Lately I’ve received a strong response to the fact that a decent amount of my writing is done on the subway. To me, this is common sense, but to others it’s as if I write while suspended upside down in the nude (don’t worry, I don’t). I have a full-time job and a family complete with a newborn… Where the hell else am I going to get writing done other than late at night or my 40-minute, twice-a-day commute?
So often we think of writing as this pristine thing. Something precious, something that requires a special place and a special time. This is crap. Writing is getting words out of your head and on to some media. No matter what, no matter how, no matter where. Don’t get me wrong, some writing is better than others, but the gist of how it’s done is fairly universal.
If I waited for a special time, little would happen. My newborn will cry, my three-year-old will have a bad dream, my wife will want me to do something that I probably should have done without her asking and there would go that. If I hoped for a special place, I’d have to wait for us to move out of a two-bedroom apartment and look for something that is out of my budget with a spare room for work. For now, the subway and the dining room table will have to suffice.
We often think about time as these big blocks, an hour here, three hours there, but there is so much potential for filling the tiny gaps, for taking small pockets of time, using them wisely and making something bigger out of them. You need to work out your process and you need to figure out your right tools, but it is doable. Novels have been written this way, business plans have been created, careers and lives have been changed all by making the most of the spare time that most take for granted.
It doesn’t matter what you want to accomplish, if you really want make something happen, you find time. You find space, you figure out a way. Unless you’re a professional writer or single, life may only give you the margins to write in. Take what you can and make something out of it. Your process may be unusual, it may even be uncomfortable but it is certainly possible.
No matter what you attempt, as long as you are mildly realistic, you can find the time to make it happen. If you can’t, you probably want to have a hard conversation with yourself about how bad you really wanted it in the first place. Once you start eliminating some of the useless crap in your day (another post for another day) and start taking advantage of the little moments of the day you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish, even if it is on the B Train.