A Writer’s Time (Kenneth Atchity)

Setting aside the question of word processors being a novelty, much useful advice remains in this volume, particularly about time management and getting your butt in the chair and making the most of the time you have it there.

You can’t always be productive and Kenneth Atchity doesn’t make you feel terrible about that. “Knowing the moment to quit is the key to reorganizing your writing time.”

He suggests that you work with what you have. “If you want to be a writer, don’t hope to displace your anxiety. Instead, find ways of coping with it, tricking it, transforming it.”

His underlying theme is to assure the writer that s/he can realize her/his vision. And why not believe in it? “Treading on your own dreams is truly insane.” Overall, the tone is encouraging and supportive, and I prefer his approach to that offered in Kelly L. Stone’s Time to Write.

Atchity’s work also offers something beyond the common sense, nose-to-the-grindstone advice; he has his own ideas and suggests his own techniques. His suggestions are practical and you don’t need any of those fancy-schmancy word-processors to put them into action. (I don’t mean to make fun of the dated bits: they add flavour.)

Here are a couple more quotes:

“You must stop editing – or you’ll never finish anything.”

“Style is what happens when characteristic energy shapes mechanical precision. It’s not something you create: style is what you are.”

It’s not page-shattering, but it’s useful stuff for writers.

Kenneth Atchity’s A Writer’s Time (1988) Norton, 1986