A writer’s life is one spend doing a lot of other things other than writing. I would say 90% of my writing is spent THINKING about writing but and 10% is getting words written down. Wait, make that 60% of my time thinking about writing, 30% second guessing myself/fighting anxiety and 10% actually putting words into sentences and paragraphs.
Being a writer is brutal. You might ask, why would someone actually choose to be a writer when it is so painful and agonizing? Because the only other option is to stop writing. And to stop writing would be like to stop breathing. If I stop breathing (and writing), I stop living.
I’m going to give you a peek inside my writing process, so you can see how I actually spend my time in my craft. Up front I am going to ask you to not judge me. It’s not organized or neat or exciting.
A Writer’s Life
It is a Tuesday night and I walk in the door from work exhausted from my commute in Dallas traffic. As soon as I sit down my purse, lunch bag, coffee mug and water bottle, I slip off my high heels and sort through the mail. A large, white envelope is on the kitchen island and I quickly rip it open. It is a book from Denise J. Hughes that I won on Facebook last week. With the book and my two cell phones in hand, I walk upstairs to my bedroom. I change out of work clothes and into a comfy pair of Lularoe leggings and a t-shirt. On the way home from work, my husband texted to let me know he took the kids to the park for a playdate. I suddenly realize I have a quiet house to myself for at least an hour, so I decide to write.
Well, I decide to think about writing. The first thing I actually do is sit down on the bathroom floor and paint my toenails, then my fingernails. Because with the kids out of the house, I know I will not be expected to cook dinner, wash clothes or fold laundry for the next hour. But really I am just stalling. I want to write but I don’t where to start. I sit down at my blue antique desk and move a stack of unread books out of the way to get to my computer. The stack reminds me I need to mail one of those books to a blog reader who won a giveaway. I also notice a bible study journal that I received at a conference a month ago that I need to review. Anxiety starts to creep in before I write one word.
I check both of my phones again and see it is 5:22 PM. My husband messaged me a few videos of the kids playing in the park a few minutes ago and I want to make sure I have not missed another text from him. So of course I check Facebook for the 47th time today, click on Instagram and quickly realize I am about to go down the black hole of time suckage that is social medial. I put both phones on my nightstand where I can’t reach them and sit back down at my desk. Maybe I should make a cup of tea. Or light a candle to set the mood for writing.
I don’t feel like going all the way downstairs to make tea but I do light my candle. Why do I think I am a writer?
Get over Anxiety
I stare at my screen, trying to decide what to write first. I have at least 17 ideas for articles and blog posts to write, which seems like a good problem to have but it just paralyzes me. Anxious because I don’t know where to start. While staring at the screen I hear the clock in the bathroom ticking loudly, which means I left the door to the bathroom open. I can’t sleep at night with the door open, the sound of the clock ticking makes me nervous. But since I am not going to bed, I try to not let it distract me. Okay, what should I write?
Wait, should I paint another coat of polish on my nails before I start? No, I have already wasted enough time and the kids will be home in about 30 minutes. Searching through the jumble of ideas in my mind, I settle on an idea that came to me Sunday night when I laid down to go to sleep. That night, I mentally wrote an amazing story about the year I stopped going to church and how it impacted my spiritual journey (not for the reasons you think). Words come to me quickly when I am lying horizontal in bed but I am too tired to get up and write them down. Of course the next morning I rush to my computer to write, but my story does not seem as exciting as it did the night before. Why do all of my good ideas disappear?
I push it aside and go to my next idea. In the last month, several people have asked me “what is your story?” So it may be time to share what we have been up to as a family, fill you in on my husband’s band and explain why we decided to change schools for the kids. My Samsung watch buzzes, indicating I have a Facebook notification on the Stonyfield page and I remember that I have a recipe post due by the end of the month (which is tomorrow). Although I thought of the recipe idea, I never got around to making frozen bananas dipped in peanut butter yogurt drizzled with chocolate as an after school snack for the kids. Maybe I have time to make it tomorrow, take some photos, write the recipe and have a post up by the weekend.
Speaking of the weekend, this is Labor Day weekend so we have three days off school and work. As part of a social media campaign, I received the contact information for the assistant manager at a nearby campground. I meant to call to see if the four of us could go camping this weekend. Oh well, it’s still hot outside it would be better to postpone camping for a few weeks. Also, my husband’s birthday is on Friday and I doubt he wants to spend his birthday camping with a 7 and 10 year old.
Wait, what am I supposed to be doing again? Oh yes, writing. Maybe if I write all of my ideas down, I can prioritize them and decide what to write first. Or maybe I should paint that second coat on my nails before the kids get home. Wait, I think I hear them coming in the front door. I guess it is time to make dinner…
Does this sound similar to your writing life? Do you struggle to find the perfect time and place to write? What are your tips for finding time to write?