Monday, December 04, 2006

Time to Lean, Time to Clean

When do you write? (and it’s corollary: How do you find TIME to write?) are questions I get asked a lot.

When I first started writing, I wrote on the job -- which I can’t actually recommend since I could have lost my job because of it -- and that spoiled me. I could write when I wanted to – which, it turns out, is mid-morning. I’m at my peek creatively from about seven thirty to eleven o’clock. When I became a stay-at-home parent, I was completely screwed up, since I discovered that the only time I had to myself was in the evening. Bio-rhythmically, I’m a zone-out-in-front-of-the-TV sort anytime after six. But, I had a paying deadline, so I couldn’t “wait for the Muse” or even my intellectually peek time. I learned to just start whenever, and write as much as I could.

Yet, when talking to fellow Wyrdsmith, Sean, I came to the startling realization that I don’t actually write very often these day, if you calculate actual hours spent. When I’m teaching, as I have been for the past three months, I write even less, because my scheduled time to work on fiction is post-Mason-bedtime (8:00 pm, reliably. While his official bedtime is 7:00 pm, we tell the story of going to sleep, and then he usually drifts off around 7:15 and then *I* wake up sometime before 8:00 and stumble out, bleary-eyed.) As you can perhaps tell, this is kind of a sucky arrangement, because I tend to end up with a half-hour nap right before I sit down to compose. The nights I teach, I usually don’t write at all because I don’t get home until after 10:00 pm and, given that Mason and company is up and out around 5:30/6:00 am… I need a few hours sleep.

Anyway, factoring in two nights of teaching, I write four or three nights a week for three or four hours. Maximum, I’m getting 16 hours/week writing time. But, on average, I’d bet it’s much closer to 10 - 6 hours/week. However, I don’t let myself go to bed unless I’ve written 1,000 words, which is how it is that I think I manage to make deadline (I missed one publishers’ deadline in my entire career, and it was because of a family death.)

Sometimes, however, like last night when I was struggling with a sex scene I spend my whole three hours pecking slowly at the screen, until I finally just give up because I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. BTW, I ALWAYS struggle with sex scenes, which is why when Shawn suggests I consider writing erotica as my next sub-genre, I told her no way. My writing would slow to a crawl if I tried to write more sex.

I’m writing about this, not to complain, but because I think people usually imagine published authors having unlimited amounts of time to write. They look at their busy lives and think, no way -- I just can’t make time to write. Granted, I’m the sort of person who is highly motivated by a deadline (oh, and honestly, a the paycheck that comes with book delivery), but I think that six hours a week is really very do-able. Keep in mind, I often take the weekend off from writing (although I wrote last night to make up for a particularly lax writing week) – so you really don’t even have to sacrifice family time for your craft. I don’t, anyway.

Hopefully, you feel inspired now. Go write. :-)

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