How to Find the Perfect Time to Write

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If you dream of becoming a writer, you have to eventually sit down and write. Whether you’re doing National Novel Writing Month in November, or you dream of being a writer “someday,” the first inescapable step is making the time to do it. Here’s a 15-minute exercise toward that end that you can do today.

You’re going to pick a few writing times—early morning, late night, commute time, what have you—and audition them. One a day is fine; that gives you ten chances before November starts. Here is the process:

  • Find a 15-minute block of time (with no obligations, or ones you can blow off).
  • Be ready with your laptop or notebook when that time arrives.
  • Sit down and write.

If you plan to write a novel, you’ll need more like an hour or two each day, but it’s okay to ease into it. Fifteen minutes is perfect for a little bit of journaling or story planning, or an episode of a novel-writing audio course.

You can learn a lot in fifteen minutes. You’ll gain a sense of how to set up your materials and environment to be the least distracting, for example. And after keeping so many appointments with yourself, you’ll get better at showing up ready to do work. Don’t just take it from me; Dorothea Brande had this idea in 1934, and included it as a key step in her book Becoming a Writer. Here’s what she said about developing a schedule:

Now this is very important, and can hardly be emphasized too strongly: you have decided to work at four o’clock, and at four o’clock write you must! No excuses can be given. If at four o’clock you find yourself deep in conversation, you must excuse yourself and keep your engagement. Your agreement is a debt of honor, and must be scrupulously discharged; you have given yourself your word and there is no retracting it. If you must climb out over the heads of your friends at that hour, then be ruthless; another time you will find that you have taken some pains not to be caught in a dilemma of the sort. If to get the solitude that is necessary you must go into a washroom, go there, lean against the wall, and write.

Some of your chosen writing times will turn out to be terrible, and the only way you’ll find that out is to audition them now. Maybe you’ll bring your laptop into bed at 11 p.m., only to find that you’re drifting to sleep as you type. Maybe you’ll try to write on your lunch break, but your brain won’t stop fretting over deadlines and meetings. Great, you’re narrowing down the possibilities. Pick another time tomorrow.

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And if you cannot bring yourself to do any of your scheduled writings at all, Brande has some wise but harsh advice (emphasis hers): “If you fail repeatedly at this exercise, give up writing. Your resistance is actually greater than your desire to write, and you may as well find some other outlet for your energy as early as late.

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Stéphane Maugendre Creates a Trippy Paradise Using LomoChrome Purple

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All images by Stéphane Maugendre. Used with permission. 

French photographer Stéphane Maugendre is a self-confessed “analog at heart” and so for his new series, he turned to the LomoChrome Purple to lend it a surreal touch. Stéphane has always been fascinated by the old greenhouses that dot Paris. To him, these glass structures are remnants of a time when the only way Parisians could marvel at exotic wildlife from far regions of the world was to visit the zoo, natural history museums, botanical gardens, and the greenhouses.

While working all summer in Paris on a new job, he had the idea to make a series “that echoed the out-of-time vibe that Paris has during summer, and that longing for far places Parisians who remain in the city has.”

So Stéphane loaded his Nikon FM2 with a roll of LomoChrome Purple film that he had been keeping for a couple of years, and headed out to shoot in the greenhouses near Roland Garros tennis courts.

He calls the resulting series, Paris Tropiques, a collection of beautifully shot portraits set against the backdrop of lush greenery.

As he had used this emulsion for a portrait shoot previously, Stéphane already had a good idea on how to use it.

“I really like how the skin tones remain rather untouched, while nature is tinted with psychedelic purple hues that seem straight out of a mystical land. The sky also shifts from deep blue to turquoise, enhancing the surreal feeling,” he observed.

LomoChrome Purple is arguably best used in shooting greenery as the plants’ natural color shift to stunning purple hues on film. It’s something that Stéphane knows very well and advises other photographers wishing to shoot with this film stock to do.

“This film is really giving its best when used on green colors and nature, in particular. My advice would be to go out and shoot and experiment with different lighting situations and surroundings to create your own atmosphere through the color shifts,” he shared.

Aside from the Nikon FM2 – which, by the way, was equipped with the Lomography Neptune Art Lens System – and LomoChrome Purple combination, Stéphane also took regular color photos with a Leica M4-P equipped with a Summilux 50mm f1.4 pre-ASPH lens loaded with Kodak Elite II slide film.

Don’t forget to visit Stéphane Maugendre’s Instagram account to see more of his work on film!

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