LaShawn M. Wanak is another writer whose work I have not yet had the pleasure of publishing. I’ve long admired her work, however, and I’m very excited to have her here for the Guest Blog series to talk about time management for writers.
Ten years ago, I made the decision to become a professional writer. Not that I wasn’t a writer before; when I was in college, I did a lot of fanfic writing, and I was working on my first novel (of course, I’m still working on that first novel, but that’s besides the point). The reason I did this was because, being a stay at home mom, I needed something to fill up the time besides endless episodes of Teletubbies and Little Einstein (which I was disturbingly hooked onto). So I wrote, and submitted, and got published.
Later, when my son was older, I did work part-time. It was perfect. I’d work four hours, pick up my son from school, write while he did his homework, cooked dinner, then write in the evenings. Then my inlaws moved into our house, and things got even better: my mother-in law did the cooking on weekdays, which meant I could spend even more time writing. It was awesome. For three and a half years, I had what I’d considered the perfect creative schedule.
Naturally, of course it didn’t last.
Now, I’ve gone back to being employed full-time, which I haven’t been in ten years. A couple of weeks ago, my inlaws moved out after living with us for three and a half years. That’s a lot of change in a short time. It’s a drastic change.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not griping. These were necessary, positive changes. How many times I’ve griped about my inlaws bickering and just wishing I had a quiet house for once? Or being frustrated at all the work I had to do but not being able to finish it because I was part-time? All the changes that happened this year are good, and I don’t want to give them up.
But still, change is change. And having the normal routine being shaken up is hard. I have become spoiled from having so much time in my life. Time to run errands, time to take care of my son…and time to write. Now, I have less time to do things, and I have to figure out how to balance writing, which is the soul of my life, into it.
There was a period of time when I stopped writing. It was right after I graduated from college, got married, and started working at a new job. Remember the fanfic writing I mentioned at the beginning of this post? That stopped. And so did work on my novel. I wanted to write, needed to write. But life had become so crazy busy that by the time I came home from work, I was so exhausted, I had no headspace left to even contemplate working on fanfic, let alone write.
One day, on my way to work, I checked my watch. It was one of those watches that had a tiny window that showed a sun during the day, a moon at night. With my watch, the mechanism had jammed, so the sun and the moon were both stuck in the window, perpetually stuck between dawn…or dusk, if you prefer.
And the most depressing thought popped into my head: there’s a story in that. I don’t know what, but I want to make up a story about that. But when? I have so much to do…I don’t have time. And what would I write anyway? I can’t think of anything now. All sorts of ideas would come into my head. But now, I got nothing.
I went to work. I didn’t write anything down. And I felt miserable. I didn’t have writer’s block. It was more writer’s constipation.
Now that I’m writing and publishing my work, I never want to experience that again. So I do what it takes to keep it going.
On Monday night, I finally bit the bullet and set my alarm for 5:30am to get up and write. I’m a night person, so I didn’t think it would be possible, but I was already so tired from running around and catching up on things, I was glad to crash.
Tuesday moring, at 5:30am, I woke up. The house was dark. Very quiet. I wandered the rooms with a cup of hot tea, wondering if I could do this, if I could really do this.
Then I opened my laptop and wrote.
Writing’s a crack habit. I suffer from withdrawal symptoms when I don’t do it. It’s the best bad habit one could have. I love writing because it takes me places I’ve never been before, whether if I’m doing it for an audience of one (me), or hundreds of people I will never see. And writing changes you, makes you into something you’d never thought possible.
As I am writing this, I am watching the world gradually brighten into being through my window. Outside the sun is rising, though in the west, the moon is still there, shining bright. Outside, it looks like dawn. It also looks like dusk.
There’s a story in that somewhere. Think it’s time to write it.
LaShawn M. Wanak is a graduate of Viable Paradise XV and has been published in Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, and Ideomancer. Writing stories keeps her sane. Well, that and pie. Find links to her stories at her blog, The Café in the Woods.