Faye Rapoport DesPres

Finding the Time

Every week I form a new writing plan:  I will get my paying work done in the morning and be free to do creative writing by 1:30.  Or, I will write in my writing room on my old computer just after I wake up, before I even go downstairs and turn on the Internet to check email.  Then my writing will be done while my mind is fresh, before the rest of my day attacks me.  Or, I will wake up, work out (since that is another weight, no pun intended, that hangs over me if I don’t get it done), THEN write, then get on to my paying work and tackle the rest of my day.

Sadly, things almost never turn out the way I plan.

I have yet to find that one perfect system — that one way of scheduling my day that will assure writing time.  Some writers are so good at this — and I am envious of them.  I especially admire writers who do wake up first thing in the morning and write.  I feel, innately, that this would be the best road for me.  But inevitably, most days, something trips me up.  The cats must be fed first thing, for example, and sometimes my husband doesn’t get up to feed them.  If the cats haven’t been fed before I try to write, three soft, furry bodies rub against my legs at my desk.  If that doesn’t get my attention, the air is soon filled with piercing meows.  The next step (after they cats have huddled, I assume, to figure out who gets to do this) is for one of them to jump on the desk and walk straight across the keyboard.  At that point the essay I’m working on often ends up looking something like this:  “The crumbling cement between the old cinderblocks jlp0;alsdf;lkf”  (And before you ask — no, the room doesn’t have a door that will keep out seriously determined cats.)

Of course, once I’m downstairs in the kitchen feeding cats, I’ve walked past the nice big macintosh computer in my office, the computer that’s slated for my paying freelance work.  It’s VERY hard to walk past that computer without turning it on, and once it’s on, it’s virtually impossible to walk back past it in the other direction without checking in on the Internet.  After all, the wireless connection is all hooked up, and it just takes one click on the icon for Firefox…

An hour or so later, cats fed, email checked, CNN read, Facebook glanced at, Twitter tweeted on, a little work done, I realize my early morning writing time is gone.

So far, in truth, I’ve been relatively faithful.  Most days I find at least some time to write.  On the days I don’t, an uncomfortable feeling dogs me, like I really didn’t get to the thing that’s most important.  In the end it’s the need to appease that feeling that drives me to find the time to write, even if it’s closing in on late afternoon.  Of course once I finally sit at the desk, I face all the demons most writers face…but it’s worth it for the days when a piece comes together or the writing feels like its going well.  I’ve never forgotten something Joy Castro, one of the teachers in my MFA program, said at a workshop: Nothing can happen unless you SHOW UP.

In the end, though, it’s a bit more stressful to operate this way, and I really want to get down to that morning schedule — or to any regular schedule that works.

What do you say?  Any good tips out there for building a successful writing schedule into your life?  Leave a comment here and share.


4 thoughts on “Finding the Time

  1. joan

    i think all artists operate this way. my friend charles, a painter, must have everything in his whole entire life perfect in order to paint. if there is a loose tile on the roof and the roofer can’t come until five days out, then that is five days he can’t paint. has to be done. so i get the cat thing. and i get the call of the freelance computer. that is why i am checking emails on my itouch at 6 in the morning. it’s guilt and a lack of confidence. but knowing we all share it may be the first step in a collective movement to overcome…. we need a name for it.

  2. Melissa

    April 29, 2010
    “I am glad that the computer is slow to boot up, warm up, and allow me to tackle the mound of e-mail waiting for me. Sometimes I feel like these five minutes are all I have to feel the weight of the pencil against stretch of skin between my thumb and forefinger, the scratch of its lead against the yellow paper, and the feel the mystery of the previously unthought thought appear in words on the page in front of me. Five minutes. I am grateful for it but I long for more.”

    Thank you for your post, Faye.

  3. Pingback: Tweets that mention Finding the Time « Faye Rapoport DesPres – Freelance Writer – Blog -- Topsy.com

  4. Erika Sanders

    I long ago had to give up on my secret wish to be an early morning writer. I still fantasize about being the sort of person who can go from bed at 6 AM to her desk and be any sort of productive, but on the mornings I do manage to 1) get out of be that early and 2) get to the desk before I get to the coffee and dishes I am then working in a fog. In short, morning people can work in the mornings. And hats off to them. The rest of us have to make it work during the day. My current schedule is to do my paid work (I also have the luxury of working from home so at least there is some flexibility to my schedule) through the morning (and note: starting at 9 AM, not 6) and try to wrap things up by about 2 or 3 so that I can switch gears to my creative work. If I can hit the desk by 4 then I have about 2 hours of uninterrupted time before my boyfriend is home from work. This has actually been working pretty well. What I am encouraging myself to try next is actually a late-night writing shift. Say 10 PM – midnight. We’ll see how that goes. Any night owls out there with tips?