Friday, February 05, 2010

GUEST AUTHOR: Linda Poitevin

JK Coi: My guest today is Linda Poitevin, fellow Canadian writer and author of the book A Fairy Tale for Gwyn. I asked her how she manages her time, and she had this to say:

Time: The Writer’s Dilemma

I started writing seriously – as in aiming to be published – about nine years ago. I sold my first book, A Fairy Tale for Gwyn, to The Wild Rose Press in March 2009. So did it really take me nine years to write the story? No, but it did take me nine years to learn how to make the time to write.

Time, I think, is a writer’s worst enemy. And we’re not just talking about time as it relates to deadlines and revisions and such, we’re talking about time when it comes to writing in the first place. Specifically, making the time to write.

We writers are a bit of a solitary breed. In the writing stage (not the deadline stage – a whole other story!), we don’t have a set timeline, or a boss that we report to, or even an office expecting us to arrive at a certain hour. Writing can be done pretty much anytime, and pretty much anywhere, for that matter. Therein lies the dilemma. Too many aspiring writers fail to make the time for their writing – and that was the trap I fell into nine years ago.

I told myself that I was serious about becoming published, but whenever life got complicated (as it frequently did), my writing was the first thing to be placed on the back burner. It was easy – too easy – to tell myself it was just for a few days/weeks/months, and that I would get back on track as soon as “x” crisis had passed. The trouble with life, however, is that “x” crisis would invariably be replaced by “y” crisis, and then “z” crisis, and then we’d start the alphabet all over again.

So what’s the difference between nine years ago and now? About two years ago, I stopped trying to find the time to write because I realized I could never find what didn’t exist. Instead, I made the time. Faithfully. Determinedly. Stubbornly. I carved out a niche for myself every day of the week and I stuck to it. By some standards, it’s not much – just three hours a day. But it’s mine, and it’s consistent, and it works. Partly because it guarantees me time for writing, and partly because it makes me think of myself as a writer. Stories are no longer something I do when life allows it, they’re my job. A job I work at every day.

And before you roll your eyes, I know what you’re thinking – that life must simply have slowed down in order for me to make this time. But you’re wrong. Life remains incredibly busy, and sometimes terribly complicated. Over the course of this summer and fall alone, I have helped my husband renovate most of the main floor of our house (doing the work ourselves, including laying a hardwood floor!), helped a daughter find two different apartments and then ultimately move home again (long story involving roommates), done hours and hours of research after learning that someone I care about has a serious learning disability, frozen and canned enough fruit and vegetables for my family over the winter, said goodbye to our family dog after eight years (and then acquired a new puppy) – and written a 445-page manuscript from start to finish.

When I think back over the last few months, I think I need to have my head examined for even attempting a story in the midst of all that. But I did it anyway – and I was able to because I made the time. On the days when it would have been easier (and probably smarter) to get an early start on a project (or sleep in after staying up late to finish one), I reminded myself that I was a writer and that I had a job to do. And I did that job and wrote a book.

So what about you? Whether you’re an aspiring writer or not, tell me what’s important in your life that you can never seem to find the time for – and then commit to making the time instead. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain...are you up for the challenge?

JK Coi: Find out more about Linda and her book here, and make sure to comment on this post for your chance to win! Linda will be giving away a pair of artisan-crafted earrings as well as a $10 gift certificate to The Wild Rose Press (a total prize package worth $20) to one lucky commenter from all of the blogs she visits during her tour.


darkangelauthor said...

Good morning, J.K., and thanks so much for having me! It's a pleasure to be here today.

Fun hanging out with a fellow Canadian, too... :)


Robin Bayne said...

Great article, and I find myself in the same time crunch due to ongoing home improvement projects. I will keep carving out writing time! Thanks for putting it into words.

darkangelauthor said...

Good for you, Robyn! It can be so hard to make that time for myself sometimes, but I'm a happier person all-round when I do. If you start feeling guilty about it, just think of it as therapy! :)

Good luck with the home improvements, AND with the writing!


Barbara Edwards said...

Boy, does that sound like my story. Ten years to publication, but the last two were a determined push to write every day no matter what.

Mary Ricksen said...

I wish you the best of luck with your new book Linda. It's only just begun! Congratulations!!!
Time is a gift isn't it?

J.K. Coi said...

Hi Linda, welcome to the blog!

I think your post resonates with almost everyone today. It's so hard to find the time for all those little things, much less the big ones that absolutely need to get done.

One activity I love to do and have to try and make time for again is my stained glass art. I enjoy making little things with glass and wish I could justify the time away from my family or my work to do it more often.

darkangelauthor said...

lol, Barbara -- I hear you. This business seems to hinge on sheer determination and persistance, doesn't it? :)

Thanks for commenting!

darkangelauthor said...

Time is indeed a gift, Mary, but one that I think we sometimes need to give to ourselves - particularly when those in our lives forget to do so. :)

Thanks so much for your input on this book tour...I've really appreciated the support!


darkangelauthor said...

JK, I try to look at it this way: if I spend time doing something for myself, I tend to be a nicer person, which makes others' lives easier, too. So really, I'm doing it for them, not me! :)

(Now how is that for rationalization? lol)

Thanks again for having me as a guest...very cool blog you have, and your books intrigue me. You're now on my TBRS (to be read SOON) list!


Brenda said...

It is so hard to keep to time constraints on anything there are dozens of things to distract! I am not a writer but can see it would be very hard for me to stay at my computer putting time in even when I didn't feel up to it!

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