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Updated: Mar 30, 2019

What do you think you need to write a story? Go ahead and give it some thought, I’ll wait…

I don’t know what answer you came up with, but my answer is simple and straight forward – Desire.

Long before African Americans were permitted to read and write, information was passed on through oral storytelling. Griots were an integral part in helping to keep alive our stories, our culture and history.

If there is a small flame of desire within you to write, then do so. In the words of novelist, essayist and Pulitzer Prize recipient, Toni Morrison, “Don’t wait for someone to give you permission to write.” Others may scoff at what you are doing and suggest that there are better ways to spend your time. I write because it makes life engaging and freeing and fun. No one has to understand this need for creative expression and self-actualization, or my desire to leave a positive imprint on the world through my words. No one has to understand, so don’t try and explain.

Guard your new creation. Protect it from stick and stones, stifling blankets of doubt and hurtful cross-examination. To accomplish this, I suggest that you refrain from discussing the specifics of your writing. I generally tell people that I am writing, what the genre is, and that is all. Everything else, the inspiration, the motivation, the sweat and tears, the heart, grit and soul that breathes life into the story, I save all of that for the actual writing, and not dispel that creative energy through words and sound that will then disappear like vapors in the air. Channel that energy into your work instead.

As we create the framework within which to do our writing, one of the biggest questions at hand is – how to find the time to write? Time is finite. There is a limited amount available each day. However, time does not discriminate. It gives the same exact amount to everyone.

I think of time the same way I think of money. You have income that you use for obligations and responsibilities, and what is left (disposable income), you get to spend as you please. Ditto for time. After fulfilling your daily obligations, you have a chuck of disposable time left to spend as you please. Time, like money, is better managed if you know exactly how much you have and exactly where it is going.

When I begin a new writing project, I take a piece of paper and at the top I write down the time I wake up, and at the bottom of the page, I record the time I go to bed. Then I fill in all of the hours in between with what I do and approximately how much time each activity takes, i.e., eating breakfast, commuting, actual time on the job, etc. Once I have this information on paper before me, I can get a clearer sense of how much disposable time I have, and how I am spending it. Then, I determine how much time I can reasonably allocate each week day to writing, AND, more importantly, how much time I am willing to commit to writing each day.

Take a look back at your schedule and see the best time of day to schedule your writing. It would be best to try and write the same time every day to develop the habit of writing. Later, if you want to dedicate more time to writing, take a look back at your daily schedule and see where you can tweak it to steal more time for your writing. Do you need to cut back on your gaming or television time, or wake up a half hour earlier, possibly?

Again, you cannot manufacture more time, but you can maximize the time you have by being more intentional about how you are using it.

Updated: Mar 12, 2019

Writer Virginia Woolf popularized the theory that a woman needs a room of one’s own in which to create. And while this arrangement is ideal for both men and women, it is not always possible. At bare minimum, what you will need is a space or nook where you can go that guarantees that you will not be interrupted.

Do I have a room of my own? No, but I do have a room that I can lock the door behind me and have peace and solitude until I choose to reenter the shared family spaces. My husband and I once tried to share a working space, but I like – no, correction - I need to work in solitude, and he prefers to work while listening to music, so that arrangement was short-lived. Know what conditions are required to allow you to tap into your well of creativity, and do not comprise. Talk to your family and explain the importance of having uninterrupted time. Hang a sign on the door, if necessary. Honor what you are doing, and others will honor it as well.

Laptops provide the ease of utilizing every space in your home, and spaces outside of your home as well. Coffee houses are unofficial work spaces for many creatives. If you have a desktop computer, simply utilize pen and paper when you want or need to work in a different environment. The actual space is not too important, so long as it is a place where you feel comfortable and feel safe. Certain public spaces would not be ideal because when you are writing, you want to lose yourself to your writing and not have to be acutely aware of your environment.

But wherever you write, and whatever tools you use, be certain to return all of your writing and related materials to one designated spot. If you don’t have an office or desk drawer, simply store your writing in a box with a lid. The main point is that when you feel inspired, or have the time or desire to write, you will not waste your time or energy tracking down your writing materials. Make a habit of storing it all together; we’ll touch on how to begin to organize it at a later date.

Next: Making Time to Write

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