Before my children were born, I wrote pretty much whenever I wanted. If I needed to sit for five hours on a weeknight and crank something out, I could. If I chose to take an entire weekend, from morning to night, and do nothing else but write, nothing stopped me. I always had time to do all the things I needed to do to keep my personal, professional, and writing life going smoothly.
But then my children arrived.
That sounded bad.
First of all, let me be totally transparent – my kids are my world. Writing is a passion, but my children are my life. So while much of this may sound pessimistic, that’s not the intention. I credit my success as a human being to my wife and children. They always come first, and that’s fine by me.
Okay, back on point. If you’re like me, you may be juggling lots of different things along with your writing. You may not actually get to write that novel or short story but once a week. Oh, sure, you’ve got time carved out every day, but something always comes up. I’ve read some authors who said their time is untouchable. They will not give it up. That’s fine for them, but that’s not my way. Like I said, my wife and kids always come first.
So what does this all mean?
I’m saying that writing is a lifestyle. For some of us, it’s the main focus. For others, we do it when we can. But I guarantee you, just because I may not be writing on a certain night, I”m always thinking about it. It is always in my head. My characters, scenarios, plots – all of it. When I’m doing dishes (as my Twitter and Facebook friends can attest), I’m thinking about it. When I’m mowing the lawn, I’m thinking about it. In fact, I believe that my busy schedule actually proves beneficial. When I actually get the time to sit and write, I’m primed and ready. I understand how valuable that time is, I’ve run through whatever it is I’m writing a thousand times in my head. It’s an almost euphoric experience to sit and let it flow.
Ideally, we would all write that five pages a day we’re supposed to achieve. But that’s not a realty for many. My hope, my wish, is that you don’t feel bad if you can’t manage more than a night or two a week. Yes, consistent writing will only help and it’s the best way to hone your craft, but sometimes it’s just an impossibility.
I often have negative thoughts about my writing, usually including the phrase “enough.” I’m not writing enough. I’m not submitting enough. I’m not making enough professional contacts. I’m not networking enough. I don’t fine tune my website enough. To all that, I say, “Enough.”
In life, we do the best we can. We keep our priorities in order. My writing is my passion, my art, but it’s not my only passion. My family is my masterpiece. My teaching career is a work of art in progress. My writing improves every week, every month, every year, year after year.
I crave balance. I fight for equity.
Writing is a lifestyle. It’s who I am. But it’s not all of me. It’s an important part, among many.