Where does all the time go? As a writer, I sometimes struggle to find time to do my favorite pastime – creating. I’ve set aside the early morning, (or as my wife says, the middle of the night) to put words to page. There are no distractions – except self-imposed ones. I have a habit of getting up between 4 and 5 AM every morning to write. After eating, my first action of the morning, usually while eating is to peruse the news. This creates the first set of distractions. If something exciting is going on, I tend to follow it as far as I can. Oops, there went some of my writing time.
Then there are computer games, I used to enjoy two games of solitary just to warm up the thinking process a bit before delving into the writing. Well, that grew from two games to I don’t know how many games. It was suddenly about the wins, not the warm up. Games have since been relegated to after writing, if I have time for them at all.
Then comes the mental process of considering what it is I want to write or where to start a day’s session. Some mornings I can just sit down, start writing and a scene or little vignette comes pouring out. At other times, I have found I tend to let my brain wander down a path and look up to see hours have passed and still I have a blank screen. Oops, more writing time lost.
Note: none of the above considers the other normal distractions that life brings us each day. My wife does not like to be ignored, funny neither do my three children or their children. I garden in my back yard, growing vegetables and flowers. We volunteer, spending lots of hours at state and occasionally national parks doing interpretive work, or leading nature walks, doing presentations at campgrounds within a two hour radius of our home. We spend a few hours a week engaging visitors at the Hatfield Science Center, or taking elementary school children to and from STEM classes. Then there is grocery shopping, visiting with friends, meeting with writers groups, attending workshops, or classes when I can find one nearby.
Keeping focused on writing in our busy season (Summer) is difficult. Getting enough rest seems equally difficult. Yet, here I am at 6:10 AM already four hundred words into a blog post. So the point is, and yes, I am trying to make one, is that a writer’s biggest asset is self-discipline. It seems that my habit of writing is so engrained now I feel odd, maybe even suffer withdrawal if I don’t sit down and write something every day. But it didn’t start that way. It started with me struggling to remember why I wanted to get up and write, on my committing myself to a certain number of words every day, making that my top priority even when life happened and tried to intervene. It helps that I have a supportive spouse. I feel my children are usually tolerant of my eccentric behavior of waking up before dawn to spend time on my computer, though I see that tolerance fray around the edges if they perceive that I ignore them too much.
I want to write for publication. That is why I have made writing a habit so engrained as to suffer withdrawal when I don’t. It is a priority that I am willing to and often sacrifice for. Will I ever achieve that elusive goal of receiving payment for my work? I don’t know, but it will not evade me because I failed to do the work. That is one of the few variables I can control.