Thursday, April 29, 2010

10 Are You a Writer?

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel Gardner’s blog post yesterday. She refers to writing as “a lifestyle,” and it’s hard to achieve this with so many other daily demands around us. While I agree with her that a writer pursuing publication can’t be flippant about the craft, I have to admit that I have a difficult time balancing writing, reading (books and blogs), editing, critiquing, meeting, and blogging. Oh, and don’t forget that just slightly time-consuming thing called submission. Yet, all of these are necessary pieces to the publishing puzzle. I suppose it’s a personal choice, as Gardner discusses, where you must sacrifice something if you want to cross that line from writing as a hobby to writer.

I’m curious, what’s your secret to getting in consistent, uninterrupted writing time? How do you juggle your life’s demands with all of the many components on the path to publication? And, is this all a matter of semantics? Do you consider yourself a writer, regardless of what your other daily requirements may be?

Happy Pondering!
Marissa

10 comments:

  1. I struggle with this too because I have a demanding full time job as an attorney and a family to take care of. I tend to write for about 45 minutes in the morning, for about 20 minutes at lunch if I'm lucky enough to get a full lunch break (I walk for part of it) and then a few longer stretches on the weekends. I read most blogs at night, which is hard, because I'm at the end of the comments. But I can't read many at work. I spend a good hour or two per night reading them. So I do sacrifice time with my family to follow my dream. It's worth it, but I do think you have to put limits on it, because time with family is important too.

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  2. So glad to know that I'm not the only writer experiencing this. And yes, I do consider myself a writer, even if I don't get to do it as often as I'd like. Actors are considered actors between movies. Singers are still considered singers even if they haven't released an album (CD) in years. And we, their fans, don't consider them to be anything less than the artist that they are. Why should writers be looked at any differently?

    I am constantly tweaking my schedule to make sure that I can devote time to my craft. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. All I can do is keep working at it.

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  3. Hi Marissa! Uninterrupted writing time? What's that? ;) I squeeze in writing whenever I can. I find early in the morning works best for me, when everyone is still sleeping and I have silence, unfortunately it doesn't last very long, but even in a half hour I can get some good writing in and it eventually adds up. Every little bit helps!

    xoxo -- Hilary

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  4. Natalie, I can't begin to imagine being an attorney on top of writing. Kudos to you for balancing it all. Late at night seems to be a time I find myself trying to maximize, too. Thanks for sharing your strategy!

    Denise, two good points. You're right that whether or not you're terribly active, you should still consider yourself a writer! Thanks for reiterating the idea of being a "work in progress." We try to do the best we can and it's not always perfect :)


    Hilary, thanks for passing on what works for you. Right now, I'm up by 4:30 to go to the gym before work and I've thought about shuffling that to fit in more writing. It seems there are so many demands and not enough time! Your comment is very appreciated!

    Marissa

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  5. I've tried the 'before dawn approach', the 'carry a notebook with me at all times approach', the 'turning off the television in the evening approach' (What? Miss an episode of House??). I've discovered that my writing time is in the morning, before my brain isn't taken over by the events of the day.

    What doesn't work is embracing worry - worry that my low daily word count means I'm not a "real" writer; worry that I'm not on top of my submissions; worry that my creative brain is shutting down and the next word will be my last...

    Any talk of 'balancing my writing life with the rest of my life' is a bit silly, really. Writing is not a separate, different life. It's an aspect of the one life I have.

    It doesn't matter if I fail sometimes. I also succeed sometimes. Failure doesn't make me any less of a writer than Jodi Picoult or Anne Lamott or Flannery O'Connor. I may not be as good a writer - but that's a different story.

    I write. I am a writer.

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  6. I'm terrible with balance. I thought I had it figured out yesterday. I did my writing/tweeting/blogging, I put in my volunteer hours, even played a board game with one of my kids. Then this morning I forgot to send my kids to school with flowers for the teachers for teacher appreciation week and nearly cried because they'll feel left out and I let them down. Doh! I guess I'm a work in progress.

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  7. Mimmp, you sound like Martina. She would be saying, "Repeat after me. I am a writer!" I love the idea that early morning reduces life's distractions. I also need to follow your advice and not worry!

    Lisa, you crack me up. I'm a teacher and I'm touched at your kind sentiment :) As a writer AND a teacher, I understand! What's more, you're a mom and that's the hardest part of all! I applaud you for juggling everything. Your busy life inspires me!

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  8. I work two days a week, and I have the house to myself three days a week while my husband is at work and my kids are at school. On those days, I rush through my errands and housework, then spend the rest of the time writing (and reading, emailing, Twittering, Facebooking, commenting on blogs, critiquing, etc.). I stop only when I hear the school bus rumbling down the street to bring my kids home. But no matter how much time I have to write, it's never enough. I always want more.

    I've considered myself a writer for about 18 months now, since I began dedicating the majority of my free time to writing. My husband only took my "hobby" seriously for the last couple of months, since I announced my publication aspirations and started earnestly learning about the industry. But even if I'm never published, I will always consider myself a writer, even if no one else does :-).

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  9. JayceeKaycee, I love your confidence as a writer. You're right- its by your own definition. If you're writing and enjoying it, that's what genuinely matters. I think you hit upon a critical piece- no matter how much time you have to write, it isn't enough. I'm looking forward to the summer to write with a much more open schedule. Something tells me that even then, days will fly. Thanks for wonderful commentary!

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  10. Thanks so much for sharing this with us, everyone! It's humbling to hear how much you are all juggling. I'm at least lucky to have flexibility in my schedule, so I'm awed by how much you all accomplish. Keep it up. You are all writers!

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