Aside from a handful of short email responses, the only writing I did last week was to sign my name to credit card charge slips. I was “busy” strolling Maui’s sandy beaches, snorkeling in the Pacific, hiking a bamboo forest to a spectacular waterfall, marveling at giant waves breaking along Oahu’s North Shore, and watching New Year's Eve fireworks at Waikiki. I suppose I could have carved out an hour or two a day to maintain my writing routine, but this was precious time with family, and I didn’t want to miss a minute.
When I had one of those jobs that should be nine to five but always took a lot longer, I thought the only thing that stood between me and a finely-crafted bestseller was time. Not true. Three and a half years ago, I quit my “day job” to write full time. My first goal: to prove I could make some sort of living by writing. I filled my days with freelance projects and spent what was left on creative work.
One of my writing resolutions for 2010 was to be more generous with my writing time, spending more on learning and exploring, even if it meant less in productivity. Looking back, I’m amazed at how easily my resolve fizzled. I got busy with teaching and freelance editing and a little project now known as the 49 Alaska Writing Center. And while I drafted one novel and half of another, I find I’m still too easily distracted when it comes to writing-related projects that can be broken into hundreds of mini-tasks that are easy to check off as “done.” On some days the mornings I set aside for my own work shrank to an hour or two before I moved on to the rest of my to-do list.
Blessed with the sort of stubbornness that has the potential to serve a writer well if she’s smart enough to direct it toward getting it right instead of merely getting it done, I’m extending my “time to write” resolution for this year. I’m determined to hang on to a legitimate chunk of daily time for my creative work, and within it, to indulge myself in the seemingly peripheral activities that help us grow as writers: deep reading, experiments in content and form, and a few “stretching” exercises. I’m also excited some upcoming 49 Writers courses that will open up new aspects of writing for me: storytelling, food writing (more on that in tomorrow’s post), screenwriting, and poetry.
In short, I hope in 2011 to be thinking and writing with new depth and energy. Except, of course, if I happen to land at the beach with my family.
Would you like to hear more from other writers about how they approach the challenge of finding time to write? Attend one of our Resolve to Write salon-style gatherings. In Homer, join Miranda Weiss, Nancy Lord, and other local writers on Tuesday, January 18, 6-7:30ish pm, upstairs at Alice's. In Juneau, join Therese Harvey and Grace Elliott on Jan. 14th from 6:30 - 7:30 pm at the Rookery Cafe at 111 Seward St. In Anchorage, 49 Writers members and volunteers will receive invitations to join our gathering with Don Rearden, Bill Streever and publisher Kent Sturgis on Friday, Jan. 14th at 6:30 p.m. If you’re in another location and would like to host a Resolve to Write gathering, email me at email@example.com.