Thursday, March 3, 2011

Time or Writing on Writing

Vi: mug warmer, first reader, supervisor, critic and snitty kitty.
When other moms find out that I consider myself a writer the first questions they ask me is where do I find the time.

Usually I tell them something outlandish and funny but with a grain of truth: I don't iron, my house is a stark raving mess, my laundry pile is an architectural feature.

But really my writing style has evolved to fit mom time. I thrive on interruptions, dryer buzzers and chaos. This is my first year with both kids in school full time and the house finally sort of quiet, yet I find myself going to the library during story time just to hear the voices of young children while I write.

One of the first things I learned about myself and my writing habits is that anything written after the two hour mark in a session needs to be deleted. No redemptive value what so ever. So why bother looking for such big blocks of time? This was quite a liberating realization for someone working on mom time.

Mornings that I volunteer with the Book Buddies program at my children's elementary school are the most formalized part of my week. My husband takes the kids to school at 7:15. I wave good bye, start a load of laundry and run straight upstairs to the computer. Book buddies is from 9:15 to 10:00 a.m. I love spending time with those first grade readers and listening to them makes me want to write even more.

Yesterday, after Book Buddies, I returned some pottery to Lisa and got to peak at her new willow plates. Very exciting stuff. Looking at her new ideas and works in progress drove me to tie myself to a chair (and the never ending coffee urn) at Jumping Java and finish chapter 10 for Titus. I was home in time to change the laundry before it soured. Double success!

The text is always in my head. If I am stuck on something or drawing a blank I fall back on the old teaching skills. I list my objectives. Then I walk away. But the list keeps rolling around in my mind while I fold laundry, mow the lawn or prepare for my Monday preschool science hour. When the problem is solved or one part of the equation is clear, I drop what I am doing and write it down.

My work rappels between yellow legal pads and the computer screen. I always carry my writing projects with me. If I have an errand, I arrive a few minutes early and pull out a manuscript. Lots of chapters have been blocked out sitting in the parking lot of the grocery store for fifteen minutes before doing the shopping. Pages of Billington were written with a Velcro child sitting in my lap during a puppet show or lying in bed waiting for the child that “can't sleep” to start snoring.

I can always bank on writing at least a paragraph while waiting for the kids at the bus stop. There is an electrical utility box that is the perfect height for a standing desk. So I bring the manuscript, plop it down on the green metal box and scrawl away until the bus comes.

So maybe I should find a more serious answer to the how do you find time question. The time is there. I've just learned to be flexible.


sqlgurl said...

I'm like this about crocheting. I'll crochet during lunch at work, sitting in the carpool lane, dr. waiting rooms, traffic jams (hey - texting is illegal in some states, but no rules on crocheting!!! Plus, we are sitting still!!) and of course when watching tv. I'll crochet standing up at the pharmacy waiting for my prescription!
Yet it still takes me months to finish a project.

But you can get more done in snippets of 5 minutes periodically throughout the day, than if you wait for a "block" of time that never comes!

LAS Pottery said...

Great post! It's those little 15 or 30 minutes that produce great things!!