Confessions of a Writer
Organization. It’s the key foundation to any new enterprise. And it’s a damn shame that I don’t have any. My disorganization doesn’t just span the here and now, but also through time. As a writer, my day-to-day consists not only of getting my own life (what with work, school, chores, and on special occasions, a social life) in order, but also juggling the lives of a handful of fictional people. And our schedules, it seems, overlap.
For most people, I think that having a long list of things to do means that some things get entirely finished, while others simply don’t. Not me. Imagine two rooms separated by a doorway. I’m standing alone in the “finished” room, and my responsibilities are lined up in the “to do” room. Sleep and Work shove their way through the front of the line, sneering at everyone who isn’t on the VIP list. The rest of the line turns into a mob, all pressing at the doorway but no one being able to push all the way through. I can throw them crumbs and every now and then, I can pull a finished project through. But then there are those days that I just close that doorway and drop a curtain over it. Because if my responsibilities can’t see me, they can’t attack me. They’re like T-Rex’s that way. (I think this analogy may have gotten away from me.)
If I were a better, more diligent version of myself, I wouldn’t have this problem. I’d get up early, dedicate an hour or two to writing – make sure to get those one thousand words in – then head out for my day, and return at night for more reading and writing before I turned in. But that’s not gonna happen, because I can’t schedule when I can write.
Oh, it’s easy to set aside the time. There are two hours in the middle of my day that I can actually sit down in front of my laptop…and stare at it. Maybe eat a bowl of cereal, page half-heartedly through some notes, turn on Drop Dead Diva – but not too loud, because I’m working. This goes on until it’s time for me to leave, usually with very little accomplished.
But once I’m on the move – popping in my iPod, catching the bus and getting back to work – I am full of creativity. I pitch dialogue in my head, work over new ideas, rub story arcs together, throwing sparks until they fit perfectly. And all of this is going on in the back of my mind when I should be focusing on my job and the task at hand. Every grand epiphany I’ve had has come to me in the middle of something else, grabbing my attention and forcing me to stop whatever it is I’m doing – because if I don’t write this down right now, it will never make as much sense ever again.
So, time has become less of something that I “manage” and more of something that just happens to me. I treat it the same way I do the pile of unsorted story notes: with a disdainful nod of acknowledgment, hearing its dry whisper in my ear, I’m coming for you, and knowing that it speaks the truth.
Then again, I am supposed to be working on a book right now - and instead, I’ve written this article.
Your move, time.