Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Time Is It?

One of the most frequent questions I hear is:  "How do you find the time to write all that you write?"

There are many ways that I could answer this question, but essentially it all comes down to "making time" rather than "finding time".  Making time is proactive--it's time planned and set aside.  Finding time is pure chance.  Making time is also choice and selection--and choosing not to spend time in certain other pursuits (such as watching hour upon hour of TV or having protracted conversations with my wife about the Wendy's value menu). Finding time operates under the weight of the philosophy that if there is any time left over at the end of the day, I might write something (which never works).

But time is important.  And keeping track of how we spend our time is also a discipline, I suppose.  Here in November and December I've been keeping track of my pastoral hours--the day-by-day, week-by-week, month-to-month work that I do leading a congregation, visiting the sick, preparing sermons, counseling, calling, and meeting, etc. I'm busier than ever, I see.  And I've also noted that I typically end up working some part of a 7-day-a-week schedule.  And typically, I note that I push toward 60-hours in a given work week (some more, some less).

So when do I write?

Not always easy to give an answer here . . . but this is typical:

1. Rise between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. to work-out and/or write for some hours before heading to the office.
2. Compose shorter work (especially poems and certain brief paragraphs and links in larger works, as I am driving from place to place throughout the day and as life allows).
3. Write another hour around supper time.
4. Begin writing again some time in the evening, and press on until I am too weary to think clearly, or until my weariness leads me to odd thoughts (humor) or to science fiction (way out there!).
5. Sleep and repeat steps 1-4. 

I have never been a 9:00-5:00 writer, and typically I don't do well writing during the working day, or in sunlight . . . the working day is where I meet life and get ideas, many of which I jot down on squares of toilet paper or on the back of restaurant napkins.  I have even jotted down ideas on window frost and with sidewalk chalk.  A writer must watch and listen for ideas, and then make them a reality on paper (or screen).  Before the sun rises or after the sun goes down--that's my writing time.  I write like a vampire . . . I shrink away from writing in the sunlight. 

So . . . what time is it?  I'm never sure.  But I make the time I keep.  And I hope I keep making the most of the time I'm given.  And the rest of the time . . . . 

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