How the Writing Life Really Looks

Little preface note — for those who were following the launch contest, it is officially over. Yayyy! Winners, I’ll be emailing you soon about prizes and such. Thanks to everyone who followed, liked, and supported! I ❤ you guys.

 

So this post is about balancing your writing life. Sort of.

Actually it’s more about how all the balancing is great, and planning is great, but doing what works is better.

I say this because very often there is no perfect balance and no workable solution. (And honestly, sometimes? Those solutions just aren’t worth it. More on that later.)

This past weekend was one such occasion, for me. See, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have heard me mention that I’m modeling a 3D version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s head for my Character Creation Class. *Cough* //geek alert// *Cough*

 

this is an example 3D head modeled by somebody who is not me

 

this is the incredibly perfect Benedict Cumberbatch in his role as the BBC version of Sherlock Holmes. I love Robert Downy Jr., but BBC’s is the Best. Version. EVER.

 

I can be an extreme perfectionist when inspired. And oh, Benedict inspires me*. Can you blame me for wanting to get him just right?

But the final version of our model is due this week. And I’m nowhere near done. This despite the fact that for the past seven weeks in a row I have dedicated my Mondays, my Tuesdays, my Wednesdays, and my Saturday afternoons to attending this class and working on the 3D model.

Do you want to take a guess at how much writing I’ve been doing?

Yeah. My writing stats for the month of February were pretty much flatlining.

And that’s okay–I’ve learned being a college student tends to mean huge periods of insanely intense work, and other slow, lazy periods where you can procrastinate if necessary (not that I ever would. COUGH COUGH). And other periods where every moment of every day is scheduled, but if you stick to said schedule, you’ll do okay.

That schedule method has been my life recently. And it hasn’t included writing. Which sucks, because I love writing. But writing has had to take its turn. There have been other times in my life when writing WAS the schedule and everything else had to wait.

Which brings me to my first point.

 

Sometimes the writing life will be strict and scheduled…outwardly very professional.

I think we all feel a little guilty when we compare our writing life to the lives of, oh, I don’t know, those super authors who get up at seven and write until noon and then write again from noon until five, at which point they read all of this year’s new releases and make you feel like even more of a loser.

But you know what? Stop. It’s not a fair comparison. Those authors are writing to deadline, or perhaps they live alone and you have family to take care of, or they don’t work and you do, or they’re not a college student and you are.

Of course their writing life is going to look different than yours. And it will look different again, when they go on book tour. Or it will look different again, when their water pipes bust and they have to jerk around getting the plumbing fixed, or they get sick, or whatever. And then they’ll have to work around that.

 

Because sometimes the writing life will be squeezed in whenever we can manage it.

Like, say, while riding on the subway to work. Or while the baby naps. Or before that three-hour weekend class starts.

And again, it’s so easy to compare and find ourselves lacking by comparison. It’s easy to think, “wow. Look at that person. Look at how hard they’re working to scrape together some writing time, when I have loads of time, and I haven’t even written once today. I need to get more organized–”

NO. Just stop. Don’t use all your free time as an excuse to not write, but simultaneously, don’t let yourself feel like having all this free time is a bad thing, or that you need to schedule it up. Those slow times are priceless. They will go away at some point. (They should come back again, but, you know. Maybe not in the foreseeable future.) Don’t condemn yourself for not being as busy as someone else.

 

Because sometimes the writing life means slowing down. And not writing so much. And watching movies. And cooking dinner. And living a little.

This isn’t called “recharging.” This is called living. This is not trying so desperately to squeeze free the creative juices every single second you possibly can.

Sometimes the creative juices need to be left alone, and sometimes, having a quiet day can be more productive than pounding out a thousand words.

The quiet days and slow times add up. Like I said before, they’re priceless. You can choose to spend them recharging, or catching up on the rest of your life, or planning some measured, quality writing time where there isn’t any pressure or guilt. (AHEM.) Because learning how to write without pressure and guilt is just as important as learning how to write under pressure and commitment. This is important stuff, guys, and none of it is wasted. Later on when life does get crazy again, you’ll be drawing on resources you built up in those quiet times. And if you worked too hard to build anything up, you won’t have resources to draw on.

Life will shift. It will come in seasons. It will get busy and slow and fast. You will need to do stuff you don’t want to do but you have to anyway, and the awful thing is, sometimes (regularly) stuff will be more important than writing.

But.

Sometimes?

 

The writing life means writing what you want, when you want, because you want to.

Like shoving your homework aside for a weekend, as I did. Like skipping laundry and dishes and grocery shopping, because you’re on a marathon writing spree, and you refuse to stop. Like knowing you’re going to have to make up for this later–but that is okay. Because right now you’re writing. And sometimes that’s all that matters.

 

* * *

So, lesson here? There are lots of things I didn’t mention in this post, such as the importance of pushing through bad writing periods and keeping your butt in the chair, of writing every day and getting rid of distractions, but I didn’t mention them because we hear about them all the time. What I wanted to remind everyone is that a realistically balanced writing life just isn’t going to look like that, not always.

Yes you need to be able to write to deadlines. Under pressure. When the plumbing busts. And life is insane. Yes, you need to be able to write doggedly when you have six months of nothing but writing doggedly ahead of you. Those things are SUPER HUGELY IMPORTANT.

But from me to you? I am now behind on my homework, I have a rotten kitchen and no food for the guests coming over this weekend, but I wrote almost 10,000 words in the past four days, and it was amazing. Just what I needed to do.

Do what you need to do, guys. And don’t feel guilty about it.

 

Truly and always,
-Mandy

 

 

 

*I don’t often fangirl, but when I do, it tends to involve extreme geekery. Such as Sherlock. Tee hee.

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