I’m not saying that I’m wrapped up in various strips of material. It has been said, numerous times, that I should be wrapped up in cotton wool. Yes. Those people may be right. After all I’m accident prone. This post isn’t about me falling over, having a roasting chicken spit at me or just walking into furniture. This post is long overdue. It’s about juggling motherhood, work and my aspiring career as a writer.
A fellow writer asked me, where do you find the time to write?
I didn’t mean to make them screw up their faces like they had just eaten the world’s largest sour warhead candy when I said: I just do.
And while I’ve been blunt with those who tell me they didn’t have the time to write, but they’ve just told me the story outline and plot of all the soapies (is that what you call them?) they’ve been watching the entire week, month, year. I believe that one can make time if one is truly passionate about writing.
So how do I find the time?
To me time isn’t an issue. I would like more of it. I squeeze my writing in wherever I can. Between phone calls and housework, (I work as a receptionist and book keeper from home) and I have to admit it’s a pain in the tanooki. Whenever the phone rings I lose my train of thought. I may not be able to focus on novel length manuscripts at the moment but I’m getting a few more short stories written. Some days I’m lucky and the phone stays quiet for a couple of hours, but those days don’t happen very often. And although I work from home, the television is always switched off. The only time it comes on is if I’m having a day off writing, but then it’s only on while I eat lunch. Instead of flicking the picture box on, sit down and write something to help you unwind.
My time is taken up with all the other aspects of life, like my kid’s soccer practice. I’m sitting in my car, writing, (this post actually.) I have an hour of quiet time. Something I’m finding rarer every day. Maybe I should get someone to wrap me up in cotton wool. I’ve even been known to dabble with ideas or reading my work aloud while waiting in the school car park. I think that’s why some parents avoid me at times. What’s that crazy woman doing talking to nobody!
Like I care what they think.
There is one drawback to finding ideas in the school car park. I’m always interrupted by the bell—especially in the middle of a juicy part. Although I sometimes dabble if the children permit me, three thirty to six thirty is their time: to annoy me, love me, ask for help with their homework, hate me because they need to clean their rooms. I’m such a terrible mother—not. There are times, on the weekend, when I think they have super hearing and for some reason as soon as they hear me typing they equate that with their stomachs and become a ravenous hoard of (two) zombies that are just doing my head in because they are old enough to make their own sandwiches. I still love them unconditionally.
As a writer you must read and here’s the embarrassing aspect of my writing life. The only chance I get to read is on the toilet. Why? Because no one is game enough to interrupt me. My reading time can last a couple of minutes to sometimes ten. At least it’s uninterrupted time until the husband asks me if I’ve drowned in there. Sometimes I get innovative and read when my children need to read for homework. It may only last for ten or twenty minutes but it’s a good quiet time to catch up or try and finish that long chapter.
If I want to work on my novel I have to wait until the kids and husband go to bed. Sometimes I get lucky and the husband goes to bed early. Let me guess, you were thinking of something else when I said I sometimes get lucky. Weren’t you? Come on admit it. If he doesn’t go to bed early that’s fine because I’ve trained myself to work with noise. You know, the television, the husband yelling at it if his football team isn’t winning or he’s flicking through three of my favourite TV shows. I actually love sports. It gives me more time to delve into my passion. I may stay up a little longer, but usually my eyeballs are hanging out of my head by ten thirty. Writing drafts are done at night but editing can be done between phone calls, even if it is one page at a time.
My head isn’t clear or able to function first thing in the morning, so there isn’t a need (for now) to get up earlier. I’ve thought about it. But you have to know your limits. No point writing if your brain is too tired. There are days when I don’t write. It doesn’t mean that I’m not working. In my head that is. And there are times when I do sometimes take a little ten minute nanny nap (one of the few benefits of working from home) between phone calls and/or after finishing a draft of a story.
So finding time, like in the good old days when I used to work for someone else, I used to sit outside in the warmer months and write for twenty minutes. I truly believe in the cliché of I wish I knew then what I now know. I would’ve written more, but then again I wouldn’t have the experience of being who I am right now.
Finding time can be tricky, but even if you only find ten minutes, make it count. It’s what you do with those ten minutes that really matters. Ten minutes of focused writing time will let me do a plot outline, a brief character study, one that I can expand on later, I can write 100-200 words and it can allow me to do research.
Some of my fellow workshoppers hate me for being productive and bringing in work every meeting. I do it because I don’t want to be answering phones all my life until I retire. I started writing in my thirties. In the time between realising my dream and now being in a position of knowing exactly what I want, I’ve had a lot of emotional ups and downs. I will be confessing about those too! They are important. Each knockback has made me stronger. Each of them has given me inspirational thoughts and epiphanies.
So use your time wisely.
And of course come back to the Writing Confessions of a Horror Writing Mummy where I will be confessing on how I find inspiration for killing off my characters.
Confess you later,