Writing Comes In Spurts

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We take ten to twenty minutes to write during every Fiction Writing workshop.
At first, it was easy to feel put on the spot when asked to write in class. But soon, the word games and oral tellings served as great warm-ups, and I came to value that writing time. It was a guarantee that I’d make progress that week, that I’d leave class with the start of something. And, as I got to know my classmates and their work, it was a chance to hear their writing and to share mine. Once you’ve laughed at someone as they squint and twist their notebook to try and decipher their own handwriting, you feel closer to them. It’s a real community builder.

Another positive side effect of the in-class writing is that I came to appreciate writing in spurts. I’ve always been a procrastinator, so even if I set aside an entire day to write, I wind up jogging, mopping the kitchen, doing a load of laundry and getting groceries before starting typing. In the end, I’d only write for an hour or two anyway.

In-class writing taught me to quit deliberating, cut to the chase and just tear up the paper, writing for a bit. That’s valuable now that I’m done with coursework and working multiple jobs as I tiptoe back into the real world. Gone are the entire days set aside for writing (and laundry). Instead, I’m lucky if I have the evening free and don’t have to work an event. I miss spending entire afternoons on the couch in my boxers, but I am determined to keep writing. It’s what I love to do, and I feel tension rising inside of me when I don’t do it. Besides, I promised my advisor a second draft of my thesis novel! I promised myself I’d have new drafts of a couple stories to submit! But, when can I write?

Well, in-class writing taught me to do a lot with a little bit of time. What did I do for half an hour in-between jogging and showering before work yesterday? I wrote a few pages of a story rewrite. What did I do after dinner tonight, before hopping on Tumblr to see if any more Danny Brown and Black Milk tracks had leaked? I read over some scenes from my thesis.

That’s a tough thing about grad school. I came to school to have time to dedicate to my craft, knowing that I was buying a finite amount of time and that the real world was waiting. Luckily, these couple of years have taught me how to use my time wisely.


Get to know the Fiction Writing department by reading student work. Matt Martin matriculated from undergrad to grad school in our department this year. He also works for the CTA and co-hosted the Come Home Chicago reading series with Don DeGrazia. Don’t tell Cate, but he ducked out of grad orientation early to play in a bags tournament. Here’s Matt’s hilarious story “Mini Reuben Sandwiches” in the premier issue of Trilling Magazine.