I hope by now you’ve turned back your clocks an hour and enjoyed your extra sleep. Here in central Ohio, it’s a beautiful sunny day—a little on the cool side, but, hey, it’s November. Let’s enjoy the sun and not think about the fact that it’ll set at 5:27 pm. Yes, we’re making our final turn toward the cold and dark of winter, but instead of despairing, let’s give thanks for the reminder it gives us that time is short and pages don’t write themselves. Let’s use this time change to rededicate ourselves to time spent on improving our craft. Here, then, are some pledges we can make as we enter our days of shorter light.
We can make a commitment to a weekly minimum number of days we’ll spend putting new words on the page.
We can set aside a minimum amount of time for this writing, even if it’s as short as thirty minutes or even fifteen. If we’ll stake out this time and stick to a regular schedule, we’ll be surprised by how the pages begin to add up.
We can give ourselves permission to pay attention to our writing. We shouldn’t expect the world to understand, but we must claim our time and we must protect it. We have to accept the fact that we deserve these periods of time to close out all distractions and to focus on the writing.
We can vow to stop looking at e-mail, social media, etc. during the time we’re dedicating to writing. Sometimes we create our own distractions because it’s easier to be on the Internet than it is to be facing what we’re doing on the page.
We can also make a vow that we’ll spend some time daily reading the words of others, and I mean reading them the way a writer reads, with an eye toward how the piece is made. We can study more fully the artistic choices the writer is making and the effects those choices are creating.
While we’re talking about reading, we can promise to seek out what other writers have said about the craft, whether that means reading good craft books, or blogs, or articles in such publications as Poets & Writers, or The Writer’s Chronicle. Let us enter into the larger conversation about the craft of writing. Such entry will validate our membership in this community of writers.
Above all, we can promise to forgive ourselves when we fall short, as we surely will, of the expectations we’ve set. As Nick Carraway says at the end of The Great Gatsby, “It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning—”
In the larger scheme of things we all know our time is short. Each season—each trip around the sun—reminds us that this is true. We have to make the most of the time we have. So on this day—this fine morning—let’s rededicate ourselves to the work we want and need to do.