Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making Space

Space has arrived. The 14th and last guest left yesterday. For a while I've been writing in the smallish chunks of time, making Swiss cheese work (see June 8th). But now there's SPACE.

The key is how best to use it. How not to fill the new space with distractions. And how not to burn out.
I'm going back to my weekly lists. But they're much longer, divided into Our Spirit; Romeo, Romeo; novel #2; and novel #3. (The work for the last two is simple, just two hours daily on #2 and one on #3.) The list fills a full page, too long for here, but it's very satisfying to cross things out. Last week looked pretty good by Saturday night, lots of strike-throughs.

There's other stuff on the Weekly List - the gym, meditation... The trick is not to put too much stuff there. And most importantly, not to fill this new space with so much stuff that I need to struggle for more space again.

No question this week, just three cheers for making, protecting and appreciating space.

(art by Mark Kostabi)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We've moved apartments and I've been organizing my study and wondering whether I'll blog about tossing out old writing projects or how to cultivate the discipline of blogging. I've gotten rid of a lot, and it's fantastic and freeing. And I certainly could stand a heavy dose of blog discipline.

But I can't stop thinking about writing as a journey.

Right now I'm in both the not-ecstatically-fun business phase (industry research, preparing queries etc) for Romeo, Romeo and the loving-it honeymoon phase of a new novel. But I've been surprised that I've also been writing an hour a day on an old project that I didn't toss out. My priority is to complete a first draft of novel #2. But novel #3 wants attention. Just a little. Just an hour. It's not what I'm supposed to be doing, but it's fun and has its own voice and I choose to think that it's not a distracting side trip, but part of the journey.

How does novel #3 help #2? I'm not exactly sure. It's just what I'm doing and feels right and if it feeds the engine... then I guess it's okay.

I have faith in the journey... but, still... how do we know things aren't distractions?

(photo by Pacific Northwest photographer Lee Mann)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Benefits of Swiss Cheese

Years ago a friend who was a counselor for college students gave me a piece of advice. Don't look for three hour blocks of time. Instead Swiss cheese it. Meaning, look for little holes of time. Twenty minutes here. Fifteen there. Maybe ten. Wow, an hour. And you'll quickly find that you're moving at a good pace on your project.
This past month I've hardly been on line. We had 12 guests visiting for a big celebration, found a new apartment, and I launched the website for Our Spirit, a nonprofit I started for LGBTQ youth. A huge priority was to to keep working on my new novel. Swiss Cheese wisdom worked. Without time to sit as long as I like, I took 20 or 30 minute breaks and managed to write a chapter and a half. Because it's a new novel, I was worried that it wasn't as deep in me and it'd be more difficult to get into the flow of it. Not the case. Even writing a little every day kept the work in the front of my mind.

Swiss cheese works for me. What works for you? How do you keep your projects going when there's little time?

Graphic from SuperLaurie.org. Thank you Carol Ellin for your Swiss cheese wisdom!