Sunday, April 11, 2021

Writing in the Cracks of Life

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

When do you write? Early in the morning? Late at night or in the cracks of life? For me, it often depends on what I have that needs to be written. If I'm writing on a book, then I will often figure out how many words I need to write in order to meet the deadline. Often I will add a few days of cushion into this process because interruptions and unexpected things always happen. If I'm on a book deadline, then I will write for an extended period of time (several hours). It doesn't matter if it is in the morning, afternoon or late at night. For some of my deadlines when I had a full-time job at an office, I've written all night long to meet a writing deadline.
While it is nice to have a big block of time to write, I also have written in small portions of time or in the cracks of life. Maybe I will have a few minutes in the morning to write a few paragraphs. Or I will have some time in the late afternoon to write a few more paragraphs on a piece. In general, I scratch out a few phrases as an outline first, then I write from that outline and in my mind I have an idea where I'm going with the piece and how it will come together.
After years of tackling these questions as a writer, I believe some of the issue is mindset. If you tell yourself that you are a morning person and can only write in the morning, then you will be challenged to write late at night. If you are a night owl and tell yourself that you don't think well in the mornings, then you will find it hard to write in the mornings. My counsel is not to play these sort of mind games with yourself. If you can write, then you can write whenever you have the opportunity to write.  I have no preconceived notions and that is a key part of my writing mindset.
Another element is to learn when you do your best creative work. For some people it is early in the morning. For other people they need to be at a coffee shop with people around them (sort of like writing in a newsroom of a newspaper). Sometimes I write on my Alpha Smart (especially when I travel). Admittedly for a year I have not been in hotel rooms or airplanes with a world-wide pandemic. But this situation is beginning to change as I'm starting to traveling again.
For my small deadlines (like these weekly articles about The Writing Life), then I write in cracks of time. Do you have a system or method or manner about your writing? Let me know in the comments below.

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