The shift in my schedule in the past two months has definitely shaken things up in my writing life. Since I’d been in a rut for a month or two before I went back to school, I don’t actually mind that. The down side to not having time every day to write is, I can’t do a daily word quota like I did with NaNoWriMo last November or, on a more reasonable schedule, like I did when I wrote Erica Flynn. If I was already going on a long-term project, I honestly might be able to do my Erica Flynn quota of 250 words a day – I’d miss some days, but I know from that project that I tend to catch up and/or surpass my quota when it’s that low anyway.
But enough about the down side. Only having time to write in snippets means that, when I do have a minute or when something occurs to me, I don’t question it. I just write. If I have sentences rattling around in my head that intrigue me, I don’t bother to wonder if they’re going to lead to anything or not, if they’ll be the best sentences to get across what I’m saying, if I’m aiming for a short story or a novel, if I should choose first or third person or male or female or whether I can figure out what this character does for a living (my least favorite decision about characters, by the way). All that crap I piddle over when I have the leisure to do so goes out the window when I’m in the middle of a 14-hour stretch of school and work, and ten minutes between my jr. bacon cheeseburger and my next class is the only time I have to jot down my ideas. Instead, I actually write, which means I’m actually exploring more ideas than I do when I have more time. When I can sit down and think about what I want to write, I kill around 75% of what occurs to me before I’ve even explored its potential. Now that I don’t have time to fully explore any ideas, I’m scribbling down about 50% of what pops into my head at random, and since I don’t have time to shut down what I don’t have time to write, the other 50% is still being processed while I go about my business.
Lesson one here is, self-censorship is an inspiration killer – give your ideas a chance! Unless you’re in the middle of actively writing a novel, you should at least let your random ideas run around a little bit in the open air before you decide anything about them. Lesson two is, you’re never too busy to be a writer. You might be too busy to produce a polished, finished product at a given time in your life, but you’re never too busy to think like a writer, to watch and listen and pay attention to details and new information, to have ideas and to express those ideas as eloquently as time will allow. Lesson three: You can polish later. You can put the pieces together later. You can make it coherent later. My hope is that by this summer, when leisure time goes up again, I’ll have let enough of my ideas run around in the sunshine that I’ll be itching to draft a novel out of some set of them, and I’ll have all summer to write the rough. I’ll let you know how that works out.