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.