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"Hard is not hopeless." - General David Petraeus

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Finding Time...and Energy

I'm piggy-backing on my post of a few days ago regarding the fact that it takes deep, serious concentration and time to build your story-world.

Everyone writes differently.  Some build stories quite successfully in short snatches of time.  I'm not one of those.  But as I mentioned in the last post, I had a good hour and a half to brainstorm my story and it felt absolutely WONDERFUL!

But there's something that's equally as important as time.  Energy.

What I have found is that those periods of deep, deep concentration on my story last for not longer than 3-4 hours.  And when that 3-4 hours is done, I feel deeply drained, just as if I'd run a marathon.

While writers often talk about time (and the lack of), we don't often mention how draining writing can be.  And while it may not affect all writers this way, I suspect it does for a good portion of those who write fiction and create those story-worlds.

On the surface, you might be thinking, "Well big deal.  When you get tired, stop."

True enough.  But it's something worth considering.  I don't know many writers who don't desire to be able to write full time and allow writing to be their "day job".  Should we be blessed enough to achieve that goal, we not only will have to be time managers but be energy managers as well.

We have to learn to parse out our work day.  In a way, we are forced by necessity to do this anyway.  You have to find time for networking through social media, other marketing tasks, editing, and a million other tasks (including the boring business end) that have to be done to manage a full time writing career.

While it will be a long time (if ever, who knows) that I become able to write full time, this revelation is important to me for another reason.  I'm like everbody else.  I moan and belly ache about not having enough time to write.  It is very true, and very frustrating.

BUT--knowing that my energy levels for deep creativity last a maximum of 3-4 hours (and often times, less than that in the face of the other issues of life), I should gratefully recognize that while my day job may not be ideal, if I wasn't working, it's not like I'd be spending 8 hours a day creating.  I wouldn't have the energy to do it.

Which all goes to prove what we already innately know--we need to have good balance in our lives.


Anonymous said...

I'll tell you, my problem is that I'm just so toe-tappy and ADHD (ish) that working in short spurts is really the only way I can write. I too wonder what it would be like to be a "full time" writer, but I suspect it would still be in small bursts...but several a day rather than just a couple a day.

I read about writers who say things like, I sit and start writing at 9:00 a.m. and then take a break at 1:00 p.m. and I'm like, "really?" Now I can see myself in revision mode sitting and working for several hours (not that many straight though-ha!) but when I'm in creative plotting/dialogue etc...mode I do my best thinking away from the keyboard.

It would be nice to find out what full-time writing would be like though...I'll give you that!

B.K. Jackson said...

I also wonder how much authors who write full time bounce back and forth between projects. I think that would have a significant impact on behind-in-chair-and-write time as well.

I do love the revision process too.

May we have the chance to find out what it's like to write full time. 8-)