Michaeline: Time Crunch

A hot air balloon with a clock face over Paris.

As Groucho Marx never said, “Time flies like a balloon . . . and fruit flies like a banana.” (Why yes, time is kicking my ass. That’s why I’m indulging in really torturous humor. Distracting myself from the pain, so to speak, or inflicting it on the unsuspecting blog-reader.) (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I was driving to Sapporo a couple of weeks ago and listened to the SF Squeecast Episode 37 for I think the third time. The Squeecast is a great series of podcasts where SF professionals talk about what’s making them happy in the world of SF, and also about general writing. I particularly recommend this episode for the time-crunched. Maybe you can listen to it while clearing a space for writing in your office (-:.

Elizabeth Bear, Paul Cornell, Lynne M. Thomas, Catherynne M. Valente and guest Amal El-Mohtar talk about the importance of routines, and about juggling not only the different roles we play as writing human beings, but also juggling different writing tasks. There’s a wonderful metaphor buried in middle of the ‘cast (29:13, to be exact) where Cat talks about the act of writing being a lot like going to sleep.

She says, “(T)he good place of writing is like falling asleep, and as a life-long insomniac, there’s no wonder that that’s the image I use. Putting the butt in the chair is like having a glass of milk and laying down in bed and turning the lights out. You hope for the best, but it may not happen. And the more you are out of your own element, the more difficult it is.”

Cat says she can write on the train because it’s really close to her sleeping experience. I find that fascinating, and I can relate to it. Getting into writing mode for me is getting into a little bit of a trance. The world fades, and I am in my story. It’s a tiny bit like that twilight time between waking and sleeping, except my fingers are moving over the keyboard.

I also stumbled across this great time-crunch comment from Lois McMaster Bujold on Goodreads. She talks a little bit about how she managed to balance having small children and a beginning writing career, and it may be encouraging to other people who have small children. She writes of collecting notes, then doing the first draft writing in bursts as she could find babysitters. It fits in with the different writing tasks and the mindsets they require that the Squeecasters discuss in Episode 37.

We just finished the shortest month of the year – I suppose it’s natural to feel a little time crunch. I’m going to try to spend the 31 days of March making my routines a little smoother so I don’t have a crunchy summer. What do you do to make more time for your writing?

6 thoughts on “Michaeline: Time Crunch

  1. I acutally altered my sleep and work schedule to free up time to write in the morning, which is my most productive, inspired time. And, although mine occurs in the morning, instead of at night, I totally get what she says about writing time being like going-to-sleep time. At its best, writing time is very like the “La-La Land” that occurs as you’re falling asleep and thoughts wander through your mind, untrammeled.

    • OK, bear with me a little bit — yesterday was the death anniversary get-together of my husband’s grandfather (and grandmother, although she took a side-role in the priest’s talk). That sounds really creepy, but it’s a nice reason for family and community to get together, and we get to remember the good things about the deceased (I think it was the seventh year since Grandfather died, and the 13th since Grandmother died).

      Anyway, the Buddhist priest was talking about how Grandfather would get up really early, and show up at his door at 5:30 with a jug of fresh milk and some Chinese cabbage. “Are you still asleep?” The priest turned a crappy way to treat a neighbor into a homage of getting up early. And I got to thinking, maybe I should start getting up that early. I’d have to go to bed at nine the previous night, but I could get a good 90 minutes of writing in.

      It’s a nice fantasy, and I might try it next year if my daughter winds up staying in town for school. What would have to give in order to make this work? But, I do think it could work. One of my excuses for not working is scatter-brained fatigue . . . . If Grandfather could get up, milk a cow, pick some cabbage and head over to the neighbor’s by 5:30 in the morning, why am I wasting daylight?

  2. February was full of interruptions, of a good kind (wedding anniversary, birthdays, family coming to stay) and I didn’t managed to get the momentum going with the new story. I’m trying to plough on regardless. I figure that if I keep showing up, same time, same place, same hands on same keyboard, sooner or later the Girls will come and join me.

    • (-: I think you are right. Keep showing up! You might try some hot milk . . . or a writing afghan blanket.

      My distraction level in March is still higher than normal (my youngest is going to Australia over spring break, and she has orientations every Tuesday and Thursday). But it’s going to be about half of what it was in April. So . . . I should get twice as much done (-:.

  3. It’s a never-ending battle, trying to find enough time to do All the Things. Maybe its part of how we know we’re still alive ;-).

    • Ain’t that the truth? But I would be happy just being able to do 1 percent of the things . . . on my list, even.

      I’ve decided to explore translation as part of my writing career, too. The Olympics are coming to Japan, and there might be a WorldCon (SF conference) coming to Japan again in a couple of years, so I have plenty of opportunities. Probably volunteer at this point. I would have to improve my Japanese, though. I haven’t studied it seriously since I started McDaniel.

      I need a five year plan or something . . . . I suppose March is as good of time as any to really think about my overall career.

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