8.29.2017

Your Golden Hour

You should pick one time that you are going to write. No matter how long you run on any given day, always start at that time. That way you know, no matter how great or lousy you feel, that time is sacred. Picking a single time also creates a good habit. Your writing time becomes part of your regular routine. It’ll undoubtedly be the hardest part of your routine. Many days you won’t feel like writing. You won’t have the right energy. That’s why imposing a schedule is so important.

Many would-be writers don’t have the luxury of free time. You can’t quit your day job on a promise that someday in the hazy future your novel will be published. Believe me, I understand. Except for a few early years when I worked part-time to support my writing, I have worked a 40-hour week for most of my career. So I’m not sitting on some lofty throne in academia handing out advice that is impossible to achieve in real life. I know very well how commuting on a daily basis can grind you down to a sullen husk.

You can feel ground down—or you can decide that you can rise above your boring day. That’s why you want to write, isn’t it? I can’t tell you how many evenings I’ve looked back, and the period I spent writing was the only satisfying portion of that day. Sure, writing is hard work, but when you keep at it, you’ll find that over time, you feel like a much bigger person. You’re the one who keeps plugging into that electrical charge. You’re the one who’s fulfilling her creative urges.

Let’s look at your workday from the perspective that you are determined to find free time. If you stop to consider how much time you waste—watching television, surfing the internet, arranging appointments that you could just as easily tap into your phone on the commuter train tomorrow morning—making a commitment of a spare hour a day becomes easier. You’re going beyond a to-do list. You are stepping up to the plate to declare that your writing counts.

Exercise: Experiment with different times of the day. Try out the early morning for a week. Does losing that extra hour of sleep make you feel like you want to strangle someone at work? Try out the evening. Do you feel too worn out from the day? Could you commit to drawing up outline ideas on the commuter bus? Can you write on a plane? You’ll never know until you try. You may surprise yourself by what feels right for you.

“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”        
—Mary Heaton Vorse

Copyright @ 2017, John Paine

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