When writing while writing, finding time is the challenge

Years ago, when I started in this writing game, I heard a story I couldn’t believe. It seems there was a newspaper copy editor who kept two typewriters (years ago, remember?).

One, he used for his newspaper work. The other, he placed on the floor by his desk. And when breaks came between editions, he’d push his work to one side, pick his typewriter up from the floor, and pound away at his novel.

And it worked! He finished that novel. Then he wrote others.

How could anyone do that? Energy? Enthusiasm? Now that I’ve written One Red Thread while writing for work, I know. Sort of. Because after all my time on the keyboard, it’s still a blur.

I guess finding time to write is always a challenge. It’s a common question: “Do you have a schedule or routine?” So I talk about early mornings and weekends. Not so much evenings—not after writing all day at the DeLaune and Associates ad agency. I mention hotels and airplanes during business travel. I always had extra time there.

What I mean is that I had to grab any time I could—because the book had grabbed me. There’s nothing like a novel to really wring you out—or get under your skin. In my novel, the protagonist is an architect. Here’s what he has to say about the design process: “I drew nonstop on any blank space I could find, from formal sketchbook to grocery sack to the white backgrounds of magazine ads.”

That’s the way it was with the novel-writing process, too—notepads on the bedside table, texts and emails to myself so I wouldn’t lose fleeting ideas. And when I finished, the work still wasn’t finished. There was this author website to design, write and maintain. Bookstore readings to arrange and attend. After publication, it turns out, I’m still busy with all those marketing things that loop me right back to my advertising work at DeLaune and Associates!

When I think back on it, however, I often recall Winston Churchill. “Writing a book is an adventure,” he said, “To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”

Well, it’s finally out there. As for me, all I have to do now is grab that keyboard—and grab some time—so I can work on the next one.

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