Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Balancing Act



We've all seen the stereotype of writers.  Male writers enter their den or office, where they sit for hours, surrounded by crumpled paper that never reached the trash basket, while they create the next best seller.  The female version has a woman reclining on a luxurious fainting couch, box of chocolate at the ready, while a plain, bespectacled woman perches nearby, taking dictation.

Yeah, in your dreams.

Most writers don't have the luxury of locking themselves in a room--with or without fainting couch--and devoting themselves exclusively to their writing.  I don't know about everyone else, but for most of my writing life, it's been a struggle to find even a small block of uninterrupted time.  Even when I was a married stay-at-home mom, the day wasn't exclusively my own, and writing was often done late at night when the family was asleep.  Back then I could function on a few hours of sleep each night.  Not so much anymore.

So what's a writer to do?

One of the things I discovered was that it took sacrificing a few things, doing some pre-planning, and learning to be flexible.  No, no, don't click that little X up there in the corner.  Stick with me and let me present the case for one of the ways of carving out time.


This is the hardest of all.  None of us likes giving up something we enjoy.  But if we want to add something new to our life, something has to give.  Below are 3 things I've enjoyed (and still enjoy!) in my life as a writer and an adult.
  • Television
  • Reading
  • Arts & Crafts
Many of us are card-carrying members of the Boob Tube Generation.  We were the group who grew up watching (the original) Captain Kangaroo, Annie Oakley (the series) (the original) Mickey Mouse Club, and dozens more that would take forever to list.  I remember the old black & white TV that was a focal point of our living room during my childhood.  That's it on the left, with the Christmas tree (circa 1954, if my calculations are right) at center stage.  I spent a lot of time watching that TV.  In fact, a few years later, there was a stain on the carpet from the bottle of Mercurochrome I spilled while tending to who knows which scrape, and that's where I chose to sit, after that.  (Yes, I really am that old.)

And then came Beta and VHS, and we could record programs when we were away from home!  (I taped General Hospital every day and watched when I got home from work.)  Along came satellite and movies on VHS/DVD and cable TV.  And because it was impossible to watch 2 programs at once, we were gifted with the DVR and things like OnDemand to make it easier.  We are never without television.

If you're spending most of your free time (what little there is) watching TV, this should be on the top of your list to trim down.  Your TV-watching time needs to go on a diet.  You don't have to give it up completely, but removing one or two hours of TV a week could net you up to eight hours in a month.  And just think how much writing you could get done in that time.  The Bachelor can get along just fine, even if you aren't there to cheer or boo him on.  I promise. ;)

From my first Little Golden Book to now, reading has been a big part of my life.  I love to read.  I love to lose myself in a story and forget about the reality of life.  Before I started writing with a goal to maybe someday having a book published, I read constantly.  I still read all I can, but not even close to what I did.  Now I spend more of that time making up and writing my own stories and characters

But like TV, giving up reading all together isn't a good idea.  We all need that take-me-away, and reading is a great motivational tool for writers.  Keep reading!  Just gently reduce the amount of time you spend doing it.  In fact, giving yourself the gift of time to read when you've reach a goal is the perfect reward!

Arts & Crafts
I learned to sew when I was eleven and sewed many of my own clothes throughout high school. Later, I took up decoupage, macrame, crochet, t-shirt painting, (big breath), and even learned to knit...something my mother did very well.  I enjoyed every one of them.  Doing crafts and art projects can sometimes be a  restful activity.  But if you want to add the craft of writing (an art of its own), and if you're struggling to find time to do it, then it might be time to cut back a little on the other arts and crafts.

Please note that I never once said to give up anything!  To be well-rounded and interesting people, we need to have many interests.  Doing only one thing, over and over, is a sure bet way to learn to despise it...not to mention becoming very boring.  But if finding the time to write is something you've been struggling with, take a close look at what and how much time you devote to other things and consider reducing one.  Or two.  Don't completely deprive yourself of anything!  Well, not unless it's a bad habit you wanted to give it up anyway. ☺

Trim the fat of life and carve a new path!  You might be surprised at what you'll discover.

Next week we'll take a look at pre-planning and discover ways it might help net some writing time.
“People always make time to do the things they really want to do.    

1 comment:

Joanie said...
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