Art class was like a religious ceremony for me. […] The instruments of work were sacred objects to me. Joan Miró
Wherever two writers meet, the time –or rather, the lack of it–arises. “I could write much, much more if only I weren’t so busy” –says June, the Day Job Juggler. “Oh, sure”, says Peter, the Perpetual Procrastinator. “The only thing I really need to finish my novel is more time”.
Time is the enemy to be defeated; the barrier between us and our stories.Time is a woolly ball inside our creative pipes that prevent our best ideas from flowing freely. For most writers, time is nearly everything but sacred.
People have lost their sense of what’s sacred. For most of us life is a chain of similar days, none of them particularly memorable. Without rituals, without ceremonies, it’s no wonder that time seems to us a swarm of identical moments, all flying by. It’s no wonder that life –and creative life in particular– seems so meaningless sometimes.
Writers have to learn to think about their writing time as sacred, as a time to be honoured and separated from the rest of their everyday tasks and worries. Going to our studies and opening our laptops shouldn’t feel like another line in our daily planners to be erased as soon as it’s completed, it shouldn’t feel like “Oh, dear, writing time again. Just right now that I have all this receipts to check, and I really need to take the kid to the park because he’s driving me crazy, and shouldn’t I phone aunt Peggy to check how she’s coping with her new hip?”
When we trivialize our writing time and it’s not sacred anymore, writing loses its meaning and becomes something we do, instead of being something we love to do, a beacon that bathes our ordinary days in creative light.
Create a ritual
A writing ritual, one that suits your personality, will help you throughout your creative life. When ideas are flowing, and you’re in the zone, your ritual will fuel you; when your Muse refuses to visit, and writer’s block is looming over you, your ritual will reassure you. Only make sure that you feel comfortable with your practice. My writing ritual includes vanilla scented candles, binaural music (which is said to boost creativity) and sitting at my desk at the same time, every day. For you, it might consist on running 5 miles, doing yoga, drinking black coffee or handwriting your first draft on a yellow legal paper. Whatever it works for you, do it!
The famous creativity coach, Dr. Eric Maisel says that people who want to create, make time. If you really want to write that novel, that poem, that story you’ll find the time. Maybe you don’t have three spare hours every day, but I’m sure you have 30 minutes right before lunchtime, or once your kids are safely in bed. I’ve been writing all my adult life and I’ve discovered that one hour a day is my minimum to feel like I’m moving forward with my writing projects while managing my business and my private life at the same time. All I have to do is blocking that hour (from 6.00 to 7.00 a.m.) every day in my calendar. After 7.00 I move on to other tasks, but I still feel I’m a writer.
We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.
Martin Luther King Jr.