Today we’re talking about Chapter 2 of the book, On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life that Lasts.
The topic of this chapter is: Arrange.
Before we start, just want to say a huge thank you to all who joined the conversation on Chapter 1!
I so enjoyed reading the posts that you linked up, and the dialogue that took place in the comments. Grateful for each of you, and the unique voices and gifts you possess!
For a full overview of this discussion group, and where we’ll be headed in the next six weeks (including link-up topic suggestions), click HERE.
At our recent Five Minute Friday Retreat, we had the opportunity to video chat with Ann and Charity.
Before they started their presentation, Ann asked us to go around the room and share some of our writing goals.
The vast majority of the responses had something to do with making more time to write, and being more disciplined and consistent with our writing.
Life is busy. Many things demand our time and attention.
How do we carve out time in the midst of already packed schedules for a luxury such as writing?
One encouragement I took away from our video chat at the retreat was that it doesn’t always have to look pretty.
For the vast majority of us, our writing lives aren’t going to look like a remote cabin in the woods, with a laptop and no distractions for days on end. (As much as we may wish it were so.)
As writers who also have other responsibilities and hats to wear, our writing lives often look like stolen moments and leftover scraps.
And maybe that’s okay.
We take the seconds and minutes as they’re available, and we scribble and jot and hope we find the notes later, when we need them.
The trick is to take those scraps, each beautiful and unique one, and stitch them together into a finished product. A patchwork quilt made up of stolen moments and ideas penned on the back of receipts — all sewn together into a work of art.
“Part of the process of calling myself a writer was actually making time to write.” ~ Charity Singleton Craig, On Being a Writer
In our video chat, Ann shared about how she has a pink backpack that she keeps ready for whenever she might need it. This particular backpack is designated to serve as a remote work station. In it, she packs her laptop, her charger, a notebook, even a remote wi-fi hot spot. Everything she’ll need to get her work done in a setting other than home.
When she heads out the door, she grabs her backpack and she’s ready to go. Ready to work wherever she may end up — at her child’s soccer practice, or the doctor’s office — wherever.
This advice gave me great comfort, as my own writing life is often comprised of patchy blocks of time sandwiched between other responsibilities. I even read portions of this book while sitting in the after school pick-up line.
The first time I actually scheduled a writing day on my calendar, I felt like I was being self-indulgent. Like I was giving myself a treat I didn’t deserve.
During the month of May, I was on a deadline, and knew my kids only had a few weeks left of school before summer break. I had limited hours of uninterrupted alone time, and needed to make the most of it.
So I looked ahead at my calendar, and blocked off whole days as writing days.
It felt wrong. Like I had other things that were more important. I should’ve been doing laundry. Grocery shopping. Cooking supper.
I did manage to do all those things as well, but if I hadn’t protected those days in May, I never would’ve met my writing goal.
It was the first time in my life I actually turned down other opportunities in order to write.
I guess my point is this: Sometimes our writing lives will look like cursive notes on the back of a homework sheet in the middle of the night. Sometimes they will look like saying “no” to coffee with a friend in order to accomplish a goal.
Both are okay.
We need to discern the season we’re in, and what’s right for each moment in order to sustain a healthy, balanced life that includes writing as a vital component.
What about you? How have you arranged your life in order to fit writing into it?
Share your thoughts in the comments and/or link-up below!
Here’s a preview into where we’ll be heading next week with our discussion. Start thinking ahead about these themes:
Week Two: Surround and Notice
Mon. Aug. 24 — Surround: I surround myself with people, activities and books that will influence my writing
Link-up topic suggestions:
Wed. Aug. 26 — Notice: I attend to and record what’s going on around me
Link-up topic suggestions:
Write your own blog post or journal entry on one or more of the following topics:
Share a success story about a time you effectively practiced the discipline of noticing.
Share a funny story about a time you failed to notice and observe, and couldn’t remember any details about your experience.
Brainstorm ideas about how you might be able to improve your noticing skills.
Write a poem or essay about a place you visited recently, recording as many details as possible.
Also, if you don’t already join us for Five Minute Friday, won’t you consider playing along? It’s an amazing community of bloggers, a flash mob of free writers, the perfect excuse to practice your craft. We’re on Twitter every Thursday evening at #fmfparty, and on Facebook here. Hope to see you there!