It’s a Lifestyle Thing

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.

A Few Positives Regarding Extra Time

While I wish that this outbreak had never happened, and with full recognition of the pain and suffering many are enduring, I must admit that there are a few personal things that I’ve experienced during the last several weeks that are frankly quite positive.

  • Seeing my kids all day, every day: If you’re like us, life is a crazy, crazy whirlwind. Work, school, sports, music, church functions, Girl Scouts–we’re always either coming or going. With everything put on hold, we get to spend more time together than we ever have during the regular school year. In between studies, we play video games together, do crafts, play outside, play board games. I won’t lie–I’m loving this time with them.
  • Hanging out with my wife: My wife and I are both teachers, so the summer is usually when we catch up on all of our shows. We’ll stay up until midnight together most nights tearing through the latest hits. That is not the case during the regular school year, however, because my wife pretty much works every waking hour, and I can never stay up much past ten o’clock. Since being told to stay home, just being together on a consistent basis every night has been really nice.
  • Making a point to talk with family and friends: It sounds crazy, but we can go days and days without remembering to call family and friends. This time at home allows us the opportunity to better keep in touch. I’m talking more regularly with people through calls and texts than I have in years, and it’s been great.
  • Watching everything in my yard bloom: Spring is an amazing time of year. We have a tree right outside of our kitchen window, and it’s been mesmerizing watching the leaves slowly begin to bloom. Observing the plants push up from the ground and the grass get greener day after day, it’s an incredible thing to behold.
  • Personal pursuits: It’s so much easier to carve out an extra twenty minutes here and there throughout the day in order to pursue personal goals now that we’re at home all day. I’ve resumed a final edit on a novel I plan to release soon, I’m able to practice the bass guitar again after a false start last January, and I’ve even been able to lift free weights on a regular basis.

Again, I’m in no way trying to make light of the outbreak. I wish to God that people weren’t suffering due to this tragic turn of events. However, I can’t help but notice that all of the positives from this experience have one thing in common–extra time. I’m realizing more and more what is most deserving of my time, and that’s something I hope to remember once all of this passes.