No Time to Write! Really?

My biggest challenge these days is finding time to write.

In fact, finding time to write is the biggest challenge facing most of the writers I know.

Life always interferes.

Funny, isn’t it,  how we never consider “writing” to be “life?” How we will inevitably table our writing in favor of almost anything else that comes up?

For me, lately, it’s been the whole new life that comes with self-publishing a book. There is so much to learn, so many decisions to make and so many hats to wear (some of which don’t fit very well and, consequently, take more than the usual amount of time to try to screw onto my head).

Before I decided to publish Leaf, the time that was not spent working as the CEO of the Spence Family Unit or spending time with said unit was spent writing. I had finally managed to get to the point where I was writing a few hours a day. It wasn’t quite a Stephen King lifestyle (I didn’t have a wife to take care of everything else so I could write all day and read all evening) but I was happy with it.

And then I embarked on my biggest DIY project to date. Now those precious hours are spent dealing with the myriad of things that need doing to, first, get Leaf to print and, second, figure out how to get him into as many hands as possible. It’s been months since I’ve written anything new.

Not counting my blog posts, of course.

They don’t count because they’re not fiction.

Hmmm. Maybe I need to start writing stories on my blog.

Sure. Torture the masses with your writing and editing process. Wouldn’t that be riveting?

You, my friends, have just been treated to what it sounds like in my head on a regular basis. It actually LOOKS more like this:

It’s been months since I’ve written anything new not counting my blog posts, of course they don’t count because they’re not fiction hmmmmaybe I need to start writing stories here on my blog sure torture the masses with your editing process wouldn’t that be riveting?

ANYWAY . . . 

I was bemoaning my situation until I read the life story of a prolific writer whose novels I have never actually read, but whose autobiography had jumped into my arms (along with the autobiographies of half a dozen other authors) during a rare waiting-for-my-son’s-drum-lesson-to-end interlude at the library.

Her book, I actually read.

All the other books did the usual closed-cover shuffle from one room to another through nine weeks and three renewals before being returned, unread, to the library.

The most important thing I learned from Mary’s book is that if I want time to write it’s up to me to make that time to write. Period.

That and, Suck it up, princess. You don’t know how good you’ve got it.

Here, in a nutshell, is her story:

After numerous rejections, including one knife-through-the-heart editor’s note that read, “Mrs. Clark, your stories are light, slight and trite,” Mary Higgins Clark’s life-long dream to be a writer was coming true.  Magazines were finally starting to buy her short stories. She was on her way.

And then her husband died, leaving her alone to raise five children aged five to thirteen. She managed to get work writing radio copy – the short story fiction market had dried up – but her job and caring for her children left no time to write her own fiction. Every available hour of the day was filled.

So she added more hours to her day.

She rose every morning at 5:00, took the typewriter from its spot on the floor in the corner, placed it on the kitchen table and worked until 6:45 when it was time to return the typewriter to the corner, rouse her children and prepare everyone for the day.

It took her three years of these morning sessions to complete a book on George and Martha Washington called Aspire to the Heavens. It was published, but didn’t do very well because the publishing house was sold just as the book came out and there was no money spent on publicity. It was disappointing, but at least now she knew she could do it. (That book was also lost for a period of years and then surfaced again to be reprinted under a new title, Mount Vernon Love Story, that, happily, sold much better than the first edition.)

She kept up the same morning schedule to try her hand at a novel. It took her a year to write the first draft. And then another year to edit it. An hour and a quarter at a time. That book, Where are the Children? became her first best seller.

So, the moral of the story for Miss I’ve-Got-No-Time-to-Write is you have the same number of hours in your day as Mary Higgins Clark had in hers. If she could do it working full time and raising five children on her own, then you, a woman with only two children and a husband with a good job, can too. It depends entirely on you.

So. How much do you want it? Or is the I-have-no-time-to-write spiel just idle blah blah blah?


Don’t you just hate it when you get called on your stuff?

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