Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time to Write

Just a few days ago, I was interviewed by the lovely E. M. Caines for a series about time management on YA Interrobang. The gist of the interview (which you can find here) was this: with everything else in our lives, how do we writers find time to write?

The answer: with considerable difficulty.

In the interview, I tried to be realistic, but also optimistic. I talked about the need to prioritize, to block off time devoted exclusively to writing rather than trying to multi-task (even if that means you don't write every day), to make sacrifices. I believed (and believe) it can be done.

But you know, it's tough, and any little thing can throw you off your game.

Exhibit A: sick parents.

In the days since the interview appeared, my mother and father (who live within a ten-minute drive of me) have required more than their usual amount of care. I don't want to go into the details, but suffice it to say I've been running to the hospital and to their home two or three times daily to attend to their needs. My older brother is helping out too--but he lives farther away, and (like me) he has a day job, a wife and children, and, well, you know, a life. So it's not easy for either of us to squeeze anything extra into our day.

I wish writing weren't my "extra." I wish it could be at the top of my list.

But you tell me: if you had to choose one, would you choose your manuscript or the people who raised you?

So for the moment, writing is taking a back seat. I'm still working on a manuscript, but it's proceeding very slowly; if I can find a day per week to hammer out three to five pages, I'm satisfied. As I discuss in the aforementioned interview, I'm not the kind of writer who can produce anything worthwhile in a few spare minutes; I need to dedicate time to write. And right now, that's just extremely hard to do.

Unless you're a full-time writer--and though I don't know the statistics, my experience suggests that most of us who write don't write full time--finding time to write can be a real challenge. We shouldn't lie to ourselves (or other, aspiring writers) and say it's not; nor should we fault ourselves (or other writers) if we don't achieve as much as we aspire to. Reality exerts its own pressures, and willpower or determination or dreams aren't always enough to overcome them.

So by all means: try to find time to write. Make a schedule, clear your calendar, stay up into the wee hours. Recognize that you might need to make some sacrifices--of sleep, of other activities or interests, of social media, of whatever.

But at the same time, don't get down on yourself if you find that some sacrifices are too great to make.


  1. Yes, this is what I needed to read today. If something comes up that interferes with my writing schedule (e.g., family emergencies, husband re-grouts the bathroom, resulting in dust-covered home, resulting in manic cleaning rather than writing) I have a tendency to get bent out of shape, anxious, and at times, just plain mean. That's not me! And this kind of attitude takes the fun out of what I love to do. The writing will get done, but the people in my life will always come first. Thanks!

    1. You're very welcome! Glad the post spoke to you!

  2. I adored this post. Everyone talks about the importance of writing every single day, so I often feel like a failure if I miss even one day. Writing used to be my top priority for a few years until I realized that real people (my family and friends) and my own health HAVE to come first, even if it means I miss a day here and there.

    1. I totally agree. Writing is like any job--it's great and important, but not so important as the people in your life.