Friday, March 16, 2007

Writing time.

I met with a friend for coffee one evening this past week. This is a rare occurrence for both of us, as we both have young kids to get fed, bathed and put to bed and by the time this is done, it’s usually 7:30 or eight.

But we carved out the time, which was really nice. Not only to spend some time talking about adult things, but also to discuss the time constraints involved with our lifestyles.

This woman has a full time, busy job, comes home, takes care of her kids and if she’s lucky, the work/mothering portion of her day ends around 9pm. Then she’s back up in the morning at 5:30am.

And she was berating herself for not writing as much as she would like to. My response was ‘when’. By the time her kids are in bed, she’s exhausted and has zero mental energy.
I have a slightly easier schedule than this woman, lunch hours, a couple more hours in the evening, which I waste watching of all things, American Idol. But I’ve sort of rearranged my life to free up these hours. Taken less challenging jobs, I don’t work overtime, and I have a really helpful husband. But not everyone has this luxury.

I know there are tons and tons of working women out there trying to find time to write, some successfully, usually at the expense of sleep, or relaxation time. Others less so, and maybe like this friend of mine, feel guilty at how little they get done. Her wording was ‘fraud’ to think of herself as a writer and to go to our local chapter meetings.

What makes it worse are the stories out there. Women with five kids and a full time job writing five books in two years, full time mothers writing four books a year. I bow to these woman, but man are they setting the bar high for the rest of us.
Hell, all I have to do is look at Molly. Who has written three books in the past year, as well as take care of her infant son full time.
These are amazing examples and while inspirational, can also make the rest of us mortals feel guilty.

That’s a lot of pressure on top of what is already a full day for so many women. Screw guilt. Do what you can, for the love of it, but ignore the stories of what everyone else accomplishes. I’m trying to, not always successfully.

This isn’t a free ride for everyone out there to surf the internet and not write(I’m lecturing myself at this point…must stop surfing the web…), but let’s cut ourselves some slack. We can’t be superwomen, it’s exhausting, mentally draining and how can we be creative when all we can think of is getting another hour of sleep?

Some excuses are valid.

8 comments:

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Sinead! Guilt is a terrible and destructive emotion. We shouldn't compare our goals and output to that of others.

Robyn Mills said...

I was once told that 'people like me make them sick'... I mean, I don't work outside the home and can, supposedly, write all day. So, I feel guilty now when I don't write because of all those who crimp an hour here, a minute there to jot down what they can and They get published...maybe they don't have time for procrastination...? Mmmm maybe I should get a job a Timmy's!

Sinead M said...

Hey Robyn,

Guilt seems to be universal thing for most writers.
One thing I strongly believe is that we only have a certain output in us a day.
Whether I have two hours, or ten, I've never exceeded 15 pages in a day, and usually not that.
I do better when I have at most two and am focused.
Ten, I just tend to do anything but..
If you're writing at all, you're doing better than 99% of the people out there and you should be proud.

Maureen McGowan said...

I'm one of those dreaded people, too, Robyn. But I've come to believe that no matter how many hours I have, there are only so many physically and mentally in a day I can spend writing. Particularly on first drafts. (when I'm in final edit mode... I can do it for 10-12 hours if I have to.)

I certainly do have more time for writers loops and networking and things like that than writers who work full time and/or have kids. And yes, I have more time for movies and TV (which I also thinks help my writing -- research, right?) and for countless games of whatever mind-and-time-sucking computer game I'm addicted to at any particular moment.

My issue is that given all my time flexibility (which I love) I don't always spend those 2 or so good mental hours a day writing. This must change.

Kristy said...

Wow, Sinead, please tell your friend that she's AMAZING to me. I have no kids and no day job anymore, and I somehow manage to complain about not having time to write (especially this past month when EVERYTHING has gotten away from me). Stunning, isn't it? I wrote my first book while working full-time, and I don't know, it just drains all the creativity out of you on some days.

Kimber said...

I think sleep is way over rated. LOL.

I got the guilt trip when I jumped off the executive track so I could take summers off and write. After all, so and so big time writer manages to write in his spare time. Well, bully for him. My creative juices are zapped after 10 hours of solving problems.

Heck, I don't even write romance the rest of the year. So by your friend's definition, I shouldn't show my face at the meetings either. But who would then heckle from the back row?

Karen In Toronto said...

I find the biggest problem with writing and family is that writing is a right brain activity and managing family, business and home is very much a left brain activity.
So it's fine and dandy to make the resolution to write every morning for one hour between dropping kids off at school and getting to the office or laundry or grocery shopping. But actually living it? Post writing you'll find yourself running to the office only to find you had a meeting with the principal you forgot about. Or try grocery shopping while in your right brain. You'll arrive home with taco chips, windex and kitty litter and no supper for your starving family...not to mention you don't own a cat.
Perhaps a week at the spa would help getting those pages out. But now Maureen tells me that doesn't work either. [sigh]

Sinead M said...

Guilt seems to be so universal. I imagine there are writers our there cranking out 20 pages a day, and kicking themselves for not getting 30 done.

Crazy..

If we're writing at all, we should be proud. That's my new motto.

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