Finding the time to write when I’m also working an almost (35 hrs) full time job and also being a parent and managing the majority of the items that keep our household going is definitely tough. This moment was great for me to be able to sit in the sun and have a beer while working on my first novel. It does require intention and planning though.
One of the things I decided to do for the month of April, during Camp Nanowrimo, was to take a hiatus from FaceBook. I knew I was spending way too much time on it in the small moments I took throughout the day, but also in the evening as a way to decompress. There are so many people who say that FB creates an addiction of sorts and they’re totally correct. I actually found it really tough for the first few days, but I had deleted it from my phone and that was my go-to spot for checking it. In fact, to be honest, I still feel that kind of “loss” of what to do in the small moments when I’m not busy with specific work. The small shot of dopamine that FB can bring when you check in on your friends, or see what’s going on that day, or watch to see if some breaking news is making the rounds, is really nice to have. On the other hand, seeing extremely sad news stories, or hearing of something sad in a friend’s life can get me down during the day.
I also found some amazing podcasts to binge-listen to during the month, and actually for the past few months, and it’s what’s helped me start this journey into being a writer. The first one I started with was Sarah Werner’s Write Now Podcast which I highly recommend for anyone who is in the beginning stages of this journey, or just wants fabulous encouragement along the way. Her voice is also really soothing and she is always positive. One of the things I like the most is how real and honest she is about everything from her own doubts and challenges, to just how excited and proud she is when something she does becomes a success. I think a lot of people feel like they have to hide their own faults, especially if they are trying to inspire people, or maybe that is just what I assume they would think because that is what I would think. However, in reality it’s way more inspiring to listen to someone battle their own insecurities and doubts, come up with solutions to the problems or psychological walls they are facing, and then honestly give themselves some high-fives for being successful. It’s also comforting to know that apparently most writers (at least those I’ve heard interviewed) also have the same insecurities and doubts about themselves and their writing over and over, even when they’ve become really successful. There is a reason her podcast comes up first when you search podcasts about writing.
The second podcast I started listening to was Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn Podcast because I heard her on Write Now with Sarah Werner, and she was really inspiring too, so I subscribed to hers too. Now I’ll admit that I got a bit sidetracked with her podcast because she has so so many episodes since she’s been doing this since 2009, so I scrolled through and grabbed a couple of them from the backlist to download for the 4 hours I am in a car every other week for my project’s site visit. I heard the interview with the guys from the Bestseller Experiment Podcast On The Creative Penn and was instantly hooked by this idea so of course immediately subscribed to this podcast too and proceeded to binge-listen to it. (Yes I did go back to Joanna’s podcast and have been binge-listening to it this past week) The goal of the podcast was to write, publish and market a bestseller in 52 weeks. Before I listened to them I had never considered going for a “bestseller” but now I will admit, it’s my goal for this debut novel. The Bestseller Experiment is fantastic both for the premise, the laughs, and the authors, editors, publishers they interview. It’s amazing getting to hear advice from Bryan Cranston, Michael Connolly, John Yorke, Sarah Pinboroigh, Joe Hill (Stephen King’s son), Shannon Mayer and many others. They interview both traditionally published and INDY authors and have a “Vault of Gold” which is the notes they compile from each of their guests as they try to find the elements of the “secret sauce” which creates a bestseller.
I know that in general the salary of professional writers is worse than architects, and as an architect, I can tell you it’s not great. It’s not nearly as bad as being a public school teacher, but it’s certainly not a salary to support a family with one income. Well… I guess if you don’t have kids in daycare then maybe it would be ok, but when you’re paying more than your mortgage for daycare definitely not. So while the statistics for me having a bestseller right out the gate are low, I figure what the hell? Dream big!
What was this post about again? Oh right, finding time to right. Well, as I said before intentionality is key with all of the many balls or plates or ducks or whatever metaphor you currently desire here that I have to keep up with in my life. This means that I have had to intentionally give up some things in order to carve out time for writing. Facebook has been one, and though the urge is still there I don’t really miss it all that much. Watching TV is another, which I usually didn’t do until after my kid was in bed anyway, but previously I would have been watching a show at the time of night I am writing this before bed. The result of giving these two things up for about 6 weeks now is that I basically have no idea what is going on in the world at the current moment, and I am not caught up with Westworld, which is perfectly fine. I don’t miss it all that much in the end because this whole writing journey is far more fun, and I’m really just replacing one kind of “play” with another, which so far is much more fulfilling and exciting, and holds way more possibilities for my future than what I was filling my free time with before.
Finally, thanks to my awesome husband, I occasionally get small portions of days like the one from the photograph above where he takes our son on the weekends for a few hours so I can write. We are intentional about giving each of us time to do whatever it is we need to do separately. While this can mean that we don’t often get a lot of “family” time, this alone time is crucial for both of us. Our personalities require a lot of time to ourselves, or just recuperation time in general. Before our son, that was mostly spent together doing fun things or watching shows or just reading in each other’s company. Now it requires us to take shifts being the “on” parent. I look forward to the days when our son is old enough that we can all recuperate together, but that is not a part of this phase of our lives. So until that changes, I will continue to grab those small moments of time to write when I can, and maybe I’ll write a bestseller like Dan Brown and make a ton of money and have a river house and then I won’t have to steal those times to write anymore, but will actually be paid to do it.