Over on one of my OTHER group blogs, YA Outside the Lines, the topic of the month has been, “What does an unusual and spectacular writing day look like for you?” To which three of us in a row basically: “Any day that I manage to write is a good day.”
In case you don’t go read that post, here’s the gist: Writing full time doesn’t mean long stretches of blissful writing time. In fact, I have more interruptions of my writing time now than I did when I had a normal job (whatever that means) and wrote on my “off time.”
Some of that is simply changes in my life. I take care of my mom. I live in the same city as ALL my relatives. I have friends 30 minutes, not 300 miles, away. I have neighbors now, not just cows, and I have three needy dogs who bark at every noise outside, which is a lot, because I have neighbors. Noisy ones.
But, lifestyle aside, I made MUCH better use of my writing time when I had limited amounts of it. Why? I’m glad you asked.
People ask you to do things. It probably started harmlessly, where you offered, because you have a flexible schedule. But it snowballs, because you like these people, and theoretically, there’s no reason you can’t take a break just then. But still. People you love and WANT to help will infringe on your time. But only because….
You let them. It’s a terrible trap, the knowledge that you can make up your time any time. That you can always write later. You know how much you could write in two hours when that’s all you had. So taking grandma to her doctor’s appointment is no problem, you can make up the pages then. Except you can’t, because…
An open schedule opens doors to doubt and second guessing. Plenty of time to write means plenty of time to over think, to get scared, to get trapped in the endless revision cycle. Because you’re not wasting time if it’s limitless.
Nothing makes as good an excuse for procrastination as doing something for other people. (see #1) And if there’s anything I know, it’s that procrastination is a major symptom of fear. (see #3)
When I had to carve out time for writing, I was viciously protective of it. More than anything, that meant being strict with myself about not wasting that time or giving it up for anything less than an emergency. My family respected my writing time because I respected my writing time, and I didn’t let anything steal it from me–including self-doubt.
I know it’s hard to look at your other commitments–whether a job, or kids or family or other responsibilities, paycheck-related or not–as a blessing. But those demands on you do one important thing. They don’t let you take your time and your writing gift for granted.
So whether you have all day to write, or all lunch break, value that time, and make the most of it.