Could you spare some time?

Have you got time to sit down?

All writing seems to be done against the clock. You won’t hear any writer say “Oh yeah, I have plenty of time to finish this piece.” If you’re not racing to beat a publishing deadline, you’re rushing to get your thousand words a day finished before the kids come home from school and start demanding unreasonable things like food and clean clothes.

The hardliners will tell you that if you don’t MAKE time to write every day, then you’re not really a writer. You have the same number of hours in each day as Earnest Hemingway, William Shakespeare and Julius Caesar. (Granted, Caesar didn’t write novels, but he did find the time to conquer Gaul and still write up his adventures: “What I did during the Summer, by J. Caesar.” Mind you, he also wore a bedsheet and always had leaves in his hair, which I think should rule him out as a good example.)

I’ve found the idea of writing every day to be a good one in theory, but harder to follow through, unless you bend your definition of “Writing”. I certainly get to the keyboard pretty much every day, but I don’t produce what I would count as writing. Up until last year, that didn’t matter much, because I had all the time in the world (between 9am and 3pm) to produce my masterpieces. For more information on how masterful they are, go look me up at www.lazybeescripts.co.uk . But with the arrival of our mortgage, I was thrust back out into the wicked world of work, and my writing time (and my Halo time, Facebook time, Twitter time…..) was severely diminished.

At least, it was from one point of view. From another, I still had time to write, I just had to work a little harder to make the most of it. During last year I wrote my full length play “Merely Players”, the first full length play I’ve ever written. I’d love to say I did it by getting up at five in the morning and getting in a good hour’s writing before the day began, but some of you know me quite well by now. I have only recently heard about five in the morning. It sounds intriguing, but I don’t want to go there. No, what I did was write a little here, a little there. Sometimes I wrote in the evenings, sometimes in the afternoons when the weasels were playing. Sometimes I had days at home when I wasn’t in work and the washing was done (or piled up in the basket accusingly.)

All this is not bragging. All this is me worrying, because it looks like I have found myself a new job. Better, in many ways than my last, because the hours will be more regular and there will be no weekend work. but it will be every day, with no wacky midweek breaks. I may get around thirty to forty minutes in each day when I will be home and the weasels will still be at school, but the washing, cleaning, cooking and shopping will still have to be done. If I want to stay a writer, not become someone who used to be a writer, I will have to work at it.

So tell me, how do YOU fit writing into your life? Or do you fit your life into your writing? Do you have weasels to wrangle, or have you got a dedicated weasel wrangler to take care of that? Have you read my amazing book “Writing a play for the Community Theatre”? It could change your life, you know, or at least fill some of the empty hours of it with witty prose and handy advice about writing plays.

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9 responses to “Could you spare some time?

  1. I didn’t fit writing into my life, even though I wanted to, when I had a Corporate-America job. Now, I don’t work an 8-5 job, or in my case a 24/7 job, and I fit writing into my everyday M-F life because it is my job! I don’t have kids, and I still find myself battling distractions every day like the rest of the writers out there….but, as long as I keep putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard everyday, I’m happy.

  2. I’ve been struggling with writing. This post is timely. I have four children to wrangle, one that is not yet in school. (He likes to hound me). And now it’s summer so no one is in school. I don’t have a laptop either, which makes writing away from the home office impossible.

    I would love to know how other busy moms (without cleaning ladies, childcare, or mommy helpers) manage writing time – as well as blogging, tweeting, and reading time. I need ideas!

    I think the 5am thing is my only solution. It’s a good one!

    • Annie,

      Glad you liked the post. Writing with kids in the house is an immense thing. There ought to be books about it, except I suspect people don’t have time to write them…. Sometimes it can be good to keep the writing separate from the living. I know that when I had the laptop permanently set up in the kitchen (in our last house in the UK) I was a much worse Dad, because I was always just checking this, or doing that, and I’ll be with you in a minute kids…. These days they’re more likely to be on the computer than I am. Three computers in the house still isn’t enough. You may well be one of those morning folks who can get up earlier and do an hour before the household stirs. Or you might be the opposite, staying up late to write while the others snore. As for the blogging and Tweeting time, I don’t know. This week I have devoted two entire days to building my blog profile after two weeks of vacation and it’s felt very time-heavy. Anyone else got any suggestions?

  3. So I have 43 freelance stories due next week. Seriously. 43…

    This weekend will be wall-to-wall, non-stop writing. I’ve already told my boyfriend that I will be available for one movie. That is all. Ugh…

    When you have children (like I do — and many of us do!), pockets of time are the only options. I hate to feel like I’m “too busy” for them, so I tend to do my work during their bigger chunks of “scheduled” time (like when they watch their one hour of TV/day, or when they’re outdoors playing with neighbors, etc.). Other than that, it’s all accomplished before or after they are asleep.

    Of course, there is one and ONLY ONE positive aspect of being divorced: This weekend, while I’m writing my 43 stories, they are with their dad.

  4. Glad you found a job. I found more time to write when I worked than now, when I don’t. It seems everyone, including me, feels if I’m home then I have the time to do everything everyone else doesn’t. I feel guilty if I don’t do them. Ugh! How do I get around myself?

    • This is why some people feel the need to have a specific writing place, where they can make the distinction between being at home and writing. That never works for me, as Mrs Dim simply leaves lists of things to do and doesn’t care where I am, but I hear some people have success with it : ‘I’m in my writing corner, I’ll get back to you in an hour…”

  5. Hah! I don’t fit writing into my life, I fit the rest of my life around my writing. my writing IS my lifestyle. In recent years I’ve found better balance, I have to say. At least I occasionally clean the house, dig around in the garden, watch TV or take a walk and smell the roses. But there was a time I gave up the real job and lived in abject poverty so I could write ALL THE TIME. I don’t recommend it.

    • I’m glad that I never gave up work to write full time – I gave up work to look after Eldest Weasel, and wrote in the copious spare time she generated. She slept a lot, ate perfectly and wasn’t sick, so there was little laundry, plenty of quiet and good long walks in the fresh Welsh air to stimulate the imagination. If I’d known what a little hellcat Middle Weasel was going to be, we might have stopped at one. But I’ve noted your advice, and will avoid abject poverty if at all possible!

  6. Time is th enemy, no question – and inspiration!

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