9/22/2005 7:07:45 PM
ArtisticRainey once asked me a very pertinent question: how do I balance my writing with my family? She mentioned that she can never seem to find time to write, even though she wants to.
The problem is that you’re never going to find time to write. If you’re serious about pursuing this craft, you have to do what other artists, do: either make time, or take time.
Now, me? I take time. The implication here is that my writing sometimes takes time away from other pursuits, like housework, or time with my family. I am fortunate that my children are all in school for most of the day, and they have become self-sufficient in many ways (like making their own lunches, taking baths, helping with chores), so quite often, taking time doesn’t interfere with them. But still, there are times when they need my attention and I’m so wrapped up in the writing process that I don’t feel I can stop. That’s when the writing takes my time and attention from where it should legitimately be: on my family.
And I definitely know what it is to be distracted. Instant messaging and my role-playing can be some of my biggest distractions, as is checking for reviews (heh heh). As a result, time goes by with the distractions and not with writing (which would actually be a more legitimate use).
The answer is to make time; to schedule it in with the rest of your busy life. You don’t have to be hours and hours at it, either. Set a timer for yourself: use an egg timer, kitchen timer, alarm clock, what have you, and sit down for maybe 30 minutes. Put aside the distractions; put the "do not disturb" sign on the door, the "away" message on the messenger, or stay offline entirely, and focus on writing for just those 30 minutes. Turn the timer away so you’re not watching it and don’t look at your computer clock. Then write whatever scene is strongest in your mind. Even if you’re not writing in strict order, you’ll get that idea onto paper or into a file for future reference.
If you do this, one of two things is going to happen. Either you’re going to write for the thirty minutes and, when the bell rings, save your file and say, "Whew! I’m glad that’s over!" Or, you’re going to snarl at the clock, slam your hand down on it, and say, "Not now! I’m on a roll!" and keep writing. Both reactions are legitimate and at the very least will help you get your ideas out little by little, without taking too much time from other pursuits of equal or greater importance.
And like an artist who brings along a sketch pad wherever he goes (my daughter and husband are like this, except at work), always have something along to write on and write with so that those sudden inspirations don’t get away. I’m sure there are times when your body is still but your mind and hands could be moving (and I don’t mean in class; there your mind and hands should be taking notes!). But if you’re riding the bus, sitting at lunch… there are lots of times that could be profitably used. You could even bring along printed copies of what you’ve already done for editing purposes. Every little bit, every little word counts towards perfecting your craft.
I hope this has been helpful. If you’ve got any other questions, comments, or suggestions, let me know. Also, if there are any common fan fiction terms I’ve missed, I’d like to know about them.