Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Butt In Chair -- Hands On Keyboard

Talking today about showing up for work.   Punching that time clock!

By that, I mean, treating your writing career like the job that it is...or the job that you want it to be.  This is crucial if you ever want it to be. 

Johanna Harness blogged about this today over at Gem State Writers, so go see that, too.  But I wanted to expand upon it a little bit.

Some of us are the very fortunate blessed ones that are able to stay home and write full time.  To those, I bow and scrape and genuflect!  That is awesome and I can only pray to be there one day.  While I know that brings its own brand of distraction and scheduling issues...especially with small children or outside obligations, I can see where setting a writing schedule and sticking to it might be a little easier.  Maybe...

Others, like me, still have to count on the day job.  I, for one, try to hit all my errands on the way home, then churn out a load of laundry, see what vitally needs doing (and by vital I mean people will trip and fall to their deaths if I don't clean/pick it up), and throw something together for supper on days I can no longer get away with leftovers.  (Ramen noodles and frozen chicken fingers only play out as filler for so long).

Then around 6:30pm, I try to sit down and write.  Sometimes this is productive.  Sometimes, Twitter is too shiny.  Sometimes, my husband gets needy and cannot seem to watch TV without me.  Or he'll come in 50 times to ask me how productive I'm being.  *patient grin*   But most nights I only get an hour or so, and I have to hope that it is quality time.

The point is, I do show up.  BIC-HOK.

Butt In Chair - Hands On Keyboard.

I thought that once I was under contract, I'd somehow magically find more hours in the day to be all over it.  But....same old hours.  I do show up, but it's not always what I wish it would be.   I have to make up for it by putting my head in my story at all other times--kind of like working overtime at work--while at my desk, I'm playing out scenes.  Over and over.  Sometimes even out loud, and then I get the funny looks, but my BFF is across the hall and she knows me so she just ignores it.  I keep my notebook in my purse for times I might get a chance to scribble some things down.  (I do my blogging from work so I don't have to use that time at night...O_o )

But I learned this year, the importance of treating writing as a matter how scattered that job may be.  Once I did that, I got an agent, an editor, a book deal.   What my family and friends once viewed as a hobby because that's how I treated it--they now see as something serious.   My time has not increased, my schedule has not improved, my screen still sometimes stares back at me with disdain....but I'm there.  It might only be for an hour that night...but I'm there.  Punching in.  Making the best of it.

Tell me about your writing schedule!  How do you make the best of it!


Lynda Jo Schuessler said...

Hi Sharla,
I struggle with the time issue and I don't even have a full-time, on-the-clock job. Part of it seems to be giving myself permission to take my writing seriously. If I don't, who will? I find it helps to have other writing friends who hold me accountable. Hang in there...
Write on,
Lynda Jo

Patricia said...

I have to admit that since I've become an active blogger and I participate on other people's blogs by commenting and reading and learning (which I enjoy), I have not been spending as much time writing. Now I'm going through a guilty phase wherein I don't want to quit reading blogs or writing my own, but I have to be more regimented in the time I spend doing so. I have to BIC HOK seriously or I'm not going to get anything done. I'd love to know how many hours other people spend doing this because I rarely go on FB or Twitter and I feel overwhelmed!

Janis said...

Good points on commitment. This business is hard and it's very easy to find things to do while avoiding writing. We just have to keep on keeping on.

Johanna Harness said...

Thanks for the mention! You get right to the heart of the matter: treating writing like your job. The rest follows from there.

lee said...

I only manage by being able to adjust to weird hours--because I'm still a student and am actively doing research (often on deadlines), setting "writing time" isn't really feasible. So I do like you and think about my WIP all the time, and when I do sit down to write, at whatever strange hour it may be, I'm able to get stuff done. Usually. Sometimes AW is too shiny to resist :)