Evan vs. Time

Last week I wrote about struggling to get my brain to decide which idea we’re going to work on through the summer. I, uh, haven’t really settled that one yet because of another issue. I have recently started a new job (which is good) but adding it to my schedule along with the other job and things like getting to the gym and other necessaries of life has meant that it’s been difficult over the past while to find time to get writing done on anything at all.

This is all basically all fine and I certainly have nothing to complain about, not really, but I do need to determine where I can rope off some parts of my days to devote to creating new work. Part of the problem is that I am a person who tends to like routines. I like to be able to move through a regular, predictable schedule and know in my mind that ‘it is now time to do X, and then after lunch, do Y’. I also know it’s not particularly realistic to expect life to be that way forever, when one of my established routines gets flipped over, I run around with my head on fire for a while trying to figure out where to put all the pieces again. During that time I’m not super productive.

It takes me a while to see the gaps in my schedule and then figure out what to stick in them, whether a particular chunk of time is going to make sense for going for a run or writing some junk or petting the cat. Because the whole thing is a bit stressful for me it’s very easy to give myself more ‘petting the cat’ time than is really necessary rather than fill time with something challenging. I need to consistently remind myself that although writing sure does take energy, it is a net positive in terms of my mental state and energy level, because of how good it feels to get a piece of it done and to have created something I think is pretty good.

(I scribbled off the skeleton of a little scene in between things yesterday, and I think it works pretty well, and that made me head off to work with a smile.)

Another part of the difficulty with just grabbing a spare hour here or there and getting some writing in is that it often seems to take a while for me to get into writing ‘mode’. I’ve written about this before. When I first sit down to write, I will often spend a significant chunk of time writing a few words, erasing them, writing a sentence, fretting about it, checking Twitter for a second, then coming back and erasing the sentence. Then, and I never know exactly when this is going to happen, there is an almost audible ‘thunk’ inside my brain as the mind-gears shift over into their creative writing configuration and I can start to produce something useful. I have never figured out what the trigger is, and if I ever do I will get immensely more productive. As it stands, it means that ‘just sit down and write for a half hour’ doesn’t always work out as well in practice as it does in theory, because I may spend most of that half hour waiting on the mind-gears.

Going back to the ‘routine’ issue, it does seem that if I have established a certain time as ‘writing time’, the mind-gears do their clunk more quickly. I rather doubt that this is anything particular about my brain and the way it works (although I’m the first to admit that it is a very odd little brain) and that somewhere out there is a very nice person who works in psychology or something screaming ‘OF COURSE’ at their screen.  I also know that finding time for art is something every creative person struggles with, and there’s nothing special happening with me, but this is, after all, my blog and so I guess I’m gonna write about me.

This entry is really just me fumbling through figuring out what works and doesn’t work for having me be a productive writer, as I continue to try to do that more consistently and more seriously than I have in the past. It’s useful for me to articulate all this in writing, as it usually is for me with whatever ideas I’m wrestling with currently, so you get this blog entry today. Maybe it was interesting or useful on some level. I hope so.

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Down here below the line I have something rather more exciting for you – I can now confirm that I will be at Ottawa ComicCon later this month! Renaissance Press will have a table there through the whole weekend, which sounds like it will a super rad couple of days of SFF-y indulgence. I will be at the table on Sunday if you would like to say hi and get a copy of King in Darkness direct from my grubby wee paws. I’d love it if you did.

I also want to thank all of you who came to CAPE in Cornwall a couple weekends back; my spies tell me that a good number of you took my book home with you or had nice things to say about it and I’m very grateful for both. I hope to be able to make the trip down next summer.

As ever, thanks for reading.

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