Friday, January 23, 2015

Clearing Time for Writing

Last summer I heard Craig Johnson speak. He's one of our family's favorite authors. Craig is a mesmerizing speaker and there were 500 people in attendance.

After he gave his talk there was a huge line waiting to buy his newest book, Any Other Name. An even longer line snaked across the Old Library Park with armloads of previously purchased books. It was the most organized set-up I’ve seen. Several employees from Old Firehouse Books politely went through the lines and handed each person a yellow sticky note instructing the customer to write the desired name to be used in the autograph and put in on the title page. It was an outdoor event. The evening was lovely, and the sound system was superb.

No one seemed to mind waiting in the long line because we were all among booklovers. I met a delightful lady who recommended a number of titles. She appreciated audiobooks. Naturally, I whipped out my card told her about the variety of books published by Poisoned Pen Press.

I was impressed with Craig’s energy. He greeted each person like they were a long lost friend. Since I was at the tail end of the line, I took the opportunity to ask him how he managed to participate in so many events and simultaneously write so many wonderful books. He said he was able to write anywhere at any time. He used a computer or a spiral notebook or anything else that was handy. It didn’t matter. He said he used to be very precious about his writing and had to do it in a certain place at a certain time of day. But he had to give that up.

Then he said what we’ve all heard a jillion times–the secret is to keep at it and write every day. He knows how to think! He gave up a method that wasn’t working anymore and rebooted himself with a new operating system. Wow!

There are many times during my life I’ve had to admit my usual modus operandi simply wasn’t working anymore. I’ve gotten trapped psychologically into believing I’m handling things when I’ve not. My latest pitfall is the myth of  believing I can “clear time” for writing. That has never ever worked for me. It’s not working now. It won’t work in the future. This Christmas has been especially disruptive. It was full of mini-exchanges that drifted into January. Something always happened to blow the “cleared time” sky high.

 My best approach has always been to write five days a week. Naturally that expands to include weekends at certain stages.

There were many questions I wanted to ask Craig. One concerns social media. Does he use hired help? How many blogs does he follow? What all does he do?

In the meantime, my life needs more Tweaking, not Tweeting. I need to get comfortable with a social media approach and go back to a more consistence approach to writing.

Some people never write when they are promoting. Some, like Craig, write every day no matter what the circumstances. Some take long breaks between drafts of a book. Some write in multiple genres.
So how do you do it, Type M'ers? Have there been times when you’ve had to switch methods? How did that work for you?


Eileen Goudge said...

The writing every day thing is key. I have been preaching that gospel for years. It's sometimes hard when you're juggling other commitments, so the task I set for myself is to write at least one paragraph a day. Invariably this becomes a page or more, but by keeping it simple I don't feel overwhelmed sitting down at the computer. I would liken writing to having children: there's no good time for either. You just have to jump in, and it will sort itself out somehow. Great post, by the way. You nailed it.

Charlotte Hinger said...

Eileen, I've tried so many different methods. However,I'm trying to train myself to turn the computer off on Sundays.