This is Room 264 at the Downtown branch of the Chandler Public Library. It’s just three miles from my home and I can usually get here in less than ten minutes. Every day, I spend two hours in this room writing.
Could I just as easily write at my desk at home for two hours a day? Yes, I could. I did it during the pandemic when the library was closed. But at home, there are too many distractions. There’s paperwork on my desk that needs to be dealt with, someone comes to the door, my husband says something, or my dog wants to be petted. I could be doing a load of laundry while I write.
And it’s true that while I sit in Room 264, I could be checking my email or Facebook or playing a computer game. But I don’t. (Usually.) I write. When I’m here I’m ‘in my zone.’ The only reason I’m here is to write. I think the very act of getting into my car and driving to a different place serves to delineate my writing time from the rest of my day. If I continued to sit at my desk, it wouldn’t feel any different.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t get that much done in two hours. I think about how I want to phrase something or how I want a dialog to play out. Often at dinner, Jeff will ask what I wrote about, and sometimes it seems like I don’t come up with much. Yet, after several months have passed, I have a novel!
I’ve heard that it doesn’t feel like you accomplish much on any given day, but when you look back at everything that happened over the last year, you’re amazed that you accomplished so much! It’s definitely that way with writing.
When I was getting started as a writer, over and over I read the advice that if you’re serious about it, you must block out a fixed amount of time every day – even if it’s just 15 minutes. I have found this to be true. If it’s important enough, you’ll do it. The same is true for anything else you attempt, whether it’s exercising, meditating, practicing a musical instrument, painting, or anything else.
I’ve also heard (or more accurately, read) that when you’re a writer, writing is something you can’t not do. Yes, I know, that’s a double-negative, and writers aren’t supposed to do that. I’ve seen this change in myself, almost imperceptibly, over the past two years. Now, writing must be part of each day, just like eating and sleeping.
What is something you can’t not do? What is something you really want to do that you need to commit time to every day?
© 2022 Dave Hughes. All rights reserved.
Sent to newsletter subscribers on March 13, 2022.
Room 264: Dave Hughes