Writing Tip #2


My life is made up of a lot of tasks that need tending, but there’s time hidden away in pockets that I’ve become adept at snatching like a purse-thief. A great line of dialogue, a plot twist, intriguing bits of setting all take only a moment to write. Sure, you throw a lot of stuff out, but occasionally something worth keeping leaks out onto the page.

Think about writing in your head, let it percolate and then pounce.

Whip out that notebook and jot things down while you’re drinking that first cup of coffee or sitting on the potty. Take your kids outside and let them run amok while you scribble on your pages. Enjoy those minutes of being stuck in a holding pattern on the phone or trapped in the endless spirals of the voicemail system. Red traffic lights become your friend (tilt your notebook up to keep the light in your peripheral vision or be resigned to people honking their horns and flipping you the bird).

Turn on a movie for the family and slip into the closet and curl up on the floor with your flashlight. Better yet, cancel your cable and cease viewing television altogether – this alone will release the novel juices, getting the creative deluge in motion. Not only will you save money and time, but you’ll save brain cells and not go senile so young; thus giving you more years of life to write.

Listen sympathetically to your broken-hearted friend spill his guts because bimbo #457 left him. In truth this one works best over the phone. The bonus is all that raw emotional angst can become fodder for your work-in-progress. He’s your friend, he knows everything he says is fair game, you’ll change the names to protect the innocent and all that.

You are a writer – use what you are given. Be opportunistic.

Treasure those minutes waiting for a ride, a plane, a bus, a tardy date, or the next rapture. Take a train the next time you have to take a business trip and you’ll be amazed at how much time you suddenly have at your disposal. More than you’ll probably want….get a private car so you can nap without something swiping your laptop.

Remember you are a thief now…hone your skills. Practice everywhere. Even grocery shopping has new potential since nearly every market now sports a convenient cafe. Strategize. Sit through the car wash with notebook in hand.
Imagine new ways to steal moments to write.

I think it was Einstein that suggested imagination is like muscle, the more you work it, the stronger it becomes. Work that booty! Someone with great insight to the creative process is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Read up about his ideas of creative flow (especially if you struggle to flip the switch on the creative juices). Learn your creative triggers so you can produce in short bursts when you have successfully stolen the time.

Caveat emptor, (making my secondary school Latin teacher proud):

Don’t end up in the hoosgow because you sparked the dragon and became a time bandit. Make the time count, but don’t forget to feed the other parts of your life. Being a writer requires acrobatic skills in juggling and supreme balance. Learn to manage all your time.

Remember that smartass dude that always asked dumbass questions like:

How do you eat an elephant? (smirk, smirk)
One bite at a time.

Yeah, I hate that guy too. But the crackhead is right. A novel is written one word at a time. So go do it.


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