Monday, November 9, 2009


One of my favorite musical groups is Chicago. Still. I particularly love their heavily orchestrated songs of the ’70s. (But then, my friends would point out I love everything of the ’70s which I contend is not true. Never much liked “Baretta”.)

Back to Chicago. I was listening to a greatest hits compilation the other day while taking a writing break and picking up all the things on the floor that I’d managed to ignore for a week or so. On came “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and, for the first time, I wondered why a guy who professes to not care about such things happens to be wearing a watch. Just one of those Things that Make You Go Hmmmm…. (which, let me point out, just so happens to be a ’90s expression).

I wish I could be as flippant about time as the singer claims to be. Fact is, time matters. Especially when it comes to my writing. I have the savings to permit one year off my day job—and that’s a stretch. Thus, I have to make the most of it and get as much solid writing done as possible. That’s why I’m keeping to a schedule of writing six days a week. Normally I hate schedules, but I can’t afford to amble through my twelve months like a loopy flower child. (After all, that’s the ’60s, an amazing decade, but come on! One can only retreat so far in one’s imaginary time capsule.)

Six days a week. No time off for holidays. I began by “pushing myself” to aspire to three hours of actual writing time each day. That doesn’t sound like much but, in the beginning, it was hard to achieve. I’m not the kind of writer who can sit and just write for the sake of writing, content in knowing that a good chunk will end up crumpled in a virtual trash can. Sure, I go through significant revisions, but none of this starting over that I hear other writers talking about.

Three hours a day became three and a half after I read an article about Stephen King’s writing habits. If 3.5 works for King, it’ll work for me. After awhile, I came to the harsh, but obvious realization that I am no Stephen King. I upped my time to four hours daily. And it’s working!

While I have to be conscious of time, the luxury I do have is flexibility in my day. If I get distracted or delay my morning start, I don’t need to beat myself up over it. I just have to fit in the time at some point before I turn in for the night. Yes, I’ve had one session that ran past midnight which is technically into a new day, but 230 minutes is not enough.

I realize that my four-hour allotment is the kind of artificiality that Chicago sings about, but one cannot take even the greatest bands too much to heart. I hate to point it out, but this is the group that also released the dreadful “If She Would Have Been Faithful”. But, hey, that was the ’80s when dreadful was in.

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