Being an author is a pretty cool thing. People are always intrigued when they learn that I write. There are usually a string of questions and comments that follow. Most of them are good, well-intentioned questions. Others could probably be worded differently and expressed more concisely. The second group typically revolve around the “I’ve thought about writing, but I have a real job,” type of back-handed comment. I also have a “real job” that requires a lot of time and attention. On the other hand, I also have an undeniable urge and desire to write, so I make time for that too. Just like with everything else in life, it all boils down to prioritizing. I value my need for creativity, so I account for that in my day-to-day routine.
On top of that, I also have two small children. Being a parent of two kids with a full-time job doesn’t leave a lot of time or energy for much else. This post isn’t supposed to be a “woe is me” pity party, so I want to make sure we don’t slip down that rabbit hole. I just want to point out that being a part-time writer still consists of being a writer, so if you really want to write then do it. Just write. Know what you are capable of personally, and strive for that. Nobody is going to create a best-seller right out of the gate with their first project and earn tons of money and sell the rights to a movie company and have wild success overnight. Those “overnight sensations” require a lot of work and certainly don’t happen overnight. So don’t get lost in unrealistic expectations.
Sometimes at the end of the day you might only have 45 minutes that you can devote to writing. The key is to take advantage of those 45 minutes and not brush them off and throw them away because they’re “only 45 minutes” and “not worth getting my computer set up.” Sometimes 500 words is a productive writing session and that’s okay. Cranking out 2,000 words at a time feels great and can fuel creativity and motivation, but it also takes time to get those 2,000 words typed out. Sometimes, even if the creativity is flowing, you simply can’t commit that much time in one sitting, and that’s okay. Take advantage of the time you can get.
Sometimes, you just won’t have the energy to write at all, and that’s okay too. That doesn’t mean that you stop being a writer. That just means you need a lazy night for yourself where you can veg out on the couch in front of the tv, and you know what? That’s also okay. Just don’t let that become a habit. It’s tempting and easy, but if you want to write, then you have to make it a routine. Sometimes, you just need to write something. Anything. Simply forming the habit of opening the document and typing something new is crucial. And it doesn’t have to be much, but you have to train yourself to be deliberate and intentional. I saw a quote from Richard Bach the other day that slapped me right in the face, it was so poignant: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”
On top of those full-time job, spouse, parent, and home-owner demands, there’s also the balance of the actual writing aspect of being a writer. There’s a balance between producing new material, and trying to stay relevant online. Readers want new material as fast as you can crank it out, but then there’s also the necessity of staying active on social media and your website. Today’s attention spans are microscopic, so trying to keep readers engaged and interested is no easy task. So, you have to factor in that time commitment too. Can I take several pictures in a short amount of time and schedule a certain number of posts for my social media? If I devote a few hours to that and a few hours writing new posts for my website, then schedule those, then that might buy me a few weeks where I can focus on my Work In Progress. But by doing those things, I’m taking time away from my WIP. How do I know what’s most effective? Here’s the thing. The short answer: I don’t. I just have to keep working tirelessly to try to figure it out. With any luck, maybe one day I’ll be an amateur who didn’t quit.
Thank you, that is all.