There’s a quote by J.K. Rowling that I recently stumbled across and it’s got me thinking. In the quote, Rowling says: “Be ruthless about protecting writing days.”
I’ll be honest, I’m not always good at this. Writing isn’t a typical 9-5 job (in the sense that you can start and stop whenever you want, wear your pajamas to work, and that sort of thing), but it still requires time and energy and concentration just like anything else– and maybe more than most else when it comes to concentration. It’s easy to let my schedule shift to make time for other things, but the truth is writing is a bit of a ritual and when I don’t stick to it and give myself both the structured commitment and the freedom to let my mind and fingers fly, I just don’t get as much done.
Sometimes it’s hard to say no (no I can’t do this today, no I need to write right now I can’t help you), and I let other things pile up and interfere with my writing. And sometimes I’m the problem, too. Sometimes I let myself get distracted or I just don’t feel like writing that day, but the truth is those aren’t good enough excuses. I’m a writer and I have to be willing to say– both to myself and to other people– “I’m writing today” that’s it, end of story, sorry.
I know I’m not the only one. I think that’s something all writers have to learn. We live in an age of profound distraction, and writing requires focus and time and distraction-free dedication. Unlike the majority of the sane population, we have to learn to block out the distractions and actually listen to all those little voices talking to us in our heads (of course, who ever said writers were sane, right?). And as many times as I get into a schedule or a groove of writing, I just as often get thrown out of whack by travel or other commitments or whatever else and then I have to go through the process of getting on a schedule again.
So, I have to learn to be more ruthless. I have to learn to say no. I have to learn to put my writing first– at least some of the time.
Be ruthless. Be diligent. Be creative. But most of all just write.