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.