The Importance of Time & Space

J.M. Aucoin . Self-Publishing, Writer's Life, Writing about writing 1765 2 Comments

I’m one of the myriad of writers who isn’t writing fiction full time but wishes one day to do so. Currently, most of my writing time is during work lunch hour break at my desk or after dinner at home. Depending on the work day/week, the lunch hour writing schedule isn’t too bad. I can crank out anywhere between 500-1000 words if I’m focused. On the really busy work weeks, that’s more like 500-1000 words for the entire week (Yikes!). And, as many people know, trying to get outside work done after a full day at the office can be a battle in itself.

So I’ve taken to an idea some of my fellow author friends have adopted and that’s the idea of using vacation days as writing days. I hardly use my vacation time as it is, so might as well use some and just have full days of nothing but writing. A writecation, you could call it. Tuesday and Wednesday were exactly that for me.

(Is writecation a word? Google says I’m not all that original with the phrase. Oh well…)

Tuesday I woke up early, ate breakfast and took the dog out, and then headed off to the Boston Public Library for what I hoped to be a very productive day. And the first two hours were. I cranked out something like 2,000 words (give or take a few hundred) while enjoying the sun and having the tranquil water fountain as some creative white noise.

Boston Public Library water fountain

Great, local spot for writing a historical adventure

Fantastic spot. Alas, my iPhone weather app was either lying to me or was drunk. The night before it said it’d be in the 70s-80s and sunny/partly cloudy. After two hours at the BPL, the clouds rolled in, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. Didn’t have a hoodie and the skies threatened rain. Also didn’t have an umbrella. Bummer. Not all was lost, though, right? I could just write inside the library. So, I packed my stuff and headed in for warmer pastures… and walked around… and walked around some more… and a fifteen minutes later realized that there wasn’t a single desk or table in that giant building with access to an outlet.

Holy smokes.

Bigger bummer. I ended up going home to a very excited puppy and attempted to get some writing done. That didn’t go well. I maybe wrote another 500 words in the next 4 or so hours.

Don’t say that BPL. Own that pun. Own it.

Anyways, I needed another location and the Mugar Library at Boston University was suggested.

So like on Tuesday, I woke up early and headed for the BU Library to get some work done.

Mugar Library Boston University

No cool water fountain, but it’ll do.

 

Not nearly as scenic as the BPL, but at least it had outlets and sheltered me from the very fallish weather we’re having up here in Boston.

Setting up office at BU also gave me a chance to hang out with Jack Badaleire to talk shop over lunch since he’s in the area. Win-win.

Ended up banging out about 2,000 words before lunch and another 2,500 or so after lunch. Ended the day with around 4,500-5,000 words written. Solid day’s work. Figure that the average adult book is about 90K, if 4.5K is a daily average, that means I could punch out a draft in 20 days or so. Let’s just call it a month to be fair because there are some days writing isn’t going to get done for whatever reason. Life. Illness. Lethargy. Whathaveyou. That’s a possible few books per year if efficient.

Of course there’s quality vs. quantity, but I rather bang out 4,000 words that’ll need some work in draft two than 500 perfect words in one week. Writing is an art but it’s also an industry, and each writer has to decide how they want to balance the perfectionism/practical business battle. But I digress…

What I really learned is that my apartment is a creative blackhole. Between the fiancee, the dog, the Xbox and Netflix, the Internet, my sewing/costume projects, and a myriad of other things the apartment is just too distracting to get real writing done. Also the apartment is so tiny I don’t have a dedicated writing den to retreat to when I need to get work done. When at home I’m writing on the couch (like I am now with this post) and man can a comfy couch be a motivation killer.

Rex loves to help me write and by write I mean distract me with puppy snuggles

Rex loves to help me write and by write I mean distract me with puppy snuggles

But given the right amount of time (typical work day more or less) and the right environment (free of distractions), I can handle treating writing like a full-time job. And a fun one at that!

It might seem silly, but it felt good proving to myself I could do that. Just need the right space and right amount of time. Everyone does. The right environment is key and you need time to finish a project like writing a novel.

So now that I have the space figured out, it’s just a matter of making more time. The lunch hour break is always there, plus whatever I can squeeze out post-work. But I also think I’m going to keep these writecation days happening every couple months or so to really turbo the word count ahead. Next two are slated for the end of June. Kinda hoping I’ll have this rewrite done before then but we shall see what time and space say about that.

 

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J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

Comments (2)

  • Nan Sampson

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    J.M. – boy, do I feel your pain! Thanks for the idea. I just did the same thing myself. Like you, I CANNOT write at home. Dog, child, husband, housework, Minecraft… almost anything will serve as a distraction (up to and including scrubbing the grout between the tiles in the front hall). So I took four days off, pretended the Panera was my writing office, got up early every day like I was actually going to work, and it worked out beautifully. I’m so glad you jammed on your new novel – us fans are waiting not so patiently for it! And BTW, Rex looks like an excellent writing, er, I mean puppy snuggling companion!

    Reply

    • J.M. Aucoin

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      Thanks!

      And yep, Rex is a very helpful snuggler haha

      Reply

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