By Dame Jackie
Want to know what annoys me even more than the “When are you going to write real books” question? The comment that so many would-be writers are happy to tell me: “I’d write a book if I had the time.”
Let’s not even get into how that comment immediately dismisses the notion that writing a book is work, requiring not only time but also skill. It galls me when people say that they just don’t have the time to write.
I have a full-time day job. Along with that, I have two young children and a husband who likes it when I see him more than over morning coffee or a bedtime kiss. I have a mortgage and a house to maintain that goes along with that mortgage. I have to juggle my Precious Little Tax Deductions’ after school and religious school activities around my and Loving Husband’s schedules. Loving Husband, along with his full-time job, is also in school to get his degree, so there are many times during the week when I’m flying solo with the kids. I exercise about 5 times a week, an hour each time. I prep all the breakfasts and lunches in the mornings and do the dishes at night. I’m busy.
And I also find time to write. I’ve written 12 novels between 2005 and now, not to mention the number of proposals, synopses and incomplete projects that went nowhere. (No, not all 12 books were published.) I’m at my most productive when the kids are in bed. This means when I’m going for serious word count, I don’t get to bed until about 1 am. And then I’m up no later than 7 to start the day (breakfast for the kids, coffee for the husband, lunches for all of them, getting the kids dressed and ready for school and making sure they get on the bus). Weekends I can sleep until 8 am, but then it’s chores and errands and, you know, maybe finding time to see friends and family.
It’s not easy to find the time to write. But I do. Why? Because I’m a writer, damn it. And I write. So yeah, I’m tired. And I have a lot of things going on all at once. But I make it work.
You can too.
Unless you’re that gal from Tommyknockers and can write books with your mind while you vacuum, you’re going to have to put your butt in a chair and write. For some people, that means getting up an hour earlier (stop groaning) and firing up the computer while your coffee brews. For others, it means getting to bed obscenely late and still managing to function the next day. It could mean eating lunch at your desk while you bang out 400 words. If you’re fortunate enough not to have a day job, it means scheduling time when you’re in your chair and writing.
So what’s a time-stressed writer to do? Here are Jackie Kessler’s Top 3 Time Tips:
1. Try different writing times. You won’t know if you’re at your productive best first thing in the morning, last thing at night, or somewhere in between until you’ve tried them all. Give them a shot, and see if there’s one particular time that really gets your blood flowing and the word count on the page.
2. Take your writing time seriously. Don’t pick up the phone during your scheduled writing time. For God’s sake, don’t go on Twitter or Facebook. Your time is limited. Don’t allow distractions to eat into your productivity.
3. Don’t apologize for finding time to write. Your friends may not understand why you’re not able to join them for that card game. Your mother might be pissed that you won’t talk to her during your writing time. Too bad. Writing is work. And that means you treat it like work. Even if you’re serious about writing, your friends and family may never take it seriously. That’s why you’ve got the Dames and other writers who get it. We’re here for you. We’ve got your back.
The next time people say they’d write if only they had the time, tell them exactly what you do when you’re not writing–and that you still find the time to write. Who knows? Maybe that will inspire the would-be writers into becoming actual writers.
And if it doesn’t, well, the look on their faces can speak volumes. 😉