For all of the intrigue and mystique around Being A Writer, the biggest part of it is simply finding the time to get the words on the page. That’s also the hardest part of it.
The day job and family stuff and the mundane necessities like grocery shopping and feeding the kids eat up a lot more time than anyone realizes. Add to that the computer related stuff—email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on—then double that if you’re a writer, because not only are you doing that for your personal life, you’re doing it with a different focus (and probably different account names) for your career…your business pages/feeds on FB, LinkedIn, or Twitter; your book boards on Pinterest; your website or blog… Nothing quite like checking in on your webpages and discovering, “Whoops, haven’t actually posted anything new for nearly five weeks. Way to go, writing professional!” *sigh*
Of course, there’s the fun aspect to some of these things. Playing with graphics and layouts and fonts. Finding images that fit your settings, heroes, and heroines. Learning new skills like computer graphics or HTML or newsletter layout. Meeting new people at meetings and conferences. Writing short, personal stuff like blog posts or Tweets or newsletter updates rather than worrying about interweaving multi-book subplots. Sure, we’re swamped, but it is also FUN.
I remember ‘back in the day’ when I used to hear writers complain that they no longer had time for television, or even much reading-for-pleasure, and would think they must just be doing it wrong. Yeah…belated apologies for those thoughts, friends. I’ve discovered it is much harder than it looks from the outside. Multitasking and modern electronics are great. Sure, I can write at the pool or basketball practice…but it’s not what I’d term quality writing time—and a few hundred words, not a few thousand.
Add in the guilt, which we can all appreciate. Day-job guilt, especially in this economy…wait for lunchtime to open those emails…wait…wait… Mommy guilt…surely I don’t resent the reading time with my own children? (but, oh, am I grateful they are now out of rhyming books and more into things like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter!) Homeowner guilt…on to the next chapter to get the heroine out of trouble or finally trim the hedge between us and the neighbors? Writing chapter member guilt…do not even think about raising your hand to volunteer to head a committee this year!! Extended family guilt…how long a drive is it to the family reunion…didn’t we just go last year, er, the year before…?
And yet, it’s the words on the page that are the important part. Without those, we don’t need the website, the dual FB/Twitter accounts, won’t be getting the emails we’re so eager to answer, won’t get fans to write a newsletter for, and won’t have books and characters to talk about at conferences and with industry professionals.
The important part is always stay focused; stay writing.
Rowan, you are so, so right–it’s all about the writing. And yes, that does sound selfish, but we won’t get anywhere otherwise, will we?! At least, I won’t. Multitasking is definitely not my thing. And what you wrote about not having time to read–that’s the hardest thing to give up. Well, besides the weeding. NOT! 🙂 Anyway, I feel your pain, and at least we can take comfort in knowing that all (okay, most) writers are dealing with the same issues. Great post! And to borrow your words…Way to go, writing professional!