Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Write Every Day

This is one of those mantras for being a writer.  Write every day.  According to the Columbia University Break Writing program, the maximum that a writer can write and concentrate for in a single period is 90 minutes to 2 hours -- so that should be your minimum each day.  http://www.columbia.edu/cu/gsas/pages/cstudents/dean/break-writing/break-1.html  Other than the possibility of working yourself into burnout, it is good advice.

But if you haven't got two hours a day to write, and many of us don't, the advice is still good.  You should write every day, and at least for a certain set time.  And if all you have is fifteen minutes, then write for that fifteen minutes.  Same time, same place, every day.  When I was in graduate school, and single, I had rice for dinner every night.  It took fifteen minutes for the rice to cook, and that was my fifteen minutes.  I hammered away on my manual typewriter until the scent of burning grain told me that it was time to eat.

A problem, though.  Most people take fifteen minutes just to start writing.  How do you make the most of your fifteen minutes?  My trick, especially when I am snatching bits and pieces of time to fill out a handwritten roughwrite, is to spend the time before I write thinking over what I will cover in my writing.  Family doesn't need to be talked to, when I am clearing the table or doing dishes.  Especially the teenagers.  And while driving?  Hey, that's what defensive driving is all about, right?  Other people watching out while I think, right?

Seriously, there is a lot I can do while also thinking on a story.  I am woman, I multi-task.  Maybe not driving, unless it is on an empty highway in the middle of nowhere, and I don't have to be watching for deer, but walking, definitely.  And while waiting in the check-out line at the store, stuck behind an extreme couponer who is going to try every coupon in her massive notebook.  And at red lights.

I work out a lot of plot problems while sitting at red lights in this town.

Write every day.  Think every minute.  It's supposed to keep you young.