In the interest of concentrating on the rewrite for my novel Pete's Garage I have been digging a grave for distractions and projects so I have the time to work unrestrained. A large part of writing involves being able to say to others, even those one loves, "I can't go here, do this, get that, work on those things or show up for the thing because I will be writing. Sorry."
I'm never impressed when people tell me they do not have time to write. If you have time to eat and sleep and shower occasionally, you have time to sit and write. All the rest of your time, in other words, can be thrown out the window in favor of doing this thing which - it is assumed - you love to do. Are you clothed, fed and sheltered? Good, you have time to write.
If you find work wears you to the point where you can't be creative, then I have several suggestions for you: get up before work and write when you're still fresh; find a way to refresh yourself after work; quit your job and get one that doesn't destroy your creativity. If, as it happens, you've built your life around having an $85K career position that requires you work on bureaucratic projects on the weekends, and you have some fantasy that deep down inside that you'd like to write a book but you can't get around to it, it may be time to admit that your real fantasy is to earn $85K a year and that you're living it now. Writing, apparently, was never really that important to you. You're only hanging on to it as a kind of soother to suck on when you feel your life is going nowhere.
I am afraid I'm not the sort of blogger whose principle concern is that every reader who wants to be a writer feels better about themselves. There are, if you will look for them, groups of writers who hold regular events and readings who, for a few dollars, will serve as a support group to stroke you no matter what sort of material you churn out. I am not of that breed. I do not want the gentle reader to feel better about what he or she is writing. I want the gentle reader to do better.
I am in the process of slashing and burning half of my first chapter, which couldn't feel worse if I were feeding my right hand to wolves. But it has to be done. The writing is crap, it was crap when I first put it on the page three years ago and I've been deluded about it ever since, making excuses for not recognizing it for what it is and not fixing it. I look at the first ten pages and I think, "No wonder this was never published; I doubt anyone got as far as the second page."
I wish that was unduly harsh. It isn't. The book hasn't been published and the first ten pages ARE crap. Or rather, they were. I hope they are better now. They feel better.
I'm sorry, i was writing about taking the time to write and I let myself get distracted by the project. Forgive me, the project at the moment is taking up a lot of my brain and it' easy to slip back into it.
I am writing this blog sincerely to improve the reader as a writer, but that will never, ever happen if the reader cannot prioritize their life. If you find that you cannot surrender your usual evenings for the sake of writing, that should be telling you something - that you are, perhaps, not as romantically inclined to be a writer as you want to be. You are more in love with the idea of being a writer than you are actually in love with writing. This is very common.
When I was young and in school, I was told by who knows how many teachers that my chances of making it as a writer was 1 in a 1000. They did not know it, but they were being optomistic. I remember thinking to myself when quoted statistics like that that it was okay, I was that one. If the odds had been quoted at 1 in a million I would have been just as certain. I knew I was that one in a thousand because unlike every other person whom I knew would be competing against me, I wanted this. Not desperately, in the sense that I had to have it or my happiness would be impossible. But matter-of-factly, in that I was prepared to sacrifice continuously until I had it.
It is strange to think how much of my day, now, I spend writing. Three or four hours, at least, in one form or another, part for my job and part for my novel and part of it blogging. I do it like breathing air. I do it like sitting down across from the reader at a table and confessing this or that as though were having a coffee on a streetcorner or perched on a balcony above a forested glade. I argue, I reminesce, I propose some idea and I even hear the rejoiner to something I've said and answer. One thing I do not do is feel my time would be spent better doing something else. I don't have in my thoughts, as soon as I finish this chore I'll be free to do something more enjoyable. I don't rush through writing to be free of it. I love this. If I am restrained by anything it is the cramping feeling of my hands as the arthritis I've had since twenty begins its inexorable grip, or my head begins to pound from the energy expended. Then I have to rest, and stop thinking. I have to vacate the balcony for the solitude of the hotel suite, to eat, to distract my mind long enough to stop it thinking, and finally to sleep.
If you are young and being questioned if this is something you should 'waste' your time on, by all means waste your time. If you think yourself a writer, and you are doing anything else, then time is already being wasted, hour by hour and day by day, because you will not see your time for what it is: your slave, and not your master. There are years of time at your beck and call, if you will make them serve you. You have ten or twenty of them to spend writing the most awful stuff, and still you will have ten or twenty more to write things that are brilliant.
Get on with it.