Finding Stillness Amidst The World – or, Writing A Novel In The Family Room

handsMy writing studio is coming. Really. Shortly after my first 6-figure royalty cheque. But until that happy moment arrives – in fact, to make it arrive – I must write where I am. And where I am is in the middle of the living room.

Most writers start out this way. I’ve done the research, I know. Most of us start out in vastly less-than-ideal circumstances and find innovative ways to work with what we have. I have an allergy to early rising, so I often write late. And often I write when other family members are right there, next to me, doing their own thing. Which as like as not involves music, laughter, conversation, or all three at once.

That is when I pull out my secret weapon. The weapon I now give to you, free, gratis. This amazing tool has done more for the beginning of my writing career than all the inspirational quotes and instructive how-to books and cups of coffee of the past 4 years. Well, maybe the coffee helped more. But this little tool is a wonderful help, for sure. When I must concentrate on my characters and dive deep into storyland in the midst the hustle and bustle of the outside world, I simply turn on the silence.

White noise, actually. I made myself a 10 minute track of white noise – full spectrum, a little heavy on the midtones and not so sharp in the trebles, just perfect for filling my ears and erasing any voice that might try to break in to my reveries. I just slip on a good set of over the ear headphones, fire up the white noise, and set it to endless repeat. Voila! I am able to disappear from the world around me and focus on the world within.

Now it’s yours. I’m giving it to you – here, take it, use it. With this simplest of gifts you now have freedom from the madding crowd, and all the auditory space you need to dream your masterpiece. Or at least your first novel. The one that gets the royalty cheques rolling in.

Published in: on July 6, 2013 at 10:50 pm  Comments (4)  
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Making Time To Write – The Deep Decision


How do you make the time to write? Every aspiring writer wants to know this most fundamental of secrets. For many years I wanted to know. It wasn’t until I finally decided to be a writer that I discovered the ancient answer.

The secret was the decision itself. But not just deciding that okay, today I will actually put my hands on the keyboard. I’d made that decision a hundred, a thousand times before. I have the file cabinets full of half-written pages to prove it. No, the magic happened when I paired that decision with some decent fuel. Something with a solid kick-in-the-pants boost, and a good slow burn. For me, that fuel was desperation.

Oh, not the garret-dwelling, half-starved, wild eyed, skeletal writer clinging to his Underwood as if to a spiritual liferaft kind of desperation; more like the kind of desperation that comes when you see a life’s ambition drifting unreachably away. My desperation was born on the day when I realized, at a deep level, that if I wanted to be a writer in this lifetime then I’d damn well better get to it.

You don’t have to be up against some kind of wall, like me, in order to find the time to write. What you need is to make the decision to be a writer at a deep enough level so that it sticks. You know what I mean? We all have the fleeting thought from time to time that we should make a character, get that plot line down, write out that superb scene we just dreamed up. But then the fleeting thoughts of a good movie, or an ice cream, or the day job, push that first thought clean out of our head. A deep decision is one that survives the passing whims. It’s one that carries weight. It’s one that we make time for, because it is that important.

So I made writing important by paying attention to my desperation. I lit the fuse on my own personal TNT and drove the decision down deep. But I had a day job. I had – and have – rent to pay, food to buy, a family to love and support and chauffeur. How the hell was I supposed to make the time to write amidst an already full life?

Just like every other writer started out by doing, of course. I’ve listened to many writers talk about their path (Here, among other places), and most of them had exactly this same problem. Some of them solved it by getting up early – not for me, thanks. Some by staying up late – that could work for me. Others did it in their off hours, their weekends. All of them made time. They just did it, because it was just that important to them. Their own deep decision had been made.

As of this blog post I have two novels in the can, one short story written, and I’m soon to start my third novel. I personally found the time by engineering a work schedule with a Spring and Fall break (about a month each side), and by choosing writing over movies, sleeping in, and socializing more often than not. But that’s just the mechanics of my own path, and the mechanics will be different for everyone. The thing in common for every writer, I think, is that deep decision. For me, that decision was born out of, and pounded in with, desperation. It went in far enough that my urge to write now supercedes my fleeting thoughts.

And that’s pretty much the secret of it all. In case you wanted to ask.

Published in: on May 18, 2013 at 1:30 pm  Leave a Comment  
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