Summer is here and I have two teens home from high school. It’s a blessing and a curse. Although I’m enjoying a different pace, I already miss the chance to sneak in any daytime writing. I’m too busy coordinating their schedules: part-time jobs, online classes, chauffeuring the youngest to all his activities.
I’ve also been doing a lot of contract work lately, too. Another blessing and a curse. Of course, I love the extra cash and my husband is almost giddy about it, but again, that’s even less time to work on novel #5 (second in the Pennies from Burger Heaven series).
There’s a life lesson here for all writers, whether you have kids or not, work outside the home or not, plan to publish or not. In order for your writing to survive during difficult times, you must learn to…
Relax into the chaos around you.
For me, I know that from now until August 24 when school starts, my early morning sessions (5 – 7 am) are my only guaranteed writing time. Period. That’s not good or bad, it’s my current reality. Still, I needed to make personal changes before losing my mind.
Chaos is a Friend of Mine
What’s the current turmoil in your world? Are you in the middle of moving homes? Is your dad in the hospital and you’re exhausted from living up there? Or, is it happy pandemonium? Nothing can turn a family on its ear faster than a new baby.
Mentally fighting this change of routine was kicking my arse. It didn’t improve my situation one bit: the kids were still in and out of the house and the mental warfare exhausted me.
I finally waved the white flag and surrendered to the situation. This acceptance has improved my world greatly, on and off the page.
Two hours of writing time per day is not bad. In fact, it’s pretty great. I have friends who’d give anything for that much time and focus. What’s interesting is I’ve been taking about the same number of blog posts and book pages each week to my critique group for their review.
They don’t think my time crunch is hurting my writing at all.
That gave me a huge mental boost.
So, why was I complaining?
Because someone moved my cheese, changed my routine, went off script from my managerial directives.
Maybe you cannot mange two hours of writing per day, much less per week, or even within a month. There are times when your world feels too overwhelming, stressful and consuming to remove yourself from the crisis at hand. Illness, financial stresses, divorce, addiction, death can bring even the strongest to your knees. You need to ride it out until you can get back to your computer.
Other times, you have to admit you’re being a wee-bit lazy and using life as an excuse to not write. Maybe, you need to stop whining like me and just write, despite the craziness around you. The only change I needed was a change of attitude.
Only you know the answer to that question. Should you ride out, or write out the storms in your life?
Face your truth, then respond accordingly.
Are you writing or not writing these days? And, WHY?
Please leave a comment. I’d love to chat.
Pick up your FREE copy today of the mystery, The Moon Rises at Dawn (SkipJack Publishing). Read, enjoy, repeat.
Oh, Marcy, this is so great, and timely! For the general public and for me 🙂 I just wrote a post about surrendering to summer, and accepting the changes in schedule rather than fight it. But I think this quote sums it up best: “Should you ride it out or write it out?” YES. It’s a question we all need to stop and ask ourselves periodically, and especially in periods of change.
Change is definitely in the air and I’m not surprised you wrote a similar post. We can’t just always “buckle down harder” and write. Summer always throws me off at first, then I’m weeping the first day back to school because we have move back into warp speed again. Good luck to you and your writing.
Hi Marcy, thank you for this and all your interesting posts. I have not been able to send comments until very recently but using a WordPress account at last things are working out.
When I was your age I to coped with the joint issues of working as a teacher, running a home and caring for three young boys and a husband. The only female in the home was the dog. My writing then was confined to journaling and writing poetry for my own challenge and pleasure. Now at 79 years old and a widow living alone (with three cats instead of children; I still have my own share of riding out the storms in my life but oh how I am enjoying my writing. admittedly I have more time these days but with medical issues, I need a fair bit of rest too.
Although I have never had anything published, I have won prizes for short stories and poetry and that seems enough for me these days. I love to read, have started a small daily blog of my own and write every day within the 750 Words Site. The challenge is to write a minimum of 750 words each day on anything I choose for one month, a challenge renewed each month.each month. I don’t always make it due to health issues but I DO enjoy it. I love to read of other writer’s challenges in life. I probably will never reach the dizzy heights of publishing my work but I don’t mind that. The point is that writing fulfils me as a hobby and is an integral part of my life. It also fills quite a lonely hole in my life too. I would be lost without the ability to write every day and of course reading interesting blogs and posts from writers like you. Add to this a house full of books and three cats and life is well up to the storms that blow my way.
My very best wishes for your own hectic storms in your life and I am sure from reading your posts; you manage them fine and juggle your writing world very well. Keep them coming I would miss them! Leila.
What a DELIGHT you are, Leila! I’m glad you’ve found your way to Mudpie Writing. You definitely understand about juggling life’s many responsibilities. You definitely have the heart of a writer, too. It’s clear you MUST write like you MUST breathe. The 750 Words site is a wonderful idea. How cool and encouraging.
Best of luck to you on journey. I look forward to more on your thoughts.
Catherine North (@NorthCat75)
I think you’re so right, Marcy, it’s not so much about the overall amount of time you have, as how to deal with unexpected changes to your routine. I used to work four days a week and have one day free for writing, but next month I’m going full-time at work, so I’ll lose that writing day. I recognise that’s not a big deal AT ALL – I’m lucky enough to have tons of free time left. But, I do need to work out how to adapt so I make better use of my time in the evenings and weekends, instead of making excuses. Watching less TV and avoiding Twitter debates are my current strategies 🙂 Thanks for your insight as always.
John Grisham worked 60-70 hours every week while he wrote his first novel, so we can’t use our j-o-b-s as excuses. I all depends on how bad you want it. I’m sure you’ll find that even though you’re losing that “free” day of writing, you’ll still squeezing in time — 10 minutes here and there.
For me, I have less time to waste, so I’m actually being more productive with the time I have. Crazy but true. Your plan of less TV and Twitter debates sound wise. Good luck!
I’m fighting to write while pushing myself to gym myself to death. A lot of my evening writing time has transitioned to hours at the gym while I try to fix my diet and health so I’m struggling to find time suddenly especially since I’ve started a new book and need an hour or two at times just to reread previous sections or search for information from the last book, it’s slowed my progress down but I can’t cut the gym time out so it’s turned into an exhausting balancing act where I’m pecking away at things whenever I have a few spare minutes.
Well, you already know this, but I’m going to confirm you’re on the right track. Going to the gym and getting your diet/health back in order must take priority over your writing these days. I see you on other blogs, so I KNOW how important your writing is to you, so I know this is painful to put something you love on the backburner.
However, our health is EVERYTHING. I just had an author friend (in her early sixties) ignore her health for too long and she died of sudden heart attack at home a few months ago. Tragic.
I don’t say that to frighten you, but to encourage you. Your writing will still there and even be better when your mind and body are in shape. Balance. Do the best you can at both until writing gets to be #1 again.
Thanks Marcy for the timely post. I thought it was just me…lol!
My little guy (8 years old) is a joy to have at home, although he has disrupted my schedule. I typically only work 4 hours per day on my freelance work so theoretically it should be a breeze, right?
Well,yes and no.
Truth is, I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to my schedule.
I’m always chasing rabbits, so it takes me longer to get my work done than it should.
I am amazed at how you can get 2 hours done so early in the morning. That is what I need to do, but I’ve been too lazy to get my arse up so early, lol. Seems my subconscious thinks that it’s on vacay too! 😉
Thanks again, Marcy for the great insight. I will put it into practice so that I can publish a novel this year that’s been sitting on my hard drive (unfinished) for the last 5 or so years. Ugh!
Enjoy the chaos…I know I will!
Great to hear from you, Anita. With an eight-year-old at home, you’re LIVING in chaos (thought totally worth it). Sometimes, I wake up and 3 am and can’t go back to sleep, so I write until 4 o 5, then go back to bed. Sometimes, I go back to bed at 7 am. Other days, I have to get dressed and go straight work. It’s always changing. I love and hate that.
Yes, get that unfinished novel completed, so you can move on to your next book. It wants to be heard, too…I feel it! Keep going!
You nailed me. A dear friend passed away in California, so we had to go to the memorial service. Why fly when you have time and the way in between is some of the prettiest in the country? Once there, we had several friends to catch up with. Then we said, what the heck, we’re here, might as well drive up Highway 1 and enjoy the ocean. One thing led to another, the “another” being a camping trip to Moab. Bottom line: it’s been a month since Billy’s progress made it’s way to paper.
Now I’m in the habit of not writing. But thank you for turning on the flashlight and shining it in my eyes. I’m awake now. 🙂
Hey William, I’m so happy to hear from you.
See? Your chaos was bittersweet. You’re fortunate that you had the time and financial means to drive to California for your friend’s memorial service. I’m sure you loved catching up with your buddies, even though it was a sad occasion that brought you together. And how FUN you got to stay awhile. THOSE are memories you’ll carry forever and a WONDERFUL reason not write.
Now, it’s time to begin and again. Slow and steady to return to Billy’s story and let it unfold on the page. You’ve got best of both worlds…enjoy and honor your writing and your life. 🙂
Hi Marcy, I’m b-a-a-ck! 🙂
You nailed it about the early morning hours … and the laziness.
Living in a construction zone, my husband and I share every inch of living space at the moment, and then there’s the weekend visitors. I love all of it but, for the next few months, where and when can I write?!?
Answer: from 5-7am, anywhere in the construction zone.
The challenge: getting out of bed!! After 2 years of craziness to get here we’re finally unwinding, and lying in bed in the morning has become a guilty pleasure. (Neither of us have done that since we were teenagers and the novelty is not wearing thin!)
This morning, I was lying there thinking of all the things I want to write … but, well, I didn’t get up, again.
Thank you for the kick in the pants! Since this is our first vacation in 2 years, I’m cutting myself a little slack, but it’s time to get writing before I get too used to this!
Welcome back, T.O.! I’ve MISSED you!
Cut yourself a LOT of slack. Moving into your dream home has been years in the making. That is a perfect example of good/bad chaos.
The words will still be there and maybe go slower in getting back to them. Try getting up at 6 am instead of 5, two or three times per week for awhile. I’m not worried about you, the writing bug is too deep inside you. You’ll come back to your keyboard when the time is right.
Marcy – this is so me! Everything that happens in life, good or bad, seems to be a valid excuse to not write. And I know I’m not alone when I approach my writing with an ‘well, I can’t spend six hours writing, so a half hour here and there isn’t going to make a difference, just forget it’ attitude. I used to think writing 4 – 5 hours a day would be enough, and for many it is, but being retired and given all the projects, not to mention blogging and marketing tasks I have on my plate, I need to approach my writing as it is a full-time job. It’s important to look at all the mundane yet (seemingly) necessary tasks we need to do each and every day, but I found the majority of them can wait until the end of the day or the weekend, because when I was working full-time, that’s when I did them anyway!
I admire you, Jack. Because trying to do what all you were doing: working on my novel, blogging multiple times each week, reading tons of writing posts, social media….it was all making me CRAZY!!!!!!
Right now, my #1 priority is finishing this latest novel. I’ve set the rest aside for now. I’ll still do them some, but it’s not hell-bent, everyday, gotta do it mentality.
I’m sooooo much happier and producing more. That’s the balance I needed. Everyone has to find the right mix for them. Good luck to you.
I sometimes think that if I have all the time I want to write then something must be wrong. I have started to divide my writing day into 2-3 hour slots because I cannot focus any longer. I just use the highly productive early morning slot for the most important project.
I have also gone to Inbox zero – Archived *everything* and now using InboxPause so I am no longer tempted to open emails every few minutes, as they come in.
Wow, Phil. You’re getting uber organized. Keep me posted on how your email management programs are going. Like you, I work on my most important writing project first thing. Get it done and makes me proud of myself to accomplish other feats, too!
Thanks for your thoughts.
Your article inspires me to take the time I can to write and not feel torn by the time I spend writing. I go to a critique group with my current chapters. Since I am in the process of learning about writing, the comments can be brutal. I always have to rewrite what took me over two hours to compose. I’m plowing onward to getting my writing completed. I have allotted an additional two months to conclude my writing. Thanks for your tips on writing through the storms of life. My husband is battling cancer which is a storm of immense proportions. Sometimes I just need to sit with him and ignore my pursuits.
Writing is a release–an outlet. It can help you deal with the stress of illness and cope with your concerns. If you don’t feel like writing fiction, but write about your emotions or daily life. Those will come in handy when writing characters later on. That isn’t as cold and unfeeling as it sounds. Writing down your emotions and events also will help you deal with the harshness of your situation.
Also, you might want to look up magnesium and add more foods with Mg to your diets or to both of your supplement routines. I was surprised at the difference it made for me.
Great advice, both on the journaling, as well as the supplements. Thanks for your thoughtfulness.
I’m sorry about your husband’s cancer. That’s by FAR more important than your writing. Good for you for having your priorities straight.
About your weekly critique group, even though their comments are brutal, do you feel encouraged overall? I just want to make sure you’re in a positive environment + learning and growing as a writer and not getting torn to shreds by the pettiness of others.
HI Marcy! I’m still riding out a storm yet have managed to write some while waiting for it to pass. The extra time alone has helped me to focus on what my heart yearns…to write. Thank you sweet lady for the encouraging words! (Kathy Marshall Roach)
Yea, Kathy! I’m so happy to get an update on you. You keep writing and healing, then you’ll find yourself where you want to be.
Yes….I am healing rather nicely! Thank you for your support and friendship! Happy summer to you and yours!
These days, with the last of my actual college classes behind me, I’ve been given the best gift of all — time. And, surprisingly, I’ve been using it pretty well. I’ve been writing, editing, and submitting short stories. I even started planning a new short fiction anthology!
I hope you keep enjoying those two precious early morning hours, Marcy.
First, CONGRATULATIONS on completing your college courses, Adan. That’s a HUGE milestone and wonderful news for you and your family. Enjoy. I’m impressed how productive you’ve been with your time. Keep up the good work, and I’ll try to do the same!
It’s like you’ve read my mind!
I don’t remember when I last wrote anything in my novel. Im overwhelmed and stressed and feel like I’m on an emotional roller coaster.
Thank you for this.
I’m going to work on finding the balance. Because I miss writing.
I’m glad my post helped you. Welcome back to the land of balance. For me, that’s a constant quest, but I’m sure you’ll be happier when you honor your need to write — even if it’s not as much as you wish you could. Some is better than none. Good luck!
I cannot tell you how much your articles help me to write. AFter many years of neglecting my writing, I am finally having my daily dose of writing again. My best writing on and off through the years, was writing in first person about the storms and emotions in my life. It’s scary and emotional, but the truest writing that I have ever done. My motto for writing:
“One ought only to write when one leaves a piece of one’s flesh in the inkpot each time one dip one’s pen.” – Tolstoy –
I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you saying my posts help your writing. It makes all my time and trouble worthwhile. Thank you.
Congrats of getting back to your writing and on a daily basis! That’s impressive. Love the Tolstoy quote, too. Good luck and you keep writing your truth.
Hi Marcy, This is my first visit to your blog. I’m not exactly sure where I came from but it was comment you made on a post or a guest post. Either way, it is nice to be here.
I really do not see how anyone with kids, a home, etc. can keep up but I admire those that do. I am a caregiver and most of the time I have free time but not always, so I am learning to use that time wisely when I do have it.
I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.
It’s nice to meet you. Most everyone has busy lives, whether they have kids or not. It all depends how much you want to write, how bad you want it. You then either make it a priority, or not.
I look forward to getting to know you better.
I’m new to your site, and let me tell you, you have a great voice!
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a child, but I didn’t believe in my abilities. Now I have an unfulfilling job, I’m educated, and I need a change. But I’m not so young anymore (45) and it feels like it’s too late for me to really become a full time writer. My skills are sketchy and I know it would take a lot of work to get up to par. I’m not afraid of hard work, but I have a hard time with failure. That’s why I have a difficult time even sitting down to write. Not because I’m busy, which I am but I could manage that, but because I’m afraid that it will take 20+ years for me to achieve any type of success.
Pitiful I know, but that’s where I am, and I’m fighting to overcome it.
Glad you found your way to Mudpie Writing and I appreciate your compliments. Forty-five is NOT too late for you to become a full-time writer. You have wisdom and life experience and you can’t put a price tag on that.
What you shared it NOT pitiful at all. You have a great deal of self awareness and that’s fantastic. Failure is part of the process…rejection, criticism, so you’re going to have temper down your perfectionism because it’s going to happen. You just have to learn how to deal with it and move on. You can do this. Welcome to your destiny.
Thank you, Marcy. I REALLY need to hear that!
By the way, I haven’t gotten the download for Writing Naked yet. When should I expect it?
Oh my, Mara! If you’ve signed up for Mudpie Writing, you should receive it immediately. If you have, maybe it went to your SPAM folder?
If you want, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll email you a PDF.