I just returned from a writer’s conference, and something our presenter said has been running circles in my brain.
The dynamic and learned Chuck Sambuchino made a point of announcing his number one secret to success — “Put down the remote control.”
He asked, “Can you give up these little things you like to make more time for something you love (writing)?”
Ah, yes, time. That great equalizer.
Now obviously, what’s easy for one to give up isn’t easy for others.
Take TV. Yep, I can give that up. But exercise? Nope. Comforting a lonely friend, or helping a family member with a problem? Nope.
And sometimes we’d like to give things up but really can’t.
My day job? My source of income? I don’t think so.
How about grocery shopping? Or eating a meal? How about doctor appointments? Or laundry?
In a perfect world, writers could concentrate ALL our attention on our craft. We could tuck ourselves away in comfy coffee shops or libraries or bookstores and simply write.
But writers have to live, too. And I’m pretty sure Chuck didn’t mean we’re supposed to abandon all our friends, family, chores, or needs just to write.
Musicians don’t do that. Nor do accountants or attorneys.
Shoot, even the most powerful person in the free world — POTUS — gets a vacation now and then!
When Domer was small, I wrote in the car during his soccer and tennis practices. Wrote in the hallway of his TaeKwonDo dojo. Wrote while waiting for him to get out of school. Wrote on weekends when he was with his friends.
Was it easy? No, but words lead to sentences, and sentences to paragraphs. And before you know it, you’ve written a book!
I’d hate to have to wait until I was 80 to write — when everybody I love has died off, my web design career is a distant memory, and all I have left is time. So squeezing in a little now and then is better than not writing at all, right?
(Note: Something else that came out of this conference provided me with an “ah-ha” moment, which I’ll share next time!)
**I’d hate to have to wait until I was 80 to write**
NO. NO. NOOOO. Absolutely not.
An acquaintance once said, “I can’t write until my kids are out of high school.”
I said, “WHY? Why can’t you write now. I don’t’ understand.”
We never became friends.
you see, I have a feeling she thought I was selfish.
Why did I remember that?
xx kiss from MN
I’m not sure I’d call making time for writing “selfish,” Kim. When writing is as necessary to you as breathing, you’ve GOT to do it! Good for you — something tells me she wouldn’t have been an ideal friend (and if friends can’t be supportive, why bother?!) Hugs from cold, dreary Central Illinois!!
Sometimes we have to be crafty about finding time to write. This notion of writers retreating to cabins in the woods with no life or responsibilities is nonsense. Most wake up early and squeeze it in at odd times. I agree! It’s better than not writing at all. And it does add up. If I waited until I was 80, I’d have forgotten what I wanted to write about. Got use it before you lose it! 🙂
HaHa, yeah, there is that (the chance of forgetting what one wants to say!) And, honestly, if we can’t hone our skills while the kids are young, when ARE we going to? Thanks for saying this — being “crafty” — love it!
I’ve often pondered why it seems I got more done when I was crazy-busy. My life has changed – kids are grown, no day job to speak of, and yet with more time, I actually struggle more to get writing done. Strange, I know!
Hey, Karen — nice to see you here!! You make a good point. Perhaps that’s why it’s said that, if you want something done, give it to the busiest person you know. They’re always the ones who seem so organized and efficient and driven that they manage — somehow — to accomplish stuff.
Thanks for sharing this, Debbie. It must have been great to get away to a writer’s conference and absorb some inspiration and motivation. In Dani Shapiro’s book, “Still Writing” she says that some of her (and many writers’) worst writing days are those that are open and stretch out before us with nothing on the to-do list. I agree.
I can’t fathom an open day with nothing on my to-do list, Barb! I always try to fill one before going to bed at night; that way, I wake up, raring to go, do, and accomplish.
It was great getting away — and you’re so right, in that the sheer energy generated by the sessions and the other writers was worth every penny I spent!
I was just thinking about you and the conference! Was it fun? Glad to know it went fairly well. I feel the same thing with practicing guitar!
Ah, you understand, Professor? Thank you! I came back with renewed enthusiasm for my book (and more ideas for polishing it prior to submitting it). I learned waaaay more than the money I paid would indicate, I got to see a beautiful part of the country, and I connected with some amazing people. Yep, I’d definitely recommend a conference now and then!
That’s sweet! You had the best of times. Any photos?
Sadly, no. Guess I should’ve borrowed Nick, huh?!!
*laughs* Nah, pics aren’t that important!
“In a perfect world, writers could concentrate ALL our attention on our craft. We could tuck ourselves away in comfy coffee shops or libraries or bookstores and simply write.”
You’re absolutely right, Debbie, we can’t always do that. And I think, as you said, it’s different for different people when it comes to how much time we have.
For me, and I know this sounds odd, but it seems that when I’m busier, I seem to be more organized with my time than when I’m not busy. Because when I’m not as busy, I seem to lose all sense of time; therefore don’t accomplish the things I would like to do. I’m someone who needs a certain about of structure and time management to live. But that’s not to say I don’t have days when I want to just be…and do nothing and not look at the time. But it’s all about balance.
How exciting to hear about your conference. And can’t wait to hear more!
Have a a super week, dear friend!
Thanks for being a pal, Ron — your support and encouragement mean a lot to me!
I’m pretty self-driven (how else can one run a business??!). Nevertheless, yes, there are days when my brain is tired of being ON, and I need to step away from it all (and perhaps indulge in a little retail therapy, ha!)
One shouldn’t have to feel guilty about stuff like that. After all, when I was working for “the man,” I was “forced” to take vacations; now that I work for myself, I rarely do an organized time-off. So a bit of slacking now and then is probably good for the soul!
I’m always amazed at how easily distracted I become when I plan to write -something I love doing. It’s great to use those small pocket of time to write and they do add up. But I think something special happens when we say, “this is my time to write, I am going to sit here for x amount of time and write no matter what.” Everything else can wait. I also use not having enough time as an excuse far too often for things I want to do – I rarely use it when someone else asks me to do something.
Looking forward to hearing more about the conference.
Thanks, Katybeth (and since you insist, I’ll be glad to share some of what I learned in upcoming posts!)
I think we all tend to do that — set aside a block of time, then find (to our chagrin) that the Muse has departed, and we can’t string words together! I’ve heard it said that if you don’t show up, you can’t write, and that rings true for me. It also rings true that you only fail if you don’t write!
I gave up television a long time ago, and figure I’m not missing much. How cool…a writer’s conference. Tell me everything they told you. 😉 Just kidding…not really. Every spare second I have I use for writing. I can’t give up my job, working out or relationships with humans….tis all I have left. Enjoy your Monday, Debbie. Glad you had fun!
Audrey, yes, I’ll be glad to share some of what I learned — I don’t want to bore anybody to death, but if I can be of help, then of course I will.
TV, for me, is the easiest to give up. It’s just so much NOISE! Of course, I still half-watch things like college football or basketball games, but likely, I’m multi-tasking!
I’ll be honest…the TV thing is a problem for me…but the real problem is writing is not a passion of mine so I get easily distracted from writing. My passion is souls being saved and that is why I write. My writing days are slowing down.
We go through different seasons and I have new season in my life now. This is your season for writing and it’s exciting. Thank you for sharing the conference info with us!
Tanya, saving souls is such a lofty goal and you’re to be commended for doing what you can in that realm! I can’t slow down — there’s too much I want to say! — and none of us knows how long we’ll have to say it. Thanks for dropping by and adding your thoughts!
There are two things that crossed my mind while I was reading. One is that most of the truly good writers whose musings on writing I’ve read make clear that they aren’t writing all the time. Many of them will put in three hours in the morning, and that’s it. Others may prefer another time or routine, but it’s clear that the law of diminishing returns takes hold for everyone, at some point.
The other thing I’ve noticed is that none of them seem to fit our romantic notions of what it means to actually write. They go to coffee shops and cafés for coffee, bookstores for books, and libraries for research. But to write? They’re in a room by themselves, fully focused in a way public places don’t allow.
I’m luckier than most. I can think about what I’m working on while I’m sanding and varnishing, so even my daily work provides a kind of creative opportunity. Still, the big lesson I’ve learned is to seize time when it presents itself. This morning? It’s really, really foggy, and predicted not to lift for a couple of hours. So, I’ll give a half-hour to the blogs, and then settle down to work on my next post. I often can get more done in those two-hour chunks than I do if I try to set aside a whole day. I’m just not able to be that creative for eight hours straight!
It really is neat to hear about your conference, and I agree completely about losing the remote. I’d add social media, but that’s just me. I do know that when I watched an hour of morning tv last week while my car was being serviced, I nearly gagged. Clearly, my decision to get rid of mine was the right one!
Linda, I truly love what you wrote here! I guess we tend to romanticize the very act of writing. And we tend to play mind games with it, too. How many doctors agonize over not having time to perfect their craft? How many electricians worry they’re not connecting enough wires? How many attorneys fret their Muse will desert them when they stand up to argue a case?
Three solid hours a day of writing sounds heavenly to me, but that’s because I often do good to squeeze in 30 minutes here or 20 minutes there. Life at the moment is rather hectic, and it’s hard to focus in short blocks. But I must remind myself, It is what it is, and refuse to waste the time I do have!
yes, my friend — watching an hour of morning TV would have the same effect on me!
It seems like I’m so tired at the end of my work day, I don’t get much writing done unless I have a huge energetic creative burst. However, I know there are lots of little things I could give up to write (social media and blogging as I don’t watch tv)…but which do I want more?
I do my best thinking in the morning, Suzi, so I force myself to stay off the Internet until I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. In the afternoon, when my body clock slows a bit, I can visit blogs and interact on social media. Then, I get another good burst of energy at night, so I take advantage of that time, too. I suppose it’s knowing oneself and what works for us. (Of course, this is all very theoretical because sometimes, the best laid plans go awry, ha!
All those little spaces of time add up. I’ve given up on hoping for larger blocks of time (3 to 4 hours). I do agree that there is a balance needed between writing and living, and we should make conscious decisions about where sacrifices should (and should not) be made.
They do add up, don’t they? And when we think about all the 20 minutes here, 10 minutes there that we waste, we should be ashamed of ourselves! I know I am!! Obviously, we all need “down time,” but if we say we want/need to write, we can’t afford Lack-of-Time to be our excuse in not getting words down. Thanks for stopping by, Janna — hope everything’s going well with you!
I struggle with making time to write. Sometimes the desire is there but the words are so hard to find. And I’m distracted by noise, other people, or just being in a place that isn’t my typical writing place. And I pretty much only aspire to write a blog! How hard can it be, right? But you’ve definitely hit the nail on the head. Much as we may love to write, it takes some real effort.
Like anything else that has value, Terri! I’ve always heard that people ultimately do what they want to do. I’m not sure that’s true in all cases, but there’s a ring of authenticity about it!