The Trouble with Writing
The trouble with writing is that it requires a lot of time and much effort. I always have the desire and effort is not an issue, but finding time is indeed a dilemma. I have a full-time job and an amazing family that I love to spend time with. I like tennis too. I play at least twice a week. And don’t stand in front of my television during football season!
Over the years, I have tried to put my writing aside because there was just no space in my life, and the game of agents and publishing got tiresome. I put the desire and the dream up for adoption. But the kid just kept finding his way home and pretty soon, I just had to let him stay. I had to find a way to make it right between the two of us.
I set aside some time. In the morning, after dropping off my son and daughter at school and my wife’s departure for work and also late at night, after everyone was in bed. But the times weren’t absolute. Changing family schedules and work demands often imposed themselves. The question arose, how do I link the erratic moments together to create some kind of flow or rhythm to my writing which I believe is so very important when trying to maintain an even voice throughout a novel? In the end, I found I had to link them together by keeping the characters alive and with me at all times so that when I did find the time to sit down and write, they didn’t have to be conjured up. They were already with me.
They lived in my head all day long, growing, changing, reacting, failing and succeeding. As I drove, whole scenes developed. On my lunch hour and while in the carpool line, new characters appeared and plot lines came to fruition. When I first started, I carried notecards with me or I wrote on napkins and the corners of newspaper pages. Then I got smart and realized my smartphone had apps for this. After a while, it seemed like I was always writing.
When I finally found the time to sit down and physically write, transferring the notes from the phone to the computer became part of keeping that flow alive. Also, because time was short, meaning I didn’t have time to walk around the block and commune with myself to create the proper mood for writing; I had to find ways to get my head immediately into the process in order to maximize the use of the time I had set aside.
After transferring my notes, I always read the previous chapter before moving on. Then I turned on the music. Music has always been a part of my moods, both good and bad. Certain songs make me happy, certain songs make me sad and certain songs make me contemplative. So if I was planning to write about a very sad event, I would listen to appropriate music while reading the previous chapter and many times I would continue listening as I began a new scene or chapter of my book. Sometimes one grouping of songs could take me through the whole manuscript. For instance, much of Hating Heidi Foster was written while listening to the soundtrack from the movie Road to Perdition.
Also, if your writing time is short, enhancing focus can be critical. I write in a darkened room with only the light from my laptop and a desk lamp. Everything else around me falls away. No visual distractions lead to great moments of concentration.
And finally, I leave each writing session with an idea of where I want the story to go next. It gives my characters places to go while I’m going through the daily business of my life.
Jeffrey Blount is an Emmy award-winning television director and an award recipient for scriptwriting on multiple documentary projects. Born and raised in rural Virginia, he now lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Jeanne Meserve. They have two children, Julia and Jake.