In Other Words: Season 2, Episode 12

Reading Time: 2 minutes
A sun dog hangs over Lake Champlain at sunset on March 20, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

Writing requires tradeoffs of time and resources. Often we find that our goals and opportunities conflict.

This week offered large blocks of time — difficult to set aside in my current life style. Over the past weekend I was alone in a house where the New England winter hadn’t quite retreated. It was too cold to work in the garden, which is my summer recreation. The cold, too, prevented me from working in my unheated office off the garage.

So I spent most of the weekend in the kitchen, reading ahead in my 1979 journal from my early days as a professional writer,. I’ve been sharing the lessons I learn, as a writer and as a person, here. I hope that they’ll be of use to other writers, especially those starting in their careers.

Large blocks of time meant I could have worked on larger projects instead of these blog posts that take only an hour or two at a time. I could have outlined a novel or one of three or four nonfiction projects I have simmering on the back burner. Instead, I pressed on with the posts, writing ahead about two weeks.

Why? Deadlines.

Everything you’ve read here over the past week, and everything through the first week of April, was written in advance. Each journal entry brings with it a publication date, which is jeopardized by working too close to deadline. So those have priority. I’ve learned that lesson.

Another advantage of working ahead: the value of foresight. I’m not a pantser poster anymore. That means I can develop and foreshadow recurring themes — and I can tell you about them.

In the coming week, I learn and re-learn the value of networking and collaboration. I also face the spectre of the starving writer.

In Other Words … come along with me. I’m looking forward to sharing these discoveries with you.

In case you missed it

  • Puff and fluff, 1979

    Puff and fluff, 1979

    Reading Time: 2 minutes Any local news editor understands the delicate balance between what readers and advertisers expect and what you think is important.

  • In Other Words … Season 2, Episode 19

    In Other Words … Season 2, Episode 19

    Reading Time: 2 minutes Many people don’t even have the time or focus for an entire book. The culture of short videos and podcasts has taken over, to our detriment.

  • Top-of-the-head inventory, 1979

    Top-of-the-head inventory, 1979

    Reading Time: 2 minutes “Items in Stock” was, in truth, a misnomer. Some were complete, or ready for a final draft or a rewrite. Others were ideas or characters in search of a plot.

  • Award-winning coverage? (1979)

    Award-winning coverage? (1979)

    Reading Time: 3 minutes Newspapers have associations, which sponsor competitions. But it’s a long trip from “thinking of sending it” to actually receiving an award.

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