In My Words: When Real Life Trumps Your Writing Life
Last week was anything but a writing week for me.
Oh, sure, I had plenty of writing and editing that needed my time and attention. I just had no time to give to writing last week. And I certainly had no real focused attention either.
Last week was all about my 10-year-old's once-a-year dance recital. It's quite the production, I assure you. Hundreds of dancers of all ages descend upon the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs to prepare for the Friday night extravaganza.
No, I was not a dancer. I was a room mom. Think security. Or border patrol. Or prison warden. Only with a smile. And a duffel bag full of snacks. And water. And a portable DVD player.
Instead of worrying about all the writing I wasn't getting done, I reminded myself of this truth: Sometimes real life trumps writing life.
I confess that there are times I resist this truth. I want to shove my real life into a closet and slam the door. I find myself thinking, "If only these people (my family) would leave me alone I could get so much accomplished!"
Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. That is no way to think about my family.
I've been a writer long enough to know that there are going to be seasons when my life--family, friends--shoves writing and editing to the bottom of my To Do list. But there are times when deadlines loom that I can't completely ignore writing while I spend time with people living in the real world. I've learned a few tricks along the way to manage the competing time demands:
- Remember: Mulling over a scene or article idea is a legitimate stage of writing. My friend, Roxanne, had a great blog post on this topic. One of the things she wrote that stuck with me was this: Thinking is a huge part of the writing process.
- Find some time--even the smallest amount of time--to write. I like to write when I have a decent block of time set aside--at least two hours. I knew that wasn't going to happen last week. So, instead of focusing on major projects, like the line edits for my novel or working on my second novel, I worked on my blog posts. Short pieces like that were easier to write while I was surrounded by tapping, twirling and leaping dancers who were tapping and twirling.
- Don't fight reality. I've learned this the hard way: Reality wins every time. I had to concede that last week was not a writing week. It was time to be there for my daughter--and the other girls in her dance class. I'd volunteered to be a room mom, so I chose to be a happy, non-complaining room mom.
- Make up for lost time. Real life won't always trump writing life. If you're behind on rewrites or edits thanks to family obligations, then once you're done, get back at it. And stay focused. Turn off your phone. Turn off Twitter. And Facebook. Practice saying, "No, I can't ___________ (fill in the blank) this week because I'm busy with my writing." Some people will understand--thank them. Some people won't understand. Don't waste valuable time trying to explain it all to them. This is your time to write!