Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Stop the Excuses

“I have no time to write.”

“It’s the holidays. There’s so much to do and my family needs . . .”

“I’ll write as soon as . . .”

This time of year, it’s easy to allow the writing to fall by the wayside. To feel better about their own lack of writing, many reassure each other that it’s okay.

It’s not necessarily okay.

Have you been writing regularly in the weeks and months leading up to the holidays? Have you planned it out so that the holidays are your vacation from writing, so you can approach them guilt-free?

Or do you just “not get around” to writing?

If you’ve been diligent all year and decided you want a few weeks off, by all means, do so. But, if you’ve been negligent about your writing and are now using the holidays as yet another obstacle, you need to sit back and re-evaluate.

How badly do you want to be a writer?

Time will never magically appear. There will never be enough time in the day or the week or the month to do everything you want and need to do.

If you are a writer, the writing MUST be a priority. That means telling people – including your family – no sometimes. Sometimes you simply can’t jump up and be at everyone else’s beck and call.

You have as much right to X amount of hours to yourself to write as any other person in your family with a job. Even if your income is not yet as much as your partner’s, until you stop thinking of yourself as a hobbyist, until you start respecting your own work, no one else will either.

Don’t use your family as an excuse. Set up systems that involve time and space to write. And stick to them. If your kid breaks an arm falling out of the crab apple tree, obviously you’re going to have to be flexible. If the kid is whining because he wants attention – get him interested in a book or something else. If he’s old enough, ask him to research something in the encyclopedia that you can use in your writing.

When I lived in Manhattan, seven of my ten godchildren were once dumped on me in the same week, ranging in age from 4 to 14. I was working full time in the theatre at that period of time, and under deadline for writing.

I did just as much writing that week as I did in any other week. We were crowded, but some of them baked cookies while others searched through books to help me find the right kind of leaf for my story while others played with the cats or coloured in colouring books.

During the day, we took trips to museums and went to Central Park and the zoo and wandered around the city. While I was at work, the older kids took care of the younger ones. And the house did not fall down.

Sometimes we cooked together, sometimes we ate out.

It was busy, it was not necessarily quiet, but all of our needs were met. I had my time to write, they felt included rather than excluded, and they also learned how to research – both in books and in museums.

They learned a different way to look at the world and I learned to see the familiar aspects of my city through their eyes.

It wasn’t easy, but it was fun.

And I had the time to write.

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