Finding Time for a Big Thing
The last two questions on the midterm Survey Monkey survey I gave to my students:
- Making time within the day to write. I have so many things going on.
- Sitting down and actually writing… I get distracted by online quizzes and video games easily.
- Actually finding the time day to day in order to write.
- Making myself sit down and do it.
- Writing without distractions has proven difficult.
- Exhaustion. Approach-avoid conflict.
- Keeping up with the writing.
- Scheduling time to make up missed days.
- Forcing myself to write.
- Finding the time to write.
You might be surprised by what they said was easiest. (Here’s a sampling.)
Even if you don’t become a writer in the long term, even if you don’t finish the novel you drafted, you learn a lot from participating in NaNo. It reveals with startling (sometimes painful) clarity the reality of how you spend your days.
How do you find the time to write 50,000 words in a relatively short period of time? Well, how do you incorporate any big thing into your life? Said “big thing” being novel writing, having a baby, caring for a dying parent, taking a second job, studying for the bar exam, taking 1,000,000 pictures, training for a marathon, traveling to every country in the world,-eating a healthy, well-prepared meal every single night, etc. You find time, make time, create time. Or you don’t.
Recently, The Fiction Writers Review asked the incredibly productive writer Benjamin Percy this question:
You’re forgetting the hardest job of all: I’m father to two young children. I don’t sleep: that’s the answer. Five hours a night sometimes. My blood type is caffeine. I never take it easy-I’m always working, always writing or editing or grading. Even when I’m supposedly relaxing, I’m not. If I’m at the gym, I’m listening to an audiobook. If I’m watching a movie, I’ve got my notebook out and I’m jotting down ideas. If I’m out in the yard with my kids, I’m pushing around sentences in my head. People often seem to view writing as an indulgence, but I operate under the belief that you must give up all indulgences if you want to write seriously. I used to think this was a calling-that’s too romantic of a term. I’m fairly certain that I’m driven by obsession.
For some, the answer isn’t how to do more with less time, but to alter one’s life, to make it more outwardly simple in order to live more richly.
In her novel, The Maytrees, Annie Dillard writes:
She took pains to keep outside the world’s acceleration. An Athenian marketplace amazed Diogenes with, “How many things there are in the world of which Diogenes hath no need!”” Lou had long since cut out fashion and all radio but the Red Sox.” In the past few years she had let go her ties to people she did not like, to ironing, to dining out in the town, and to buying things not necessary and that themselves needed care.” She ignored whatever did not interest her.” With these blows she opened her days like a piata.” A hundred freedoms fell on her.” She hitched free years to her lifespan like a kite’s tail. Everyone envied her the time she had, not noticing that they had equal time.
A few months ago, the New York Times ran this piece, “But Will It Make You Happy?” which seemed to strike a cultural chord. I know it certainly did with me.