Writers often enough complain about how “real life” is cutting into their writing time. We lament that such things as day jobs take up all our free time, make us tired, make us miserable, and just generally make us unable or unwilling to take the time to sit down and write.
But what about when good things interrupt your writing time? What about the other things that are big, important parts of your life that make you happy but also happen to dramatically lessen the time you have available to write?
I currently find myself wedged in between both problems. I’ve spoken time and again about how my job’s strange schedule (fourteen 12-hour days enveloped in two days of all-day travel, followed by twelve days at home before repeating) makes it very difficult to find time to write, but there are also several much more enjoyable things that tend to take precedent.
For one thing, there’s my awesome little kid. I only get those twelve days home out of every twenty-eight-day period to spend time with her, so I do my best to spend lots of time reading, playing board games, baking, and whatever else she wants to do at any given time. It only makes sense. I miss her when I’m away, and she wants to cram in as much time with me as possible when she’s got me. Ditto for my husband, who spends half of every month waiting for me to come home so we can watch our shows and spend some time together.
For another thing, there’s my YouTube channel. It’s not the most important thing in my life, but it has definitely grown into this thing that I enjoy a lot, and although I’ve recently started letting my husband help out with things like editing videos, there’s still a heck of a lot of time that goes into it. One 15-minute video can easily take almost an hour to film, and I’ve got to film as many of them as I can in those twelve days at home because I certainly can’t drag my Pops and subscription boxes out to Alberta with me.
And of course, there’s all the little things too…my monthly massage (NEEDED, thank you very much), my hot baths (the only real time I ever get to myself), video games (although they’re hard to squeeze in too), and all the other little things that make me happy and keep me from basically losing my mind at any given time.
These are all good things, mind you – things that make my life awesome, make my world enjoyable. But, they’re also things that, by necessity, tend to come before writing.
Many writers would say that I’m doing something wrong, that if I’m serious about being a writer, writing has to come first. Writing before everything. Get your butt out of bed at 3 am if you have to, and write at least 2000 words before even thinking about doing anything else.
To that I say: yeah, I’m a writer, and I am serious about it, but I’m also a mom, wife, instrumentation technician, YouTuber, and human being, so take that attitude and shove it.
I love writing, and I’ll never stop writing, but the real world – both the good bits and the bad bits – don’t always cooperate. I work around it, scribble out words in a notepad at work, pluck out blog posts on the airplane, write a few paragraphs of fiction in between forkfuls of supper…it’s not ideal, but it’s what I can manage right now.
Maybe someday I’ll come up with a better system. Maybe I’ll learn how to subsist on four hours of sleep per night. Maybe I’ll master the art of psychically transferring my thoughts to a Word file for later revision. Either way, I’ll keep pushing forward because I am all of the things I listed above – including a writer – and I refuse to give any of those identities up any time soon.