Ink-Stained Scribe

Making Time to Write

Monday night, my roommate Skrybbi was up making piñatas, ten of them--pink and purple fringy things about the size of a six-year-old's head. All last week, our kitchen table was occupied by bowls of flour-water and strips of newspaper; crusty balloons covered in papier-mâché hung drying in our window. My roommate, bless her, is a teen librarian. Well, almost. You see, she's in graduate school right now so she can get paid like a librarian, and while her job title might actually be "librarian's assistant", there is no teen librarian. So it's her.

By now, you've probably gathered that Skrybbi is working full time, going to graduate school, and making piñatas. You might also be thinking she's crazy, but that's a topic for a different post.

What I'm getting at here is this: Skrybbi is busier than I am. I don't have grad school on top of my job. I don't have to spend a lot of my free time researching and making crafts for the teen programs. I spend my free-time writing. But if she wanted to, Skrybbi could do it too.

"I know very well that when I come home every day, I sit down in front of an episode of True Blood and you sit down in front of your computer to write," she told me today. Since we've been rooming together, I've noticed a few things: Skrybbi is super-busy, right? But she watches more TV than me, she goes to bed before me, and wakes up after. How can she be both busier than me, and having more relaxation and sleep-time? The answer: relaxation and sleep are not my priorities.


Nothing is more frustrating than telling someone you've just finished a manuscript and then hearing: "I wish I had that kind of free time."

Them's fightin' words, because you know what? If you really want to make time to write, you're going to have to sacrifice something.

STEP AWAY FROM THE SHEEP! (AND PUT SOME PANTS ON!) I'm not talking about daughters, deer, and sacred bovine. I'm talking about activities. Things you do. Fun things, or even things you consider necessary (like spending time with friends).

I give up a lot of things. I give up my weekends, my vacation time, Dr. Who and Torchwood, afternoons on the lake, getting back into rowing. I give up long phone calls with my mom, and going out with friends. I give up my Friday nights, and usually my Saturday nights too.

There is no magic button.

There are dishes in my sink, my laundry hamper is full, and I should probably clean out the cat-box. It's 12:13 AM, I have to get up at 6:30, and I haven't showered yet. If your schedule's anything like mine, you have about four hours in any given day to get stuff done...assuming you sleep eight hours, which I almost never do. I just finished a manuscript so this week is an exception, but usually when I get home from work, I don't sit down in front of the TV or go to the gym. I don't grab the latest George R R Martin book and let it eat my face. I don't call my friends. I don't hop in the shower. I might be slightly guilty of playing Angry Birds and checking my email, but the ONLY thing I'm thinking about is getting my hands on that keyboard.

Sometimes I go grudgingly, and sometimes I putter around the internet instead of writing, but I do write, and usually for much longer than I should. Then I get to choose between a shower and having six hours of sleep rather than five and a half...

Yes. I shower. But then it's this again:

There are days when I would LOVE for things like TV, workouts, showers, and friends to be my priority. It would be awesome to sit down in front of a few episodes of Avatar and not feel guilty because I could be writing.

I don't have a time-turner (okay, I do, but it's fake) and I don't have 28-hour days, but I do have my priorities established.

But I'm Le Tired...

Sometimes I walk in after work and the overwhelming amount of dishes and the daily disaster of the cats chasing each other around the apartment (and Dragon*Con costume-making) takes precedence. By the time I'm done straightening and eating and all that, I don't want to write. All I want is sweatpants, a cup of Earl Gray, and David Tennant, although not necessarily in that order. We all have those days, and that's fine...but if you're feeling that way every day, you might be letting yourself off too easily.

Some people work twelve hours a day, have kids, have spouses, and still manage to eke out time for writing. It can be hard, and when life explodes it can be damn near impossible, but if you want to write, stop waiting for the Writer's Conspiracy to abduct you in the night, hand you the mask and robes, and give you the Inverted Pendulum of +5 Chrono-retardation. (...wait what?)

Why wait for a magical future time when the day has 28 hours and working from 9 - 6 suddenly isn't exhausting? When exactly is that going to happen? I'm hoping to stay busy, because if I'm not busy in this economy, it means I'm unemployed. Been there. Not cool.

Writing will become a habit. You can argue if it's good or healthy or obsessive, but the results are there: I produce work. I get the stories out of my head, and then I try to get them as close to perfect as possible.

So that's it. That's the big secret: you DO have time to write.

Still don't believe me? Tell me why:

Talk to me, gorgeous: Where does writing fall in your list of priorities? Do you have time to write? What have you sacrificed to have that time? Do you have any suggestions to make time?