The More You Do…Works Again!

This was back in June, but isn’t it pretty. Most of the cholla blossoms are dark pink, but some this summer had  a lovely pink hue.

I mentioned earlier this week that I was devoting myself to getting my rhythm of writing back. As I anticipated (from past experience), the first couple of days were truly painful. I turned off the internet and stared at my screen. Each word felt dredged up from the goop. The characters were obstinate, I felt uncertain about the story. (Okay, I might have hated it for a few minutes, here and there.) It’s like pulling cold dough from the refrigerator. You just have to persevere and keep working it until – hello! – suddenly it’s elastic and responsive. Then, when you leave it alone, it happily rises without you.

That’s where I got to yesterday – I hit my stride, the sweet spot. The story caught fire and I easily hit my word count. (Which I scaled back to a goal of 1K. This is like I’ve mentioned in the past, that I have to build up my endurance again, just like time away from the gym. Once I get settled into a steady 1K/day, I can gradually increase.)

Then I noticed something else – the rest of my day fell into place, too.

Productivity, it seems, breeds productivity. I’ve said before that I believe in the maxim “the more you do, the more you can do.” This kind of thing just demonstrates it for me again. If I can get over that hump of indolence, then everything goes better. The dishes get done, chores are whipped out, phone calls get made and work projects are easily wrestled into submission.

Now I’m going to try deflecting some bullets with these nifty silver bracelets…

Why the Last Thing You Need Is More Time to Write

Very early on in my writing career–dare I say, before I’d written or published much of anything–I took a seminar with Ron Carlson.

Look, he has a Wikipedia page, but no website. What’s up with that, Ron?

Anyway, Ron is a very talented short-story writer, and a terrific speaker and teacher. There we were, all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, eager wanna be writers with stars in our eyes over becoming full-time writers someday. He told us a story about his own life.

He’d started writing when he was teaching, so he grabbed writing time when he could. At lunchtime, in the 15 minutes between classes, waiting for students during office hours. We’ve all been there, where even a few minutes of writing time is precious and you snap up each opportunity. But you long for the paradise of unbroken writing time. It beckoned to him, too. How much more he could write, if he only had the time.

So, he and his wife reviewed their finances and decided they could afford for him to quit teaching and write full-time.

It was the worst thing that ever happened to him.

Also? The house had never been so clean.

He did dishes. He vacuumed. He dusted things that had never been dusted. He did not write. One day, a friend dropped by and found him washing the spiral cord on the wall telephone. (That’s a dated reference, huh?) She took one look at him and said, “Man, you are lost.”

One of the questions I get most often from new or wannabe writers is about finding the time to write. And my answer is always that they never will. You have to make the time, or it won’t happen. I also tell them that they don’t have to find much. 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there – it all adds up. And that bright and shining hope for unbroken writing time?

It’s a lie.

It’s very difficult to use time wisely when you have big chunks of it. Ask any retiree. They dally the days away. People who have to cram a great deal into their days, get a lot more done. Because they need to.

The more you do, the more you can do.

So, what was Ron Carlson’s solution? He got a part-time job. A couple of them. And when he was back to having a finite time to write in, he started producing again.

It’s a valuable lesson.