Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Luke, I Am Your Father*

I go running with Debra, a good friend of mine, two or three mornings a week. After a run, I’m always glad I went because I know I’ll be sitting and writing most of the day. But before the run? I’m getting pretty good at avoidance.

Take Monday morning. I called Debra to see if we could go to a coffee shop and skip the run. Since we had already reserved time on the calendar, I knew we were both free. Why exercise on such a hot day when we could spend that time drinking iced tea and eating cream cheese danishes?

Debra, who is less wimpy than I, said we should run. As I was reluctantly putting on my running shoes, one of my son’s T-shirts came to mind. It says, “Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies.” The shirt has a little devilish character with a grin and a plate of cookies. I related to the guy with the horns.

So what does this have to do with writing? Not much, but it reminded me of the avoidance tactics that can go along with writing—or not writing. I, too, have felt the sudden need to scrub the tub or do the laundry to avoid working on a sticky scene. I fight this impulse by keeping office hours with writing time blocked out on the calendar. Having it scheduled allows me to embrace my writing hours with all my energy and little distraction. Even my close friends know not to call when I’m writing. Short of an emergency, everything else can wait. That’s important because sticky scenes lose their gumminess much quicker when I deal with them right away, and I work best in general when I know I have a nice chunk of time.

My recommendation: stay away from the Dark Side by looking at your calendar ahead of time and deciding how much writing time you can possibly block out. Mark the calendar if it helps you or your family members keep your writing schedule in mind when plans are being made.

May the Force be with you.

*According to a site I found, this is not the correct quote from the movie although it is the way most people remember it. Doesn’t it make you want to watch the movie again and see for yourself? Not during writing time, of course. Maybe instead of that next run. I’ll bring the iced tea and the cream cheese danishes!


BJW said...

Amen I say as I avoid writing and enjoy your post. Thanks, now i'm back to work.

Emilie said...

Hi, Dawn--this is Emilie who's met you at the past two SCBWI Western Washington conferences:)

Glad to see you're blogging! I just started too, also inspired by an SCBWI meeting, though mine is joint with two friends:

Good luck keeping up the hard work!

Dawn VanderMeer said...

Hi, Ben and Emilie! Thanks for stopping by! I enjoyed checking out your blogs!

Emilie! This is like a mini reunion. How very fun!

Anastasia said...

That is a fantastic idea! Scheduling it puts it right in your face.

Dawn Simon said...

Anastasia, setting a schedule definitely helps me.