Since making my “big announcement” about my book contract in early March, I have been mostly quiet about the status of my project, save for a few tweets. Today’s post is devoted to the writing process. As a budding writer, I have benefitted from reading others who write about writing. Perhaps my journey as a writer will encourage and benefit others too.
Depending on who you talk to about writing or who you read on this topic, you will find a variety of responses about how to approach the act of writing. Most would agree, though, that you should write some every day. I would agree. Yet, I am not doing this. At least not right now.
The current demands of my teaching duties make it difficult for me to squeeze in daily writing time. Instead, I have opted to write on Saturday mornings until the end of the school year. Outside of a weekend off to celebrate my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I have kept my writing appointment each Saturday. The first several Saturdays were easy. Cold temperatures and falling snow outside my window created a perfect writing environment.
But now spring beckons and warmer temperatures tease me. Plus, at the end of May, our family will host a Graduation Open House and my “to do” list is long in preparation for this event. I feel the pull of competing desires. This is the moment many writers talk about–shutting out the distractions and sitting down to write, no excuses. This is the challenge I face.
However, since trying “Saturday writing mornings,” I have discovered some benefits to this approach. I am a better a writer when my work has sufficient time “to sit.” Time and again, I have been burned on pieces I have written–particularly blog pieces–when I don’t allow myself enough time to edit and to review my work. My desire to produce and post outweighs careful editing. Working from Saturday to Saturday certainly provides enough “sitting” time.
Another unexpected benefit to this once-a-week approach has been the extra time I have to mull over an idea or a turn of phrase that I am struggling with at the moment. For example, I didn’t like the wording I was using to describe a person in my Hospitality chapter. While walking the dog one day, the wording came to me. I went back into my chapter and changed it. I also keep my writing notebook on my desk so that when a thought or idea comes to me, I write it down so I can refer to it later.
Once the school year ends, I plan to write each weekday. I look forward to immersing myself fully in my book and know that this practice will also make me a better writer. At the end of the day, the only way to improve as a writer is to write.
Lastly, I can’t think of a better way to end this post than to share with you some of the resources that have been helpful to me as a writer. My guess is that some of these names will be familiar to you as well.
- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions of Writing and Life
- Ann Patchett’s essay “The Getaway Car, A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life” published in This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.
- Shauna Niequist often writes about writing on her blog.
- Ed Cyzewski has several books about writing and publishing. His latest is Pray, Write, Grow. I found his book Path to Publishing very helpful as I navigated the publishing world. I credit his help with my proposal as part of the reason I have a book contract.
- Charity Singleton Craig, On Being a Writer. I haven’t read this book yet, but I plan to this summer!
Best wishes on your work. A question, if I may: Do you have a certain length of time that you write on Saturday or do you aim for a word-count? (Full disclosure: I’m a teacher, too, and interested in the writing habits of others.)
Thanks for the well wishes. Thanks, too, for your question. I have been aiming for 2-3 hours most Saturdays. I haven’t worried too much about word count, but more with keeping my chapters within the 12-15 page range that I included in my proposal. In the vein of full disclosure, the chapter I have been working on lately isn’t “from scratch,” meaning I spoke on this topic previously so I am using my speaking outline to craft my written manuscript. I am saving my “I have nothing written” chapters for this summer. 🙂 All the best.