Anticipating . . . a Day of Writing

Children’s writers learn to look back on their childhoods to develop stories young people can relate to. It’s not looking back just for the memories but for the emotion too. For example, do you recall being in elementary school and looking forward to a new day because something good was about to happen? Maybe it was the first day of summer break. Maybe it was the start to a family vacation. Maybe it was your birthday. Or, maybe it was a simple as going to a movie, getting a book you’d been looking forward to, or the new Saturday cartoon line up every autumn.

When was the last time you, as an adult, looked forward to a weekend day with that same sense of anticipation as a long-planned for vacation? When was the last time you, as a writer, looked forward to crafting the next scene in your story or starting a new novel? I’ve thought about this sense of anticipation a lot during the past three months. It reminded me that when I still worked full time, I wrote in every spare minute I could find. To add to my writing time, I used to plan a long weekend with the intent of writing for 3 days straight.

The joy of making serious progress as I focused on a specific writing project provided the same break as a weekend getaway. At some jobs I had to use vacation days but at others they allowed personal days scheduled a week or so ahead. Whatever those circumstances at my job, I planned for my long writing weekend with the same attention I spent planning a vacation. I made decisions about which project I’d focus on and whether I’d stay home or turn it into a “private retreat” by reserving a motel room. I planned nutritious snacks to keep the creative juices flowing, and I scheduled my time–complete with exercise breaks and time for reading writing books or magazines and to connect with other writers (or get some feedback on my writing).  The progress I made on my project buoyed me through my day job.

Now that I write full time, I juggle a lot of projects and balance teaching writing workshops with client work and contracted writing (mostly nonfiction). During scheduling turmoil in the past year, I realized I was missing that sense of anticipation in my writing. So, I designated Fridays as my “writing” days, meaning I work on only my projects. Client deadlines infringed and again I realized I was lacking that sense of anticipation. During this year I’ve designated Wednesdays and Fridays as “my projects” days. It doesn’t always work out the way I planned (and “my projects” has broadened in scope) but I’m happy with the sense of accomplishment at the end of those days. I haven’t felt that since my weekend “writing vacations” of the past.

So, are you feeling that sense of anticipation in your writing life? Do you awake happy that at some point that day you’ll get to focus on your story, book, or article? If not, consider proclaiming one day (or even a half day) as your “my writing project” day. Mark your calendar. Plan what you’ll do. Let your family know and ask for their support. Then, wake up with anticipation . . . to write!

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5 thoughts on “Anticipating . . . a Day of Writing

  1. Ya know, I liked your article and agree that a schedule for writing is essential. But, for me, not a professional like you, inspiration doesn’t come on schedule. I write poetry and write from inspiration that comes “out of the blue”, without regard to place or time of day. Usually, a piece comes to me mostly complete and if I don’t stop and, at least make some notes, I lose it. I remember the idea at a later time but the quality of the initial inspiration is lost. Then the process get mechanical and I don’t like that. I think poetry is forever, not finite. That it come to you from a quick peek into life itself. If it has to be wordsmithed, then it is manufactured not created. Anyway, Iliked your pieces. I read a lot of “poetry” on the web and never respond. However, after reading your I thought maybe there is intelligent life out there. All the best!

    • Hi, Tony! Thanks so much for responding. Yes, when I write poetry it is a very different process. In fact, if I get an idea to develop as a poem, I allow myself a break from my current work-in-progress & work on the poem for awhile. Rather than being a distraction from my other project, I feel more energized because when I write poetry I “play with the words” so it’s a different type of creativity. The “planned writing” time was truly a way to “get excited and motivated for my writing. Thanks again for responding and best wishes with your poetry!

  2. Writing occupies the first 2 or 3 hours of my day, depending on what time I wake up. Since the “real” day needs to start at 7:00 AM, I love it when my eyes pop open at 4AM (really)! It’s a horrifying thought to many, but knowing my writing time is limited motivates me to make the most of it. It helps me look forward to it. If I did it for a living, I don’t know if I’d feel the same way.

    • Thanks for sharing, Gwen. That idea of your eyes popping open at 4 a.m. so you can get some writing time in is exactly that eagerness I’m talking about! It does change the feeling toward writing/creativity when you must make progress due to a deadline/contract. But, it doesn’t have to be a negative feeling, which is what triggered the memory of those “writing weekends” to look forward to. Appreciate your thoughts (and congrats on completing the Institute of Children’s Literature course)!

      • Hey, thanks! It feels great to be done. I’m looking forward to taking a break from classes for a while and just writing on my terms.

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