Wednesday Writing – Guest Post – Matt Cowens

This week I’m trying something a little different. Since I’m just editing at the moment and there isn’t so much to report, I thought I’d ask a few of my blogging inclined friends to write me a little something about writing.

First up is Matt: Dad, film maker, teacher, roleplayer and all round funny guy. He has been making impressive word counts by finding time to write an hour a day. I am jealous. Here he discusses writing time, making it versus finding it.

I’m a high school teacher and therefore I have a lot of holidays. This is a fact that I adore. There are many aspects of being a high school teacher that are difficult and taxing. Lots of holidays is not one of them.

When I’m on holiday I tend to revive my long term interest in two things – reading and writing. I read very little during term time, maybe a few novels a year that my classes are studying, a few short stories, lots of blogs and internet junk, but not a lot. The summer holidays are a strong contrast, with reading for pleasure becoming once again a daily activity.

Writing for pleasure usually surfaces as well, though not necessarily as a daily thing.

A couple of years ago I participated in Kiwinowrimo, attempting to write 50,000 words in a month. It was fun, I’m someone who responds well to deadlines, and I got it done. Some days I had to get up at 6am and do a chunk of writing before going to work, but it was worth it. I was excited to get up and get back to writing as the project (a teen novel) built momentum.

I get up at 5am most days now, but my morning is less literary and more block-stacking, dancing around to Yo Gabba Gabba, and child-ticklingerary. It’s incredibly rewarding and awesome but isn’t, as far as I can see, furthering my writing.

This school holidays I’ve had the good fortune to find a lot of free time for writing. My son Dominic has a nap every morning for about two hours, and both my wife and I use this time to write (as well as drink tea, do occasional chores, and make lunch). It’s been a real pleasure to be writing every day again. This found time stuff is great.

It’s going to stop on Monday. When I’m back at school teaching there’ll be no handy down-time to write in. I’m going to have to make time, which is a harder proposition. I’m going to have to sacrifice lying down watching TV in bed time in order to sustain momentum. That doesn’t sound like a big deal but at the end of a hard day’s playing with Dom, teaching, playing with Dom, eating delicious dinner and getting ready for bed it’s tempting to give in to my lazy impulses.

I can’t get up early to write. 5am is early enough for me. If I’m going to make time to write it’s evening time I need. I probably don’t need much to feel like I’m keeping the current project simmering away – maybe half an hour a day? That sounds easy. Easy peasy.

Ask me how it’s going when the essay marking starts rolling in again.

(Look forward to more writing related blog posts by guests in the future!)


5 thoughts on “Wednesday Writing – Guest Post – Matt Cowens

  1. Matt: Yikes on 5am start times. I’m surprised you don’t all need a 2 hour nap in the afternoon. Gosh, so many things for me to look forward too.

    Jenni: Noticed that your sidebar linky still has me at stonesoup. Change please?

  2. He doesn’t always get up at 5am. Last term it was more like 6.30 most days but he seems to sense holidays and weekends perversely wakes up earlier on them. I figure it’s because he knows his daddy is going to be around all day and can’t wait for morning to get started. One nice side effect is that he generally falls asleep earlier in the evening so it kind of evens out a little.

    You end up coping with less sleep than you ever thought possible as a parent. Enjoy naps and sleep-ins while you can Giffy!

    On the writing front, I agree that it harder to make time to write rather than have a specific time allocated to it. I need a routine where I have regular scheduled writing time every day. I can always do extra if I feel like it or somehow get the chance but wihtout a set time, writing is easily pushed aside to make time for other seemingly more urgent or tempting activities.

    Aiming to do at least 30 minutes as soon as our wee one goes to bed in the evening next term sounds like a good plan. I will do my best to help you do this 🙂

  3. I think the momentum idea is really important to me. If I can get excited about a project and want to get back to writing each day then I become very productive, and that excitement and productivity has typically been a result of writing every day.

    The more I sit down to write the more excited I get about writing.

    There are days when the first few sentences are slow coming and I procrastinate a little, but once I get going it’s a great feeling to be putting one foot in front of the other.


  4. I rescheduled myself to get up at 5.30 am every weekday, so that I could make at least half an hour a day to write every morning, plus I spend my lunchbreak every day writing. I have a goal of at least 500, preferably 1000, and if at all possible over 2000 words/day. There’s nothing quite as good at keeping up momentum than hitting a goal day after day.

    I get home around 4.30 pm, and then I go into dad/husband mode, so very little writing gets done in the evenings, apart from a bit of blogging. Nights are for playing, and cooking dinner, and bath, and books, and then maybe a bit of TV. Yip, even TV is important time, because that’s when I get to chill out on the couch with my lovely Dessert Chef.

    The key is to find something you can realistically achieve – even if that’s just 1/2 an hour a day – and commit that time. Or make it 300 words, and scribble in spare moments, just a few sentences at a time. Whatever works for you and generates progress is better than not getting anywhere.

    I know that I write better once I’m focused, and have a flow on. I can’t really do the broken moments thing very well.

    I’m also part of a group of writers who clock in with word counts every day, and support each other in all their writing endeavours, which is great.

    Maybe I should save some of this for my guest post…


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