Tuesday, July 15, 2008

INTO WORDS: An Itty Bitty Column on Writing - Time, Oh Time

"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
July 15, 2008


Forgive me, for I have sinned against time!

My client, Dan Skelton, started writing his novel RENASCENCE in October 2007. The completed manuscript is around 100,000 words. While he was writing it, he taught classes at two different universities, commuting to one of them several times a week. He and I bounced sections of his book back and forth almost daily over e-mail during this period, which took a great deal of his time. He finished the manuscript on June 21st, just before midnight on Summer Solstice. Aside from teaching and writing, he also took time to be a grandfather to his two grandchildren (including going to soccer games) and help around the house. He read deeply.

What is truly amazing is that this busy man who still essentially teaches full time and continues commitments to his family, can, and did, produce a rich and wonderful novel while living his regular life. He wrote mostly on weekends and completed the book over summer break – although he taught a summer class.

I have whined for years about not having the “time” to write. Now, through the example of this former professor of mine, I see the error of my ways. It’s not that I don’t have the time, it’s that I don’t make an appointment with myself to do it. There’s always something else to do, as there always will be. It’s the time commitment that Dan Skelton made to RENASCENCE that produced a completed manuscript and put it in my hands to sell.

Writers, artists and other creative people have to make appointments with their work. Nothing creative goes on if you are not consistently in the chair writing. I’ve known Skelton on and off for forty years. He was serious about his work when he was 30 and is still serious about it at 69. He’s a great example of what it takes to be committed to the craft.

What I want to get through in my Itty Bitty column this week is – STICK WITH IT! Have a time that you write, even for thirty minutes a day. Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet, Mary Oliver said in her little volume, A Poetry Handbook, that if the creative heart and the skills of the conscious mind fail to keep their appointment with one another, nothing creative happens. But, if you DO keep your appointment with your creative ability, your Muse begins to know when you will be there and starts arriving at the same time.

Below are some good links to help you make and keep your appointment with writing. Will YOUR manuscript be ready in nine months? I hope so.

A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver, 1994
Five Tips for Finding Writing Time – Michael Stelzner

Finding Time to Write – PoeWar

“Time and the Writer” – Moira Allen

Brainy Quotes – Mary Oliver