Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Making it happen
I'm convinced that one of the absolute hardest parts of any creative endeavor is finding the time to allow yourself to be artistic. Let's face it, artistry needs time and space... It's not really something that you can schedule in or force to comply with your daily agenda. I wish that was the case! "Hmmm... looks like I've got an hour and a half midday where I could squeeze in a couple thousand words on my manuscript." Uh, yeah right. It works in theory--until the phone rings, my husband reminds me that the flowers are in desperate need of water, my son wakes up early from his nap, or, worst of all, I sit down with pen in hand and the only thing running through my head is a grocery list of chores and to-do's that I need to get done ASAP.
And yet, sometimes when I have a big block of time set aside, I'm actually not that much more productive. It takes me a while to get into creative mode... It's like easing into frigid water--you know you'll love the swim once you've acclimated yourself to the chill, but it takes a bit of convincing. So, what's a visionary to do?
Over the course of my young and fledgling career, I've learned that no one can tell me what will work best for me. But I'm indebted to everyone who has offered advice and allowed me to apply my own experiences and needs to make that wisdom work for Nicole Baart. To that end, I've come up with an answer to the question that I get asked more than any other: How do you find the time to write? This is my answer, my way of making it happen on a day-to-day basis. My strategies may or may not work for you. But I hope they spark your imagination and help you to come up with even one small way that you can set aside a couple of minutes (maybe more?) every day to indulge your own creativity.
How I find time to write:
1. I daydream. A lot. Maybe even an embarrassing amount. I daydream while I drive, cook, clean, make meals, water plants, and nearly every other "idle" moment of my day. But my daydreams are far from idle. When I was young, I let my mind wander wherever it wanted to, but now that I have books to write and deadlines to meet I keep my imagination under tight rein. In short, I allow myself to daydream about my books. My characters, my setting, plot developments... You get the idea. I think about my writing all day long--and it results in a very clear understanding of my characters and my vision for the book as a whole.
2. I observe. I once saw a t-shirt that said: "Look out, you might end up in one of my books." On the back it read: "And I'll kill you." Not only is the t-shirt hilarious, it's so true. At least, for me it is. (I'd love to own that t-shirt!) I've trained myself to view absolutely every experience, every interaction, every stranger I see on the street as a potential aid for my story. Just today I saw a woman coming out of a local gas station and you can bet your sweet bippy that she'll factor in to the next scene in my book. I'd tell you all about her, but they you'd want to put her in your book, too!
3. I write everything down. Purse-size notepads and pens are this girl's best friends. I keep a supply of writing tools in my purse, my car, and my nightstand. I also carried paper and pens in my diaper bag back in the days when I had to lug around a... Wait a sec. I'll be carrying a diaper bag again real soon, won't I? Well, the pens are going back in it. ;) I can't tell you how helpful it is for me to scribble down even a fragment of an idea. Even though I'm often convinced I could never forget this wonderful image I've just penned in my head, if I don't write it down, chances are it'll disappear. So frustrating...
4. I make myself do it. Though most of my writing happens in my head (while I'm giving my kids a shower, taking the dog for a walk, and emptying the dishwasher), there does come a time when I have to sit down with pen in hand (or laptop in lap) and actually write. When I started writing novels, I would sometimes craft and re-craft the same sentence fifty different ways. I don't do that anymore. Instead, I tell my inner editor to shut up and I just git 'er done. Once it's down on paper I can always go back and edit or finesse. But I can't work with nothing, so I give myself something.
Works for me! What works for you? I'd love to know how you find time to nurture your own creativity--even if your creative outlet is not writing. How do you set aside time for the things you love in the midst of your own busy life?