It’s About Time…

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So. I was hoping to post the revised version of the Prologue today after working on it over the weekend. Then Life got in the way and sucked up all my time.

Which makes a very neat segue into a post I’d been planning to write anyway. As an aspiring/struggling writer, how in the name of kittens does one ever find the time to write?

Also interesting in that time is very much one of the central themes of the novel – *random book plug alert!*

I’ve read many, many books, articles and blog posts in which the same question is answered with either “develop a routine” or “if you love it, you’ll find time”. Ooooooo-kay… Whilst I understand the concept, putting this into practice can be far harder in reality.

I have a job. I need one to pay the bills which save me from living in a cardboard box. Unreasonably perhaps, my employers expect me to be doing work during the day, rather than writing novels. I also have an Other Half (and a very lovely one at that) who, although incredibly supportive of my writing, does like to see me from time to time. Therefore, spending all evening every evening locked away in a minuscule spare room perfecting the novel isn’t an option. In fairness, I do get the odd hour here or there, but that still has to fit in around:

  1. Eating – essential to be able to continue writing… or anything else for that matter…;
  2. An occasional night out;
  3. Maintaining a relationship;
  4. Re-assuring my family that I still exist;
  5. My share of the housework – otherwise point 3 would rapidly become redundant;
  6. Juggling Twitter, Facebook and this blog, so that someone someday outside of my immediate family may actually know I’ve written a novel;
  7. Sleeping (far less than I would like)

I could simply ignore all the above, but becoming a penniless, hermetic sociopath has never really appealed.

Now, I’ve read pieces that state heroically, “I get up an hour earlier to write every day”. Seriously? That would mean stumbling blearily out of bed at 5am. You’ve clearly never seen me in the mornings. And you most definitely wouldn’t want to read the diatribe of furious cynicism that would result from such an ascetic pursuit.

At this point, I should re-affirm that I DO love writing; it’s immensely important in my life. Sounds all a bit New Age, but you know what I mean. It’s just that there are a whole host of other things that are essential for survival, which trumps immensely important.

It’s also a case of balancing priorities. This very blog post, for example, is being written in a spare meeting room with a bowl of (very oily) pasta salad before I have to get back to the day job. That decision in itself was a toss-up between editing the novel and ensuring that you, dear readers (all 2 of you), are kept up-to-date with these thrilling adventures.

That, in effect, means I only really get to write for 20 minutes on the train to work and 20 minutes on the train back. It’s admittedly a great release from normal life, but not always the most conducive of environments for creativity. And for an impatient little puppy like me, it means a novel takes frustratingly longer to produce than I would like. 3-and-a-half years and counting so far.

So what’s my point boys and girls? This new Golden Age of Self-Publishing opens up immense freedoms to aspiring writers and avid readers alike. Books undoubtedly get published and read which otherwise wouldn’t have seen the light of day due to the whims of the mighty publishing machine. Yet, there was a different sort of freedom in the days when a publisher would liberally bestow advances decent enough to allow a wannabe to give up work for at least a few months, on the off-chance of hitting a winner. Those days are now long gone and, while we writers have the freedom and the technology to build our own audiences, it necessarily takes time away from doing what we set out to do.

For my part, I suspect it’s going to have to remain a very complex juggling act, with plates spinning in every direction and requiring a great deal of dedication to keep focus on writing, marketing, publicity, life and everything.

What are your thoughts my fellow scribes? How do you manage this life/art balance? Any handy hints that may safeguard my sanity?

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6 thoughts on “It’s About Time…

  1. carlyyysarah

    It helps me to be taking some sort of writing course or be in a writers workshop that meets, say, every two weeks. This gives me a timeline for when “assignments” should be finished and thus pushes me along a bit further. I know it may seem like “school” (which for me it is at the moment) but it definitely motivates me when I have a “due date”. Writers workshops can be helpful for feedback, criticism, ideas, etc. as well which is always a nice break from being inside your own head for a prolonged period of time.

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  2. It’s not long until November…. and NaNoWriMo will be starting again. 50,000 words in 30 days. Sounds impossible, but it isn’t because I did it last year. May do it again this year; I’ve got a new novel grumbling around waiting for me to get stuck into it The great thing about NaNo, after you’ve come to terms with the idea of producing so many words in so short a time, is that it’s only for one month, then you can get back to real life. And you’ll have the basics of your novel. See you there, maybe? 🙂

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  3. Thank you for telling the god’s honest truth! I’m immensely relieved to find I’m not the only writer who finds those “inspirational” posts about getting up earlier and other semi-impossible for the normal person strategies as nothing more than irritatingly depressing. I always walk away feeling guilty for having spent time reading them instead of writing.

    I’m like you, I love to write. But I also have a million responsibilities and a loathing for getting up before the sun which keeps me from writing full-time. I have about 3 years invested in my current novel, and it’s no where close to being done. And writing that slowly is frustrating. But I need to live, and that means working, cleaning the house, eating, sleeping and spending time with friends and family. All of which takes time. Which of these essential items do I give up so I can devote more time to writing? That is the million dollar question, isn’t it?

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