On the personality spectrum, I’m on the extreme end of introversion, although I can be a functional extrovert if the occasion calls for it. I normally avoid those situations when I can, however. This is relevant because I’m one of those people who needs A LOT of time to recharge. I love my three-day weekends for precisely that reason.
However, since I started going back to school online, adding approximately 25 additional hours to my “work” week, that’s when recharge time started to get hinky. And it was at that point that I sacrificed my writing time – after all, since I’m only marginally a published author, it wasn’t my top priority to maintain that, right? It took me months to finally acknowledge that although I didn’t have much time to write, it was important to me – mentally and emotionally – to have that outlet.
So there was my dilemma. I needed time to write, but I didn’t have time to write. Especially not in that 2000-3000 word per evening (or more) capacity that I used to manage. I didn’t have the energy for that. So I simply dispensed with writing almost altogether. I’ll do it when I have the time again, I thought. Silly me. I get week-long breaks every quarter and the occasional holiday, but I have other things that I do as well. I rarely had the time.
Finally, I sat down with myself and said, “You need to write. This isn’t an option. Your arrangement right now isn’t working. So here’s what you’re going to do, soldier.”
I don’t write all the time. I have two creative outlets, one that has me making pretty things with my hands, and then writing. I alternate between them during the weekends (or rather, during Saturday evenings and Sundays now that school takes up most Fridays and Saturdays). One month I may focus entirely on the pretty things, get a bunch of them done, then return to writing the next month or two. But I try to write during the weekdays even during my pretties rotation. I only write 500 words a day, anywhere from 25-60 minutes of time. That’s all I require of myself. I find that if I push myself for more when I’m not in the zone, I get frustrated and tired and eventually throw my hands up and quit doing it altogether. And it’s best for me not to do that. At least this way, I get something down, and something is usually better than nothing.
I don’t get as much writing done as quickly as I’m used to. There are some serious downsides to this: Every time I stop, I have to take time to get back into the story again the next occasion that I sit down in front of my screen. So, whereas before I took the time to sink into a story and let it flow out of me for a few uninterrupted thousand words, I’m doing more stop-and-start traffic these days. It’s jerky and inorganic and inefficient for me. But I’m getting better at it, taking advantage of what little time that I have.
The second downside is that in order to write, I have to sacrifice something else. In addition to my room/office being a complete mess, I’ve had to dig into my sleep time. Like recharge time, I need my sleep. And it hurts me not to get as much as I need. But I can’t sacrifice work time, and I can’t sacrifice school time. Since those two things take up a great deal of my time, there’s not much left but sleep time. I try to get my writing done in a timely fashion such that it doesn’t interfere too much with that, but sometimes I get involved in my stories and don’t want to leave just yet. Sometimes I have deadlines, either external or internal. I’ll sacrifice the writing time now and then in order to sleep if I absolutely need it (read: I have a migraine/fever/early morning/cramps), but I give more importance to my writing these days than I used to. Because I simply realized that in order to get more stories out, I had to actually … you know … write.