Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Sentence at a Time

By Nichole Giles

The other day one of my online writing groups got into a discussion about time, and how impossible it sometimes is to have even a few minutes a day to write. One person lamented that the demands of family, full time job, church callings, and household duties wouldn’t allow much spare time. The question asked was, “How do I even start my next novel with no time?”

Of course, then the rest of us chimed in with similar frustrations. Because, let’s face it, this is the life of a writer.

But the discussion that ensued got me thinking. When do we find time? And how? And then, when we finally have twenty minutes to devote to our beloved computer, what does it take to get those words out onto the page before our time runs out?

Well, the last thing on the list requires discipline. If you read my blog from last week, you know how hard it is for me to stay away from my email (all my friends are in there!) and blog reading. But even worse, when I finally do find a minute, I end up staring at the blank page for ¾ of my allotted time. Then I end up wondering how I had so many great ideas an hour ago when I was driving my kids around, but now can’t figure out how to get them into the story. It’s frustrating, I tell ya!

And the how? Well, I’m right now reading a book called “Organize Your Life” by Marie Ricks (Review yet to come on my personal blog). She gives a lot of great ideas on how to squeeze the most time out of your day. But in my world, you just can’t plan everything. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t work. So what do we do?

The truth is we find the time to write whenever we can. Even if we’re jotting down a line or two in a notebook as we’re waiting to pick our kids up from practice, or school, or the orthodontist. We allow our story to sit in the back of our minds, swirling, fermenting, gelling, until a great idea leaps forth—and then we do our best to capture it. Hopefully, when that happens, we have a notebook or other recording device handy, but if not, we try to stick it on a post-it in our brain and not let it go until we find some way to write it down. (I won’t take the time to lecture us all about the merits of always having a notebook handy.)

Though it’s hard to admit, sometimes, this is how novels get written. One sentence at a time. My friend Rachelle Christensen reminded me of that today. Even on the worst of days we can usually come up with one sentence. If we make that our goal, we’ll be able to go to bed at night knowing that we’ve made some progress—however small. And that eventually, those sentences will add up to become an entire book.

And though it might seem like a turtle’s way of moving, the forward momentum will continue. Sometimes, we have to take a moment to breathe, write one sentence, and at the end of the day remember that we did what we could, and it’s good enough for now.

My novel will get written, however long it takes. What about yours?


Cassandra Jade said...

I have weeks where if I manage to even reread written sections of my current ms and do a bit of basic editing I am happy. Then the next week I'll write thousands of words. It depends on my day job, my mood and a whole heap of other distractions. The thing is, I am always moving forward. Sometimes slower than I want, sometimes faster than I would expect. I'm glad you are also moving forward.

L.T. Elliot said...

I've literally been praying for this post. I'm so glad you were the author to a much-needed answer.

Nichole Giles said...

Wow, L.T., I've always wanted to be the answer to someone's prayers! But seriously, it's the truth.

We all have lives, and massive things happen in real life. Sometimes it's just really hard to keep up and still move forward, but as long as we write something, anything, we're making progress. Good luck!

Cassandra, I get what you say--that's basically me in a nutshell! Thanks for sharing that common thread.


Keith Fisher said...

Great post nichole. I am often amazed that you get so much done in a day. But as they, all you can do is all you can do, right?

Evelyn Curtis said...

Thanks for the post! I have been dealing with the same things here on my end. I go through spurts of writing. I love it, feel great, and get excited about what is going on. Then I let time pass, and my feelings get cold. I seem to have to refresh those feelings every time I sit down. But I suppose setting a goal to write at least on sentence a day, I might not need that extra time to refresh my memory and feelings. When I write, I have to feel it, or it isn't real.

Anyway, thanks again! I am happy to report that I x'd out of my life one major distraction! I feel great for doing so... now more time for writing!