I'm posting late today, so I thought I would take my opportunity to continue the blog chain on "A Good Writing Day" begun by Kat Harris and continued by Gwen Stewart and Lynn Rush.
A good writing day is a day on which I have already written a chapter by 11:00 am. On those days, I am content and serene as I go about the rest of my business.
Writing balances me spiritually. My mind is always grabbing materials and sorting through them, rearranging them, casting one aside as too awful to linger on (Phillippians 4:8), treasuring another as true, honorable, and lovely. I don't throw out all sad or disturbing events in my meditation. Often in order to see what is honorable and lovely we also have to see what is evil and ugly. The important part is that I avoid meditating on the evil and ugly alone, instead always remembering the virtuous and pure, the candle in the darkness.
After my constant meditation on history, memory, God, other people, music--whatever happens to come my way--the process of writing hones my thoughts and releases them, renewing my mind.
All too often, the press of everyday duties means that I have not written my chapter by 11:00 am. I've been adjusting to my new schedule, now that my daughter is in kindergarten. For the last couple of months, I've been volunteering too much. Volunteerism is both a wonderful addition to my life and a threat to my writing. It's easy to see the need for my volunteer work. When I spend the morning at my daughter's school labeling books by grade level, I know my donated hours will be a major help to the teachers as they try to recommend books for each child. But volunteerism can eat my novel, if I'm not careful. It's too easy to say yes in the face of the need. The approach of the holidays also brings scores of tasks that sneak up in sheep's clothing ("This will only take ten minutes!") and end up revealing wolfy teeth.
It's time for me to get medieval on the things that interfere with my writing. Preserve my mornings, adhere to a strict schedule, slim down my list of volunteer tasks, and make every weekday a good writing day.
I have the utmost respect for my friend Gwen and others like her who are holding down full-time jobs, mothering their children, and writing novels. If you check the time-stamp on some of Gwen's blog posts, you will figure out that she writes her novels the way I wrote my dissertation, getting up before dawn to find her precious writing time. If you've ever done this, you know that it is a lifestyle that requires discipline and true passion for one's work. Here's a toast to all the writers who sacrifice sleep in the early hours.