05 May 2009

Embracing Hermitism

When I wrote ANJIDIA, I had a virtually non-existent social life. I vaguely registered the fact at the time, but I chalked it up to a lot of things — the least of which was a dedication to my writing. That was in Washington state.

Now that I'm back in D.C., and back in the land of the living, I have friends who consider interaction a caveat of continuing said friendship. Instead of a part-time job at which I can write, or at least plot and daydream, I have a full-time job that requires the full atention of my mind and often pushes to 10-hour (even 11- or 12-hour) days.

One of my beta readers, Kat, was in the same position I am now back when I was living on Easy Street. I used to admire her ability to work 40 hours a week minimum, go out with friends, and still make time to read my stuff and write her own. Only now do I realize that I did not give her (or any of you full-time-job-having, non-reclusive writers) the proper amount of awe and worship. 

I am tired all the time. I feel guilty choosing to hide in my room typing away instead of talking to my roommate. And, when I finally get the mental energy to pick up my WIP or revisit ANJ, I get slammed (which is what happened last week and why I'm not proudly telling you about how well the new, and still untitled, story is going) and actually don't have the time to write — unless I give up my four hours of sleep.

So you tell me, what works for you? How do you do it?

(Please note: "Suck it up" is an acceptable response, as I realize that I do, indeed, need to suck it up.)


Windsong said...

*sympathy cookies*

Time is so limited. It's hard to fit it all in sometimes. My health makes it necessary that I take scheduled resting periods. That's when I read and write and blog. It's also how I go about having somewhat of a social life. Blogging has allowed me to make so many friends I never would have met otherwise. :o)

When I start feeling overwhelmed (or, more accurately, when I realize I've been feeling overwhelmed) that's usually my cue to step back and re=prioritize things. Everything's not going to get done, but I can make sure I get the most important things done. :D

quixotic said...

In short, you just write when you have time. My social life isn't all that busy, but I do have a family and full time job. I make time whenever it's available. For instance, friday nights are writing nights. After the hubby and munchkin are in bed, I can be up untill 2-3 in the morning catching up on weekely writing goals.

Captain Monkeypants said...

You have my sympathies- I've been in this position before. Actually...I'm ALWAYS in this position. The whole "life gets in the way" thing means I have to work a 40 hour + job a week. Roommates make it really hard- I had one and I wrote much less than I wanted to because she was great at guilting me into being social. Still, one thing I did learn to do over time was to let people know that my writing was important and there were times I HAD to be a hermit. (Warning: This will result in the inevitable: "You're a writer? Where can I read your books...oh, you haven't been published yet? (insert sympathetic head tilt here).

My tip to you and something I try to do is have one day a week- definitely a weekend if you can swing it- where you designate that 'writing day'. For me, it's Sundays and on that day, everything else has to be scheduled around THAT. I refuse to reschedule that day unless it's an emergency. That's my day, even if I just get a few hours to write in the afternoon. I've found that this way, I got used to having a commitment on that day and it becomes as natural as having to go to my 'day job' on the weekdays.It gives me at least SOME time to call my own, even when I have people wanting me to be social.

Other than that, I just write whenever I get a spare time. My blog I write in the mornings because I get to work 15 minutes early. I went through a phase where if I didn't write regularly, I felt guilty. I've adjusted the to a more 'quality vs. quantity' way of thinking lately and it helps tremendously. I find that an hour's worth of good writing can be WAY better than five hours of mediocre time.

You could just 'suck it up' but, well, you'll end up cranky and exhausted and that's not good!

(Also, there are days when I just 'need' to write. I call these 'mental health days' in my head and call in sick. Sometimes...you just have to!)

Just my two cents! :)

Samantha Elliott said...

Yay, cookies!

Thanks for the encouraging words. I've tried to tell myself that I write X amount each day, but that just doesn't seem realistic. I like your idea about setting aside one day to be my shut-in day.

Icy Roses said...

Ahhh, I have no words of wisdom for you, because I think we all suffer from the same problem. But it's good to KNOW that we all suffer from the same problem. I wish you the best of luck. And I hope Lady Luck spares some for me too.

Joyce Wolfley said...

When you find something that works, let me know. I am looking at the same issue.

Trisha Pearson said...

I would never say "suck it up" because I have no idea how people work full-time and still write. The fact that you still want to write after working all those hours shows your dedication. I don't work outside the home and my kids are in school and I still have a hard time fitting writing into my day. I like Captain Moneypants' idea of dedicating one day a week to writing.

E. Van Lowe said...

I'm probably the last person who should be weighing in on this--or maybe not. I consider myself a full time writer. It's been my job to write stuff for a long time now. I LOVE it. I wouldn't trade it for the world. And yet, it's always hard. It never gets easier. You've seen me complain about not writing in my blog. But the one thing I will say is, some time ago I learned to finish. That's actually the hardest muscle to train. The muscle that says we must FINISH what we begin. I psyched myself into this by telling myself if I didn't get in the habit of completing work, I'd NEVER be a professional. My desire to be a pro was VERY strong, and so the psyche worked. It doesn't matter if you write every day, or once a week, from time-to-time, or when you have just a moment to spare. What maters most is your commitment to finish the things you start. If you find a way to make that commitment to yourself, you will finish the work that will eventually sell and allow you to quit your job :)

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I think it must be harder to be a writer and try to have a social life. Lilke you, I work full time and try to squeeze in writing, but being married with a kid, I find myself at home every night...no pressure to go out, be social or have a life. ;)

I do know it's hard to stick to a rigid writing schedule...for example, write on Thursday and socialize on Friday. Inevitably, I can't come up with a word on writing day, but come Friday afternoon, I've suddenly had a brainstorm.

No 'suck it up' necessary! We've all been there / are there. Sad to say, but at least you're in good company??

Samantha Elliott said...

This is why I love the writing community! Everyone's so supportive and in it together.

Thanks for the wise words, everybody!

It does help to know that we all have to struggle. I suppose it makes it seem less drastic when we "fail".