After more than twelve months of unemployment, I've finally gotten a "real life" (that means non-writing) job as a cab driver.
There are sizable chunks of time during my shift when I could be writing. Much of the time I'm sitting in a taxi line at the airport, and as soon as I can afford it I want to get a laptop so I can resume writing.
My writing's been at a standstill for several weeks because my power got turned off. Yes, I know I could have kept writing with pen and paper--I've done it in the past--but it just didn't happen this time. I've really had a lot on my mind.
But tomorrow I'll be moving into a little RV my family has bought for me, so I'll finally have electricity to plug my desktop computer into again, after going several months without. Things are looking much brighter and I expect I'll soon feel like writing again.
But the fact remains that I'll still be spending a lot of time in the cab. I'll be writing in fits and starts, between fares.
Does anyone else have a lifestyle where they have to try to write when they can? How's that been working out for you?
When I look at my day I can see there's usually a lot of time available. Theoretically I could get quite a bit of writing done. but I wonder if it's really going to work out that way?
I've been writing since mt son was 2-1/2. When he was off to school, his sister came along; she's now 4. Fits and starts? Yes. In some ways, it's actually better -- you know you have to grab the time and use it when you can because you don't know how long you'll have or when you'll next get a chance.
When you have all the time in the world, it's easy to fritter it away on nothing.
I'm retired, home all day. And my writing is still in fits and starts -- on at least one project. That project just doesn't seem to 'come' in a disciplined way. I've decided to be okay with that.
My thoughts on your situation: You've had a lot of changes and big shifts. It's natural to be a bit scattered for a while. I would think about easing into a new schedule. Feel for your new rhythms -- when does the writing flow and when doesn't it?
It's easy to be too rough on ourselves and that only results in self-loathing rather than progress. You say you wonder if you are going to get 'quite a bit of writing done' while waiting for fares. I think that is fine. You'll find out how your mind works as you get familiar with the job and the time it offers you.
Try writing at the stops, sure, but if it doesn't work that doesn't make you somehow less committed to writing. It might just mean that your creativity doesn't work well in that environment. Not everyone can write just 'anywhere'.
So, I say relax, enjoy the good changes that are coming to you. Of course try writing at the various times allowed by your new schedule, but if you get less of it done, that's okay too. So, maybe your writing will come a bit slower. That's not the end of the world. You will find the right schedule for your writing if you let it come naturally.
I write at lunch at work. I've been surprised at how much I can get done when there's an actual time limit on me -- and no distractions. I've also brought it with me when I've traveled. Sometimes I write, and sometimes I don't. I brought it to a con earlier this year and ended up doing some writing before the con opened on Sunday.
BTW, don't get a laptop. Try a netbook instead. It's a lot cheaper to get, and you might be able to get one a lot sooner. HP sells one for about $300.
Very true, that. Last winter I had a lot of time on my hands and I wasn't disciplined to use it well. There were weeks when I spent a lot of time writing, and weeks when I spent a lot of time playing "Galactic Civilizations" on my computer instead.
Stephen King and Algis Budrys, among others, have been proponents of having a special writing place and time. But I've had experiences like yours. I've taken a notebook with me on hikes in the woods and been able to write easily in that environment, for example.
Not for specific work related reasons, but I've had to learn to do this, just to fit in enough time to write. My life is disorganised, and I can't always get the blocks of time I'd like.
Personally, I find that it is easier to write this way with paper and pen. Specifically, I use fountain pens (if you want to try this, I can give you some advice, but otherwise won't write a long, loving paean to the fountain pen) because they force me to go just slow enough to think, which seems to help if you're working in fits and starts. With computers, it is too easy to rush in too fast. And FPs are so wonderful and easy to write with, so many colours to choose from to inspire me... Okay, paean off.
I can only give you one other bit of advice. It will be very hard at first. Just keep trying, even if you only manage to write a single sentence in a day. Over time, you get used to it, and it gets easier. And, hey, even one sentence is that much further ahead... If you can, learning to think the story over in your head and keeping it 'floating' there helps, too. (And handwriting, as opposed to typing, helps keep the details in your memory; there are scientific studies which prove this. Another plus for pens. )
I have a netbook that I got when writing time was too hard to find. It's small enough to fit in my butt pack (okay so I have a large one ) and has enough battery to last a decent amount of time as long as I just use it to write. I was spending my time driving my kids about here and there, and got to the point that I was writing quite well with it. I've switched from Word to Scrivener recently and haven't quite adapted to that on the netbook, and mine's so old that it can't edit docs over 45k, but the new ones have double the memory for the same low price. They're not fancy, and not fast, but for a writing tool, they're perfect.
And what you might try as you're getting back into the habit of writing is use that time for freewriting. Just jot down whatever comes in your head, whether journalling, story ideas, poetry, or whatever. Don't demand any coherency or clarity at the start. It might not be worth anything even with editing, but it can help get you back into the habit of writing.
And edited to add congrats on finding something, especially something with the potential of useful downtime, and getting a place to live that you can afford.
When I was a commercial driver, I ran into this. I split up the writing process into two parts:
Brainstorming and Plotting: When driving, or at times when I knew I would have only a few minutes, I would keep a pad and pen around to brainstorm specific story points. Sometimes it was worldbuilding points, or conflicts, or scenes. With the pad and paper I could jot them down fast and still be available to my job easily.
Actual Writing: During longer periods, such as waiting for clearance to put the semi to a door for unloading, I would bring out the computer to actually write. Thanks to all the times I'd brainstormed during the smaller time-snatches, I usually knew what direction the story was heading in. So, off I went, writing!
Doing the two things up above, I was able to get more writing than I expected done. Part of the issue was training the brain to take advantage of the smaller time periods, especially if it's accustomed to having longer periods. Once off the truck, I found this continued to help my write more even in a lifestyle where I had more time. If you can learn it, it will really push your productivity.
I concur with the idea of a cheap laptop or netbook. Depending on how adaptable your fingers are, something with a small keyboard might work, as it will also mean a smaller computer you can put in the glove compartment or somewhere else out of sight. Considering you are now a cab driver, make it something that wouldn't leave you destitute if you lost. Back up your work from it a LOT.
By the way, congrats on a new job and a new life! I hope it means a wonderful new start for you!
No need to apologise for using a ballpoint - you're only burned for heresy if you say that on the Fountain Pen Network.
My objection to other writing implements is mostly due to the pressure required. I'd get hand cramps after writing with a ballpoint for an hour or two. And I do enjoy the feeling of a nib skating over the paper the way a gold medalist glides over the ice.
But you're the one writing, so whatever works for you... I will add that, if you want to use an ordinary pen, any Pilot rollerball pen that takes a G2 series gel ink refill, and any rollerball that takes the Schmidt rollerball refills (although those are much harder to find than the Pilot G2) are the two choices I can at least endure for short periods of time. Some don't like them, and I'm not saying they're the only choice for everyone. But if you find writing by hand difficult for any reason, and want to try an easy, inexpensive option, those would be my personal suggestions.
(An odd side note: I do not know if this applies to everyone, but at least I noticed, after an extensive experiment last NaNo, that not only is my writing slightly different when I write with a pen rather than on a keyboard, but the exact pen and colour of ink I choose has a subtle influence as well. Some choices make the writing that little bit harder, and others seem to 'lubricate' the words. And a choice that is best for one work may be 'bad' for another: Noodlers Habanero - a searing orange - was great for writing a scene set in the Blitz, but would not work out well if I were trying to write a quieter passage. And, yes, I'm weird. )
I like the brainstorming/plotting suggestion. But I've got two projects that were interrupted nearly two months ago that I really want to finish--and I haven't even been able to take a look at them lately because so far they're only in electronic form.
Still, the fact that you were able to get so much done in a work situation so similar to mine is very encouraging.
Fraid if I'm on the East Coast I'll probably be road tripping it from DC where my sis lives, but I'll wave a flag and see who wants me to stop by .
I live by my oversized purses, and I can't have them over my shoulders due to RSI issues. But it's my rebellion from not being allowed in the Boy Scouts. You need it, and I can probably pull it out of my "carpet bag."
Just like with voice recognition and typing, writing by hand is different than writing on a computer. I used to be able to write by hand mentally, even when my hands couldn't take it, and yes, fountain pens help with that, and it used to be a great way to deal with times when my brain wouldn't click. However, I cannot compose fiction with my hands at this point. So give yourself time to retrain. Don't expect it to be automatic, or you'll get frustrated rather than adapt.
I've bought some of my favourite pens from the sellers there. And learned a lot about fountain pens. I've used them since I was about 11 or 12, but I always stuck to new. Sheaffer school pens, at first, then better Sheaffers (Targas), then I moved on to Pelikans because I preferred a piston filler that drinks ink from a bottle to C/C pens. I picked up a few other makes along the way - but the FPN gave me the courage to try vintage pens for the first time. And I'm glad I did, because you can get a vintage pen from $30-$100 that writes much, much better than new pens that sell for $1,000 and more. The old Sheaffers I picked up make the best Sheaffer I ever had before seem like a rusty nail. And the Merlin Perfect (a Dutch button filler from the 1930s) that I got is magic - put it in your hand, and you will start writing. You can't help it, the words just pour out of the nib. I wouldn't sell that particular pen for $1,000,000,000,000 - and that is not a typo.
>But I've got two projects that >were interrupted nearly two months ago >that I really want to finish--and I >haven't even been able to take a look at >them lately because so far they're only in >electronic form.
This is why I'm making an effort to make sure that all my work exists in hard copy. I'm not there yet, but I'm really pushing forward on that. Because we had two major power outages (days in each case) during last summer and fall, and I couldn't work on everything I wanted to. (I don't write everything by hand, much as I'd like to.)
For people who are really completely unwilling to ever write by hand, it may not matter as much, but for anyone who just wants to get as much writing done as they can, having hard copies - up to date hard copies - is pretty important. Or, what I'm doing at the moment where I'm working on large projects that would eat too much ink and paper to keep printing them out, is to make sure I have a printable HTML copy on a USB stick - if the worst happened, at least once I hunted down someplace with power such as a Staples, I could get them to print them out for me in an emergency.
But I'm really glad you mentioned this (although I'm sorry you find yourself in this position) because I've been wondering how much the effort is worth it, when the worst outage only lasted three or four days. (Still too long, but nothing like two months.) But if you could get into a situation like this, how do I know I won't?
I'm having a similar issue. While I was unemployed for 15 months, my writing was consistently inconsistent where I would write, but not religiously every day. But, when I did write, the words flowed freely. Now that I am working fulltime again, it's hard to carve out time. When I write at night, it's hard to turn my brain off as I try to fall asleep.
My biggest challenge right now is that I've determined my last draft is all backstory and it's time to start from square one again. Procrastination has set in; however, I do find myself handwriting new scenes. Recently I determined that I will approach my story and characters from a different direction. Carving out time will still be a challenge, but I'm looking forward to it...whether it be with pen and paper or a keyboard.
This topic came up in Chat recently and a few of us had the same conclusions.
When we had time, but had money issues (usually because of no job) it was almost impossible to write. The stresses concerned with no money overwhelmed the desire to write. For me even when I had the desire I kept thinking I should be doing resumes, I should be doing something to earn money. Earning through self publishing wasn't going to be enough by a long shot.
Since then I have got a full time job. One that involves an hour commute by train to and from work. So I invested in a notebook (one up from a netbook) and write during those commute hours.
I don't write every commute. Sometimes I just lisen to music and plot/plan/analyse in my head.
But I have found it easier to write (and any variation of writing) now I have work, and money, and no time.