I'm pleased to welcome back Bob Sanchez, author of When Pigs Fly, Getting Lucky, and Little Mountain. Bob posts about writing, reading and travel at his blog, including book reviews and articles on writing.
His previous articles here were titled My Writing Life (2010) and The Best Way to Make a Profit (2011).
A Time to Write by Bob Sanchez, Guest Blogger
Writers today face all kinds of obstacles: phone calls, email, work, noise, grumbling stomachs—both ours and our family’s—and even the household cat whose favorite spot is often between us and our computer screens. Then many of us have a fragile ego that thinks what we’re writing is drivel, and it must be edited right now. What was I thinking, putting that comma in the last sentence? Actually, maybe the comma is fine where it is. I should look it up now, while it’s on my mind. Let’s see. Does the library have a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, or should I email my writing friends?
With indecision like that, it’s a wonder we get anything written. The Bible has a relevant saying that I won’t take the time to look up, that there is a season for everything under heaven. A time to read, a time to write. A time to edit, a time to trash. A time to borrow an idea, a time to think for yourself. Every writer needs to do all of those things, but not all at once. Sit down to write and let the words flow, be they your best work or not. And if you look at what you just typed and declare, ohmygod, I just began a sentence with a conjunction and changed my viewpoint from third person to second to first, I submit that the proper response is a shrug. Your tail is in the chair and your creativity is cruising, so don’t let anything stop you. This is time for the ideas to flow; figuratively pat your annoying editor on the head and tell her* she’ll have her turn. Promise her she’ll have plenty to work with later if she’ll just leave you alone now. (* Gender may vary.)
While you write your computer may ding, as mine just did, with a cheerful announcement that a new email has just arrived. Ignore it. Turn off your phone, or at least don’t answer it. It used to seem that all this technology would be a great time-saver. After all, we no longer have to slip paper into a typewriter, daub white-out and retype our errors, only to start all over because we put the carbon paper in backwards. But now the high-tech world gives us a thousand ways to fritter away perfectly good writing time. If you’ve set aside a block of time for writing, there’s only one interruption you need to plan on: saving your document. A lot.
Of course you’ll have unavoidable interruptions, but you will get lots more done if you just control what you can. Try to save the email, TV, and phone calls for later, and definitely save the self-editing and research for later.
Back in the day, writers had it easier than we do. Think of the quiet working conditions of people in the days of Will Shakespeare and Ben Jonson. No radio or TV, no iPhones or freight trains, no jackhammers or fire alarms. Of course their lives were nasty, brutish and short, but they had their quiet time to write.
Bob Sanchez has published three novels, during the course of which he violated every bit of advice given above—-but that way they took him too long to write. They are all available in print and in e-book format for Kindle and Nook.
Bob can also be found at Facebook as DesertWriter, and also on Twitter.