Sometimes fifteen minutes is enough.
A couple of birthdays back, one of Fiona’s friends gave her an hourglass timer. That might be overstating things a little; it was a ‘gift of fifteen minutes’. I take it that the friend thought that Fi could use the time.
The idea was simple enough: if you feel time-strapped, use this quarter-hour glass to redeem fifteen minutes for the purpose of personal restoration.
I’m not sure whether Fi has ever used it, but I have quite a few times lately.
I’ve found that I don’t tend to trip over 2-3 hour blocks too readily but admitting that you can’t find fifteen minutes? That’s something I’m more reluctant to concede. I neither want to be that busy nor feel that busy that I can’t carve out fifteen minutes at a pinch.
Sometimes, fifteen minutes is enough.
For the fame-seeker, it can be way too long, but for the writer it’s something. And something is good.
Sometimes it kick-starts a stuck engine and gets a motor running; sometimes it’s just enough.
As frequently as I write, there’s always discipline involved. There’s always other things to do. Alluring things. Some of these can be tackled in a distracted way. I can design and listen to music. I can even design and keep a Messenger thread going. Writing, though, requires something more.
Perhaps this is at the heart of why I fight procrastination when putting pen to paper and fingers to the keyboard. It’s focussed productivity. It’s also why, having written something, it can feel like you just gave yourself a gift of time and solitude.
I have to carve our interruption-free time of which I have little. When I get it, it feels like a gift.
Sometimes the deadline drives necessity. Words are needed on a page, or the job won’t go to print, be published, or ‘go live’—whatever the medium.
Too much of my writing ends up being driven by those imperatives. When it does, the joy of writing is replaced by completion rather than process and satisfaction.
Some of my best writing moments aren’t premeditated but serendipitous. A response to a thought, a comment, or a ‘something’, becomes the catalyst for a single line.
A juicy opening line is worth a page of possibilities. It becomes a kernel that demands to be unpacked – often at a speed beyond that which one can write or type. Somewhere in there is the joy of writing. The crafting and polishing make it readable, but the flow of writing that’s impatient and breathless in its demand to be expressed and documented lest it is forgotten? That’s where the real action lies.
Without a spark, there’s no fire. But one spark can turn wild. I like it when that happens.
Sometimes, though, fifteen minutes is enough.