Writing Time

The other day I sat down for a cup of tea and conversation with a fellow writer. She asked the question we all struggle with: How do you make time for writing in the midst of all life throws at us?

I was tempted to answer with another question, “How can you not make time for writing?” Writing is so essential to me–it’s how I process the events, emotions, learnings, complications, and interactions that come at me each day–that if I don’t do it most every day, I loose my balance. I become cranky and impatient, jittery, tired and easily unhinged. I can’t see my way in the fog.

Peaks lost in the fog...

But that wasn’t what she was looking for. So I gave her the suggestion I give the writers I coach and teach: “Make a date with your writing.” Perhaps just once a week at first. That’s enough to set an intention, and to affirm to yourself that your writing is important.

Then keep that date. When the appointed day and hour come, don’t make excuses. Get your butt into your writing chair and write. Whatever. If you can’t think of anything to write, then write that: “I can’t think of anything to write.” Or, “I can’t find the words.” “I don’t know what to say.” Just keep writing what you feel until something happens.

When you write your way into the creative flow, it's a feeling as beautiful as this sunrise!

And after you write, the real writing? When the creative flow dwindles to a trickle, the next phase of the work begins: revising. You set that work aside to “season,” to give yourself time to forget its particulars, and go back when you can look at it afresh. You read it over and see what contributes to the whole and prune out what doesn’t.

Then set it aside to season some more, and come back to it again when you’ve got a fresh ear for the work. Read it aloud and listen to how it sounds, to the cadence and rhythm of it, to the flow of narrative and word, to the swelling of its themes and choruses, the growing pains of its characters. Be ruthless: cut out every sentence, every word, every scene or chapter that doesn’t add something important.

And then you set it aside again, and pick it up again. Repeat until the work is as tight and compelling as you can make it. Repeat until what you have written honors the impulse that set you to this crazy solitary business of writing in the first place, the need to say something in a way that moves readers, that touches hearts and souls, that makes them laugh, cry, wail, think.

Then make a new writing date and start on the next piece.

How do you make time for writing in the midst of life in all its frenzy? Sit down and do it. Be there. Show up. As a wise meditation teacher liked to say, “You put your ass-piration on the cushion.” And above all, write. And write some more…

9 responses to “Writing Time

  1. This caption, “When you write your way into the creative flow, it’s a feeling as beautiful as this sunrise!,” beneath your awesome photo touches my being. Thank you.

  2. You’re welcome, Pat! That sunrise, by the way, was shot from the courtyard off our bedroom courtyard in the wrong side of the tracks neighborhood. We’re lucky to have such a beautiful view of the world!

  3. Susan,
    This is wonderful and well-timed for me! Many Pearls- I loved the picture of the sunrise. You helped me find some inspiration for my blog post”Releasing the Creative Genius Within” Thanks for the nudge!
    Kathy Pooler

  4. Pingback: Releasing the Creative Genius Within « Write On…

  5. Kathy, I’m glad that my post, both here and on my blog, gave you a good nudge for your insightful “creative genius within post” on your “Write On” blog. I especially enjoyed your opening quote from Margaret Wheatley. Isn’t it interesting that what we fear–disturbance, change–is also what we need to jump-start our creativity? Blessings, Susan

  6. Yes, I wonder about that fear. Why does it seem so scary or intimidating to be creative? Now there’s another post. Thanks for your inspiration!
    Write On!

  7. Kathy, I think it’s scary and/or intimidating at least in part because we’re showing our inner self to the world, the self we normally “paper over” by behaving the way we think the world expects us to, achieving what we think the world wants us to, and being who we thing the world wants us to be. But inside there’s the real us, and creativity draws on that inner person. Showing her off is scary because what if no one likes who we are inside? To paraphrase Marge Piercy, you have to like being creative more than you want to be loved. (The whole poem is on my blog in the comments section: http://susanjtweit.typepad.com/walkingnaturehome/2010/11/writing-time.html)

  8. Pingback: Releasing the Creative Genius Within by Kathy Pooler | "CommuniCATE" Resources for Writers

  9. Pingback: Releasing the Creative Genius Within by Kathy Pooler |

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