A trainable skill

Yesterday at work we had a hot discussion about how to fit writing time into the life of an academic. For the picture, it was academic writing that we were talking about, not necessarily creative writing. But, really, it boils down to the same thing. Bum on seat, concentration in head, and just do it. Many academics have many other tasks and bits that fill in their days, often without them planning any of it. My argument is that you have to snatch small bits of time to write when you can and not wait for that elusive great stretch of blankness where there will be no interruptions. To wait would be the equivalent of winning Tattslotto on the one and only day you buy a ticket. It just aint going to happen. But those fifteen minutes, half an hours, or maybe – if you’re lucky – two hours, are there for the taking.

How do I know this? It’s not rocket science. This skill – and it is a learnable, trainable and attainable skill – came out of necessity. Life got in the way, in other words. People with many other things on their plate – and I speak for all working mothers (and maybe fathers – see Tony Eaton’s blog) – will not ever have the luxury to devote large expanses of time to one project unless they don’t sleep. At all. Which for some people is the case. Not for me, though. Snatching time and clinging to it is the only thing to do. Even, or especially, at work.

Set a goal – ‘I just want to finish the page’ or ‘I’ll just re-write this paragraph’ – and get to it. Small goals work and if you find you do have more time, then go with the flow. I think I’ve said it before but why not say it again? Lack of time is no excuse not to write. You have to make time. Ten minutes at a time.

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