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Thursday, October 13, 2011

“Writing everyday contributes to continuity of your thinking and generating the ideas you need to write. Your mind will function differently when you write every day. We all think about our writing every day. But the cognitive processes involved in writing are different from those involved in thinking. Your project moves forward when you write…even if you write a gosh-awful first draft.” –Columbia Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Note to self:

I say don’t have time to write. I say it pretty much every day and I mean it. Anyone looking at my calendar or hearing me describe my to-do list agrees with me. “You don’t have time to write.”

But what do I do if writing is what lifts me up? What if writing is what I was created to do and not writing makes me unhappy and frustrated with myself?

The truth is, no matter how busy you are, no matter what demands there are on your time, you can probably find 15 minutes. The hard part about that is wanting the luxury to sink into a world you’ve created and spend hours with your characters. It’s not easy dipping in and out of your writing in 15 minute increments here and there with no predictability. But it’s better than not writing. Or deferring writing until life is less busy (will it ever be less busy?)

So maybe your writing takes on a different shape while the kids are little. Maybe you write short stories or articles during soccer practice. Stay up fifteen minutes later or get up fifteen minutes earlier and write only what you can see through Anne Lamott’s 1” picture frame. The opening of one scene. One short description of a character or setting. One snippet of dialogue. A single paragraph. Instead of journaling about how little time you have or how much your coworkers annoy you, turn it into a character sketch (about an annoying person, or someone who is annoyed by a coworker). Create characters that do not yet have a story. Write a one paragraph snapshot of a memory you plan to use in your memoir.

There are a hundred ways to turn fifteen minutes into writing.

“. . .all I have to do is to write down as much as I can see through a one-inch picture frame.” –Anne Lamott

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