Brief Gaps in the Haste of the Day

Misty hill

These days, at the tail end of the autumn semester, teaching my classes, responding to my students’ writing, helping my wife care for our son, walking our dogs each evening in the chill air as the leaves fall around the house, I feel, much of the time, completely overwhelmed with work.

Plus the consequences of the presidential election continues to make social media an almost unbearable, unwatchable compulsion.

Still, despite the obligations, good and bad, of the day, I still find rare moments to slip into the calm of writing. I am still working on my novel, and a short story about a future world in which everyone’s memories have turned into zombies.

These beautiful gaps of calm, to slip into complex complete attention.

I even created a way for me to work on those two fictional projects on my phone, writing one-handed, writing snippets as they come to my mind, perhaps even while holding a baby in my left arm. 

I write in the Drafts app, because it always opens to a fresh writing sheet, so there’s no need to search for the right file; I created a quick Drafts action to add whatever I write to a growing collection of snippets in a page in Ulysses, my favourite writing app. 

The goal is to seize moments to write in, write all the language I have access to, send it over to Ulysses, and then later order that language into the pieces of a story.

How do you write when you have no time?

4 thoughts on “Brief Gaps in the Haste of the Day

  1. I don’t write when I have no time. I’ve been trying to learn to squeeze in time as I’ve been receiving advice from other writers suggesting this is in fact what I need to know.

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  2. What you describe on your blog today well fits my feelings on social media and about work. I write, at work, taking the time to write better. Shoving my frustration about the election to the MAN by no longer rushing, but I make an effort with the words I write to make them come out as accurate as I know how to make them. I use Scrivener with Dropbox to write on my phone, iPad, and computer, letting the system sync and using one project as a scrapbook for all my orphan ideas, called orphans, with piles I put in folders of half-formed ideas that might grow to more. I use online Grammarly, and Ginger checkers repeatedly to catch and correct what I write. (When I go back and forth between the two algorithms they seem to work better at helping me fix errors.) I also take a stop on my ride to work, across the road from my office, and try to arrive there 1-hour before I am due in each day so that I can spend that time for writing. The result is I get from 20- to 45 minutes of time to write 4-days a week, routinely, not counting the weekend. I also have a raging coffee addiction, since I stop at Starbucks and a commensurate expense. I also write for an hour each day on the weekends. So far, for all that, I’ve only been able to turn my time into a handful of rejection letters, and a self-published short story, that only a few people read. Funny how that feels like more success to me than what I do for a living. Odd thing that is.

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  3. It’s really difficult to write when I am not completely calm and free from all possible distractions. When I try to slip in some time on busy days, I find myself reading through the content written earlier but scared to actually put anything down. When I do put something down am never satisfied with the way it sounds when I read it aloud. In a short time I recall some other thing I am to attend to, panic and leave with little to no addition to the material. I really hope to someday be able to do what u have suggested :/

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