How to save time writing books
July 10, 2013
A guy is walking along a country lane and comes on a man in a field next to an apple tree. He’s holding a pig under his arm. The man lifts the pig above his head and allows it to snap an apple off a branch. Then he lowers the pig while it chews the apple, lifts it again and repeats the process.
The guy on the road says to the man with the pig, “Why don’t you take a stick and knock a bunch of apples off the branches onto the ground? The pig could eat the apples that fall to the ground, and you would save yourself a lot of time and trouble.”
The man in the field looks at him astonished and replies, “What’s time to a pig?”
I love that story because it is so much like writing books.
When it comes right down to it there is only one way to save time writing books.
Don’t write them.
All other avenues involve hard, steady work that can’t be rushed.
I know because I have tried them all.
Writing a book is not a timed event. It takes as long as it takes. Sometimes an author experiences a flood of words and finds he can hardly capture them on a page quickly enough. Other times the words don’t flow, and the author must just place one foot in front of another, feeling his way to the end of a paragraph, hanging his head when he reads what he wrote.
As Bob Dylan might say, “That’s just the way it is.”
Note that I haven’t mentioned writers’ block.
I don’t believe in it.
Writers’ block is just an excuse to take the day off. If a writer takes a day off every time he doesn’t feel the writing vibe, he’ll never make it to the end of a book.
Take today for instance. I am writing this blog on a Sunday morning when there are a lot of other things I could do. It’s ten fifteen in the morning, and this is blog three for the day. Blog one was a piece on the musical Camelot, blog two was a primer on home audio book production. I don’t have a clue what blog four will be. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
To be sure, book writing and blogging are not the same. A blogger can get in and out of a piece in five hundred words or so and be done with it. Blogs are by and large sui generis pieces (unless the blogger is working on a series), self-contained snippets of writing in an informal voice on a particular topic.
But book writing and blogging are not totally alien endeavors. The discipline of the writer is the linchpin for each of them.
Whether an author devotes an hour to a blog or to a chapter in his current work in progress (WIP), he still must sit at a keyboard and get it done, day in and day out.
The other side of the equation is this: Writing is habit-forming.
Very few of us have to remember to set aside some time each day to eat. Usually we find time for that pursuit, as a means of self-preservation. For an author, writing is just as much a survival technique as eating. It is not optional.
Just like apples for a pig.