"Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances; it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out." Patrick White ("Voss" Ch. 2, 1957)
The first night of each of my classes I give the students a hand-out titled "How to Get the Most From Your Writing Day." This list contains tips to help them use their writing time more effectively and efficiently. The problem is, how do I apply this to my own writing schedule? What about those days when work and other duties overtake my precious writing time? One thing I do is to keep a "time sheet" not only for my own information (to see how much time I've been dicking away when I should be writing), but in case I ever get questioned by a tax auditor about how much time I actual spend writing on my novel, or making an effort to produce publishable articles etc. This has worked quite well for me. Each month I count up my hours and I can see exactly how much time I have spent, or how much time I have wasted. This includes any writing related activity, and sometimes I add on travel time as I have no car and must go across town by bus to classes which is, in itself, time consuming.
This week in particular has been a hectic one. Starting with Monday, aside from daily chores and errands, I had to make a trip to get some photocopying done, and take in some slides for developing for a travel story I want to send out. Accomplished the first, but have to find a different photo-developer for the second. Monday night I went to my weekly writer's critique group. That took up the evening. Tuesday more of the same, though I spent a bit of time 'thinking' about what I should be writing. That evening, as usual, I taught my novel writing class at night school. Wednesday was particularly hectic. I taught two classes back-to-back at the College for my friend's journalism class. One was for travel writing, one was for using fiction techniques in creative non-fiction. She drove me right from the College to my nightschool. I had time to grab a KFC quick meal and then go to my class where I teach "Prompting the Muse".
By the time I got finished this third class I was exhausted but had to go and meet the director of the theatre group who had produced my play, as I'm on the board and had missed the board meeting. We spent a few hours discussing the theatre company and reminiscing about my play "The Street" which he'd love to remount, but alas! no funding.
Needless to say I was completely brain-fried by the time I got home. Then I couldn't sleep. Aching hip; weird dreams; and mice scurrying about in my kitchen and perhaps behind my computer desk. (Let's hope that Health Inspector arrives tomorrow and puts an end to the rodent problem in this building!) Today I couldn't sleep in as I would have loved to. Had to get up early, go downtown for my Memoir class. Thought I'd come straight home but forgot I had a lunch date with one of the women. Eventually got home, too tired to do any of my own writing or even note-taking, so I had a wee nap. Then it was off to teach my travel writing class tonight. That's always a lively affair and I perked up somewhat. Even managed to catch my buses home quickly. Neverthless arrived home feeling very jet-lagged.
When was there a spare moment this week for me to even think about my own writing?
The weekend's coming up. I don't have any work lined up for tomorrow (so far, unless the daycare calls where I sometimes work as a sub). I am hoping that this means I can spend my day writing. However, I do have to make a trip to two of the local schools to follow up on my request of the Creative Writing teachers to come and talk to their classes. (All part of that "Off the Page" program I am involved in). If it's a productive writing day, I may treat myself to a movie tomorrow night. ("The Merchant of Venice.") Don't know if I'll have the energy to go salsa dancing. Saturday I'll try to stay in and write too, but friends are coming for dinner. Then there is Sunday. That's usually a perfect writing day. Or, if I find I have writer's block I sometimes take myself for a stroll on the seawall.
I quit my full-time job 10 years ago in order to leave myself time to write. But it doesn't always work out that way. The bread has to be on the table and the rent paid. Fortunately I have the night school classes which validate me living my writer's life. However my own writing time somehow seems to become diminished. And I am getting so embarassed when people ask me if I've finished my novel yet. I'm writing as fast as I can. Trying hard not to waste time (though since I've been using a computer I'm finding it the biggest distraction).
Now I've promised myself I won't write another blog until I've written a new chapter segment of The Novel. And at this very moment, I'd best tuck myself into bed and try to get a good night's sleep so that I can rise early and get started.
"Come what may,
Time and the hour runs through the roughest day." Shakespeare, "Macbeth"