Writers Advice #2: “Just do it.”
Sounds simple, and really it actually kind of is. When acquaintances find out I am writing a book many blurt out, “Where do you have the time?” I don’t have a good response to this. Even with the number of times I have been asked this question, I am still a little thrown off by the question. I feel the urge to answer their question with another question, “What do you mean how do I have time?” I learned this is not the best response. It usually gets a rambling response revolving around me having four children, which apparently renders me completely void of any time. The best answer I have come up with, and one people seem to accept is, “I don’t watch a lot of TV.” It’s the truth, I don’t. The older I’ve gotten, the less TV I watch. Even though I love TV-there’s plenty of excellent stuff on. I am just not dedicated to watching it. I have other stuff to do, like writing. Television is not like when I was growing up where it aired once to never be seen again until the show became syndicated. We all know the good stuff will be there, ready and waiting for our instant gratification, on DVD or on one of the many streaming medias.
Where does my spare time exist? It is most often found in the morning. This crazy thing started to happen to me over this past year, I started waking up at 5am, 4am, and yes even 3am on occasion. I didn’t set an alarm, I just woke up and could not go back to sleep. My mind was awake and immediately immersed in the story of my book. I would drag myself from bed and down to my computer to write. Many times I wanted to go back to sleep. I knew I had this thing or other to do and it would benefit me to have more sleep. However I learned I wasn’t going back to sleep. I just embraced the opportunity to have some uninterrupted time writing.
I don’t turn the story off. I don’t think I could if I wanted to. I find myself out somewhere doing my usual mundane routine and the story is there, characters interacting, action happening. When a particular piece of the story begins to loop, playing over and over, for me it’s better if I get this written down. It’s distracting and the sooner it’s down the better. A little notebook is a purse essential for me. I know this is not a foreign behavior for writers. A theatre director, who was friends with August Wilson, told me he once witnessed Wilson ransack his car for something to write on. He pulled an old discarded envelope from his glove box and proceeded to compose a few lines for a play he was working on.
As writers we should not chase our story away to occupy our thoughts at a more convenient time. Don’t feel bad for being a daydreamer. Get them written down when you can. Be happy you have the problem of being in the flow and not the problem of lacking it. Stop in the middle of the grocery store and jot down that repeating scene in your head. Write that character name on the back of a dry cleaning receipt. If you wake up spontaneously at 4am-go write.
Sometimes people will confess to me that they always wanted to write a book. They plan to do it someday. I say, don’t wait. There is no perfect time, when the stars are aligned, and your life is settled into what you deem are the proper condition suitable to writing. One of my best friends said, “I hope George R.R. Martin doesn’t die before he finishes the story Game of Thrones.” I agree, being a realist any one of us might fall susceptible to an unplanned tragic death, and Martin’s really not in the best shape. He does have a fabulous problem, being distracted with the art direction of his HBO series. I hope he does get an ending written before he departs this life. But if you are putting off your story, it may never get written.
Stop telling yourself you don’t have free time. Of course you do. You’re just not spending it on writing. We make time for those things that truly interest us. Quit stalling-Just do it.