, Derry, New Hampshire


April 17, 2014

Column: Finding the time to wrote before life gets in the way

I’ve written hundreds of newspaper columns because I’ve carved out the time to make the writing happen. I’m just too busy to devote unlimited hours to the craft I love.

For me, it’s between 3 and 5 a.m. that works best, although I understand that many think I’m nuts to rise in the middle of the night to commit my thoughts to paper. But it’s quiet then, and my mind is clear, and writers are a superstitious bunch. We like habits, rituals — dare I say compulsions — that help get the work done. I open my Five Star spiral notebook, uncap my blue medium-point Paper Mate pen and write a word, a sentence — and if I’m really lucky — a paragraph at a time.

But sometimes I get a whole day that’s wide open and, I think, why not use it to write?

Last Thursday, life intervened. A perfect storm of this and that required me to be at home. The cooling and heating guy was scheduled for a routine maintenance check-up. The Salvation Army truck was coming over to pick up an old sleeper couch. I had to visit my dentist later in the afternoon, but that still left me several hours of uninterrupted time to write.

But first I had to finish making corrections on the proof of my upcoming book, a collection of columns written for this newspaper. I’m halfway through deleting misplaced commas and quotation marks when my computer crashes. Frozen screen. Nothing works.

Not 10 seconds later, the doorbell rings. It’s the cooling and heating guy with his partner. They’d been here before, so they went right to work, which included lots of banging, scraping, and thumping up and down the basement stairs to go get this or put back that.

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