Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ruthless Writer

"Be ruthless about protecting writing days, i.e., do not cave in to endless requests to have "essential" and "long overdue" meetings on those days. The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance. I must therefore guard the time allotted to writing as a Hungarian Horntail guards its firstborn egg."

J.K. Rowling

Amazing quote by J.K. Rowling which hits the nail right on the head. It seems whether you write full time or not, one can never seem to get enough hours to actually sit down and put fingers to keyboard.

As for myself, I work a full time job and write on certain nights and weekends. I am always saying to myself where does the time go?

I've recently started using a pretty strict schedule, mapping out windows of time for certain tasks. As we all know, writing isn't just writing, it's a ton of other things as well like networking with peers, doing your research and staying current on social media. 

The problem with my schedule is that it seems someone (family member, friend or colleague) always seems to request the block of my time that just so happens to be designated to the actual writing. 

So what do you do?

You can either be "ruthless" as Ms. Rowling puts it or you can be flexible. I've tried the ruthless technique, which to be honest is hit or miss. I feel as though I always end up damaging a relationship of some kind. However if I am too flexible, I end up losing that writing time altogether since I can't slack off on other tasks to catch up.

I am reminded of a quote by Steven King in which he says that a writers desk should always be placed in the corner of the room, letting his life take center stage. I'm paraphrasing, but I believe his point was that as writers we have to make time for life.

So I'll be honest and say that I'm not really clear where the line is: when to be ruthless versus when to take a chill pill and let a little "life" in.

Does anyone have an answer to this? Are you ruthless with your writing time or do you take the more flexible approach? Does it depend on who is asking?