Today I’m struck by the value of time when it comes to good writing. My days have been a little out of sorts lately, in a good way. Last week my brother was in town over his spring break. We spent our evenings in the kitchen as I taught him the cooking basics (he’s been on a steady diet of frozen chicken fingers and boxed mac-n-cheese for the last few months since our mom died.) It was time well spent; I don’t think we’ve ever had that much time alone together, and realistically, we may never have that kind of time again.
This week, my sis-in-law and niecey are in town, and my evenings are spent watching Dora or Ice Age and reading Curious George, and enjoying more than the usual gatherings of family for lunch, dinner, weekend activities, etc. I love it, I adore them, it’s comforting to be with family and just relax together when we spend so much of our lives apart.
But I catch myself trying to do double-duty, to enjoy my time with family and think about how to make use of it in my writing. Some people refer to this syndrome as “blog-goggles”; sometimes I have to force myself to take them off, think of it in terms of just my life and not the subject of another post.
This is time well-spent, just as it is. Stay in the moment.
And I’ve long held tightly to this myth that if I just had an extra, oh, 12 hours in my day, I’d have an entire series of novels written and published by now. Instead, I’m stuck with a mere, standard 24 hours, an un-met deadline, a stale blog, and ideas that feel like cold, day-old coffee grounds in the bottom of my neglected french press. Ugh.
I forget that I’m young. I forget that life is messy, and it should be that way. I forget that I’m only human.
I cringe when I think about what life will be like later, when kids and a mortgage and more job responsibilities might get thrown into the mix.
Sometimes writing takes a back seat to life. And that’s okay, because shouldn’t writing be about life? The page will be blank or the words empty if there’s no life to fill them.
I’m learning that one of the biggest challenges of being a writer is to compartmentalize my life from my work, my self from my writing, and then to allow those different parts of me to interact in a healthy way.
As Shauna explains, good writing always requires quality time, but when you’re caught up in a busy life, you may have to give up the idea of hoarding a large chunk of time for yourself and give in to doing it in smaller increments. I’m trying to implement this sort of method, but there are some weeks like this one, when all hope of writerly seclusion goes out the window.
How about you? What’s the hardest part of balancing your life as a writer?