Learning to work is about learning to write every day, even if it is for a short time. It’s about returning to the work day after day.
There’s such a thing as making a decision to be productive. Being productive in your writing, as opposed to having a sporadic work habit, gives a lot back to the writer. Work begets work, and when it does, it begins to add up.
In her little book Minding the Muse, Priscilla Long says, “You get, piece by piece, a lot more experience. You develop more skill to bring to the next piece. Also each piece is asked to carry less weight in the artist’s lifetime body of work, and this in turn affords an easier, more fluid working process” (p. 7).
When my boys were toddlers, I worked full time, and had to give up the dream of having long stretches of time to write. So, I wrote during 20 minute coffee breaks at work. What I figured out was that if I wanted to write a 1,500 word article and I roughed up 300 words a day, I would have a rough draft written in five days.
This taught me two things about learning to work:
1. Work in short stretches of time. Push out distractions. Try fifteen minutes. Try twenty or thirty minutes. Whatever you have time for, try that.
2. Have a writing goal. My goal was specific and reachable: 300 words. Just a couple of paragraphs.
When it comes to help with finding time to write, a review of the articles and blog posts that talk about it is actually somewhat disturbing. A google search of the key words “time to write” results in over 1 billion hits!, and an examination of these articles and blog posts reveals a certain distain for people who have trouble finding time to write. The attitude of many authors is illustrated in this comment from one I’m here-to-set-you-straight-writer: “If you have trouble with it, then tough. That’s right I said it—tough! Too many writers use lack of time as an excuse not to write”.
Telling someone to take the time to write, doesn’t teach them how to get there.
One reason I study the conditions that affect women’s writing is that the sheer complexity of it guarantees that many diverse factors will come into play. All of which are important, and none of which should be dismissed as simply individual differences. I believe the problem is a complicated weave of our social-cultural conditioning, the state of the publishing industry, and our own personal beliefs about our writer-selves.
This is why my blog is a combination of an examination of my own writing process, methodology to make writing a habit that is hard to quit, and academic information on how social and cultural mores affect women writers.
How has being a woman and a writer impacted you? Let me know in the comments below.
#Whyiwrite . . . because it hurts to climb from dreams and shower and dress and work all day and wait for the day’s end to try and fit in some writing time.
Today I am blessed with this soul-saving luxury: a 5:30 a.m. writing session at Starbucks.
Hi, I’m Nancy Lou Semotiuk. I’m a writer, a mom, a professor, and a PhD candidate in humanities and culture at Union Institute and University. Mostly, I am a woman who struggles to write. There is always something that prevents me from writing. It has not been my experience that if I turn off Twitter and do not clean the house that I’ll have a rich writing life.
And I know that I’m not alone.
I’ve fought to understand why I, and women like me, have such a hard time doing the very thing they love most: writing. My blog will address the special needs and dilemmas of women who have trouble finding the time and encouragement to write.
Rather than being told that making time to write is a choice they are not making, women need encouragement and pragmatic tools to help them achieve success.
That’s what this blog is about. Join me.