Monday, May 24, 2010

If only I had more time

There came a time in my life when personal and work interests took me away from writing. Though I had enjoyed the outlet writing gave me, I just never found the time to get back into again.

When the planets aligned eight years ago, allowing me to quit my job in printing and become self employed, I'd envisioned all this 'extra time' I'd have to write. After all, my son would be moving into kindergarten soon and business was sporadic. Slow days wouldn't mean me sitting at my desk twiddling my thumbs or chatting with co-workers, I could be writing without worry of the boss catching me work on personal projects on company time.

I started to write again for at least an hour or two and during the day, and as my love of writing reignited, a couple hours at night once my son went to bed. It felt wonderful.

Ten months later, I had my daughter. Let me tell you, having a baby at home directly impacts writing time and mental capacity for constructive thought.

I thought naptime would be my writing escape, but I was tired too, and friends called, housework needed to be done, and of course, work.

When I finally got her to the preschool stage, I was overjoyed to have my quiet writing time back. Work was slow enough, I could write again and make time for both kids and parental/social obligations.

I started looking around online and found some writing groups to get involved with. My actual writing took a back seat to learning how to write better.

When full time school hit, I thought I was golden. I would have all day--on slow days--to write!

But the bills still want to get paid and new equipment must be purchased to keep up with changing demands? Crud. My slow days were spent with promoting the business and developing new products. Then there are critique partners to work with, learning about this whole publishing business, and figuring out how to make my writing suck less.

Now business is good and steady. Which is great. Except that mythical devoted writing time I'd envisioned? Yeah, that just never seems to happen. Something will always come up. Something I can't blow off because it’s not a matter of break time, or being off the clock. There’s overtime, rush jobs, and customers calling during my morning writing hours and no boss I can give puppy-dog eyes too and beg to get out of it. No sir. It’s all me.

That time you hope for, that you can devote solely to writing, will never happen unless you make it happen. Write when you can, be it five minutes here and there or a block of hours you set aside each day. Every word you manage get down is one step closer to putting that idea into words, or finishing and polishing your current WIP.

If you have the fortitude to shut your door, turn off your phone and internet and just sit and write, go you. I allow myself to do this one month a year—November for NaNoWriMo. I know I can pump out an entire rough draft of novel in a month. I’ve done it four times. But if I did that all the time? I’d quickly find myself single, wearing the same clothes all week and living off ramen noodles while my children played in the street.

So it’s all about balance. We all sacrifice things for what we love, right? I won’t cut my kids out or my husband, work still needs to get done and the yard needs my attention, but I will turn off the tv, let the answering machine get the phone during writing time and do my best to stay off the internet unless what I’m doing is writing related. I will try to manage my time to get the most out of a day as I possibly can.

That doesn’t mean that everything coming out of my fingers during writing time is uber awesome, but hey, getting words written is half the battle. The other half… I’ll get to that when I have more time.

2 comments:

  1. Oh! Jean! I hear ya :-)

    Work, family, household chores, projects around the yard...it all adds up. With a long weekend (Victoria Day today in BC) I thought I'd manage a few quiet hours of quality time. But we ploughed on to finish landscaping a corner of the front yard. Looks good, but boy do those trips to the landscape suppliers eat into the weekend.

    I hit a productive streak a couple of years ago while I was writing Ghosts. The kids were still into their long sleep routine (and not yet into too many after-school activities) and usually to bed by 7, so that left a few quiet hours each evening. Now they are a couple of years older we don't often don't get to wind down until after 9. I am still working out how to recover that productivity in the ever-changing landscape of demands.

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  2. Hi Jean. I've been tagged and now I'm passing the baton on to you (amongst others). Hope you don't mind. You've now been tagged with Blogger's 'Seven Awesome Things'.

    Please see my blog for details at http://www.stellatelleria.com/

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