Working Writer

We are on day two of NANOWRIMO – National Novel Writing Month – and I have to admit that I totally forgot. This school year has been much better than previous ones, but I’ve been taking on more leadership roles so I have been very busy. It’s making the time pass quickly, which is nice, but I’m also exhausted at the end of the day. I manage to squeeze in a couple of chapters of a book before I fall asleep, but that’s about it.

When I sat down to write this post this morning and I realized that it was NaNoWriMo already, I started to feel really guilty. I haven’t touched my book since school started in August, so this is when writer me starts to talk to herself about how bad a writer she is. Why am I not writing every day? How hard is it really to write like 200 words so you’re at least making forward progress? You think about this story all the time and how it works, why can’t you take 30 minutes to put some of it down?

Valid questions all, and perhaps if my only job was writing I would feel like giving these more space and credence. I read the blogs of full time writers, writers who have children and families, and seeing how they manage their time, how they get up early in the morning to write or go to the library or coffee shop, how they managed to write a book little by little, and I am inspired and motivated. I reserve study rooms at the library, I plan to stop at Panera on the way home and write a bit before I enter the house, I think I might write a bit at school before I even leave for home. Even writing it all right now sounds really good and doable, and I want to run out and do these things to get back on the writing train.

I don’t have to go far before my own personal reality hits me in the face. Like so many other writers I am an introvert, so much so that teaching all day drains my energy to the point that most days I’m almost falling asleep in my recliner within ten minutes of arriving home. I’ve been going to bed between 7:30 and 8:30 at night, sleeping through the night, and then waking up the next morning feeling like the sleep I got wasn’t nearly enough. And when my depression or anxiety comes to call, the work that is required to manage those things along with all the other normal day to day activities, makes all of this even worse.

I’m not sharing these things to make excuses for myself. I’ve already come to terms with the fact that the bulk of my writing will happen over summer breaks when I have the mental space to sit and write without distraction. I am sharing these things because you’re going to feel guilty anyway. You’re going to see other writers who write a thousand, five thousand, ten thousand words a day and wonder what you’re even doing. You’ll never reach those numbers, you’ll never finish this book, you’ll never…

Don’t let what other people are doing affect what YOU are doing. Only you know how important your writing is to you. Only you know what your life can support and when you can fit in writing among all the other things. Just because other people write their way, doesn’t mean you have to write that way too. Figure out what works for you and your life, and then stick to that. When summer 2020 comes around, I have to write. Until then any writing that happens is a bonus for me, but I can’t get down on myself for not doing so because that would be unreasonable. I am not other writers. I am me.

My book is going to get written. I have a story. I have something to say. It’s just going to take some time because I have small windows in which it can come into being. Search your heart and ask yourself when your realistic windows are for writing your story. Then hold yourself to those windows and write like wolves are nipping at your heels.