“The trouble is, you think you have time.” -Buddha
Ever since people heard about my book being published, I’ve gotten the same question. Though the phrasing has been varied, the basic thought on everyone’s mind seems to be, “How do you find the time to write?”
I never know quite how to answer this. First off, writing is super time consuming, and I am already super busy. As a stay-at-home-mother to four kids, I do not feel like I have “time” for much of anything but cooking, cleaning, laundry, mediating, driving, shopping, errands, etc.! But creativity is such a part of me. I see everything through artistic lenses—speech, dress, body language, music, tones, design, humor, or even organization. It’s seemingly impossible for me to see anything as not artistic. I remember in smells, images, and feelings. I like to think that I take mental snapshots of moments I want to remember or ideas I want to execute.
When I am not physically writing, the little voice in the back of my head is constantly spouting off creative characters or ways to link different plot lines. I might be changing the laundry or a dirty diaper, but I am often thinking of my stories. I ponder characters’ movements, motives, expressions. And then, when I do get a moment to sit and quietly contemplate, I write down all the images that have sprung to my mind throughout the day or past days.
I often explain it as a movie being played inside my head; I write what I see. This stage of writing is somewhat like textual vomit—it’s not pretty. But I get it out, and my mind can finally be at ease until the next creative burst comes. Usually the initial writing happens quickly. I might write twenty pages in an hour if I have had enough time to envision and create the ideas in my head. Other times, not so much…
The difficult writing, the rephrasing or connecting of characters and plots is much harder. These are the writing sessions that usually last into the early morning and, after all the writing, deleting, and rewriting, produce about five paragraphs. My brain hurts after these sessions.
As far as “finding time”, I laugh at this. There is not enough time to accomplish anything I want to get done, let alone writing. However, I am a firm believer that small steps get you to where you want to be. In the crazy days of summer, with kids fighting and begging for snow cones every single hour (curse you, Ice Shack), sometimes I don’t get a single sentence written. On other days, I might only get a page or two. I try to write at least five minutes every day. I think it makes a difference.
However, on occasion, I get creatively overwhelmed. This is exciting because it’s an enjoyable experience for me to imagine and see so many things at once. The images are flashes of ideas, people, plots. I have to write the ideas down as soon as the kids are asleep (or when my husband gets home from work) because the images are almost always fleeting. These occasions, though exciting, also bring a small amount of dread in the pit of my stomach, accompanied by the feeling that “It’s going to be a long night” and/or “I’ll be fried by morning”. I wake up a zombie, and usually have to stumble through the day in a half-awake, miserable, fake-smile kind of way. Unfortunately, the late nights have proven even more difficult with a baby and my already sleep-deprived state.
Of course, writing takes sacrifice. If I am working on a new story or editing, a lot has to go. I usually avoid TV, Netflix, social media, friends, my kitchen… anything that will distract me.
Often, the family goes to bed, and I write. Once in a while, my kids let me write during the day, but I can never count on that. Maybe in the school year? *Fingers crossed*. My husband also will give me time each weekend and on days when I feel especially like I need to hash it out. He takes over the house and kids and plays Barbies with the girls. I’m thankful that he supports me, even if he doesn’t understand my strange “idea flashes”.
So, there is no writing super power. Just strange creative bursts, lots of mental work, many late nights, zombie days, and a handsome, supportive husband.