“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”
—Sylvia Plath

The Power of Sacred Time: The Writers Edition

Birgitte is an author, publisher, entrepreneur, and journalist who has written for The Hollywood Reporter, Daily Variety, Business Week, and other publications. Her latest short story is an allegory titled The Seventh Crane, available on Amazon. You can follow Birgitte on her eLetter, appropriately called “The Muse,” and on Twitter (@birgitte_rasine). Birgitte will be joining us every other Wednesday.

In our online conversation two weeks ago, I exhorted The Write Practice community to answer three fundamental questions about their writer’s soul, and asked you to tell me what you need help with the most.

The one thing that most of you called out for, overwhelmingly, was time.  Well, you’re in luck because that is my all-time (pun intended) favorite fascination.  So much so that I wrote a book and am running a seminar series on it.

The burning question is, how do we find more time in our ridiculous schedules to write?  How can we expand, stretch, push the limits of the time we do have?  How do we bleed out those extra seconds, minutes, and hours we’re having to spend sitting in traffic/doodling in desperation in mind-numbing company meetings/frozen in line at the grocery store/stuck in the unavoidable time warp of the post office?

"Sacred Fire" by Birgitte Rasine

“Sacred Fire” by Birgitte Rasine

Can you feel the primal scream of frustration welling up inside you?  Let’s back up a sec.

Unlike most “natural” resources, this one unfortunately is not renewable, recyclable, or re-usable.  Every single living being on Earth is granted the same volume of time as any other, and typically within the same four-dimensional reality (really, let’s not go there).

The point is, once you live through a moment, it’s effectively gone.  You can retain a memory of it, you can learn from it, but you can’t relive it—even if you’re Sir Richard Branson.  You also cannot grow, synthesize, manufacture, or 3D-print more time.  Who knows, I may be eating my words (but hopefully not my time) when they’re done with that time crystals research, but for now, we’re stuck with a fairly non-renewable stream of the stuff.

Before you sink into your chair a despondent husk of your writing self, read on and rejoice!  There are ways to stretch time and snap up more of it for your writing.

Structure and Discipline

This is fairly self-explanatory, so all you really need to do is print out these two words in gigantic Adobe Garamond Pro font and tack them to the top of your screen, wall, front door, forehead, whatever works.  But what does it really mean to have structure and discipline in your life?  These concepts are easy to print out—not so easy to integrate into your life.

First step: STRUCTURE.  Take a good, long, dispassionate look at your life.  Your daily routine.  Maybe do the geeky thing and write down what a typical day looks and feels like.  (Yes, feel.  Important.)  Once you see it all written or drawn out on paper, you might start to see patterns, structures, habits.  Any structure, pattern, or habit that brazenly inhales your time, needs to be re-engineered.  Or rendered obsolete altogether.

Your personal context also matters:

  • Are you single, in a relationship, or have a family?  If the latter, how many kids and of what age are running circles around your sanity?  How ready are you to forge some firm boundaries around your time even with the people you love most?
  • Does it feel like you’re in a good place and just need to tweak a few details, or is your life total chaos with no hope of any control?

Now map out what you would like your day to look like.  No doubt your ideal day will vary, to say the least, from your actual reality.  But the sweet spot is somewhere in between.  So take another, equally dispassionate, look at your current typical day and see where flexibility lies.  Do you really need that beauty appointment?  You sure you want to spend X amount of time on the phone with person Y every week?  What about television, the Internet, online games, Facebook et al, and other blinding, mind-numbing, time-sucking vampires?  See where potential for more time lies, and restructure your day around it.

Next step: DISCIPLINE.  Once you have your optimized daily structure, STICK 2 IT.  If you’ve decided to hit the sack a little earlier so you can greet the pre-dawn sun (yes that’s a trick statement), make sure you show up!  No hitting the snooze button.  If you’ve told your family you need a given amount of time on a given day of the week, or a certain time of the day, take that time.  This is your sacred time.  The more often you slip and give in to family members’ demands on your time DURING your sacred time, the more reasons you’re giving your beloved ones not to respect it—or you. And that means, in turn, you’re not respecting your Muse.

Time Savers

You might also consider time- and energy-saving devices, tools, services, as well as professionals.  I’ll give you a personal example: we used to wash our floors by hand.  Well, the floors looked fantastic but it sure took a bucketful of time.  We invested in an all-in-one floor cleaning system from Bissell, and spend a lot less time cleaning our floors.  Anything (think cleaning, cooking, communications, etc.) or anyone (think accountants, housekeepers, nannies, admin assistants) who helps you save time without making you sacrifice health and quality of life, is golden.

Just make sure you buy the right products/services and hire the right people.  Nothing worse than waxing anxious over your accountant or babysitter when you’re supposed to be writing because you’re not sure of their professionalism and/or experience.  If it takes longer to find the right person, invest the time.  It will pay big down the writing road.  Remember, it’s an INVESTMENT, not an expenditure.

Another option, if it’s available to you, is to re-allocate expenses.  For example, I much prefer to hire a housekeeper and forgo the new pair of shoes or weekly movie night out or whatever, because time I don’t have to spend cleaning the house or cooking turns into precious, valuable time for my writing.  When I do cook—and it’s a daily ritual—I do it as a break from my writing and to relax my entire being.  But that’s another blog post, stay tuned.

Finally, the writer’s nirvana.  Taking a month, two, or an entire year off to write.  Can most of us here afford that?  Perhaps not.  But, assuming our goal is to be full-time writers, we can work toward it, by being smart financial planners or hiring them.  Again, this requires a separate blog post but there it is, a small appetizer.

Linear vs. Non Linear Time

Now that we’ve gotten all that icky discipline stuff out of the way, let’s bite into the core.  The Maya and other indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica had—and those who practice the old ways still have—a different concept of time than we in industrial societies do.  We live according to linear, what the Maya would call “ordinary” time: we go through life stages one after the other; our weeks, months, and years follow each other like pearls on an unclasped necklace.  We celebrate birthdays largely as markers or milestones in a linear lifespan without any reference to previous or future birthdays or life stages, or any respect paid to our whole and complete being.  Our economic, financial, business and other structures also operate on this temporal system: our ideals, especially in quarterly reports, are straight diagonal lines that look “up”.  It’s also a practical system: linear time gives us coordinates (“Meet me Monday at Starbucks at 9am”) and helps us manage our busy calendar.

Non-linear time, what the Maya call “sacred time,” is the time Nature runs on.  Cyclical and multilateral in nature, this is the “stretchy” time that physicists are so intrigued by.  This is the time that other human endeavors, like art, music, architecture, spirituality, philosophy, religion, science, and yes, writing, also innately employ.  This is time found in those mundane cracks and crevices of your life that can expand into massive, profound experiences, insights, or ideas.  This is time that delivers truckloads of inspiration in the space of a nanosecond—volumes of creativity so huge that it can take months of linear time to write it all down.

I’ve experienced it.  It’s humbling.

I’m quickly running out of space so I’ll give you a link if you’re interested in diving in deeper into this concept of sacred time, according to the Mayan Calendar.  The first is a free podcast we recorded of the Introduction to my seminar series “Living in Sacred Time.”  The seminar wasn’t designed for writers only, but the Introduction will give you a good idea of how sacred time works and how to blend it into your daily life.  I also wrote a book about the sacred time of the Maya and how it’s relevant to our lives today.

Find Your Sacred Time

So how do you find this “sacred” time?  Do you need to sell everything and move to Guatemala?  Heavens no.  Sacred time is literally EVERYWHERE.  It’s in things like the flowering buds on the trees in spring, a snowflake on your windshield in winter.  It’s in the smile of a stranger you pass on the street, the story a child tells you about something completely insignificant that happened during her day.  Can you recall a similar moment in recent memory?  If you can’t, you’re probably not paying attention to life itself.

And that is absolutely essential for a writer.

Try this.  Instead of obliterating that snowflake on your windshield with a flash of your obedient wipers, look at it.  Yes, actually look at it.  Gaze, stare, tip your head a few degrees.  Give it a few moments.  That snowflake may inspire awe at nature’s incredible precision, ignite your innate love of art and symmetry, remind you of a loving memory from your childhood, or just make you feel very differently about how cold it is outside.  It might give you a different mood for a scene you happen to be writing.

This is sacred time.  It costs $0.00, and gives you back gazillions in ROIT (Return On Investment in Time).

Instead of reading that email that just announced itself in your inbox, give yourself the luxury of gazing out the window, or even just spacing out for five minutes—but be sure to space out in deep thought if you really want to be productive.

If you’re stuck in traffic, turn the usual frustration and intolerance of other people’s mind-boggling driving habits into sacred time.  In other words, realize how extraordinary it is to have this unexpected gift of time to think, reflect, feel, or work through whatever aspect of your WIP is currently driving you (no pun intended that time) mad.

Ditto for that snail-crawl grocery line, that time warp in the post office, that insomnia-cure of a company meeting.  My personal motto is, “if you can’t avoid it, embrace it!”

Because in that embrace of the agony of linear time, lies the ecstasy of sacred time.

It’s up to you.

What’s keeping you from accessing your sacred time?  

PRACTICE

Ready to roll up those sleeves and steep yourself in some well-structured, non linear sacred time?  With the usual respect for your inner and interpersonal lives, I invite you to report on how you are restructuring your days to make more room for your writing.  And if you feel like sharing any of the actual fruit of your new-found sacred time here in the comments, I will look forward to spending some of my sacred time reading it.

About Birgitte Rasine

Birgitte Rasine is an author, publisher, and entrepreneur. Her published works include Tsunami: Images of Resilience, The Visionary, The Serpent and the Jaguar, Verse in Arabic, and various short stories including the inspiring The Seventh Crane. She has just finished her first novel for young readers. She also runs LUCITA, a design and communications firm with her own publishing imprint, LUCITA Publishing. You can follow Birgitte on Twitter (@birgitte_rasine), Facebook, Google Plus or Pinterest. Definitely sign up for her entertaining eLetter "The Muse"! Or you can just become blissfully lost in her online ocean, er, web site.

  • M.C. Muhlenkamp

    This was such a wonderful post, Birgitte! I swear, it really made my day. I’ve been playing with the idea of structure and discipline for quite some time now, attempting to find that sweet spot where things seem to fall in perfect harmony. I really love your approach to writing down how your day usually goes and contrast it to what you would like your day to actually look like. I’ve gotten rid of several time consuming vampires at night in order to get up earlier (TV shows mostly). Being a mom with two kids still at home it can be hard to find sacred time during the day. But I’ve discovered that if I go to bed relatively close to the same time they go to bed (mind you that’s around 9:30pm), I can get up way earlier than they usually do, and spend sometimes up to 3 hours writing. 3 hours! That’s a heck of a lot of time that I didn’t have before when I was going to be at 11pm and waking up maybe 30 minutes before my kids. It took me a while to get there, it was a lot of trial and error, and self-discipline. Waking up at 5am everyday takes some serious commitment. But now, I don’t know what I would do without it. You need to find what works for you and stick to it.

    • Katie Hamer

      I liked reading about how you schedule in time to write. I’m a night owl in that I find myself more motivated to write in the evening, when it’s dark outside. I’ve always been this way. Thankfully, for me, posting on this blog, when it’s 10.00pm here, it’s 5.00pm EST, which means I can post here and still have someone read it

      Thinking about the time difference got me listening to that song “Five O’clock Somewhere”, by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett!

      • M.C. Muhlenkamp

        I used to be a night owl too. Until it became evident that not having a deadline would continue to push my own bed time farther and father into the late hours of the night. I remember going to bed at around 3am once and being super cranky the next day. I realized that I could be more productive with a set time. It pushes me to get things done.
        Alan Jackson did get it right, it is five o’clock somewhere 🙂

        • Katie Hamer

          LOL!
          I WILL find a routine that works for me. My challenge is that sometimes I start work at 7am and at other times I don’t start work until 3.30pm! I’d like to write at a set time every day, but in reality, this just isn’t practical. My best solution is to schedule in some writing time in advance, and make sure I stick to it!

          • M.C. Muhlenkamp

            That’s the spirit! Trial and error will lead you to find the perfect time for you. We all have different schedules and needs 🙂

          • Katie, I second what Melissa says. And as I said to Claire above, sacred time is whenever. if your current job/life obligations do not easily permit a regular writing session, as long as you define and integrate consistency of some kind into your life, you’ll do well — and eventually are likely to find those specific “sacred time” hours for writing.

            However, I wonder what sort of job throws you around like that, 7am one day and 3:30pm the next. Not too healthy in the long-term… the human body has certain circadian rhythms that are critical to health, especially on the deeper physiological levels, so you don’t want to rupture or debalance them. It’s the reason why Melissa found herself cranky after going way past her natural sleep time. Investing in your health is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make… because, after all, don’t you want to write when you’re 90? 🙂

          • Katie Hamer

            Birgitte, I’m genuinely touched by your concern. I’m sorry if I made you think that I’ve got the job from hell! ;-). I work in retail and, although I work a shift pattern, it’s not as messed up as the one you describe, thankfully.

            I work part-time, and it’s up to me to choose as and when I work extra shifts. I always have an eleven hour gap between shifts, as stipulated in the European Time Directive. It just rules out the possibility of me regularly getting up at 5am to write (no thanks!).

            My target now, is to:

            1 Apply structure and discipline
            2 By finding time every day to write
            3 Make people aware that’s what I’m doing
            4 Set boundaries
            5 And Only divert from my schedule in an emergency!

            Thanks for your help! 🙂

          • So glad to hear that Katie. When I worked in the film business, we used to have to switch our biorhythms literally on a dime… some scenes were night scenes, others day, and so we’d sometimes have to flip pretty quickly from one day to the next. It can be harrowing even when you’re twenty-something.

            I think you’ve got a good set of goals there. Keep me posted on progress!

          • Katie Hamer

            Wow, you worked in the film business? That must have been an incredible experience. Sounds like it was very challenging.

            Thanks for reading and liking my goals. I’m into my third day of keeping sacred writing time. I’ve written something every day. Day 1 I did a Story Cartel exercise, Day 2 I entered a short story competition and today I’ve been posting on the Write Practice. It’s little steps towards a permanently more disciplined and structured approach, and a huge confidence boost.

            I wanted to let you know that I’m planning on reading your short stories. They sound very intriguing.

          • Katie Hamer

            Thank you, Melissa. I find you very inspiring 🙂

          • M.C. Muhlenkamp

            We all feed off each other’s words of encouragement and support. It is a continuous cycle and really, the only way to grow. Your efforts inspire me to continue, knowing that we all struggle with the same things and we are here to support each other along the way.

    • Muchas gracias mi linda! So glad to hear you made those vampires eat garlic. 😉 You know, a TV show here and there is totally fine… sometimes it’s great to just do nothing and give your mind a break. Sacred time doesn’t mean boot camp. Yes, you’re dedicated, disciplined, and determined, but just as in nature chaos throws in those wild cards, so too your writing (and sanity) will benefit from stepping off the path of commitment. For in stepping off, you are in fact re-affirming it.

      Good for you that you have been able to pull in such strong willpower and get up at 5am. I know how hard that is! Kudos to you.

      • M.C. Muhlenkamp

        Thanks, Birgitte. You are right, we do need breaks, otherwise our minds become burdened and burnt out. I guess I just reassessed what I did for breaks, and opted for better options. Instead of just killing time for the sake of laziness in front of the TV, now I choose to have a little bit of it (maybe just one show I really like vs. random channel skipping). It has helped me prioritize, while at the same time enjoying meaningful breaks.

  • George Wu

    Wonderful and takes a new perspective on things

  • Katie Hamer

    Thanks for this wonderful post, Birgitte. I was beginning to wonder when you were going to post again!

    I loved what you wrote about the single snow flake on the windscreen. Is it just a nuisance, or could it be inspiration for a story?

    Snow has inspired many writers that I can think of. It made me think of how excited I was, when I was little, and it snowed. I could see every individual pointed snow crystal as it landed on our kitchen window. As I’ve grown older, I’m no longer able to see them in such microscopic detail, yet the memory remains. I guess by reading, writing and sharing, we can potentially see the world again from a fresh perspective, and with new eyes.

    I’m feeling some of that fear of facing a blank screen easing away. I’m posting here, a passage of writing that I found really hard to continue. The only way I could continue it, was by telling myself to just write something, just to get the ball rolling. It’s the third instalment of my story about Tommy and Suzy.

    For anyone who wants to follow the story from the beginning, the first instalment is here: http://thewritepractice.com/lost-characters/#comment-1054845105

    The second instalment is here: http://thewritepractice.com/your-muse/#comment-1066457416

    I’m getting serious butterflies, but here goes:

    Suzy and Tommy met up in the park that next Tuesday, as planned. They continued to meet up on a Tuesday, even after they had both secured work: Suzy for a temping agency, and Tommy as a freelance bookkeeper.

    On their meetings, they watched the seasons change. They saw the daffodils
    golden in the sun, and the young mums parading their new born babies in their
    push chairs. They saw the trees dusted in blossom, before they burst into leaf.
    They saw the local youth teams run out for their practice time in the park,
    with their coach screaming after them. They occasionally heard a brass band
    play, or saw a street artist perform. They never saw the statue again.

    Summer came and went, a wet season, with occasional bursts of welcome sunshine. Autumn arrived before they knew it.

    It was at the beginning of September that Tommy and Suzy agreed meet at the Buddhist Pagoda. The leaves had begun to turn, some to shades of russet and copper, with the occasional ornamental sapling bursting to bright vermillion. They were both huddled under umbrellas, when they arrived.

    Suzy seemed preoccupied, deep in thought, a form of meditation.

    “Penny for them?” said Tommy, looking at her concerned.

    “I’m not having a good week, Tommy. This isn’t a good time of year for me,” Suzy said. A frown was etched across her usual unruffled forehead. “That’s why I wanted to meet you here, somewhere I can be quiet and contemplate life, away from the usual disturbances.”

    “Suzy, tell me what’s on your mind. You told me not to bottle things. I hope you can trust me enough to be able to open up to me, too.”

    Suzy didn’t reply immediately, her usual fluency of speech had temporarily left her. They climbed the marble steps to get a closer look at the gleaming golden Buddha. They walked round the outside of the pagoda, sheltered by its dark rafters, looking at the four bronze images of the Buddha, depicting the four significant stages of his life.

    They were set an equal distance apart, marking the positions of the compass, north, south, east and west. At the northern most point, which faced the Thames, there was a depiction of a dying Buddha, surrounded by mourners. From this side, they were hidden from the park. They would only be disturbed by the occasional jogger, out for a morning run along the south bank of the river. Suzy paused in front of it, still deep in thought.

    “About a decade ago, I had a strange dream. I was in a city, like a sci-fi city from the future. I was surrounded by sky scrapers so closely packed that barely any light could squeeze in between them. In the sky above me, were many planes. They were hovering, or flying in random directions.Then, for no reason I could think of, they synchronized, and started to all fly in the same direction. That’s when I woke up, scared. It felt like an omen.”

    “Seven years ago, I remembered that dream. That’s when it happened.”

    Tommy looked at Suzy quizzically. What date was it today? September 9th. Two days until the seventh anniversary of the New York Terror attacks.

    “Shit Suzy, I’m sorry, it never crossed my mind that you were affected by what happened in New York. It was stupid of me!”

    He put his right arm around her shoulder, waiting apprehensively for her to continue.

    “Oh, Melanie, it should have been me!” Suzy started shaking and sobbing uncontrollably. Tommy held her closer, his curly dark hair touching her silky auburn hair. He stood their clutching her for what felt like an eternity.

    “It’s alright. You don’t need to say anything unless you want to. Maybe we should find somewhere to sit down, grab a coffee?”

    “No, it’s OK, I like it here, if it’s OK with you. I’d like to be somewhere away from people.”

    Suzy contemplated the image of the dying Buddha once more.

    Tommy felt concerned and confused. He said to Suzy, “Would you like me to go?”

    “No, Tommy, please stay.” Suzy had stopped crying. Her breathing became quieter, almost imperceptible. It was as if she had entered a deep meditative state.

    “It was in New York, seven years ago, a part of me died forever. I lost someone dear to me, my dear sister, Melanie.” Suzy paused, gazing absent-mindedly at the river.

    “She was my twin, identical to me in every way. Only our Ma could tell us apart. We could easily pretend to be the other one, and often did.” A jogger passed by on the river path. Suzy didn’t realise she’d been staring at him, until he blinked, and looked away.

    “I was working in New York at the time, due to have a meeting in the North Tower of the World Trade Center. I needed to be some place else. It was all last minute, but Melanie stepped in for me.”

    Tommy stood in stunned silence, dreading what he was going to hear next.

    “Everyone thought I’d made a miraculous escape. No one could explain why Melanie had disappeared. It was a complete mystery. They never found a body.” said Suzy fixating once more on the image of Buddha.

    “I felt so much guilt. I imagined talking to her all the time. I thought about becoming her, sacrificing my own identity to be her, so she could live on. But I knew our Ma would never buy that.

    “It took me a while, but I realized that thinking that way wasn’t helping anyone. It was my Pa who sat me down and made me see sense. He could see I was losing it, and told me he couldn’t bear to lose both daughters. I never told him the truth, that she’d swapped places with me. If he had a hunch, he never let on.

    “I knew Melanie wouldn’t want me to mope around. I had to live well for both of us. But it was a struggle, surrounded by memories. That’s when I decided to make the move to England. I needed to make a new start. My folks were really supportive.”

    “Wow, Suzy, I don’t know what to say.”

    “Don’t say anything”

    They made eye contact. Suzy’s eyes, which had before appeared to be blue, seemed to take on shades of green, in contrast with the red blotches on her face.

    She looked so vulnerable. He felt very protective towards her. He moved forwards, and pressed his lips against hers, felt how soft they were. For a moment, she seemed to reciprocate, a moment of unbelievable tenderness. Then she pulled away, leaving him full of remorse.

    “I’m sorry Tommy, I should go.” Suzy turned, and walked away. Tommy was stunned. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. His first reaction was to go after her. Then he told himself that she wouldn’t want that. That it would make things worse. He needed to give her space. She never turned to look back, just kept walking. He watched as she disappeared out of sight.

    It was then that he saw Michaela, jogging along the river path.

    “Too bad your girlfriend had to go!” she said, in passing.

    “Bitch!” he said, under his breath.

    • Claire

      Katie, I just read the third installment of your short story. I love it and love where it’s going. The heart-rending tragedy of 9-11 is felt by everyone regardless of the fact that you may have not been directly affected by it with the loss of a loved one. Suzy’s memories are still very vivid and you can feel her pain. It is very poignant and definitely pulls at the heartstrings . Good job. Keep writing with your new-found sacred time!

      • Katie Hamer

        Claire, thanks for reading and posting your feedback. It was hard to post exactly because it is such an emotional subject. I still remember the rolling news footage of 9-11. I’ve heard it said that you never forget where you were when JFK was assassinated. For me, 9-11 had the same effect. That’s what made it so hard to write about.

        And, yes, I will absolutely continue to make the most of my new-found sacred time!

      • Hi Claire. I remembered you enjoyed reading my story of Tommy and Suzy. I’ve posted the completed version on my new blog, which I launched yesterday. You can find me here: katiehamer.com (Born Again Writer).

        You’re welcome to take a look. How’s your writing going?

        Katie 🙂

        • Claire

          Thanks for the update, Katie. I will make some time to check out your new blog and read the completed version of your story there. I will also bookmark your blog to check on it often. Again, thanks for the heads-up and happy writing to you!

    • Most welcome, Katie. I post every other Wednesday—ironically, as much time as that seems to provide between posts, time has this way of collapsing into the next deadline. Hence the acute need for sacred time.

      The fresh, innocent worldview you mention is what children have, and how they operate, and it’s what we gradually lose, as adults. But it’s not actually gone. It’s simply suppressed by the layers of experience and social etiquette and behavior we’ve “learned” as we move through various stages of life. We can all wake it up again. It requires peeling those layers of the onion, many of which have no doubt gone rancid anyway.

      And the fact that you feel butterflies when you post your story here? Sign of the ego. I don’t mean that in a negative or pejorative sense. It means you’re emotionally invested. Normal. But if you can learn to let go of what others think, as a reflection of some kind on your worth, and yet look forward to and appreciate their commentary, you will open yourself up to the next level in your writing.

      • Katie Hamer

        Hello, again Birgitte! Yes, it is amazing how soon those deadlines creep up on you! 😉

        I think the best approach to writing is to see the world both through the eyes of a child, and those of an adult. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

        In my writing, I aim to describe the magical side of life that children see, while also providing my insights into character and motivation, which I have developed through experience.

        My fear of posting this particular story was because of the emotive nature of the subject matter. I had a fear of causing offence. And I absolutely DO want to know what people think of my writing. It’s only by hearing critiques from fellow writers that I can grow and develop my craft.

        What I write now may or may not be good. That’s for readers to decide. However, I do want to be able to look back, in six or twelve months time, and see the progress I’ve made in that time.
        🙂

    • Victoria

      I like the fact that it’s raining in this scene … it goes with Suzy’s mood. Beautiful descriptions of the trees turning! By now, I can picture this park as if I’ve been there.

      What a surprising turn of events. I love how bit by bit we’re finding out more about Suzy and Tommy.

      • Katie Hamer

        Thanks, Victoria for your continued interest.
        I’m setting up a WordPress blog next week, and have decided to launch it with my completed story of Tommy and Suzy.
        Would you like me to post you the link when I’ve set it up?
        Katie 🙂

        • Victoria

          I’d love to have the link 🙂

          • Katie Hamer

            🙂

          • Hi Victoria. How are you?

            I’ve just set up my WordPress blog. You can find me at katiehamer.com (Born Again Writer). I’ve made one post so far, my story of Tommy and Suzy, posted yesterday.

            You’re welcome to take a look. Let me know if there’s anything I can help you with? Thanks for your continued interest.

          • Victoria

            Thanks! I’ll take a look 🙂

  • Giulia Esposito

    Time is interesting. Of late, I’ve lamented loudly (and silently) that I have no time for writing anymore. Between work and “life” it’s as though my time has not been my own, as it though it belongs largely to people or responsibilities. It’s been a frustrating time for me, and then this blog post appears in my inbox. Perhaps the universe is speaking to me through the power of the internet? I think what I need is a bit of that structure and discipline so thank you for sharing this thought provoking post.

    • Giulia, I know all too well what you’re referring to. Know, however, that you alone hold the power to take back your time. It may feel like you can’t, but ask yourself how much of that feeling of duty and obligation comes directly from you. It may feel like it’s coming from the outside, from externalities of all kinds, but those are, for the most part, really reflections of what you allow in your life.

      I hope this doesn’t sound like too much woo-woo. I don’t know the details of your life and would not pretend to dictate to you how to live it. But I do recommend to go through the exercise of mapping out your day, whether in words or doodles, even assigning them a scale of importance. I’m confident you’ll be able to find at least an hour or two a day that you can declare as your sacred time.

      As for people, esp, those closest to you…whoever loves you, truly, will support in turn the things you love to do, namely writing.

      • Giulia Esposito

        Thanks Birgitte. I love the mapping idea and will try it.

  • Claire

    This is an inspirational post and I’ll welcome anything sacred into my life. Structure and discipline go hand in hand, and I believe you can’t have one without the other. I’m still working on structuring my days and nights. The problem I’ve always had, being the lioness that I am, is getting to bed early. Like most cats, I’m nocturnal and like to do what I enjoy at night when it’s more peaceful and not riddled with the interruptions that usually arise during the daytime. My goal right now, since I wake up very early and usually very tired secondary to the lack of sleep, is to get to bed at a reasonable time so that I can get a good night’s rest and be ready to use some of that “sacred time” in the morning from 6:30 to 7:30am to write.

    • Claire, let me be clear that sacred time, by its very nature, has no “office hours.” It is whenever. So if your natural rhythm is to write at night, do so. And if “discipline” means writing at whatever time, but writing every day, that’s fine too. However you can define consistency and regularity in your life, and stay true to it.

      Personally, I have a bit of an issue because I’m both an early bird and a night owl. One has to give…. 🙂

  • For me sacred time isn’t spiritual so much as MY time. I wish my brain would let me work on a fixed schedule so I could write at the same time every day, but it just doesn’t work like that. So, I write anyways. Eventually, (although not every day) I really get into it and then I want to be left alone!

    This is when linear time disappears. Actually, time itself sometimes fades away. I don’t get hungry or tired or discouraged. I just write until I’m done. And then I stop. Linear time rears its head again and I get back to ‘real’ life.

    Great post. I like this way of looking at time.

    • Rhonda, if you can make linear time evaporate, if you can write without so much as a hunger pang or nanothought of boredom, you’ve got it babe. That’s the writer’s high (analogous to the runner’s high). And if that’s not spiritual I don’t know what is!

      • Haha. Okay, I’ll give you that one. The best thing about those writing sessions is the type of work I produce. My inner editor finally turns off and my work is much different. And it definitely is a high!

  • Birgitte, thanks for another thought-provoking post!

    And it’s a timely one (double entendre intended), for not only is it about the concept of time itself, I’m in the middle of drastically changing how I manage my writing time. It’s been something I have had to examine dispassionately and objectively in order to make some hard decisions. And as you get into, I’m discovering I have two types of “writing” time. There’s a time for producing words on the page, be they in outlines, mappings, drafts, sketches, etc., and there’s a time for thinking and mulling over what it is I’m trying to say with my writing. I’m starting to find that I am at my least productive when I try to mix the two, and also the least happy. I’m becoming more productive during my “putting words on the page” time when I’ve actually gone through the “thinking and mulling” time beforehand, away from the keyboard. This realization has resulted in two changes for me. First, I now flex my time at work, coming in early and working late three days a week so I can leave early and hit my favorite library for a two hour “putting words on the page” session twice a week. This has made me feel so much better about my writing, as I look forward to my sessions now as if they were little mini-vacations. Second, I’ve taken up walking again so that I can shed a few unwanted pounds, but more so because it is when I’m walking outdoors, taking in the beauty of the surroundings, that my mind wanders. It is precisely this time when my conscious mind has greater access to my subconscious mind, and I can usually just walk along happily while my subconscious spews out new material or solves a particularly nasty story problem that my conscious mind has been stuck on for ages. I’ll even give my subconscious mind a problem at the start of the walk and nine times out of ten the answer will come to me before I finish.

    Anyway…. Keep up the posts. Enjoying them and our conversations tremendously!

    –Jim

    • Jim, great comment. What you share here will no doubt help many others, as it speaks directly to some of the points made in my post.

      I especially appreciate your observation about the two types of writing time, or devoting your sacred time to two different writing modes: one for selecting and gathering the grapes for your wine, as it were, and another for blending and fermenting them.

      Small wonder you find yourself least productive when you try to do it all at once, for the mindset you step into in each case is quite different.

      Also love how you have actively structured your day, by proactively requesting flexibility at work. Having those regular sessions is indeed like a mini-vacation — the word choice alone tells me you are truly in your “sacred time”!

      Again, lovely comment, thank you for sharing with us all.

      Birgitte

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