A matter of time
Published: February 8, 2006
|Are you working a full-time job? Do family responsibilities leave you dozing in the recliner at 8:30 p.m.? Is your fondest dream to become a freelance writer, 24/7/365?|
Do the chances of it happening any time soon seem like the relationship between Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy—slim and fat?
Been there, felt that.
OK, so now what? Give up? Throw in the towel?
Whoa! Enough wallowing—we just keep going, right?
If you're like me at all, you have a dozen irons in the fire as well as a burning desire to write. I juggle all those irons each morning and try to figure out how I can add the golden apple of a writing career to the act without dropping everything. I know it's all a matter of timing. If I can just clear my schedule enough, I can do all sorts of writing. But there's nothing I can clear!
Sure I have a few minutes here and there, but what can I do to use those minutes? What follows are 10 things I do to make sure I can make use of every one of those loose minutes.
1. Carry a manuscript or partial manuscript with you at all times. You never know when the bus will be late, a long train will cross the road or a client won't show up.
2. Do double duty: Divide a page in half with a line. On one side, keep notes on whatever the speaker/teacher/professor/pastor/rabbi/imam is saying. On the other side, jot down story notes or ideas for whichever manuscript comes to mind.
3. Don't sit when you can write. (No matter how much famous writers claim they are working when they are sitting, contemplating the universe.) Don't watch TV when you can address a few envelopes or write a cover letter.
4. If you're waiting somewhere without a computer, handwrite manuscripts, cover letters, queries, articles or bits of dialogue. You can add them to the computer later.
5. Set aside a specific time to write. Make it clear to your significant others (kids, cats, birds, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparent, grandchild, husband, wife) that on Friday nights, the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. are yours to write.
6. Do administrative tasks when you have some downtime. You can find addresses, record manuscripts, stuff envelopes, etc., during lunch, waiting in line or while in the bathroom.
7. Write when you can. I know conventional wisdom says "write every day." But that's not always possible. So write when you can. (I'm writing this longhand, in two-minute segments, while teaching a class on writing science fiction and fantasy to fourth, fifth and sixth graders. I'm also using double duty (#2) because I have another, closely related idea but no computer handy to start a new file.)
8. Read. "I don't have time to read!" you might cry. Yes you do. Everyone does.
9. Keep a paper file for every manuscript, and keep all computer files printed out and up-to-date with your most recent writing. Then you can pick one up and take it to work/on the flight/to the conference/on the fishing boat at any time—no muss, no fuss.
10. Keep producing and sending. It's only a matter of time until you make that first, third, 42nd or 100th sale. Keep in mind that it's all a matter of time-—how you use it, and how your persistence will eventually pay off.
Guy Stewart is a husband, father, teacher and, in his spare time, a writer of both SF and children's stories. With his own book and short publications in Analog, Cicada, Cricket and two dozen other magazines, he is constantly working to find time to write.
--Posted Feb. 8, 2006