Mike Landweber is a published fiction writer and associate editor of Potomac Review. Here he continues his rumination on time and that uncertain amount of time it takes to see a work with fresh eyes….
I need to have a delay from my brain to the words on the page. Otherwise it comes out gibberish. For me, this can mean sitting in front of the computer for five hours to end up with two hours of decent writing. Those other necessary hours may appear to the outside world to be me staring blankly at the wall, but the processing of the incoherent jumble of thoughts in my head into a coherent story on the page requires uninterrupted time.
But as important as it is to use time wisely to write, it is equally critical that we let time pass before rewriting. There is an urge to rework from page one as soon as we write “The End”. But just as time is needed to write, patience is necessary to rewrite. There were days during my year off where I had a block of time, but the project I thought I should be working on wasn’t ready to be rewritten. I just had not let enough time pass to view it with fresh eyes.
The bottom line is that my year off taught me to appreciate time more as a part of the writing process. Now I’m back at a full-time job, but I’m still benefiting from the time off. One of my novels I wrote during that period got me my agent. Other stories have been published. Screenplays I worked on continue to be shopped around. But I also understand the importance my writing time more now. How it ebbs and flows, when I’m using it wisely and when I’m squandering it. It was a gift for me to have more than a year to focus only on writing. I envy the few writers who get to do that full-time with no other obligations. But I also realized that you don’t need infinite time to write well, you just need to best utilize the time you have.