Just Ten Minutes.

My buddy and I yesterday met for coffee. We both have recently made big job changes. Mine, by choice. Hers, by layoff. Both of us are writers at heart, and both of us have young kids... hers younger than mine. I share some of my overflow editing work with her, so we were meeting to talk about upcoming projects and the possibility of formalizing the relationship as an official business. The conversation turned to writing. As it does.

I have a completely myopic belief that all editors are actually writers who chose editing in order to actually make a decent living. Editors get paid far more than writers generally, and it's an hourly wage. Writers, who shoulder all the creative responsibility, are the ones sitting up all night worrying whether they can pull it off before tomorrow's deadline. In contrast, editors get to read, grump about all the things that are wrong, and then go home at 5:00 at Friday to a predictable paycheck and a big, smug glass of red wine.

I asked her why she thinks we are trying to start an editing business when we actually want to write. Well, we need to make a living, we agreed. And editing pays better. But is that enough? Of course not. The creative muse is more nudgy than a seven year old. Even when we tell it no, it keeps asking and asking and asking and asking and asking until we want to explode. We had a longer-than-fun conversation about all the things that get in the way of a writing practice. Kids. Work. Kids. Mostly kids. Being with our husbands. Cooking, cleaning, weaving and spinning, music, and also kids. And money. And on and on it went. All the reasons why not. Far more numerous than reasons why.

I had similar issues when I was working my full-time job at a music college the last five years, when I felt I had no time to practice music myself. Too busy. Working too much. Kids needed mom when mom was home. Lots of freelance editing work. All of it was real. I convinced myself at the time that "it wasn't the season" for music in my life, those five years. Well, I guess it wasn't. But I have a suspicion that maybe, just MAYBE, I could have made the time, and I would have felt just a tad more satisfied. I could have done it. I think we all can.

The secret: Lowering our expectations. And so my friend and I agreed to a simple, doable discipline moving forward... let's lower our expectations. Yes, it does take 25 minutes for the brain to get fully engaged in a project. (Excuse!) But we don't have 25 minutes, so let's just make it 10. Let's write for 10 minutes a day, and then we can say we are still writers.

And here we are.

Look at the time. 10 minutes is up. Gotta go wake the kid.