A pep talk from Savvy:
I’m here today to deliver a spoiler about life as a writer. Something that all those articles promising you time optimization never mention. In the FRIENDS theme song, when no one told you life was gonna be this way *clap clap clap clap*, this was one of the things no one told you about. You ready?
There’s no such thing as the “perfect” time to write.
There, I said it.
This month has been Camp NaNoWriMo, which for those of you who don’t know is like National Novel Writing Month’s lite edition. Like NaNoWriMo proper, which takes place every November, the goal is to write as much as you can in 30 days. However, the camp versions, which take place in April and July, are the “lite edition” in that you can set your own goals. As long as it is at least 10K, it can be whatever length you want. You can use the time to edit old work, start something new, or heck, be like me and do both because you walk on the wild side.
As I reach mid month with one new project and one old, both in need of some love, I’ve found myself thinking once again, as I often have, about what constitutes the right atmosphere for getting the most writing done, and one step further, when is the best time to write. The problem is, there is literally no answer for this that I can discern for myself, let alone share with you, and here’s why:
What we forget as writers is that we’re also people.
We are people who have lives, and wives, and kids, and boyfriends, and coworkers, and sick grandmas, and deadlines to be met, and inner demons that like to go, nah you suck too much to write today, NETFLIX INSTEAD. All of these interconnecting relationships that one has to deal with and the demands placed upon us make it difficult to pinpoint what conditions work best for us to write. And so, the idea that one person with a quick fix article can tell you “write between 7am and 8am with exactly 1.5 cups of coffee and sunlight streaming in your window” is just ludicrous. The person telling you that doesn’t realize that maybe you work early and can’t write then, or maybe you have a baby keeping you up at all hours, so that ‘optimum hour’ for writing is legit the only hour in which you can catch shut eye.
So rather than sit here and give you a recipe for exactly when you should be sitting down to write, I’m gonna be real with you and say the one thing you maybe don’t want to hear, but that you need to hear: Just write when you can.
Routine works really well for some people, and if you exist in a time and space that allows it, of course it can be helpful and beneficial! I don’t ever mean to discourage what works for people, because as I said, we’re all very different beings. But this article isn’t really for those of you with perfectly planned lives and foolproof routines (even though I still love you). This is for the rest of us. Those of us for whom writing happens not at all for a whole week and then comes bursting out of us in a two hour binge write on our free Tuesday night. This article is for the you who is jotting notes for your story on your phone at the bus stop, and having to get through the rest of your day only to punch out one or two hundred words when you get home from an exhausting day. This irregularity does not invalidate you as a writer, it just validates your humanity.
As long as you are writing whenever you can, and recognizing that making time for your story is a priority, you are doing the right thing.
Tolkien took twelve years to write Lord of the Rings. J.K. Rowling took about seven to write the first Potter book. One of my favorite quotes I recently discovered sums up perfectly the advice I hope most to give to writers…
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” —Confucious
Make time where you can, and use it as best you can. Take the time you need to tell your story, but don’t EVER give up until it’s told. Remember to take care of yourself and the people in your life, and know that your story is waiting for you when you’re ready. Happy Camp NaNoWriMo, and remember to keep writing.
Carry on my wayward writers,