I Don’t Have Time (or Do I?)

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I’ve just returned from a few days away.  Being short on time and inspiration I’m offering a re-post from 2009 that I hope you’ll find timely. I’ll be back on Monday.

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Someone once asked me if I’m disciplined. Disciplined? Me? That’s a relative term and I had to ask for clarification before answering. After all, if she could see my haphazard approach to housework, she wouldn’t need to ask. But the reference was to daily writing so I was able to affirm that yes, I do write every day, although not always at the same hour. I’m not that disciplined.

Not everyone agrees daily writing is essential to an author’s success, but those who have read about Morning Pages, Weekly Walks and Artist’s Dates will know Julia Cameron isn’t one of those people. She is a remarkably self-disciplined author, artist, composer, filmmaker, teacher and journalist. It doesn’t matter how she feels, where she is, or how much time she does or doesn’t have, her creative commitment is always fulfilled. Whenever I feel as if I don’t have time to write, I think of something I read in her book, The Right to Write.

She says, “The “if-I-had-time” lie is a convenient way to ignore the fact that novels require being written and that writing happens a sentence at a time. Sentences can happen in a moment. Enough stolen moments, enough stolen sentences, and a novel is born–without the luxury of time.” *

My dictionary defines disciplined as “showing orderliness and control in the way something is done or somebody behaves.” When it comes to writing, we are the ones who control our own output. For me the daily question is: will I take control and make time today?

As you start into your Fall routines, are you scheduling specific time for your writing, or simply hoping you’ll be able to squeeze out whatever you need?

* The Right to Write, Julia Cameron (Tarcher/Putnam, 1998)

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12 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Time (or Do I?)

  1. catwoods says:

    Great topic. The school year is my best writing time, as the kids are in school and the winters are frozen, taking away my outside passions like gardening. In that respect, I guess you could say I’m a seasonally disciplined writer.

  2. At the moment, I’m shopping my book around, and Karen and I are determining if there’s an interest in our collaborative effort. I have book 3 started of my trilogy, but if I can’t sell book 1, I may shelve it. I do write – journal/blog – every day.

    When I’m working on a manuscript, it’s full steam ahead, especially with a first draft.

  3. Judith Robl says:

    In the words of my southern Aunt Vinnie, “you done quit preachin and gone to meddlin.” This is an area of my life where I am especially weak. Too many distractions seduce me away from the pen or keyboard. But I am working on it. Thanks for the gentle kick in the posterior. This is a subject that probably should be resurrected annually.

  4. You’re sure talking to me today! I get too caught up in needing to have “things” done so I can have time to write. I just need to write. The things will get done. I’m going to save this article and read it once a week until I get it in my head for real!! Thank you.

  5. I’m not disciplined. I’m not lazy either, but…

    This is a well-timed article, Carol. I agree, there’s something about September that brings me full circle. It actually feels like the end of the year with a new start in the wings. A new start because children are once again walking to school or waiting for the bus. And I’m driving by thinking and feeling like I should be waiting for the bus, anxious to go to that place of learning and growing.

    This year I seem to be fighting it, hanging on to the leftover remnants of summer. It’s been 3 days of 30 degrees weather. I’m not lazy, I’m not disciplined, I’m jealous that summer slipped by unnoticed for the most part, and suddenly it felt sorry for me and dropped in for a tease. Part of me thinks I’m silly not to be emerged in every second of this heatwave instead of resenting the fact it’s about to run away again.

    This is beginning to sound like me rambling, so I’m off to melt in the heat and savour what little skin cooking I have left.

    See you soon.

  6. I love this quote. One stolen sentence at a time. Wow.

    I do schedule my writing. I put it on my day planner, and have a list of projects and dates in which I want to finish them. I’m not hard on myself if I don’t make my deadline, but it’s surprising how writing it down motivates me to DO it.

  7. Hi Carol!

    Am enjoying your writing, especially the article you wrote for the B.C.R.V. magazine.

    This R.V. newbie can relate to that!

    Hope you’ll drop by my skywritings blog.

    We miss you at the LWG but understand your need to move on.

    Regards,
    Carla

  8. carla says:

    I read ,” The Right to Write” several years ago and that started me on my own writing journey!! Good book to reread and get writing!!
    Carla

  9. davidebright says:

    I barely had time to read your post let alone leave a com…..

  10. Thanks for chiming in, everyone. Time is a very elusive commodity, and I can tell you all have different ways of utilizing it. Especially Dave… he always has a different approach! LOL! Dave, you should be writing humour, not scary YA stuff. 😉

    I know what you’re saying, Joylene. It’s *summer* down here, too. 25-30oC every day for two weeks. We used to call it “Indian Summer” when I was younger. I love the warm days and crispy nights, and as much as I love looking at them, I resent the changing colour of leaves that signify summer is definitely coming to an end.

  11. Carol, I’m glad you enjoyed my blog post regarding Waterton Lakes Park.

    Checking out your blog, I found the timing and topic are perfect! I have been studying the craft of writing for five years, finally knowing what I wanted to be when I grew up. True to the advice, my WIP is my third manuscript. It is coming together.

    My recent aha moment? Writing can, and for me, must be a daily routine, much like the other daily routines. I have stopped trying to find time to write, because there never is time! And instead, am able to follow the advice I’ve heard from other great writers … write every day. I’ve done this for a week, and by prioritizing it, have been shown it works. (Peanuts I know, but once I get something, it sticks!) Daily writing keeps my head in the story, and keeps me feeling like I’m finally getting somewhere. Showing beats telling every time.

    My prior excuse? Once I started writing I didn’t want to stop, and nothing else got done. But now, there is the promise of tomorrow’s writing time to continue. Discipline for quitting time is also important.

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