1/ Can you sit down for 20-40 minutes?
This can be either days, nights, weekends, holidays, whenever. At any point can you sit down and not keep getting up? You know that writing is sitting down, right? First start with 10 minutes and then work your way up to 20 then 30 and finally 40 minutes. You can sit anywhere. I prefer to sit on the bed or on the floor next to the bed. You can choose actual seating.
2/ Can you sit down for 20-40 minutes without looking at your phone?
This is a new kind of discipline since 3 out of 3 people have phones. They are the new distraction, hobby, time-waster. Start monitoring how much time you look at your phone. If you already spend sitting down time looking at a phone, first try to replace it with a book, ebook, magazine, pamphlet, leaflet. It will astonish you how slow time goes by when you are not clicking away, swiping up, down, left and right, clicking a thousand clicks. Again, try this for 5 minutes first then gradually working your way up to 40 minutes. 20–40 minutes is the time required to write 0 to 800 words. In a finite amount of time you will have articles, essays, blogs, short stories, novellas, novels.
3/ Can you sustain a fantasy for at least 10 minutes?
Writing is less about words than ideas, patience and resilience. It is also about escape. If you love to daydream, fantasise or escape from this world for 10 minutes, you are already halfway there. And I mean LOVE TO. It should be an indulgent pleasure, a delight, and not a chore or challenge. Writing is at once a dream and a nightmare, ask any writer. It is an extension of reality. Soon what you write will become more real than the original idea and that is the magic.
4/ Do you have any vices?
Writing is obsessive and compulsive. Only those with mild addictions will persist, because then writing becomes one of them, it is formed like a habit. Examples of vices are smoking, alcohol, chocolate, junk food, drugs, gambling, phone addiction. Vices are bad habits. Writing is a good habit. Think how much better you would be if you could replace them with writing? Channel all the energy you put into your vices into writing.
5/ Are you fit?
Keeping fit should be a priority for writers as writing is a sedentary habit. Yet this is a major conflict for those trying to write, because mental energy comes from physical energy, NOT the other way round. To form a new discipline which requires ideas and stamina, physical health and fitness are instrumental.
6/ Do you like reading?
Of course you do. If you don’t, why are you trying to write? Where do ideas come from? As per points 1 and 2, a reading habit is the only tool you need for writing. Reading is the exploration of ideas, the human condition, the worlds that we are and we are not in. Without a solid reading habit you will not be able to form a writing habit, because basically you’ll have no ideas or sense of language, culture, themes.
How did you do in the quiz? Have you answered yes to each of the 6 questions? In a separate post I will carry out a complete mathematically-calculated hourly breakdown of the week to share with you the top secrets of how to find writing time when you think you have no time.
Ivy Ngeow was born and raised in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. She is of Chinese origin and the author of two novels. Cry of the Flying Rhino (Proverse Hong Kong), winner of 2016 International Proverse Prize, is her debut set in Malaysia and Borneo. Her second novel Heart of Glass (Unbound UK) is noir fiction set in Chicago and Macau. She is working on her third novel.
#heartofglass #cryoftheflyingrhino Tweet me: @ivyngeow