"You go to work everyday. You sit your butt in a chair...and you put in your hours just like everyone else who goes to work," writes Ellen Sussman in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers. "Take yourself seriously. Say you're a writer. And if you're a writer, figure out how to do your job."
That's the bottom line, people. If you're a writer you write. And if you're writing, you're a writer. (remember: to write is a verb.)
Sussman's article is inspiring and informative (worth buying the magazine for.) She begins each workday with five or ten minutes of meditation to focus her mind. When she starts writing the Internet is off limits (she's blocked it with a software program called Freedom.) She divides up her three hours of writing time into units: 45 minutes just writing, and then a 15 minute break - doing something like brushing her dogs, watering the garden, or starting the tomato sauce, but not going on email or making phone calls or critiquing a student's manuscript. And not even consciously thinking about what she's writing; she's taking a break.
When she goes back to work she finds she's "suddenly brimming with new ideas. Something happens when you let your mind breathe for a moment." And like her tomato sauce, things start to simmer.
It's so easy to get sloppy with our time when we're alone - who doesn't love to pop on the Internet and order a few books, check out a shoe sale or see what everybody's up to on FaceBook? But we don't get our work done that way. Over and over, I have to learn discipline, find more time, figure out my own priorities. So I'm going to try this unit business (though once I get writing it is so hard to pull away) and I'm going to meditate just before I start every morning (though I do walk for an hour and try to focus my mind that way) - and I swear to God I'm not going to check email from 9:00 - noon.