My muse doesn’t like quickies

suncatcherSo I’ve been in a whirlwind of supporting my oldest through prom and graduation, all the paperwork and decisions involved with sending her off to college, and trying to get the house ready for guests at the end of this month, dealing with the messes and broken stuff I’ve been ignoring for too long. There are no good chunks of time for writing and I have decided it’s best to let it rest for now.

Although I’ve heard some writers—always women, interestingly—say they can be productive in 10-15 minute slots, I’ve never been able to be creative in less than an hour. It usually takes me about 10-15 minutes to get into the flow. Once there, I can work for about 2-3 hours, though I rarely get that luxury. The few times I’ve been able to do productive “quickies” were when I had more time for writing in general and was in such a good flow state that ideas were coming to me all day long.

I googled around a little to see what was out there about scheduling and creativity. I found a lot of evidence that creative people generally do need decent chunks of time in which to work. I liked this article “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule” by Paul Graham He writes “I find one meeting can sometimes affect a whole day. A meeting commonly blows at least half a day, by breaking up a morning or afternoon. But in addition there’s sometimes a cascading effect. If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I’m slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning.” My muse is not so demanding as to expect a clear half or a full day, but the principle is the same.

This article by James Clear on “The Myth of Creative Inspiration” cites examples of famous writers who scheduled regular free chunks of creative time, often early in the morning or late at night.

My family duties and need for 6-7 hours of sleep don’t allow me to do quite the same things, but once this rush is past I’m going to look for more ways to create time and space for writing.

“How to Schedule Your Day for Peak Creative Performance” by Amber Rae had some interesting ideas, such as batching up “Hate you but have to do you” tasks into one morning. I’m making a note to myself to reread this in July.

For now, I’m just trying to keep myself sane. One thing that helps is working on creative tasks that I can do in short stretches, because they don’t demand the same level of concentration as writing, like finishing the dragonfly suncatcher in this picture.

How about you? How do you work best? Have you found creative ways to create more creative time in your life?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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2 Responses to My muse doesn’t like quickies

  1. Isobel Carr says:

    What works for me is to consign all non-creative work to the morning (shopping, cleaning, etc.) and then devote the time between lunch and dinner to writing. That way I can noodle about with the plot while I’m doing the other stuff and sit down ready to get some pages out.

  2. Love your blogpost title, Elena!! So perfect. My muse doesn’t like quickies, either, LOL. And I don’t have any great suggestions to offer –this is something I struggle with all the time myself. Juggling a couple of part-time jobs, I think I relate well to that idea about meetings ruining more of the day’s productivity –just knowing I soon will have to leave for work, or switch over to the work for another job, can spoil my concentration even when I do carve out a little time for the writing. (Sigh.) No one ever said what we do is easy!!

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