Most of the time, the best things take the most time.
As a writer, this statement could not be more true.
We live in an era of instant gratification as technology and the Internet grows and consumes the world like the shadow monster in the Upside Down. As a result, impatience, distraction, and addiction is like a virus that spreads even quicker. We deceive ourselves as we rely on the excuse that we have no time, when indeed, time is all we have. It’s what we spend doing with that time that can make it seem otherwise. We would make all the time given to us more available if we lose our compulsury device use and dependence on technology for social acceptance, relationships, and that dose of dopamine that can quickly become necessary. Even a few minutes of time spent simply enjoying life and away from technology and the Internet counts. You never know. Magic could happen in those few minutes. You could write something, maybe a poem. Remember something important that you might have forgotten altogether if you’d decided to look at the screen portal instead. Talk to someone, begin a conversation, get some cool character ideas. Come up with a novel idea––pun partly intended.
As a writer, I can’t stress enough that the mere act of observance is crucial to writing. When we create stories and characters and worlds, we depend on our experience of life and the world as we know it, as well as pure creativity. You might not notice, but what you know about places you’ve been, people you’ve known and seen, and what you experience in life are somehow inserted in your story, either from a simple description or an entire character you’ve developed. Simply observing the world for a minute or two could be all the inspiration you need for the rest of your storyline or to finish that chapter or even that draft.
Writing. Takes. Time. Some people complete projects faster than others, but the fact remains that writing and completing any story takes patience, commitment, endurance, focus, and time, time, time. What’s so different about writers in the 21st century compared to any other century from the past is that we’re so used to the convenience and speed and efficiency in which information and entertainment is delivered us. Now this is not to bash technology and the Internet in any way––as writers in this era, we are very lucky to have a wealth of information and research at our fingertips and the Internet to connect with and support other writers and build a platform for ourselves as writers and authors. And yet the online world can work against the mindset and lifestyle of the art of writing itself. It’s basically a portal to another world where we mindlessly soak in information and where time travels much slower than time in the real world. (The world we really need to enter and dwell in is the world of our story where time flows however we want it.) So when it comes to something we have to do that takes time, we think that we’re wasting time––but it takes time to do our best. It takes time to complete the homework, work on that relationship, finish that sketch, write a chapter. Not only that, but completing these things takes energy and commitment that we’re not used to when immersed in our phones and the media.
Constant access to the online world brings us unlimited sources to entertainment and distractions from our real lives––in fact, it almost gives us the opportunity to experience something, albeit virtually, that we wouldn’t be able to actually experience in real, physical time. When we finally have a block of time when we’re away from that, we’re open to the world. We’re open to think for ourselves, not to mindlessly receive endless amounts of information. We’re open to come up with ideas, create and continue real-world relationships, and just enjoy life. But we’re not used to that, so immediately we tell ourselves that we’re bored and tired, and we need that device, we need that media––that portal to another world where time on the real world is sped up and real life and real people and real things are put behind us.
Phone and Internet use is just one of many examples for how our century is slowly becoming too accustomed to quick and easy access to anything we want. And there are so many affects it has on us, our psychic, our brain development and social life. We’re so used to being saturated in the media that we don’t think for a second that perhaps it’s sucking hours of our life out of our hands. Instant gratification. Think of the things you could do, the ideas you could come up with, if you went a day without the things that provide instant gratification? Yes, it’ll take a while to accomplish something and create something, but that’s because you’re used to time speeding by as you’re immersed in what is, ultimately wasting time.
As a writer in this era of instant gratification, it’s hard. We’re so used to getting stuff done like that with this technology and access to affordably easy living. When it comes to writing a book with words and ideas and people and places we create in our minds, we have to accept that doing so takes time. Probably way more time than we would expect at first. We set deadlines and schedules and get stressed out because we like to cram a lot into our days––and then rewind at the end doing, you guessed it, scrolling through media on screens. And then you put your phone down or turn off the TV and realize how much time has passed––time you could have spent maybe doing something else. Like writing. But that’s not the main reason why writing a book takes time. Think of all the development writers have to do. All the characters and places and storylines and subplots and making sure all the pieces fit together into a cohesive plot and then making that plot readable and effective. Being creative and working on a hard and long project in a world where instant gratification is constantly accessible and pleasing is hard. Especially when your keyboard stops working for whatever reason; the struggle is literally real.
I think that if you’re stuck like me, one of the best things you could do to start eliminating the instant gratification that sucks us into time-sped portals and deceives us into being convinced that we have no time or energy is to start decreasing the amount of unleashed time we spend in front of our screens and overuse of technology. You could start by setting limits on screen time, turning off Wi-Fi during a writing session. Try just sitting in the middle of nature with nothing but a notebook and pencil, or creating incentives to enjoy social media or a movie only after you’ve written for a set amount of time. The greats had no distractions of the like that we do. We should see our devices and the Internet as an opportunity to help us become better writers rather than becoming screen slaves. We shouldn’t see ourselves as a race who is rid of self-control, but lucky to be in this day and age and use the technology we have to become better at what we do.
Remember that the best things take the most time.