Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Get-togethers

Even the birds down at the beach are doing it. The pelicans looked like ministers delivering sermons! There's been the usual talk this year about not saying Merry Christmas because more than half the world is not Christian so it's not appropriate, etc etc. It was good to see this morning's paper showing lots of people from all kinds of backgrounds, getting together and having a tree and decorations and presents, just because, whether you're religious or not, it's great to make time to talk and share and celebrate life in general.

Over on Kristi Holl's new blog, Writer's First Aid, she's been talking about fitting writing into a busy life - how do you manage it when you aren't a full-time writer? How do writers with jobs and kids and family find time to write? I've been reading The Writer's Book of Hope by Ralph Keyes this week, and he devotes several pages to this. What's interesting is the number of writers who say they wrote their first novel by finding half an hour or an hour here and there, and sticking at it until it was finished. When you really want to do something, you'll do it. What was even more interesting was how many of those writers said that now they're writing full-time, they're not getting any more words on the page.

Keyes says, "In addition to having to schedule time effectively, writers with day jobs have access to a rich, ongoing source of material." He also suggests that when you are driven to write and don't have time to squander on too much worrying about what you're writing, you write from the heart, giving it all you've got, and you stop thinking about the censors. By censors, he means all the people who would rather you didn't write, or want you to write something "nice".

It's true that when I'm not working (i.e. on holiday), I probably don't write a huge amount more than when I am. But what happens is my brain frees up for other things, like coming up with new ideas and new ways of tackling revision. It also allows me headspace for revision - because true revision means seeing the work in a new way that includes those brilliant flashes on how to fix or change things and make them better. Sometimes I get frustrated and feel like I'm writing the same old thing, and having several weeks free often means that suddenly I discover new story ideas.

The free time also means I can read with more effect - a strange thing to say, but I mean that if I'm reading writing books, the information sinks in better. If I'm reading fiction, I'm more aware of reading it as a writer. Somehow, even if it's only for two or three weeks, writing full-time makes me feel more like a writer. I'm making the most of it!

1 comment:

Kristi Holl said...

Thanks so much for the plug for my new blog, Sherryl! You're so right about the writing output when you're fulltime versus when you are just fitting it in, wherever you can, in bits and pieces. It astounds me that we produce about as much when fulltime and the quality is about the same as those earlier frenzied days of writing with preschoolers underfoot and a baby on your lap. The major change to me when writing fulltime--whether it's just for a few weeks or all the time--is the pleasure level. It's simply more FUN writing fulltime than squeezing it in here and there. But if most writers waited to write until they could write fulltime, it would be a couple decades later. We need to write now, whatever our situation is!