Finding Time To Write
by Ian Birnbaum
Now that Celebrity is in the mail, the entire submission process is on hold - at least for a few weeks. The trick now is to keep writing and submitting, writing and submitting, so that when one of your stories happens to get picked up, you'll have previous submissions providing you with a stream of income until the payday comes in.
One thing that I've always been notoriously bad about is finding time to write. Just about everything I write, including these columns, are written because I have committed myself to a deadline and I have to meet it. Celebrity itself was actually a story I wrote, as an assignment, for a Creative Fiction class at the university (I got an A). This is fine, of course, for things like this column and breaking news stories at the paper, but, for a freelancer, this kind of work ethic just turns you into an unproductive waste of space. For freelancers, there ARE no deadlines. Celebrity could have been mailed tomorrow, or in a week from now, or not until the summer: the editor at Brutarian (unless he happens to read this column) doesn't even know yet that it's headed his way, much less that he really ought to buy it because it's great (nudge nudge, there, Mr. Editor).
So this past week I've decided to start something new. I'm a very busy guy, but every day without fail, I have some free time from 5-6 p.m. during the week. I used to watch TV or replay a level of Half-Life 2, but, starting this past Monday, I've been using that hour to write. I just sit and stare at a blank page, then start writing whatever comes to mind. Whether it's great or it's crap or it's just me bitching about my day, I've found that writing every day really helps oil the hinges of the creative mind.
For example, I came up with a premise for a narrative - I think it was on Tuesday that I jotted it down while I was writing in the back yard and my kitten was playing in the grass around me. It is essentially a fight-the-power story from feudal Japan involving supernatural powers and traditional tattoos - when I have more written on it I'll probably share more about it here. Is it great? Not really. Does it have promise? Potentially. It could be utter crap brought on by my current quest to get a bit of tattoo work done. But, whatever it is, it's some creative exercise. If it doesn't pan out, I will have gotten just that much more writing practice. And practice will eventually pay off when I write something really worth reading (and selling).
Other than this (potentially) productive development, all's quiet around here for while - at least until I hear back about Celebrity. In the next few weeks I'll just be sharing some snippets of short stories or just pondering life, the universe and everything.
So what time every day do you guys write? Time every week? What motivates you?