Saturday, January 22, 2022

Carving Up Your Hours and Meat Loaf’s Example for Creatives

Scott D. Parker

You don’t find the time to write. You make time to write.

That’s an adage I’ve held onto for years. I firmly believe that if you truly want to write, you will make the time to write. Thus, the excuse of “I would love to write but I just don’t have the time” flies out the window.

But sometimes you have to carve up your time to find those pockets in which you can write. I did a little exercise this week that you might find instructive if you are wanting to find all those extra minutes in your week to get your fingers on the keyboard and your brain into its imagination.

I started a new day job this month and this is the end of week three. Naturally, I now have a new schedule, one that involves three days in the office and two at home. It felt like I had less time to write, so I broke down my days.

Every weekday, I wake at 5am. Yes, I am a proud member of the 5am Writing Club. Have been a morning writing for going on nine years now, and dedicated 5am-er for the past three or four. I find it liberating to have the house to myself, only a single light on over the kitchen table, and just a cup of coffee (two, actually) beside me as I write. Zero internet, zero TV, zero anything other than a psalm a day until the words are out of my head.

I work in the office Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That means I have a hard stop at 6am so I can get ready for work, jump in the car with the daily smoothie, and drive to work, usually listening to an audiobook (most recently finished Carol Burnett’s memoir).

So, accounting for the waking, exercising, Bible-reading time, I’m left with approximately 45 mins in the morning to write, give or take. Doing the math, 45 x 3 = 135 mins. Since I work from home on Mondays and Fridays, I allow myself an extra 30 minutes. 75 x 2 = 150 mins. That’s 285 mins, or 4.75 hours per week in the mornings to write. Not bad at all.

Side note: I don’t write during Family Time at night.

Then there are the lunch hours at the day job. Accounting for regular meetings going long and, you know, eating, I estimate I have 45 minutes I can spend writing on my Chromebook. That’s another 135 minutes, which bring us up to about 7 hours per week that I have to myself and I can write.

I have more time on Saturdays. I tend to wake at 7am, get the dogs, head out to Shipley’s for do-nuts, come home, cook and eat breakfast. Generally, I get to writing around 8am and the family leaves me alone. On Saturdays in which there are few things to do, I can get two hours easy. Then, it’s Family Time (or Chore Time) so the writing is off the table. Now I’m up to 9 hours, more or less.

Sundays are a tad different. I still wake at 7, but I have a hard stop around 9:30 or so to get ready for church. So let’s call it a good 90 minutes. Now I’m up to 10.5 hours of writing time per week.

All it took was for me to analyze my schedule and see what time I have available. There’s a lot I can do in 10.5 hours. I knocked out NaNoWriMo’s 1,667-word threshold in any of those given time frames, but if it’s slow going, I can get 800 words in any one of those writing sessions (although my daily goal is 1,000).

Here’s where the math is magical. If I can average a 1,000 words an hour, that means I can write approximately 10,000 new words of fiction per week. With a day job. With Family and Chore Time factored in.

And all I basically ever do is wake up earlier than my family and write. Makes me really happy, productive, and helps start the day on a good note.

Now, how does your week break down?

Meat Loaf’s Example and His Challenge

The news broke yesterday morning that Meat Loaf passed away. I have an unabashed love for his soaring, Broadway-like anthems. In particular, there is a late-career gem I wrote about back in 2016 that was the first song I went to upon hearing the news. Then I listened it again before playing all the songs I have on my Mac.

In the various comments from folks yesterday, more than one commented on Meat Loaf’s improbably resurgence in the early 1990s. In an era of grunge and rap and early hip-hop, here was Meat Loaf singing about the things he would and would not do for love. The song was over the top, the video was even more over the top, but people ate it up. I know I did. There he was, wearing makeup to give him the appearance of a beast, starring in a mini-movie. Were it anyone else, they would have been laughed at.

But not Meat Loaf. He knew who he was, what his talents were, what kind of music he liked and performed well, and just did all that. He was himself no matter what. Sure, he had some down times, but he kept to his talents. When it worked, it soared. When it didn’t, he kept going.

From the last part of the tweet that announced his death came this challenge: “From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!”

That’s his challenge to every creative: Don’t ever stop [making your art].

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