Where do you find the time?Apr 11, 2007
I am often asked, “How do you it? Where do you find the time to work a full time job and also write books?” The answer is simple. I make the time. However simple the answer might be, actually doing it can be quite difficult.
I get up at 5:15 every morning. The first thing I do is turn on my computer, and log into my office. I am the network administrator for an international shipping company. That means I have to make sure everything is working properly before anyone else logs into the system. I do what I need to do there, and then I exercise. Yes, that’s right, sit-ups, touching my toes (which I can still do!) buttock tucks, the whole nine yards. After that, I get myself ready for work.
Without fail, I meditate before I have breakfast. I credit my meditation practice with training me to have the concentration I need to write. After I eat, I leave for work.
I put in a full day, doing what network administrators do. Computers are my life at the office. I do anything and everything that needs to be done to keep an office of more than fifty people running smoothly. We also have international users that remotely log into our network. Part of my job is to make sure they are connecting properly, too.
Once I get home, I have some dinner. Then, I start my writing workday. Weekday evenings, I try to put in a few hours at the computer before going to bed. If I need help shifting out of the problems of my workday, I use music. I have a Bose Sound Machine and wireless headphones that help me shut out the world and get into my writing space. I reread a page or two of what I last wrote and hope that the next line will come. It usually does.
The lion’s share of the writing happens on weekends. I usually spend at least twelve hours on Saturday and Sunday at my computer. Sometimes, it can be longer. On Monday morning, the cycle starts over again. Oh, yes, last week, I took a week’s vacation to work on Take Me There. I have an April 15th deadline.
I lost some ground in February when I got the flu and couldn’t write if my life depended on it! I had a fever of 103.4, the highest fever of my adult life! To catch up, I put in nine consecutive twelve to fifteen hour days working on my manuscript. I only stopped to go back to work on Monday, and to do the blogging week for Romantic Inks. Come Saturday, I will be back in the harness.
Now comes the real question! How do I do it? As I’m writing this, I’m thinking no one is going to believe I keep this schedule. But I do. I’ve been doing it for almost two years now, since I signed my first contract with Kensington. Once I hit the two year mark in June, I will have written three novels and two novellas budgeting my time as I do. I haven’t missed a deadline yet, not even when my mother passed away last June. I came home from the funeral with page proofs waiting for Sins and Secrets. I plunged in, read and corrected them.
There is a single driving force behind how I manage this. I am a writer. That is different than being an author. Being an author is an occupation. Being a writer is a vocation.
The intangible something inside that compels me to write is not at all comfortable. The words don’t start in my mind. They seem to well up from my chest. Sometimes it feels like an alien is about to burst out. I fully expect one day Sigourney Weaver will show up in her Ripley costume, gun in hand, ready to take me out!
No matter how tired I am, and trust me, I do get tired, I have to write. The alien inside me needs to be appeased, or it will eat me alive! I am amused by the number of people who have said to me that someday, they’re going to write a book. The only way to write a book is to sit down and do it! Procrastination does not a novel make. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blank page, or a white screen from Microsoft Word on a monitor, it has to be filled with words. Those words are the writer’s responsibility. No one is going to do it for you. You have to do it yourself.
Of course, along with the fire that burns in the heart of a writer, there also has to be technical skill. To become a published author, you have to not only want to write, you have to be able to write. It astonishes me at times when I meet people who can’t put three sentences together in a coherent paragraph and expect to get published. The competition is extraordinary. You have to be good to get published. Period! End of story!
Talent notwithstanding, you have to also be willing to do what I’m doing. There aren’t many published authors these days who can make a living wage writing. Certainly, I’m not one of them, at least not yet. That’s why I get up at 5:15 everyday. I have to pay my bills.
So, to finally answer the question I’ve been asked so many times, that’s how I do it. My way isn’t for everyone. But it’s working for me. I have the books to prove it!
P.S. And just because I didn’t know how else to work it in, here is a picture of my cats, Gigi and Prince. Gigi is a Russian Blue Tabby and Prince is a Black Bombay. (My husband won’t let me post a picture of him!)
Gigi and Prince