I want to write. I really do. I write a lot of things inside my head while I am walking, on the bus, on trains… every space I have where my thoughts are left to me, I write things inside my head.
But for some reason they never make it down to paper.
I even bought this laptop – a Mac, going against most grains of my existence because I am a PC woman through and through – because it is the lightest and the smallest on the market, so I thought if it was more portable I’d lug it around and I’d write more. To a certain extent I do, now. But they exist on Scrivener as drafts, waiting for the final touch, the hijrah from notepad to blog. It hasn’t happened, yet.
There was a time, now more than a decade ago, when I wrote daily and I wrote a lot. I had opinions on things that I wanted to be heard on; but I also wrote a lot about my life. In a shrouded, semi-vague way, but I did write. If I recall correctly it was less about the minutiae of my day; but broad sweeps of an existence abroad focused on studying.
More importantly, then, it seemed like I had time. Where has time gone, for me?
I no longer study, I now work. But in all honesty this shouldn’t really be an excuse – the PhD was definitely much more of a time-sink. At work I create borders between office and home; and yet still in between those borders I still can’t find time to write.
I wonder if some of this is driven by the extent to which I am ‘scheduling’ my life. My days are heavily scheduled, and I like that because it makes me productive and it helps me get things done. The absence of scheduling in previous lives meant I savoured free time a bit too much; and in a career where you are meant to utilise free time for research, there was a mental disconnect inside my head. I see research as ‘work’, and I saw free time as ‘not-work’. So by scheduling research as rigidly as I schedule my teaching, I am getting it done and it is even enjoyable!
A typical work-week schedule for me
So does this mean that I am to schedule writing? But when? Already my mornings are taken up by one of two projects: my Coursera courses (Mon/Wed/Fri) and my one-man reading group (Tues/Thurs) where I attempt to tackle key texts in economics in a systematic way.
After work? I would love to, but my brain, alert and awake and ready to work at 5am every day, will only want the banality of sitcoms and tv drama by 5pm. Writing becomes forced, and well.. It’s not fun when its forced.
So am I over-scheduling my life? Is that why I can no longer write, because my mind is only free to wander and pontificate when it is idle? I don’t know.
Even writing this, I am ’stealing’ time from my reading, because I finished a chapter and did not want to start a new one with only 15 minutes left.
I recently read an article on writing which said that it isn’t a one-off project, but something you must do as a matter of repeated constancy: istiqamah. Even with 15 minutes a day, but write you must. It was talking about academic writing, but I think it applies to writing in general.
So maybe that is the way to go. Stealing time – 15 minutes in the morning for relatively creative writing pursuits, and 15 minutes during the day for papers. Because it needs to be done.
I want to write.