Friday, June 3, 2011

Cave-Dwelling

When it comes to the business of writing, I live in a cave. Maybe some of you should too. Not a literal black-whole-in-the-rock kind of cave, but a technological one, part self-inflicted and part circumstance-imposed. Let me explain. 

Honing my craft takes a considerable chunk of time, and I make some serious choices in this fast-paced world I live in. The smorgasbord of online forums, technological devices, and the life condition throw an inordinate amount of stimuli my way, burying me under the barrage of distraction. My head hurts just thinking about keeping up with the all of it. If I allowed myself to sample the variety of these time bandits at my disposal, I’d never get any writing done. Prioritizing has become my byword.

Circumstance-imposed time stealers include earning a living, driving to and from work, serving at church, exercising, taking care of family and pets, researching, and reading for inspiration. That takes up about sixteen hours a day, without exaggeration. Then there’s the self-inflicted retreat into my cave, protecting, at all costs, the two hours I have left a day to put a few words down on paper, which includes writing my blog and continuing my novel. I have to sleep at least six hours so I can handle the load.

I witness many of my writer friends participating on Facebook and Twitter, posting every day and several times a day, and they still manage to crack out a book here and there. I want to know where they find the time to write. Would they show more productivity without these modern-day diversions? They participate in critiques groups, family functions, and some even go to school. All I can surmise is that some don’t hold jobs or they have spouses who can help with chores, but I find it annoying when I’m unable to find the same time they finagle out of a day. Maybe their houses are in a shambles, or their children fix dinner, or they ignore the dog; I don’t understand how they manage their time, and I continue to analyze how I spend every minute of my day.

All I know is I use breaks at work and downtime to cram the writing I do accomplish into a limited block of time. I avoid Facebook, texting, and the online social groups my writer’s group hosts. Bottom line: I sacrifice networking time just to write a few measly pages a week.

My cave dwelling will probably hurt me in the long run. My writer friends will prove more technologically savvy when an editor asks about theirs and my marketing skills. But something has to give, and I refuse to let my writing suffer to fit in the social aspect of the business.

My advise is to do the best you can do with what time you have at your disposal. And never…ever…allow networking and playing with the fancy technical devices to rob you of accomplishing your writing projects. While in your own cave, try these tricks to help squeeze out a few more minutes to practice your craft:

  • Identify the best time to write
  • Focus on writing—that means turn off your phones, email, Internet, and refuse visitors.
  • Write without editing, erasing, or stopping.
  • Set easy writing goals.
  • Hold yourself accountable.
  • When you meet your goals, reward yourself.

If you follow the above suggestions, your cave may seem a bit lonely, but hey…at least you’ll have something to show for it.

2 comments:

Catherine A. Winn said...

Such a good post and oh, so true. When I'm involved in a project, it is just like cave dwelling--never thought of it that way before.

Peggy Shumway said...

From one cave-dweller to another, thanks for your comment and for stopping by Catherine.