enough to be again employed, I'm having a tough time getting myself rescheduled. For me to really get going at writing again, I'm going to have to forgo a lot of hockey watching. That's not a bad thing.

sjp said...

A pantser in every aspect haha the best peak times are at night when you can fully relax without stress and let your mind completely sink into another world :)

Debra McKellan said...

I never thought about if I'm a pantser about when I write, but I guess it's true. I'm not good at keeping a schedule, so whenever I have something on my mind to write, I'll write it. If nothing comes to me, I'm just staring at my computer otherwise.

Matt Sinclair said...

Thanks, everyone for your comments!

Jemi's comment about the brain being ineffective after a day dealing with family and work certainly felt familiar to me.

I also appreciated Crystal's comment about the time it takes to get a new habit to settle in. It's true. (Ever wonder why so many ads allow you to have the first few weeks of a product for free?...)