Monday, August 23, 2010

Finding Time to Write: Time Management or Mind Management?

“Be careful of your thoughts, they may become words at any moment.” —Iara Gassen

Two members new to a critique group asked, “Can we talk about time management?” Since the last meeting they had not found time to write. Their question made me wonder, “Is writing about time or mind management?”

In our critique group meeting we brainstormed the topic from life distracts us from writing to listing specific ways to write regularly. One member suggested that certain personality types cannot put words to paper until they’ve mulled over what they want to write and it’s perfect. Others just go for it and spill words all over the page.

Are You a Spiller or a Muller?
Being a spiller, not a muller, her observation never occurred to me. My thoughts spill out over napkins, notepads, journals, empty, torn bill envelopes, church bulletins, tithe envelopes, deposit slips—anything at hand to corral my thoughts, lest I loose them. I sleep with my computer beside my bed. I often wake in the night or at dawn with that perfect idea, sentence or paragraph spilling out of my mind. It’s just dying to be captured before escaping my memory forever.

Sometimes I think writers wait for their muse to show up. Seth Godin wrote in his blogpost Finding Inspiration Instead of It Finding You“One approach to innovation and brainstorming is to wait for the muse to appear, to hope that it alights on your shoulder, to be ready to write down whatever comes to you. The other is to seek it out, will it to appear, train it to arrive on time and on command."

My take on Godin’s suggestion? Waiting for the muse to arrive plays into writer’s fright, giving us an excuse not to write. Sitting down and writing challenges our fears, training our muse to show up on command.

Once upon a time, my writing life and muse was mañana. My writing theme song? “Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya tomorrow! You're always a day a way!” The mañana mindset stole away my writing life today. That’s when I decided to start Inkspired. I needed a critique group to hold me accountable. Being deadline driven, I also wanted regular critique deadlines to motivate me to sit down and write. At that time, I worked in a corporate setting. By the time I drove home, fixed dinner, cleaned up, and relaxed, I felt too exhausted to write. I decided to stay after work and exhaust myself writing and email the document to myself. As I dropped into bed, I’d read what I wrote.

Now that I write everyday on purpose, my mind mulls over what I’m writing while I conduct my daily routines of laundry, cleaning, gardening, cooking, and face the ups and downs of life. When mind management kicks in, does time management become less of an obstacle to writing regularly?

1 comment:

Roxanne Sherwood said...

Scoti, I love this post. Whether writers are spilling words all over napkins or mulling while doing dishes, they're pre-writing. So when they finally sit down to write, they've got something to say. The problem with the new writers in your critique group is that they're not doing either one. It's too hard to make time to write when you haven't spent any time pre-writing.