Finding the Time to Write – The Sequel

Back in 2008, I wrote a blog post about finding the time to write. I thought I’d re-visit the topic, especially since a lot of things have changed since then, although the basic issues I address in that particular blog post still apply. Right now I know many writers who are neck-deep in NaNoWriMo, and finding the time to write is really a concern. But for most writers, it’s an ongoing issue since the majority of us hold full-time jobs, have families, or would just like a spare moment to eat a meal, visit with friends and family, or even take a pee break.

Finding time to write
You think there’s a lot of time. But never enough.

When I wrote the original post, I was just launching a career in writing, which at the time meant writing non-fiction copy. Fitting in fiction was difficult, especially since there were these pesky things like “deadlines” and “rent”. It’s hard to make that brain switch between non-fiction and fiction, and sometimes I couldn’t do it at all. I mean, there are only so many hours in a day and my brain can handle just so much.

My brain on cauliflower
This is my brain. Yes, it looks like a cauliflower. I’m aware.

Even still, I managed to put together my flash fiction collection, other shorts, and my first publishable novel, Athena’s Promise. Since then, my career has changed (change is the only constant, I’ve found) and I am working quite steadily as a successful fiction content editor. I realize how lucky I am; I have a dream job, work for no one but myself and from home, and therefore, set my own schedule.

But I put in long hours and still have deadlines and there’s always that damned rent thing. So finding time to write my own fiction is…challenging, like it is for most of us who have this deep, abiding passion to throw words on a page to see what sticks. I still have other things to do, like eat, sleep, try to get the word out on my own fiction efforts; mop the floors, clean the litter box, and run my business. I struggle with brain re-charging, dealing with family issues, health issues, keeping up with the industry, networking, finding new clients so my cat and I don’t end up living in a cardboard box. I count myself very, very fortunate because even with all that, I’m doing what I love to do so I’m not complaining. Not even one damned bit.

But it wasn’t always so. It has always been a challenge to find the time to write, and I am sure it always will be. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

When I started writing fiction, I had a full-time job in the Out, and three kids to raise as a single mom. I think it’s the main reason I started with flash fiction, which will always be my first love. I still maintain writing flash is one of the best training grounds for writers — but that’s another topic. The point is, finding time to write it was almost impossible. But with this burning need, I really didn’t have a choice. It was write or die. And I don’t know about you, but writing sounds a whole lot better than dying.

Cemetary
Yeah. Not fixing to end up here just yet.

So I managed. After working eight or ten hours a day, taking care of the house and the kids, I’d scratch out what I could and just put all my nuts in a basket. Nuts which later turned into a collection of which I’m very proud. I was on my way. I also started a daily blog (yes, DAILY) in which I’d write something, ANYTHING, no matter how banal and stupid it might have seemed to me, just to get into the habit of writing something every single day. This is known as “discipline”.

Fast forward a few years (what, you think this shit happens overnight. Heh. You funny.) and I’m working in a hotel. Long hours. LONG. Brain-numbing, in fact. I just didn’t have time to write fiction, although I kept up the habit of blogging every. Single. Day. Even through an awful storm knocking out the power for five days, I wrote a blog post in longhand on yellow legal pads, and then posted them later. I did this for a total of six years. I tried NaNo once, without computer access during my imprisonment–uh–I mean EMPLOYMENT at the hotel, by using the same method–you know, real paper with a real ink pen, no spellcheck–and crapped out at 25k. What I wrote was awful and will never see the light of day while I draw breath, but I tried.

FIRE
This is where my first novel attempt ended up. Believe me, it was for the best.

Then, I started freelancing, and trust me, I worked harder than I ever did in an Outside Job. That’s the nature of the beast, but being no stranger to hard work, it didn’t faze me. In this time, I wrote “Athena’s Promise” and although it was slow going, I got it done. I set myself a goal every day, and no matter what, every day I hit it. I hit it as hard as I could.

Currently, I am more often than not neck-deep in Other People’s Words. And I love it. I absolutely love what I do for a living. It’s not easy, but my Momma always told me life was not easy. While she may have been wrong about a lot of things, about this she was absolutely, 100% correct. Life is not easy and it’s not meant to be easy. Switching my brain from Other People’s Words to my own is difficult. You know, deadlines and stuff. Immersing myself into a world of someone else’s creation and picking apart the mechanics. Another switch to click and all that. But the voices in my own head are loud, and chatty, and just won’t shut the eff up. And I have yet to train my cat to clean out her own litter box. (She’s an asshole.)

And so, more material was wrought, and remembering my lessons on discipline, I have been working on the sequel to “Promise” titled “Athena’s Chains” and am halfway there. In the meantime, I have completed the first in a series of novellas, titled “The Trailer Park Tiara and Goat Incident–The Adventures of Sally Mae Riddley” (coming soon) and started the second, working title “You Ain’t The Boss Of Me – The Adventures of Sally Mae Riddley Volume Two” with three more (at least, if Sally Mae doesn’t quiet down) planned.

How do I find the time to write? I make it. Late at night, with my asshole cat prowling around yowling it’s time for bed or destroying yet another roll of toilet paper, I set aside at least an hour after a grueling 12-16 hour day to make it happen. Because I know if I don’t, it’s not going to happen. Nobody’s going to write these stories but me. I have to make it work, because I AM A WRITER. I am a lot of things, but at my core I AM A WRITER. And writers write, even in sub-optimal conditions. Tired? Sure. Obstacles? Definitely. So. What. Even if it’s only a hundred words, a thousand. Whatever it is, I’ll take it. Because here’s the thing; you take a small thing, and add another small thing, keep going, and the next thing you know…you have a Big Thing. (Yes, I know that’s a lot of “things”.)

Mountain
How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time, motherheifer. One step at a time.

If you want it bad enough, you make it happen. YOU. No matter what stands in your way, no matter what it takes, YOU are the only one who can make it happen. The obstacles or challenges just make the journey that much more rewarding. And really, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the destination which matters as much as the journey.

Happy trails. Keep on keeping on. YOU CAN DO THIS. Now, get to it.

*All photos courtesy of Morguefile.com

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