By Eris Marriott
Nanowrimo has begun; many are shuffling about and scrambling to find that one thing that separates us from that completed work we’ve all been harboring within ourselves for days, weeks, months, years, etc. That one thing should be given the quality of a proper noun; for the sake of this post, I will qualify it as such: Time. Time is that thing that so many of us would sell a lesser portion of our souls for. Perhaps a time-share deal would be something of value to the Devil… Jokes aside, such arrangements don’t seem to be a feasible avenue for myself, and I doubt that many of you even have the proper set-up and materials to invoke such a powerful figure’s presence, no less convince said presence to agree to such an arrangement.
So what do we do when the Devil does not come knocking with that long-awaited, perfect, low-risk contract to gain us more time? Quite frankly, we do a little devil-ry ourselves and generate some time. And here’s how: you find it in those blank slots of “between” when you go from one task to the next. I don’t know about those reading, but I’d be willing to bet a shiny silver nickel that many of you find yourselves in moments of “slump.” Perhaps this “slump” isn’t quiet. Maybe it’s the moment when the kids are playing cops and robbers and screaming all along the hall, making you ready to tear your hair out because you’ve got to find the time and solace to write. Perhaps the “slump” is when you’ve just finished that massive term paper and your brain feels like it can’t handle another word, period, comma, or even a thought at all.
I urge you to rethink those moments. Are these same moments the moments when our inertia must be interrupted for the sake of progress? The law of inertia most certainly applies to humans as much as it does moving and nonmoving objects. When you’re writing, it’s easy to keep writing. When you’re not writing, it’s easy to stay not writing. This conundrum drives authors everywhere into a state of madness that only the creative will understand. I’m 99% certain this frustration affects many other forms of art in the same way it does writing. It is the force that acts upon an object—the movement—that changes the course of our direction. The defining moment that tells us “move” or “stay put.” I prefer to find those things in life that get me to move. If we look at writing as sitting still and finding that perfect moment, that perfect moment may never come. While I sympathize with those that need specific conditions to write—I am one of those individuals that has to be in a “mood” or setting that allows for creative flow—I have also come to realize that upholding these settings is nigh impossible.
My take is that, if you are sitting and doing nothing (save for those moments that you take to recharge yourself, as you should never take away from those) and by nothing, I mean that you have the space to write anything—write. Whether it be notes on your phone in the car right before rushing in to work, to school, or otherwise, take that moment of space in the car to scribble something. Get your kids to sit and have craft time with you while you sit and write or encourage them to engage in activities that are quieter and allow you the peace of mind to put your eyes on a screen. When you’re procrastinating on that paper—which we’re all guilty of that at some point—use the time that you’re procrastinating in to work on Nano and then delve into that paper once you’ve exhausted that creative flow. When you finish, crash at whatever obscene time of night it is and wake the next day to write a few words before class.
The key here, friends, is balance. I’m not perfect at it and I could do a lot better at time management. If you’re reading this and feeling a resonation with the experience I’m talking about, then you probably could do. This isn’t a lecture to get you perfect at it. It’s a charge to tell you that, of all things, don’t let your creative spark die under the confusing tides that Time deceives us with. And I weight my writing with as great importance as all of my other outlets because it is something uniquely mine. And uniquely yours. So bend Time as you know it and understand: the perfect moment to write is not the moment of silence with a cup of warm tea beside a window grayed by pattering rain drops beyond the panes. It is in the hustle and bustle of the every day; we writers know more than anyone else—we can make that setting appear for ourselves in our head. Time to bring the rain and tea ourselves to wherever we might be, lest we let this window pass us by once again, giving Time another indifferent chuckle at having let something so wonderful pass by.
Will you let Time win? Or will you make Time adhere to your needs? I’m sure as heck not going to settle for the first. Even if I fail at the latter, I’ll be trying like heck to get the latter to be some semblance of reality. And you should, too.
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Tiffany Heiser is the owner of Tiffany Heiser Graphics & Fyre and Brimestone Publishing. She is a self-taught graphic artist, an author, publisher, & a loving mom.