Creating A Writing Window

I’ve worked with writers who are full of the best intentions. “I’m here at my desk, and about to begin my writing. I’m optimistic that today will be a good day,” one of them might shoot me an email. “Today was a loss,” another writer might say. “But I have a lot to say, so I’m sure tomorrow will be better!”

I used to feel buoyed by these sorts of messages. After all, at least 50% of sitting down to write and actually writing, depends on attitude. If you think you can, you often can!

But 50% is only 50%, and there are many other obstacles jostling to get in the way of our writing, many of them not even within our awareness. As I’ve said before, while some writers are aware of the anxiety that flares for them around writing, many writers are not conscious of the tension that even the thought of writing provokes. The minute they decide to write, an entire room of other obligations raises their hands, demanding attention: you need to clean the kitchen, you have to call so and so back right now, you can’t put off paying your bills any longer, the plants need watering, you must buy a dress immediately for the wedding next month. And the list goes on and on.

I’ve learned that the only response to everything that pulls us away from the page is to create a writing window that you make sure to open every single day of the week. Here’s how to construct this window: Set aside a small amount of time—as little as 15 minutes and no more than two hours—each morning (before you dive into the rest of your day, with all its obligations) and write. During this time, do not answer the front door or the telephone. If your kitchen sink suddenly beckons, let it know that you’ll be there in 15 minutes, or a half hour, or an hour. Do not make any appointments during this time. Do not make any promises to anybody for this time.

Then every day at this appointed time, sit down to write.

If you do this, I can bet that within a few weeks, you’ll discover that each day at that time, a window will open, beckoning you to write. I can also promise that once you’re finished writing each morning, you’ll feel lighter. And from time to time, for the rest of the day, you’ll sense the pleasure of having written alighting on your shoulder, like a butterfly.

French Door Knob

4 thoughts on “Creating A Writing Window”

  • Hi Jane Anne, I wrote a post about your “Stuck” back in 2009 bragging about how I wasn’t stuck. Not at all. Not me. But now that my book is published and promoted, it’s time to move on to the next project — and I’m finding all kinds of fun stuff to do instead (clean the lint from the back of the dryer ). Maybe it’s because I know what a monumental task is ahead. The writing is the least of it. It’s the promotion and platform building that’s putting me off.
    Here’s my latest post on the topic.

  • This really resonates with me. It was such a good reminder to write at the same time every day. I’ve been doing this for the last week and its made a world of difference! I write in the morning and the added benefit is I feel great all day. Thank you!

  • Nice piece of writing. My window seems to work better late in the day, even the evening. I am not sure when my window will show up, but very few days am I windowless. It seems the window I need to find is the courage to send my writings to be considered for publication.

    I especially liked the following in your piece today: how obligations politely [my word] raise their hands to be acknowledged. The metaphor of the window; how to construct it, how to use it how to open it and even needing to close it after the alloted time. I also like the word, “alighting”. nice word


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *