Every writer faces a common hurdle: finding the time to write. Our lives are full, sometimes even overflowing, with things to do, places to go and people to see. We're so busy that when we finally do carve out that hour or two to write, we lack the one thing all writers need to find their inspiration: a quiet mind.
I won't be the first or last to say this, but we need to stop, sit and listen. Listen to the birds chirping outside our window, to the ping of rain on the deck, to the great ideas that are floating around our brains. Some of you may be lucky enough to silence the outside world merely by telling yourself: "It's writing time." Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way for me. If kids are screaming, someone is playing music or the dishwasher is running, my focus is split. My attention wanders.
Considering that I am trying to complete my novel while working full-time, I am lucky to get four days per month that I can devote to writing. Those hours are precious, important, in fact my lifeline to sanity because the voices inside my head (the characters in my book, that is) aren't happy when I ignore them for too long. They start to go silent. They start to flee. And it is oh, so hard to get them to want to play along after I've neglected them.
Every writer I've talked to has bemoaned their lack of writing time at one point or another. My non-writer friends think I'm a whiner ("Why not get up at 4 am to write if it's so important to you," they may say) when I complain. They have kids, housework, errands, friends and families who all demand their attention after work. Why should I get off any easier?
All I can say is that writing means doing nothing sometimes. Sitting, listening, taking the world in. I feel very lucky that my passion requires me to really look and feel, hear and taste (smelling is another matter -- if only I could!) my surroundings. I need to know how to describe an atmosphere, a person or a situation, and the only way to do that is to observe. To record it first in my mind and sometimes in pictures so I can then record it in prose.
Having the time to stop, to sit quietly, to think, is part of the writing process. May we all find ways to make taking a few moments for reflection part our hectic lives. I promise: it's good for everyone, not just writers. We all need to reconnect with the voices inside our head.