30 December 2008

All winged chariots aside.

Apparently, during my normal life I take time for granted. At least the sort of time that involves a small room full of books, with a door that closes. It's been a long time since I had to work at home because I had no alternative. And boy, I'm rusty at this.

I used to do it. I remember having to sit in the bathroom during a phone interview for a job because my apartment was too small, and my daughter was sleeping in the other room, and what if she woke up screaming? I also remember her snoozing in the sling while I typed my papers. But now I have kids that are 6.5 and 2.5, and two weeks without full childcare. That math adds up to zero poems, zero pages read, zero reviews written, and so on.

In the spirit of time, here are some questions that will either make us thankful for the time we have, or jealous of the time that other folks have. Or, perhaps, they'll make us bundle up our time in different ways.

1. What time of day is ideal for your creative work? Is there any time that absolutely won't do?

2. Do you have set "writing time" for yourself? How, and when, and where? What do you do if something urgent comes up? Take two next time and hope for the best?

3. How much time do you spend in the actual act of writing poetry (or fiction, or whatever) every week? Just an estimate.

4. What things do you spend time on, aside from the actual act of writing poetry, that help with your creative work?

I'm hoping to get some time on New Year's Day (yeah, right. time to pay bills), or over the weekend. Or maybe by then I'll have the juggling just right, and the semester will begin, and I will forget it all until next year.

11 comments:

Penultimatina said...

1. What time of day is ideal for your creative work? Is there any time that absolutely won't do?

I don't work well after 9 pm. My brain shuts down. Sometimes I can finish a poem started earlier, but I can't start anything (aside from blog posts). My ideal time of day is mid-morning, or early afternoon. I guess that's when I'm at my best.

2. Do you have set "writing time" for yourself? How, and when, and where? What do you do if something urgent comes up? Take two next time and hope for the best?

No

3. How much time do you spend in the actual act of writing poetry (or fiction, or whatever) every week? Just an estimate.

One hour or less. And I know that sounds shameful, but if I'm really in the zone I tend to write a poem in 20-30 minutes. First draft, that is. But it should still be more.

4. What things do you spend time on, aside from the actual act of writing poetry, that help with your creative work?

Reading manuscripts: books, and individual poem submissions. Reading books and articles. Freaking out. Staring out the car window.

Talia said...

My mind is natrually focused and fresh in the morning (after coffee) and I often think of incredible things, things that could find its way into poetry, on my drive to work. Once I even pulled over to write something down. Before I started my job I envisioned myself getting to work (I teach Jr. High) and sitting alone in my classroom for a few minutes at my desk each day, to write.

Ha! I'm lucky to get all my copies made. But, maybe some day I'll be there.

Reading poetry and writing poetry, go hand-in-hand for me. I rely on other's writing as inspiration, quite a lot.

S_Allen said...

1. What time of day is ideal for your creative work? Is there any time that absolutely won't do?

There is no ideal time for me. When I get time I guess. Usually I have great ideas in the shower - and then I forget them by the time I have pen and paper in hand. I have asked my wife to help me find something to write in the shower with. Bath Crayons anyone? The time I usually end up writing is after my son has gone to sleep, after I am done fighting with my wife and she has gone to sleep. So I guess around 10:00 pm. It is not the ideal time for me, but it's all I got.

2. Do you have set "writing time" for yourself? How, and when, and where? What do you do if something urgent comes up? Take two next time and hope for the best?
Yeah that is a no. I doubt I will ever have a special writing time. At least not until my son is older and understands that when the door is closed that doesn't mean I'm gone forever or I don't love him anymore.

3. How much time do you spend in the actual act of writing poetry (or fiction, or whatever) every week? Just an estimate.
Probably, less than an hour. Some times more. I most likely would average out to be about an hour.

4. What things do you spend time on, aside from the actual act of writing poetry, that help with your creative work?

Reading poetry, drawing crappy artwork, and listening to conversations about literature - especially during classes. I get great poem ideas during discussions in both the classes I teach and the ones I take.

JB said...

Morning is the best time for me. I can move into early afternoon if I want to finish a poem.

I probably spend about 2-4 hours working on poems per week when I'm actually writing (unlike now, when my daughter is home on break).

Reading poetry, fiction, and articles about poetry, and reminding myself to be aware of the world around me really help with the writing.

Tobin F. Terry said...

1) The morning. Early, early morning. Not after 5pm.
2)Nope. When the baby's sleeping?
3)Less than I should.
4)You folks with children frighten me, a guy with a colicky baby (which, as it turns out, means, "she crys a lot, deal with it"). You mean there is actually less time when they get older? Though, now that I think about it I realize that if I weren't spending my time rocking away the hours with a screaming baby, I'd be straightening the pens and papers on my desk into right angles or some other such waste of time.

Justin Evans said...

1.

My ideal time doesn't exist. I get pems like short wave radio, and sometimes they arrive at seriously embarrassing moments (too embarrassing to mention in public at times). All I can hope for is that I actually have the time/energy/means to work on them when they come to me.


2.

No set time to write creatively, though I am certain I would benefit if I were to start a routine like that.


3.

When I'm in the zone, I can spend two or three hours a day writing. My last push lasted for over a week and I am certain I spent two hours a day every day actually writing.

When I am not writing, I can go weeks without even putting pen to paper.


4.

I like flipping (literally) through books of poetry and letting my eyes lock on an interesting passage and writing a poem with that idea in mind. I love prompts. If I could have a prompt every day, I am certain I could write a poem for 4 out of 5 I received, and possinly 25% of those would be worth working on at the end of the day.

I prepare for poetry by not thinking about it.

Leslie said...

1. I write best early in the day with a few hours before I have to be anywhere and a pot of tea. Or I love to teach early classes then come home to the tea mid-morning. I get less effective the later it gets though there is no absolute rule.

2. I mostly just try to schedule my life with blocks of open time that, if I am in the writing head, I can fall into and work.

3. I'm a weirdly streaky writer--some weeks I spend zero time even considering poetry. It feels remote or just gone. Other weeks I spend many hours (more than 10).

4. Reading is the best trigger I have for poems. Also talking to friends about art, going, when I live near one, to museums and art shows. Mostly reading.

Sara said...

1. Mid-afternoon is my best time, but anytime will do--as long as I've had a little caffeine.

2. Not now, but I'm hoping to block off Tuesday and Thursday afternoons next semester.

3. Probably an hour/week, with a binge every couple of months.

4. Reading, journaling, staring out the window and listening to sappy music (it helps purge my sentimental side), and going to poetry readings.

Urkat said...

1. What time of day is ideal for your creative work? Is there any time that absolutely won't do?

Any time I am awake, basically, is a good time. If you don't get accustomed to working when you don't feel like it, you'll never write much of value.

2. Do you have set "writing time" for yourself? How, and when, and where? What do you do if something urgent comes up? Take two next time and hope for the best?

I have written poetry in some of the strangest places. It helps if you learn how to block out distractions and treat other people as total nuisances fit only to be ignored.

3. How much time do you spend in the actual act of writing poetry (or fiction, or whatever) every week? Just an estimate.

There is no actual act of writing poetry because all of the thought of writing poetry has to be considered part of the act. Putting words down is perhaps the smallest part and only happens when the actual act is over.

4. What things do you spend time on, aside from the actual act of writing poetry, that help with your creative work?

Making money doing unbelievably obnoxious tasks so I can afford to engage in the actual acts that lead to eventual gratification.

I'm hoping to get some time on New Year's Day (yeah, right. time to pay bills), or over the weekend. Or maybe by then I'll have the juggling just right, and the semester will begin, and I will forget it all until next year.

Good luck with all that.

Oliver de la Paz said...

1. I work best between 8AM and 11AM. After 4PM I'm useless.

2. No.

3. 30 minutes to two hours. I edit as I write.

4. Um . . . listening to music, reading books and reading blogs.

God, I sound so lame/lazy.

Lyle Daggett said...

1. Really I can write pretty much any time of day (or any place, as long as not in the rain or something where the paper gets wet and the ink runs).

I do tend to do a lot of writing at night, including late at night, past midnight, etc., though that's just because of my life habits, not because the writing needs it.

2. No set writing time. I learn to stay quietly alert for poems coming to the surface. I carry poem notebooks with me everywhere. At night they're on a table by my bed.

If something interrupts me, I go back later and pick up where I left off. Once the poem is there, it's there, even if it's not written down on the page yet. It will be there when I go back for it. We never lose anything.

3. Actually writing down on paper: it varies greatly. Sometimes the poems come out quickly and freely flowing, and I might be sitting and writing for two or three hours during a week. Other times, the poems grind out slowly, a couple of lines at a time, and I might be actually writing on paper for about ten minutes every couple of weeks. (At the moment I'm in a dry period of the cycle, a ten minute week. I've learned to ride out the dry times.)

If I count all of the writing process -- including sitting with my notebooks open (even when nothing is coming out), and staring out the window of the bus, and doing the preliminary internal shaping of (i.e. thinking about) poems before writing on paper, then the time I spend each week is much higher, ten or twenty hours a week at least.

4. Reading the work of other poets, this most of all. And sitting and talking with friends (especially though not only poet friends) also helps. Translation can be good practice too, though I haven't done any in a long time. Apart from these, see the second paragraph under number 3 above.