Monday, April 7, 2008

It's About Time!

So, like lots of people, I dream of the day my children’s book get published. The day my book will be the one my students choose to read. The day I will be the author visiting the classroom instead of the teacher being visited. The day I find my book listed on Amazon (with a ton of rave reviews of course… A girl can dream can’t she???)

I meant that last line as a quick joke, but can too much dreaming be a problem?

I think it can.

With writing, it’s just too easy to imagine a perfect “someday”. A dream day when I find all the time I need to turn my ideas into a submission ready manuscript. A day when words flow onto paper without any pesky dead ends and wrong turns.

So far though, that dream day hasn’t come. First I was a busy full time teacher. Now I’m a busy full time mom. And, while I found some time to write (or, should I say one handed type?) when my son was a peacefully feeding infant, now that he’s a truck-loving, forward-roll-turning, chit-chatting toddler, it’s a whole different ballgame.

But that doesn’t mean I have to give up on my dream of being a writer. I just have to act a bit less dream-like in getting to my goal. Does that make any sense?

Let me explain. The other night, I talked to my husband about frustration with trying to find time to write. After looking at my weekly schedule, we decided that it made sense for me to use Monday afternoons for writing. My mother-in-law watches my son then, so I have an uninterrupted block of space.

Sounds perfect, right?

Then came the first Monday of my new plan. Somehow my leisurely afternoon of writing got cut down to under an hour. And, wouldn’t you know it? All my ideas dried up. Forty five minutes of dead ends, wrong turns and staring into space. Finally, in my last five minutes, I began thinking about a rhyming picture book project from a few months earlier and an insightful critique (Thank you, Gale!) that I couldn’t figure out how to implement.

Buzz! Time’s up! Just as I took out the picture book manuscript, it was time to pick up my son.

So, was my writing hour a waste? No way! If I hadn’t made myself sit down and do it (in writer’s language, B.I.C.—butt in chair), I wouldn’t have pulled out that picture book manuscript. And if I hadn’t pulled it out, I wouldn’t have spent every spare second revising it. Plus, once I got back on a writing roll, I ended up creating two new poems and a draft of an emergent reader. (Nap time and the hour just after bed time end up being great for writing too!)

Over the weekend, I mentioned my scheduled writing time to a non-writing friend, and she said, “Sounds pretty tough. What if you’re not inspired?”

I explained to her that if I hadn’t made myself sit down and write, I wouldn’t have gotten inspired. (Very chicken and egg: What came first, the writing or the inspiration?) For me, it’s the writing. I just have to remind myself that I have to make the time if I’m going to find the ideas.

So, I’m curious, how do you all find the time to write?


  1. I have been amazed at how productive you have been, Brianna, since becoming a mom. Your description of finding time to write reminds me of my own days of "writing in the cracks".

    For me, the problem is not putting BIC but of PFK (putting fingers to keyboard). I have time, but I'm finding my concentration to be lacking. Maybe too many of my brain cells died during the years when my children were young?!

  2. Time. Some have less and some have more. When one has lots of time to write, is that necessarily better? Not always. When I hit the proverbial wall and words won’t cooperate, I might welcome the enforced stop to take care of a toddler. Seems better than the hours wasted on fretting over a few freaking words. Sometimes there is too MUCH time!

    I think it's true that the busier you are the more you get done, and you, Brianna, are the proof!

  3. I like setting small goals. Can I write one page today, even one paragraph? Edit one chapter? As long as I work, I feel good.

  4. Time? What's that? I've learned I have to demand it. From myself and even sometimes from my family. No checking e-mail, no playing Webkinz to earn my daugher webkinz cash, sorry Maxie, no walk today. Mama's gotta write! Yes, any work I get done constitutes a good day. Who cares if we're all walking around in dirty clothes?