When I first started writing it was at a feverish pace. I didn’t have children at the time and my wife was fine with me scribbling away. I spent a lot of time at the kitchen table writing in our old apartment. This was how I finished my first manuscript. It was a great time for wild publishing dreams, before I realized how much work writing is.
Fast forward three years and my wife and I have two kids. I have a house and growing responsibilities. I realize that sleep is now important as I approach thirty, and that I need to manage my time better. Back in the pre-children days I could plan out my writing time. Now I want to spend time with my children and I told my wife, because they are more important, I will sequester my writing time to early in the morning or late at night. A writer never sleeps, or in my case stays up past 11pm.
I was inspired to write this post because I was lying in bed an hour ago thinking, I’m just too tired to write. And then again, if I am too tired I will probably just write something awful that needs to be deleted. I thought I needed rest. I have to drive until about 1am to visit family in New York so the thought was not without merit.
However, I soon found myself dwelling on the ideal writing time. You know that cabin in the woods, coffee fresh off the pot, the sun is just poking over the horizon across the lake and I am already on page fifteen. The story is flowing out of me onto the page and I am typing flawlessly. I think this is the big lie about writing: That there is this ideal time somewhere out there that will unlock our potential. This is what I was thinking about while lying in bed. Then I realized as I did awhile back that it does not exist.
There were times when I first had children where I thought I could not write on a certain day because I was tired. True. There were times I didn’t feel like it because I stare at two computer monitors at work all day. True. Then I thought I needed about two hours to get my gears going to have momentum to write something well. However, when you look for the perfect time to write, you tend to look for weeks and weeks and stop writing altogether. This happened to me when my first daughter was born.
The thing is, writing is a lot like exercising. It can be painful when you do it with consistency at first. But soon you will find that doing thirty sit ups are not as hard as it once was. Just as writing that first sentence is not as difficult as it once was. So, find some time to write. Stick to the schedule. Your novel will not write itself. And stop hoping for your schedule to change, your kids to sleep, your work to become more flexible, or all of the worries of your life to fade away. Pick out a time to exercise your writing muscles, and get that novel done. Start today.