Sunday, November 1, 2009

How many hours should a novelist spend on their novel each day and why am I not doing it right now?

Aidan Donnelly Rowley got it exactly right ( There's an anxiety that creeps through all writers. All that wasted time in a day. Why am I not writing?

I read the blogs of other disciplined writers who comment they've "written their 3500 words for today", or managed to put in their 4 hours of writing time. These are writers. People driven by anxiety. Anxiety has forced them to prescribe a formula to tackle their anxiety and meet deadlines too. Man, that sounds so writerly.

I wish I had more anxiety in my life. More ways of getting stuff done.

I'm lucky if I lately I can sneak in a half hour or less on writing each day. Plus, it usually comes at the end of the day after work, dining, dog walking, cleaning and a snifter or two. I'm a novelist, but can only squeeze in a half hour per day (or less)! Could a surgeon say that thirty minutes really makes him a surgeon? A newsboy claim that thirty minutes a day makes him a truly gifted dispenser of newspapers.

Shouldn't I feel anxious about this?

The truth is, writing is a lot like meditation for me. It's not that it's got to be perfect or any specific period of time - there is no such thing as time when meditating. As long as it's exploratory, as long as it digs deep inside me and pulls out lessons I haven't yet learned, then it's worth each and every second, no matter how few.

That's meditation.

And that's efficient writing too.