From The Literary Hub:
A truism long held in the literary world is that the greatest gift you can give a writer is time: to daydream, to wander, to write. Every writer thinks about what their career might look like if only life’s ordinary restrictions were lifted. In my twenties, after finishing an MFA in fiction, I was lucky enough—for seven months at least—to find out. I won one of those contests you read about in the classifieds of Poets & Writers. The PEN/Northwest Wilderness Writing Residency. In exchange for an hour-a-day of routine caretaking, I got to live rent-free and alone on a 95-acre off-the-grid homestead along the Rogue National Wild and Scenic River in Oregon. There were no neighbors, just stands of Douglas fir and madrone, a logging road, a footpath to the river.
From my writing table, I had a postcard view. A pair of apple trees framed the gate of a garden, and beyond loomed a steep, forested ridge that turned from black to palest blue in the morning sun. I had a typewriter and its satisfying clack-clack-clack-ding. I had notebooks, pens, pencils. I had an idea for a novel and all the time in the world to write. The writing should have been easy.
In my first month at the homestead, however, nothing worked. My idea for a novel suddenly seemed dumb. I wrote and scratched out paragraph after paragraph. I threw my pencil across the room.
. . . .
In life as I’d known it before traveling to backcountry Oregon my writing time had been a contrast to the distraction of family and friends and work, a kind of oasis of dreaming. In life before, I’d only needed a few hours of quiet here and there in order to listen to myself, sort out my ideas, get words down in the shape of a story. I savored my time apart and guarded it jealously against intrusion. In Oregon, that contrast fell away.
. . . .
And now that I’m a dad and a husband and hold down a full-time job (all things I’m utterly grateful for and humbled by), I don’t have as much time to write. I don’t have time for indulgences and mistakes. If I’m going to have a successful career as a writer, I have to make use of every spare minute and hour.
Link to the rest at The Literary Hub