As-salamu Alaykum (peace be upon you), Dear Readers...

NEW for September 18, 2016:

This blog has MOVED to the Muslim Writers Club, a new website dedicated to all of your writing needs.

Here are some of the pages you will find on the new site:

Jobs and Internships for Muslim Writers – Check out the latest opportunities.

Freelance Markets for Muslim Writers – A list of magazines, newspapers, and websites that want to work with YOU, insha'Allah. Includes many paying markets.

Book Publishers of Interest to Muslim Writers – Have you written a book? Start your search for a publisher here.

Contests & Events for Muslim Writers - Competitions, courses, webinars, and more. Don't miss the fun!

Writing Activities for Muslim Children – Coming Soon!

Q&A Page - Get your questions about the art (and business) of writing answered.

Articles and Other Resources – Even more resources for Muslim writers.

Hope to see you at the new site, Insha'Allah!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Writing in Ramadan

For those who may not be aware, Muslims around the globe are currently fasting the month of Ramadan. Among other things, this involves abstaining from food or drink during daylight hours (from dawn to sunset) each day for an entire month. Ramadan is a month of prayer, charity, and introspection, giving one the opportunity to break bad habits and make a deeper spiritual connection with the Creator. By learning to control their physical desires for a significant portion of the day, the faithful become more humble and learn to sympathize with the world's less fortunate. Fasting in Ramadan is thus a tremendous act of self-purification, unity (with the global Muslim community), and will-power.

Because the Islamic calendar is lunar-based, Ramadan starts about ten days earlier each year. This year, Ramadan started on September 1st and will start somewhere around August 20th in 2009, August 10th in 2010, etc. This means that the hours of fasting will become progressively longer as the calendar moves back. This year is the first year in a long time that Ramadan has started during the summer, and many Muslims around the world (depending on location) are fasting 14-hour days.

All of this has several implications for the full-time, professional writer. While people living in Muslim countries almost always benefit from reduced work hours as an official policy, those who work at home or live in other countries must take special steps to maintain their levels of productivity during the holy month. This is especially important for people who typically start the day with a cup of coffee or tea and continue drinking their favorite caffeinated beverage throughout the day as they work. Writers are notorious for doing this and might have great trouble writing coherently (or staying awake) if they do not learn to adapt to their new circumstances fairly quickly.

So, here are some things to think about if you are trying to maintain a writing schedule while fasting during Ramadan.

1. You might have to change the times you write. One of the sunnahs (recommended practices) of Ramadan is to have a pre-dawn meal called suhoor, so you might find that you have enough energy to write for an extended period of time right after having this meal. You should choose energy-boosting foods that do not make you thirsty or contain empty calories. It is tempting to drink tea or coffee at this time (and many do), but remember that caffeine is a diuretic (some studies dispute this) and may not be the best choice. Water, however, is essential.

Your next burst of energy will likely come after the iftar (the fast-breaking meal that Muslims eat at sunset). For many people, though, this may not be the most convenient time to write, especially if you are praying taraweeh in the mosque, spending time with your family, or performing other acts of worship. It is also not uncommon to feel pretty tired after a long day of fasting.

2. If you do end up writing at night, make time for sleep, too. It might be tempting to work through dawn, but then you'll be so tired by the time dawn rolls around that you will not be able to continue writing after the suhoor. Also, if you are sleeping for several hours during the day in Ramadan, you are almost certainly missing out on some of the spiritual aspects of fasting.

3. Don't take on more than you can handle. Keeping your workload relatively light during the month of Ramadan may be necessary if you tire easily, have too many commitments, and find that you cannot meet deadlines because of the these things. This obviously does not apply to everybody as some people are actually quite productive in Ramadan – but there will always be certain people who face these challenges and find that they cannot keep up.

4. If you have trouble concentrating enough to actually write during the day, use this time to take care of other tasks related to your writing business, such as sending invoices, cleaning your files, doing research, answering business correspondence, and planning new articles and writing projects. You might also find it a great time to get housework and other chores out of the way.

5. Maintain a voluntary fasting schedule throughout the year. People who fast regularly throughout the year (once or twice each week, as recommended by the sunnah) probably find it much easier to fast in Ramadan.

What about you? How do you keep your writing on track while fasting the month of Ramadan?

No comments:

This blog is maintained by Amel Abdullah, a freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator.