On Time to Write

Kelly L. Stone’s Time to Write
Adams Media, 2008.

Here’s what I wanted to find between the covers of Kelly L. Stone’s book: “You have hereby been granted the equivalent of your current annual earnings in exchange for agreeing to spend the same amount of time that you currently devote to your 9-5 existence at your desk writing, just as you have always dreamed of doing.”

Well, I know, it’s ridiculous. But really, I don’t know what I could have expected from a book titled Time to Write. Although I know, now, that I was expecting something more. Which really isn’t reasonable, of course, because the simple act of reading a book on this subject does not increase the number of available hours in a given day.

The author consulted more than 100 writers for this book, asking for the secrets behind the writing time they found. None of them had managed to find more than 24 hours in any given day either.

Here’s one such bit of advice which, appropriately, appears on the final page of the book: “The number one thing you must do is write. You have to write, write, write, and when you can’t write anymore, write some more.”

This is courtesy of Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author (most of the writers quoted herein are bestselling authors, writers of commercial fiction who set quotas of 20 pages a day) and yes, it’s good advice to deliver as readers swallow the last page of a book about writing. Go forth, now, and write. Yes, yes.

And there’s nothing wrong with this advice. Nothing wrong with the advice of any of the writers quoted herein. But there’s also nothing surprising in it. And certainly no magic certificate that let me off the Monday-to-Friday reality of my work-a-day life.

What Kelly L. Stone offers is practical advice, simple suggestions to help you determine where, during your busy week, there are untapped reservoirs of time that you might be able to use for writing, and then techniques to help you make the most of that available time.

It’s organization and planning: it’s simple stuff. You know: watch less TV and set your alarm an hour earlier, snatch available moments and carry a notebook, trytrytryandtryagain.

I’ve already done all this:  identified the pockets of time that can hold writing if I rearrange other responsibilities and pleasures, itemized and set my short-term goals in pursuit of my long-term goals, established my habit of writing weekly, considered how terrible and culpable I feel and am when I let myself and my craft down.

There’s nothing else to be done, other than what I’m already doing. I should have struck this task from my commute and taken the time to write instead.

Good stuff for beginning-beginning writers or for those folks who think they might like to write a book someday if only there weren’t so many good shows on HBO.

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