As ideal as writing 24/7 would be, we all have a life outside of the keyboard and the worlds we create. Eating and sleeping in particular are important, but other things like family, other jobs, and normal, day-to-day tasks prevent us from planting our butts in front of the computer and constantly working.
Those are the things we have to learn to work around. We find an hour here, an hour there, or we set specific times during the day when we work. Everyone does it differently in order to meet their daily/weekly/monthly goals, but what happens when something happens that disrupts your routine?
My father had a heart attack in early December, and he had a triple bypass over the Christmas holiday. I’m also in the middle of a manuscript and edits. The thing no one tells you is that writing is infinitely more difficult when you’re under contract. There are expectations and fears that weren’t there before. My deadline is in several months, so I have time and could have easily put it off, but this wasn’t just a week. Post-op, he’s been having a hard time, and now he’s back in the hospital. It could be months before things are back to normal, and there’s no telling what problems I’ll run into while working on this manuscript.
So now what? I have every excuse to put the rest of this manuscript off. My writing time’s been significantly cut, and my focus is (rightly so) on my father. But there’s still downtime – when he’s resting or has sent me home, or when he’s watching television or the doctors are running tests. There is time. There is always time, even if it’s just a few minutes. And when I’m not writing, I think about scenes and what needs to happen in order for the story to be the best I can make it be.
Everyone has a choice when life happens: put the writing aside, or find ways to continue including it at whatever level we can. There is no wrong answer, of course. We handle the hurdles life throws at us as best we can, no matter what it takes, and sometimes that means setting writing aside for a little while.
But my choice is to continue writing, because everything else has been turned upside down and shaken until it’s unrecognizable, and I badly want something familiar to still be there. I want writing to still be there no matter how hard it is to fit it in. There will always be downtime, and I can worry incessantly and drive myself crazy, or I can keep busy with something I love.
So, something I love it is.