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May 20, 2010



Great topic! I am writing creative nonfiction, not fiction at the moment. But my work as a writer most definitely gets in the way. However, the more you make space for your creative work, the more it happens. Ten minutes a day is a great goal. A friend in my writing group is going in a little early to work and writing for a bit -- 200 words here and there really adds up.

I've rented an office so I can get out of the house mornings. I wind up mostly doing work-work there (business writing and editing and blogging), but it is a reminder that I am prioritizing my creative work, and most days I squeeze in my creative work for at least half an hour. Some days I realize nothing is due and I can spend a couple of hours on my own work -- because I am there and ready.


My fiction is my outlet from other writing and editing projects that I do as a job. To ensure that I make time to work on my fiction, I'm a member of a fiction writing group, and I try to take time every Friday - for "fiction Friday" - to write creatively. I also journal while I eat breakfast.

My fiction writing has actually been pretty successful. I have an agent who is working on selling my first book, so now writing fiction is becoming a job for me as well.


Fiction helps me unwind so I generally work on flash fiction whenever time opens up during the week. But when I try to put some structure to it, I find myself with no time at all.

JoAnna, how amazing! Good luck and keep us posted.


Yes, and at the moment it's more that my work is cramping my blogging time. Very difficult for me to manage both, especially for 11 months.


I teach academic writing skills to Chinese university students in an Australian diploma program in Shanghai. This means I spend my days surrounded by really, really bad writing, really dry writing, really chaotic writing. I spend my days trying to coax non sequitors into strong arguments and reminding students that in Australia, not referencing/citing sources will mean failure (8 months into the term they still aren't convinced).

When do I get to write? I'm in the MatadorU course but it has taken me since February to slowly inch my way up into the latter units: I simply can't find the mental energy to devote to my own creative non fiction. I signed up for something that motivated me though, to at least try to write a little every day: NaBloPoMo. In the style of the NaNoWriMo month of novel writing, this is the (movable) month of blog posting. A post a day, big or small, starting whenever you want and ending a month later. I've been going at it for two weeks now and, oh, my, after a long day in the classroom it can be so hard to squeeze interesting words out but it's worth it.


Yeah, absolutely. It's pretty depressing. After spending about 10 hours a day in front of the computer for work, it's impossible to get into the flow of creative writing. Even my blog writing suffers for it. But I'll find that next week, when I'm home and without work to disturb me, I'll be struck with inspiration that will keep going for days...


Most definitely. Although like others have said, the more time you set aside for it the more the creativity thrives. I spent nearly year just working not being creative, and only recently figured out why I was having a hard time at it. Now I still have problems, but the balance of time for creativity helps.
Now I have more ideas through my head than I can capture to any medium.

Leigh Shulman

Congrats on having your own office space. It's an important step, I think. I'm still working in our living room.

It's not that I have so many distractions, though. At least not from inside the house. It's more that I distract myself just knowing there's a long list of things to do that have a due date.

My fiction doesn't have a specific due date.

Days I don't have anything in particular to do, I just want to get outside, especially if it's sunny.

But in reality, those are all just excuses. You either write or you don't. At least that's what I've heard from just about every writer I've ever known.

Leigh Shulman

Congrats, JoAnna. What book is this first one?

Leigh Shulman

I wish fiction helped me unwind. It does sometimes, but often I spend so much time in front of the computer, I prefer to get outside and go running or biking. Or even just play with the dog.

Leigh Shulman

Blogging and traveling at the same time is a huge challenge, especially not knowing when you'll have internet access.

I can work when I don't have internet, but usually I need to access some website or another for research.

I think blogging has changed the way I think and write. Just as reading online has changed the way I read. It's easy to get used to shorter pieces. You need less time for each project than, say, a novel.

Your blogging is very much like fiction. It's not just straight travel writing but seems to incorporate a very creative aspect as well.

What have you found that works for you in helping balance it all?

Leigh Shulman

I tend to find I have less time when I'm home because I spend any free periods with family. Which is great. It also leaves me feeling itchy to get back to writing when we leave.

When I'm home, I don't take as many breaks from the writing.

Let us know how it goes when you're home. And if there are any particular tactics you use to carve space to write.

Leigh Shulman

Absolutely true, Andrew.

I think the key is to just write something, creatively every day. Even if it's just two words. Or a small edit on something you've already written.

I met a woman named Marie Ponsot when I was in my MA program at City College in NY. She has something like 6 kids, all boys. She worked full time and literally had no space to write.

She told us that, quite frankly, if she could find time to write, anyone could.

Writing over breakfast, as JoAnna suggested, isn't an option for me, because breakfast (and lunch for that matter) are times I spend with Lila. We talk about her day, her concerns, prepare her snack and homework for school.

Marie's suggestion was to sit down at night for just 10 minutes. Just 10 minutes a day to write. Sometimes, you'll end up with nothing, but most times you'll end up with a lot more than you expected.

Nursing PJs

Work, life, blogging, planning my trip to Burning Man and a host of other things that I genuinely enjoy and feel very grateful to have in my life take up a lot of room.


It's a children's picture book. My writing group has helped me find that creative place when I need it.

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