Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Strange Day

Last night I got the draft of my assignment out of the way early and got off the 'puter. I went into the lounge room to spend time with my wife, who promptly went and got on the computer.

After checking for tell-tale signs of bad BO (thankfully absent), I watched the second episode of season two of Underbelly, and then went and read the first chapter of Jackson's Haunting of Hill House - no what I expected but I shall reserve comment until I'm finished.

Today I began reading a number of things. I started with reading Stuart Neville's blog from start to finish. Yep, I read every single post from 2006 all the way through to Feb 5th 09. A little over 100 posts in total so it's not as bad as it sounds. It's an interesting read, especially in the beginning as he sets out on the journey. It becomes a little less educational as he gains an agent and moves toward being published, but still an interesting read.

It also put me onto a few other writers blogs which I have added to my feeds and will see how they pan out before I deem them worthy of placing in the sidebar.

And then I read this article over at "Dispatch From The Razor's Edge" by Michael Fuchs.

With reading Neville's success story, other novelist's and aspiring novelist's blogs, and then the Fuchs article, I've struck upon a quandary.

Why am I writing?

It's got nothing to do with a career crisis or questioning whether I'll ever think I'm good enough. It's not even to do with the old saying "If you're not driven to write, then you're in the wrong field" - it's just a simple evaluation of what I'm currently doing in my life and the way I'm going about it.

Let's see if I can clear that very murky statement up a bit.

With all the words written by writers and authors I've read today, very few seem to be by people who are currently studying writing. Bugger all of them are trying to combine a full time job with study and writing. Some have done their study in the past, have moved on to a job, and then took up writing on the side. A few have had writing move from a sideline to their main income.

Almost every writer I looked into, has difficulty with finding time to write. They need to give up something to find the time to write. Many give up social activities, most give up sleep. None have given up social life, family and sleep because they have to squeeze in study as well.

Am I holding back my ability to advance in the craft because I don't have the time to allocate to just writing? One night a week, usually two, I am working on assignment related stuff. This is compounded at the moment due to summer sporting commitments, but exercise is not a luxury - it's a necessity to stay sane. Another two nights a week, plus one day on the weekend, is allocated to sport.

So five days out of seven, I'm already booked. I need to keep reading which takes another day.

When I say day, I mean the few remaining spare hours I have at the end of any given day. After sporting commitments, I try to do some writing, but I usually find it difficult to focus. Occasionally after working on an assignment, I can get some of my own writing done, but the norm is one night - one focus.

Normally that only leaves Sunday. Sunday morning is lost. Because I've sacrificed sleep during the week to try and keep up with things - so I sleep in. Sunday is also my day of chores. I try to get things done around the house. More often than not this is a good thing as it gives me a chance to escape the keyboard, but if I'm behind on things, it becomes a struggle to stay at the keyboard long enough to get into a good flow.

So do I need to adjust what I'm trying to achieve?

I've made a commitment to gaining these writing credentials. Perhaps I should shelve working on short stories or entering competitions for the time being. Perhaps I should say no to any new writing gig which comes up, especially non-paying gigs.

Once summer sport commitments are over, I'll have a little more time, but do I want to add things like writing sporting articles into that space, or should I just use it to write the fiction I want to write?

All the blogs I read confirm to me that writers write. We all sacrifice time to work on our craft. Writing is like a calling.

But when do we say enough is enough? When are we sacrificing too much? Something has to give - but what?


  1. I feel your pain. Writing used be the last thing I would do. Now it has become one of the first things I do. It still has to come behind my family and as far as a social life I don't have one, but yes, you are correct that something has to give.

    I think Barry said it best that we need more hours in the day. I don't feel that. I feel like I already see too many hours in a day (22 yesterday) but only two or three of those was devoted to putting words down. I don't watch television unless it is with my wife. I read but not as much as I would like. In fact if anything has 'given' it is my reading time. I feel lucky to read ten pages a day. I do not know how you find the time to do what you do in a day because compared to you I am a slug.

  2. TV and video games are firmly planted in the graveyard because of my desire to write. Recently, I've abandoned the internet after 7 PM because it got in my way.

    Cory Doctorow has a great post at Locus Online that might help. He's a pro, one hell of a writer, and he says 20 minutes a day is good for him.


    Best of luck finding the balance.

  3. I'm learning to say no to people more, so I guess its my social life I'm cutting down in order to write. It's painfully hard sometimes finding the time to write though because you just get into the story and you've got to be somewhere. I also try and bring something to work, a chapter or a story, and edit in my lunch break just so I can keep it moving.

  4. Jamie - my problem is I do a lot of things related to writing during any given day, but not a whole lot of writing, and it's starting to really annoy me.

    Aaron - thanks - I'll be reading the link tomorrow - as soon as I find some time.

    Danielle - I write more at work than anywhere else. I must be one of the highest piad, unpublished writers in Australia.