Saturday, July 10, 2010

Do you have the time to be a writer?

For the longest time, I had a great list of excuses why I didn't have time to write. Well, okay - they weren't really excuses, per se, because they were all true. So I guess you could call them reasons.

I had a full-time job. I just had a baby. I had a toddler. My computer was slow. My computer was broken. I was a volunteer. I had to cook dinner. I was exhausted. I just ...couldn't. Not today.

Whenever I heard about an author doing particularly well, I would immediately read his or her biography. "Well, sure," I'd tell myself. "I could write a masterpiece if I didn't have to (fill in the blank) or if I had a (fill in the blank)."

I would be envious. And unhappy. Because no one's life was as hard as mine. I just couldn't manage to find the time to write. Could I?

Then I realized something. I don't think it came to me with a bolt of lightning or in any impressive Oprah-like 'Ah-ha!' style. But suddenly, it was there.

I could make all the excuses I wanted. I could find every valid reason in the world not to write. They could be true. They could be worthy. But in the end, it didn't matter. Time would pass, and my stories still wouldn't be written. And no one would care but me.

In the end, only I could know whether I had the passion and drive to be a writer.

I decided I did - that maybe my life wasn't the hardest after all. And suddenly, those success stories I found myself reading proved me out.

Stephen King was a schoolteacher when he wrote Christine - he wrote in a tiny closet he revamped into a writing area. Debbie Macomber wrote her first stories on a rented typewriter, dyslexic and the mother of four young children, typing up manuscripts that were rejected for five years. Scott Turow wrote his blockbuster Presumed Innocent on the train on the way to work, in longhand, starting in his daughter's Strawberry Shortcake notebook - the only one he could find.

And way back in the day, Louisa May Alcott knew that if she didn't sell her short stories - never mind Little Women - her family would be destitute. So she wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Are there tricks and tips that can help you find time to write? Sure. Google the phrase and dozens of articles come up. But deep down, I think it comes down to more than any tip or trick - it's a question: Do you have the time to be a writer?


  1. You've always been a writer and a good one. Are you sure you aren't confusing successful writer with writer? :o) I had to click like for all your postings because I like your writing! (But I know what you mean--I use a lot of excuses, too, and have to face up to them and get the job done.)

  2. LOL, Lynette!! Thanks!!! (but I'm not sure "goofing around on Facebook" writing counts.) : )

    It's funny - when I was in newspapers, I wrote stories ever day, but I never felt like that "counted" either - probably because it was my job, and it was required. But of course it was writing.

    I think I get hung up on semantics, like "serious novel writing." It seems far more intimidating . . .