Writing Amid Chaos


     I am weird. Most writers, I understand, dream of writing in a remote cabin in the woods or in an office where their kids won't pester them. People who know me wouldn't be surprised to find me writing in a local shopping mall two days before Christmas in the middle of the food court with noisy, harassed shoppers surrounding me. I might also be wearing earphones and listening to an audiobook of Dickens or Burroughs, and still I write.

     I recall when I created Seren; I was in a mall, eating in the food court, and I needed a description of a sexy older woman, which did not come readily to mind. I remember looking around, finding an attractive elderly woman busy getting several grandchildren to sit down and eat their lunch. I described her in one long paragraph, and her description became Seren.

     I am totally at home amid chaos. I am extremely ADHD; few situations can match the natural chaos in my mind. Peace and quiet bother me; I keep looking up trying to figure out what each tiny noise is. Even the wind blowing against my living room window would be more distracting than a prison riot; I need to have constant action around me. I love crowds; a rock concert with tens of thousands of people is like walking down a peaceful country lane. I love walking on the wide sidewalks of downtown New York City at lunchtime (I just don't want to live there).

     Part of my learning to cope with my ADHD was meditation and exercises in mental focus; I have developed concentration to a high degree (which allows me to write anywhere). My favorite exercise was trying to clear my head of all thoughts for five minutes each day; I did this every day for five years, and I still do this when I get frustrated. In my favorite method, I imagine myself in a tiny geometric cube, picture an even tinier cube within mine, and project myself into that cube, again and again, smaller and smaller, until I reach nothingness.

     Those meditations paid off, but my way isn't for everyone. My point is, whatever situation works best for you, which will best prepare you to gain the most advantage from the world, you need to find it, schedule time for it, arrange everything else in your life to allow you that time, and put yourself into it. Writers, you need to be where you write best ... even if it is amid chaos.

     But a setting appropriate to writing is unimportant if you don't have time to write. Writers must dedicate time to do their writing; if you never get any new words on paper, then you're not a writer. Even in the busiest life of a writer, time must be set aside for writing and not used for anything else.

     My dedication to writing is (at least) one hour per day. If I don't succeed (which I often don't) then I make up the time on weekends. I look at this as another job, just as important as the one that I get paid for. Not everyone will be able to dedicate this much time to writing, but ask yourself this: How long should it take you to write a book? One page per day equals one book per year; halve that and it will take you twice as long to write each book.

     Know what you want to do and when you want to finish it. Plan your time accordingly.