Friday, September 8, 2017

When Life Gets in the Way by Andrea Downing

 I kept trying to think of what to write about this month but stuff kept happening. I’m trying to move house so now there are other houses to view, brokers and lawyers and accountants to deal with, people to show around, photos to set up. Then there was the holiday weekend and a load of guests.  But also, there is the new book I’m trying to write . . . .  Ah, yes, the new book. Try writing!


I caste my mind back to my life over the last few years and wondered how I fit writing in. A touch of breast cancer that necessitated six weeks of radiotherapy, five days a week. A broken shoulder which made typing near impossible. Other doctor appointments just to keep me checked up and problem free. My daughter’s wedding which seemed to take eighteen months of preparations. A wedding abroad combined with a vacation, more guests, more appointments, more travel. And that’s not to mention something resembling a fitness regime (read occasional walk/runs and gym attendance, maybe a bit of swimming and pilates thrown in), household chores, laundry, groceries and so on. And, wait a minute, then there’s family matters, doing taxes, food, and SLEEP!  Remember sleep?
Have a little life with your writing.
So, tell me, fellow authors out there, how do you make time to write when life gets in the way? Do you have a full time job that takes priority? Or do you treat writing like a
nine-to-five job whereby nothing, but nothing interferes? Do you apportion time for various tasks, including writing, so that the day is evenly spread between tasks and writing? Do you set yourself a reasonable word count and just get that done, hell or high water? Or do you just free-wheel it and hope for the best?

And when you have a moment, the books I have managed to write and get published can all be found at http://andreadowning.com

21 comments:

Leah St. James said...

Oh, Andi - Your life sure has been very full. I have a really busy, stressful full-time job that takes pretty much all my energy during the week (including in my dreams at times!). Most of my writing is done on the weekends, mostly in the mornings. For years I've been trying to fit it in early before work, but I spend most of that time checking blogs and social media and reading email. In the past couple years I've spent way too much time on promo. I haven't figured out a perfect ratio, but I'm thinking along the lines of no more than 20 percent of my writing time should be devoted to non-writing activities.

And you know, sometimes you do just need to take a break. :-) Good luck with the move!

Andrea Downing said...

Ah Leah, I can never understand how authors with full time, stressful jobs actually make time to write on top of everything else. I think there must be an awful lot of helpful husbands around--maybe I should look into getting one? Either that or there are a great deal of well organized authors.

Jannine Gallant said...

I work part-time and write full-time. It used to be harder with all the school/sports related daughter activities to attend. This will be the first year with both of them in college, so we'll see if it frees up more time. As for housework...I do what has to be done and ignore the dust!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Balance is tough on this issue, Andi. I'm on my third day of a golf tournament and haven't even thought about writing. During my two month trip visiting family and checking out Quebec City and parts east, I only promoted. So, yes, I put writing on a back burner when it comes to good times with friends and family. Plus, it's the travel and experiences with people that show up in my books...it's my brand. So call everything I do research. We have learned lately that most promo tactics are not working...so that's the area I think we need to get smart about, and avoid wasting time. More on that in another post. And no, Andi. No need to search for a helpful husband; I spend time helping him be helpful. Sigh! They're lovely to have around, but take PLENTY of time away from writing.

Andrea Downing said...

Janinne, this is what I don't understand--how anyone MANAGES to write full time with so much else going on. You must be very strict with yourself.

Rolynn, okay, have scrubbed husband helper idea, though several of my friends have hubbies who do their formatting, uploading, tweeting and so on. Others are just plain Wonder Women!

Brenda Whiteside said...

It's a conundrum all right. Your life has been the roller coaster of the century. My year has been in the same category but the dips less steep. When I had a full time job, I wrote for 15 minutes in the morning and on Sundays. I went through a brief period before we moved back to AZ when I could write practically full time. Since I now have family living within driving distance, I've jumped back on the roller coaster. During the winter, when FDW is on the lake 3-4 days a week, I can write more. The hot part of the year (end of May through Sept) when he doesn't fish and we need to get out of the heat for short spells, I don't get as much done. The other thing that is drawing me away from writing is promo...and yeah, Rolynn, what doesn't work is the problem.

Brigid Amos said...

It is so hard. I take care of my parents part time (will be full time pretty soon, Mom is 94 and Dad is 88.) Also, I realize I have taken on way too many other things, so that will have to stop. Right now, I get some writing time by stopping off at a cafe on the way to somewhere, or on the way back home. I really don't get any long uninterrupted time periods when I can just write.

Andrea Downing said...

Brenda, I was thinking of you and your various moves when I wrote that. What fascinates me is your 15 minute stints--I can't do that. When I have 15 minutes after the dinner dishes are cleared or something I just can't settle--by the time I'm back into the characters, the 15 minutes are up!

Brigid,all I can say is WOW. You humble me. And stopping to write in a cafe? I'm not sure I could do that either; I'm not someone who plays music while novel writing (emails yes) so the noise would be distracting. They've been building a garage next door the last couple of months and it's driven me nuts. I'm just wowed by your regime.

Alison Henderson said...

Andi, your plate runneth over! Compared to your life, mine is very staid, and yet, I still struggle to adopt a proper writing schedule. My writing time is supposed to be in the early afternoons because OG likes to lie down to "rest his back" for a couple of hours after lunch each day. It's impossible for me to write when he's up and around because he makes so much noise and requires so much "company." If he's in his office and I'm in mine, he's always calling me to come in so he can show me something he's come across. I'm glad he wants to share, but in truth, I got much more writing done before I retired. LOL

Andrea Downing said...

Alison, I have a similar problem when my daughter is here. Even if she says she has to work, it turns out to be each of sitting in front of our computers across the dining table from each other, chatting and showing things on the internet. Not very conducive to having a long shot at the book.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Winging it is my life these days. Took on a full time job, all be it, temporarily, plus family activities makes for a lot of chaos. The writing has, unfortunately and also temporarily, been put on hold. (Don't tell Jannine ;-)

Andrea Downing said...

Sorry to hear the writing's on hold, Margo. That's one way to deal with it all!

Glenys O'Connell said...

Gosh, Andrea I think you're living my life - everything from health issues (that little matter of breast cancer) to family and work and taxes...all the everyday things can get in the way of that book. I wish I had a definitive answer :-). I'm just back into writing after having to take time off, and it's hard. That's anther layer to things - the sense that everyone else has surged ahead while I spent a year or more in surgery, chemo, and radiation and feeling like having been run over by a truck. But it is getting
easier - enjoy the triumphs, the days when it all comes together, and accept that sometimes we just have to admit we're human and we'll do it tomorrow.....

Liz Flaherty said...

My sympathies for being out of time--seems to happen to all of us. The only thing I can say I do is write--in some way, shape, or form--every day. Even if it's only a sentence or the title for a blog post. Eventually it all gets done.

Diane Burton said...

You have so much on your plate right now, Andi. Give yourself permission to put writing on hold for a bit. That might take the stress off. If you're under deadline, do the best you can. Take things in small bites. Decide your priorities. Admit you can't do everything.

As I've mentioned before this summer, we had our son, DIL, Toddler Girl, & 2 big dogs living with us for 2 months. (seemed longer) DIL worked in my office while Hubs and I watched TG. Mostly, I watched, played with, and read to. I knew I wouldn't be able to write during my usual time--early morning. I accepted that I wouldn't write at all while they were here. I did what new mothers should, slept when baby slept. Then our own Ally (Alicia Dean) proposed an anthology of short stories. I had to come up with a 15k short. Yikes. In a month. Double Yikes. I learned I could write in the evenings when TG was asleep, in the afternoon (not my best time) while she napped. I forced myself to ignore the chaos of the dogs. It's much easier now that they've moved into their new house.

Brigid Amos said...

Diane, I can relate to having family and friends visit, which I love having by the way. We live in a two bedroom, so the second bedroom is really a guest bedroom with my desk and computer tucked in. It's a souped up laptop mounted on a stand and plugged into a hub, with lots of stuff plugged in like my ergonomic keyboard, speakers, printer, etc. I have learned that when visitors come, I have to disconnect everything and pack my laptop and mousepad into my computer backpack and put it in our room. That way I can set up at the kitchen table when everyone else is out or asleep. I do dream of someday having a real office that doesn't double as a guest room.

Leah St. James said...

Oh my gosh, I just had to jump back in on the conversation about husbands. Today is Saturday. I'm supposed to be writing like crazy, and so far I've accompanied hubby to the store, set up the bills to be paid online for the next two weeks (his request), helped him pay a couple medical bills online (including looking up the EOBs when he didn't think the bill was correct), helped him schedule an appointment for car maintenance online....and now it's almost noon. :-)

Andrea Downing said...

Glenys, sorry to hear of your own trials, but what a positive attitude. And I hope you can get back to it soon--and enjoy it, what's more.

Liz, that's heartening to me, too. A title? I'll buy that!

Diane, I did do pretty much what you've done--kept my hand in with 3 novellas for anthologies and have only just got back to the full length. Having people in the house really does take away concentration--all summer I've had my daughter and sil post-honeymoon out on weekends. Not good for the writing regime, as you know!

Wow, Brigid, you're really excellent at finding the way to write. I'm impressed.

Sorry, Leah, you made me laugh--not sure if I was supposed to, but it's an excellent way to end. :-)

Renaissance Women said...

I write part-time and work part/full time. I do allow myself to not stress about getting so many works done per year. At the same time, I have a writing group that meets once a week where we do nothing but write. I treat that time like a job and have made great progress toward the works I have already published and committed to publishing. We will see what the rest of 2017 and 2018 bring to the table. For now, I'm pretty okay with getting done what I can and not stressing over the rest. Doris

Alicia Dean said...

You have definitely been through it, Alison. I'm surprised you've written anything. For me, eeek...with a full-time outside the home job, editing at The wild Rose Press, freelance editing programs director, web mistress and IDA Coordinator for my RWA chapter, not to mention family time, my mother in a nursing home, promo, other tasks, etc, yeah, my writing is always what suffers. I set my goals too high for the time I have to write, and I never meet them. My best thing is to get up early during the week and to write on weekends, but I don't have many free weekends, and when I get up early, sometimes I'm useless all day because I haven't had enough sleep. Plus, there are always emails and edits etc. It's freaking insane!! :/

Mama Hen said...

Lucy Maud Montgomery once said something to the effect that she used to need everything just so to write, but had learned to dash off a few lines in the seconds between tasks at work. But like you, I need some time to get my head into the story. My writing is usually in the evening when hubby is watching the news or whatever on TV.