Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Unfettered Writer

Sometimes I want to pause my life, take my laptop, and head to the nearest beach. But there are a few problems: Life doesn't come with a pause button; my laptop has a very short battery life; and I live in Kansas.

But the bigger problem? (Or is it a problem?...) If life wasn't coming at me ALL THE TIME, I think my writing would suffer.

A crazy thought? (How many rhetorical questions can I ask?) The thing is, I believe that the distractions and pulls of life make me a better writer in the end.

I've heard a few people say that once they had open time to write, they found it more difficult to meet their goals.

When we are bombarded with the demands of our day, we might seize the last hour before bed to write. And maybe that hour is more productive than eight fat hours of daytime writing.

Is the unfettered writer really more productive in the end?

What about creativity? It's life and living that feed our muses. Place me on my beach, and I think I'd be lulled to sleep by the waves. Maybe instead of writing I'd drink one too many pina coladas (sin alcohol) (sin means without in case you didn't know).

Give me a day with my two children, and I'll have a breakthrough idea for my book while folding laundry or making grilled cheese. (I was going to say...while changing a poopy diaper. But no, I never have breakthroughs while changing poopy diapers.)

Have any of you ever been so lucky to have large blocks of unfettered writing time? Did you find yourself more or less productive? Did your muse run and hide or stay and play?

Disclaimer: I am still excited for the day when my time is less full, and I can fill it with writing...and not be TOO distracted by the waves and the frozen drinks.


  1. You make a good point. I am more productive when I'm on a schedule. And you're other point about having ideas while life comes at you, is spot on too! Without experiencing life, what would we have to write about?

  2. I wrote two books when I was working full-time and then decided to give full-time writing a try. I have found it to be a very productive time also. If I am on a roll I can just keep writing as long as my body doesn't rebel. But I do agree that stimulation outside of writing is essential. I think how much writing time one can use productively will vary with who the person is and what is going on in their life at that particular time. This is something I've given a lot of thought to since I've been writing full-time. I think at some point I will probably blend some other work into my routine but for now I like it. Thanks for a thought provoking post!

  3. I'm definitely fettered, and I still manage. I'm not getting where I want to be as quickly as I'd like, but that might be because I quite enjoy where I'm at. Does that make sense?

  4. I find myself the most productive if I have large blocks of time dispersed between days of business.

    Too bad you live so far away from the beach. Is there a lake near you?

  5. Jackee-We seem to agree exactly...except that my life and schedules don't get along.

    Paul-I'm happy to hear the other side and that it works for you. (Gives me hope.) I'm also insanely jealous that not only do you live in Alaska, but you get to look at Alaska all day while you write.

    Myrna-You make sense. I believe I'm in my best season of life right now, too.

    Aubrie-Writing at the lake is my other (more realistic) fantasy. Maybe when my babies are a little older.

    Shelley-You make a very good point. I hadn't thought of it. Sand.

  6. I did write a whole chapter as we drove 2 and half hours to a basketball tournament. SOmetimes I get a lot done in a big block of time, other times I fetter it away.

  7. I like big blocks of time, but I don't often get them. I think when I do get them I put a lot of pressure on myself to be productive and that shuts me down sometimes.

  8. I was reading along, nodding my head in agreement and then I got to the part about pina coladas and I could no longer think about anything else. I love those (sin alcohol). They're my favorite. So thank you for torturing me with that thought (seeing as how I can't drink them on my diet). :)

  9. Kasie-You and your crazy diet. Sugar is good for you. Go make a pina colada.

  10. Jen-somehow I missed your comment! Too much free-time does equal crazy. I agree. It's really an insane life that keeps me sane.

    Jessica-I became well acquainted with that word on our honeymoon to Mexico.

  11. My best creations ALWAYS seem to come at the worst times... like frantically burning dinner while trying to not be terribly late to a church meeting and then *there* it is! And it has to get down onto paper, at least notes of some kind... so then dinner is a little crispier than it was already going to be, and I'm running even later than I want to admit... but, *it's* on paper, and that feels good...

    So, you have a very good and valid point.