Writer, Undercover: Finding Time to Write

Writing timeAs an editorial intern at Henery Press, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some talented authors. Most of this interaction comes through social media, but as you may have experienced, all that online commenting, marketing, networking, and promotion can zap creative energy.  If you don’t have time to write, then what’s the point? Here’s what I’ve noticed among some of our most successful authors.

There Exists a Writing Cave. Every now and then authors like Larissa Reinhart, Terri L. Austin, Gretchen Archer, LynDee Walker, and Susan M. Boyer mention “The Writing Cave.” It sounds quite mystical, really. Like another dimension. Dark, deep and isolated. Even primitive, a place where the creative mind can gather words like drops of condensation from cold earthen walls.

The Cave Often has Guards with Scary Weapons. Deadlines. Word count goals. A paycheck. Professional reputation. The entrance and exit of a Writing Cave must have some type of sentry, because, as we all know, writers will do almost anything to avoid the actual act of writing. I think it might get a bit easier once you’re under contract, because then you have editors on your tail. But until then, it helps to set goals as guards around your Writing Cave. Big, mean goals with lots of firepower.

The Best Caves have a Window or Two. I imagine these windows like little round portholes, as in a submarine. They are partially buried in the dirt, and covered with thick bulletproof metal. They have wheel-type handles that follow the righty-tighty, lefty-loosey rule. They are airtight and show no light at the edges. For writers who don’t yet want to emerge from The Cave, these windows provide a necessary respite from the rigors of intense writing. In need of a break from the keyboard, such a writer might run to the porthole, using all her strength to turn the wheel. Slowly a crack of light appears, and then maybe a stream of air rushes in. The writer blinks at the sudden brightness, inhales deeply of the fresh oxygen. It is a nice pause, a reminder of life outside. These writing windows can be phone calls or outings with family and friends, a walk in nature, perhaps even chores. And then, momentarily refreshed, the writer gets back to work.

It’s worth noting that The Writing Cave is NOT the Papal Conclave. You don’t have to unplug entirely to enter, although some may choose to do so. Personally, I like to tweet when I write. It’s part of my writing ritual. But there comes a time, especially when writing a novel or another large project, that you must hunker down. At least, this is what I’ve noticed among effective authors, during my foray into the publishing world.

Writers write. It’s really that simple.

(This is part four of a six-part series. Stay tuned…)

21 thoughts on “Writer, Undercover: Finding Time to Write

  1. Great post 🙂

    I find different caves for different types of writing and for various stages of the process. I think of great ideas in the shower, during my daily commute or on a walk in the woods. I’m inspired by other hobbies that while, at times, can distract momentarily lend themselves useful in polishing my creative eye.

    Photography helps me endlessly with writing as I can revisit a day instantaneously. I find if I took a good photo my mood is conveyed in the style and through subject and composition.

    As for hunkering down… I need to do that with my novel and edit it or at least make a mandatory writing class for myself this spring. I think graduating a few years has had an impact on my writing discipline!


    1. I like the ideas here, especially using photography to jog your writer’s memory. Sometimes I email things to myself, so I won’t forget later when it’s time to write. A walk in the words can be particularly inspiring. Thanks for stopping by, and many blessings in your classes, and your writing!


  2. Great post, Anna, and so true! The writing cave is quite necessary, especially when you get busy with publicity.

    Thanks for the shout-out! I think Henery has the best editorial interns in the business. 🙂


  3. John Grisham wrote his first novel while practicing law at a busy law firm. He did it by devoting one hour each day to write one page of his novel. He figured at the end of one year he would have a three hundred page book. It worked for him.

    Writers have various methods, but as you said, “…you must hunker down…”

    I really enjoy this series. Thanks.


    1. Hi Larry, I’m glad you’re enjoying the series. I like Grisham’s books, and I didn’t realize that he wrote the first one by writing one page a day. That is inspiring, in a way. Certainly one page a day is manageable, right?

      As always, thank you for your insights and encouragement.


  4. What a lovely piece! It makes my writing cave sound a lot more exciting than it really is! I can’t wait to read your other installments. You have a wonderful way with prose.


    1. Yes, I’m not sure why we writers procrastinate writing so much. I think there are some who have the discipline to keep at it without the big mean guards at the door. But I’m not one of them, I have to use self-imposed deadlines if no one else gives me one, and even then I push it to the last minute. Thanks for the comment!


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