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A Writer's Time: Making the Time to Write Paperback – January 17, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is part inspiration, part how-to, part common sense and part unique insight from Atchity's experience writing, teaching and producing. I found the section on "breaking into show business" least useful, while his concise exposition of the elements of fiction and drama will be useful even for writers of non-fiction who want to spice up their writing.
I must admit that A Writer's Time is a real mixed bag, but I won't hesitate to recommend it. Atchity will micro-manage your writing career if you let him, from how you organize your desk to how many index cards you use to compose your first novel. But all of those are only suggestions, and, as he says, if his suggestions don't work for you, toss them out.
But even if you disregard his suggestions, hang onto this book, if only for its enthusiasm -- it's hard to come by from veterans in this business. As Atchity says, "Writing is a craft. A craft not only can be learned, it MUST be learned."
In every paragraph, his confidence shines through that not only can you do it, but that you will. Atchity is no ra-ra cheerleader -- he knows what he's talking about. He's created many successful writers before, and he wants to help the magic work for you. Get him in your corner if you can.
I liked the idea of this book. It seemed like the perfect combination of my two interests: writing and time management. However, A WRITER'S TIME doesn't really help with either. Atchity's writing advice is overly complicated, requiring 1000 completed index cards, three desks, and several ten-day vacations. His time management advice is full of "woo," as if writing is a mysterious process that has to be delicately handled.
Atchity divides his mind into "continents" and "islands," his metaphor for rational and imaginative thought. He insists it's the tension between these two states of mind that creates fiction, and he cultivates that tension by refusing to write. Yes, you read that correctly-Atchity thinks that not writing makes him a better writer. He relies heavily on vacations and unplanned days off. He puts great stock in letting ideas percolate, only touching pen to paper when he feels the time is right.
This is not my experience, nor that of most working writers. Writing is our great joy and passion, but it's not delicate. The faster our pens move, the faster the ideas come. Taking several days off while waiting for inspiration is what wannabe writers do. Real writers write.
A WRITER'S TIME makes a few valid points, like when Atchity distinguishes between beginning, middle, and end time. Writers can't expect steady forward progress. A project moves slowly at the beginning and races at the end. Atchity explains why that is and how to schedule writing time accordingly. However, even the good ideas are buried under sentences like this: "Thought control may be the ultimate in time management because it allows you to invoke and exploit your own positive emotions and make them work to shape your will into a lifelike resemblance to your dream." Um....what?
Even though I liked the idea of this book, after 200 pages of dense prose, I didn't learn anything new about time management and I certainly didn't gain any insights into writing. I'm better off learning writing from the many craft books on my shelves. As for time management, I get far better results by treating writing as my job. In other words, writing every day, because the time is always right for writing.
However, two years ago I relocated from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles and now I work from home which affords me much more time to write. I was amazed, though, to find, that even with all the free time I have that I still found it difficult to write. So, I decided to pick up this book. Now, I know that I'm not alone--a lot of what I've gone through is shared by other writers.
In this book, Atchity explains how to get the most out of your time and become more productive. Among the most valuable sections for me (& there were MANY) were the ones that dealt with attention span, procrastination, checklists, index cards and using a stopwatch.
I've now reorganized my writing time, space, and find myself to be MUCH more productive. I'm also carrying a stopwatch around the house all day--not that he advocates getting so carried away with it--but I find it very useful in managing my time. I know. . . sounds odd, but hey, whatever works.
Other notable sections are those on recapturing creativity and understanding fear and anxiety. The author helps the reader to understand both and use them to our advantage. It was so helpful to learn that anxiety is a NORMAL part of the process and a writer's life. I was beginning to think it was a mental disorder. NOW, I know better. ;)
I also posted, above my computer, some of the many inspirational quotations which are sprinkled throughout (oh, and the last chapter is chock full of them). Priceless, priceless words of wisdom that never fail to get me going. ;)
I also recommend "How to Publish Your Novel" by this author. IMMENSELY helpful for aspiring novelists. . . and published novelists who realize that there's always more waiting to be learned.