“So Robert, How Are You Able To Balance Writing With Your Busy Life?”

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People have often asked me how I’m able to get so much writing done when I have a ton of other responsibilities.  Some people out there actually believe I (and many other writers out there) really don’t have that much going on and that’s how we’re able to finish books, along with whatever other writing we’re able to do. The truth is, our lives are just as busy as everyone else’s if not busier.  Time doesn’t just “open up” for us to write.  We have to fit it in.  We have to MAKE TIME for it.  It would be easy to just neglect everything to write, but many of us don’t care to do that.  We have a lot going on in our personal lives that demand our attention.  As for me, I have a wife and two children that I give a LOT of attention to, along with my normal day-to-day activities, such as work, taking care of the house, exercising and others. But to answer the question, here are a few ways I’m able to fit writing into my busy schedule:

I think about writing constantly and by “constantly,” I mean all the f#@!ing time.  It’s not uncommon for me to lose sleep because I’m planning out sections of whatever project I’m working on.  This isn’t really “stressful” for me and no, I wouldn’t “recommend” (per se) that people lose sleep to write, but this is something writers do, whether we want to or not.  For those of you who love your sleep and can’t fathom why writers don’t have much trouble getting up in the middle of the night or losing sleep, let me explain why it’s so easy for most of us, or least easier for me. In the middle of the night or late at night, everyone is asleep.  The house is quiet.  Throughout the day, in the middle of breakfast, during our lunch breaks, at that red light when headed home, at those two minutes before separating fighting siblings again, or while your spouse is in the shower, we’re getting ample writing done.  But oh…that moment when NO ONE is bothering you.  Your phone isn’t going off because all your friends are asleep and not texting you or tagging you in everything on social media.  The kids (and spouse, depending on your household) are snoring away.  I honestly HEAR my laptop calling my name to get up and go to work.  I’ve actually answered a few times, but that’s a blog post for another day. My point is, as tired as I may be, that point in the day where I know interruptions are VERY unlikely is an extremely attractive time for me to write.  I can’t speak for other authors, but it doesn’t take long before I’m up and out of bed most nights with the laptop open and jazz on the radio.  Writing is a little easier when it’s on my mind the way it is.  Even when I try to get writing in during the times I know it really isn’t feasible, that doesn’t make it any less desirable during a time I should be resting.  If it’s not on my mind constantly, it would be nothing to go to bed and stay there at night.  However, I almost don’t want it that way.

I get more than my money’s worth from my DVR.  My wife and I very rarely watch even our favorite shows at the times they come on television because of our busy lives, but as a military couple, at the times she’s away, the same thing happens.  In the rare instances that I get a little ahead of things and have time to watch a show as it’s coming on television that evening, I still check the DVR to make sure it’s recording and then I turn it off to write.  Along with MANY other things in my life, if I did everything at the times I wanted to do them, I would never get any writing done.  Many times, by the time I watch whatever program, it’s old news, but that’s how I want it.  Scandal is a show my wife and I watch and we’re about three weeks behind on that.  Nashville is our favorite show and we haven’t even caught up with that one either.  It goes back to losing sleep.  Even when it’s my favorite show, it’s still way too attractive not to write at that time, because the way I see it, if I know I can spare the time to watch, I can spare the time to write.  This depends on how much writing I’ve done at that point during that day.  If I’m satisfied with my progress, I’ll go ahead and watch whatever it is.  If not, I won’t.

I get it in where I can fit it in.  Many of us writers learned a long time ago that there will never be a “good” time to write.  If we’re waiting on that, writing will never happen.  Besides, what is a “good” time?  Not to knock anyone who is able to find that time, but at least in my life, every hour is filled with something, so I decided when I first began writing to get it in whenever possible.  That’s where the carrying pen and pad comes in handy.  It may seem ridiculous to have access to writing materials like that, but let me tell you something.  For me, the further away that I am from my laptop, the better the ideas are.  Those first few times when I had those amazing ideas that I thought I would remember but didn’t because I didn’t have something to write with told me that I absolutely MUST have something close by in case I come up with new idea(s) or something for existing projects.  But as a writer, there is no time that I choose to NOT get it in.  I mentioned red lights above and that’s not an exaggeration.  So often, I’ll have a pad and pen sitting in the passenger seat (of course with the seat belt ON; I’m no fool) and if something comes to me as I’m writing, once I hit the next red light, I go to it.  There are stories all throughout history when someone wrote something on a napkin and it became HUGE.  Any of you fans of Freddie Jackson?  His hit 1985 song “You Are My Lady” was written by some guy on a bus, on a napkin, as he was trying to figure out a way to express his love for his wife by the time he made it home.  That’s how quickly it was done.  It wasn’t a 2-3 days thing.  It was done in that short of time.  Who knows if that song would have ever been done had that not happened.  That’s how good ideas are.  I have to get them down before they are forever lost.

I write whenever I can.  This sounds just like what I just wrote, but in this case, I’m talking about in different ways.  Of course, there’s this blog I’m keeping, but I try to write often and in multiple forms.  I started as a teenager writing poems.  A few years ago, I began with books and soon after that, screenplays.  For me, the more writing, the better.  Doing it in multiple ways like that keeps my mind working and I never become complacent.  The diversity keeps my mind sharp and in some ways, fresh.  When I’m forced to keep it working, I learn a lot more, which makes writing just a little easier in almost any form.

I can type close to 80 words a minute.  This may sound like a ridiculous one to put on here, but I’m almost positive that I would NOT be a writer if this were not true.  A big reason I write as often as I do is because I can do it quickly.  Knowing that I can sit down and do a page or two in a matter of minutes makes it attractive also.  This doesn’t mean I’m all about quantity when I write.  Absolutely not.  I know quality is important.  Being able to type fast tells me that I can get ample work done in a short period of time, which in turn, helps me feel that I’m not neglecting my family if an idea comes to me that I want to get down.  If I couldn’t type, I’d probably just say, “Forget it” and leave it alone. I actually learned how to type this fast by complete accident. When I was in the eighth grade and I was choosing my classes for my freshman year of high school, one class I saw said, “Keyboarding and Applications.” Naturally, I thought of the piano keyboard, so I thought I would be learning the piano on that keyboard.  I was SO excited and telling people all throughout the summer that I would be learning how to play the piano that next year.  When I finally made it to the first day of school, I reached that class and thought I was in the wrong room.  After staring at the computer keyboards for a while, getting crazy looks from my classmates and checking the room number outside for the tenth time, I realized what the class was really about.  Then I turned around and took the same class (again, by accident) in my senior year.  That time, when choosing classes as a junior, I saw “Keyboarding,” so naturally, I thought I was choosing the next level of the class I already took.  Nope.  It was the same class with a different name.  Oh, my classmates this time were extremely impressed as they thought I was picking things up quite nicely.  I thought, what the heck.  Let them think it.  They didn’t have to know that I was a full year ahead of them all.

These are just a few of the ways I’m able to balance writing with my busy life.  The bottom line is that time waits for no one, as we all know.  You need to MAKE time to write and it’s that simple. In the beginning, I expected that time would just open up for me, but as soon as I realized it didn’t, I did what I could whenever I could. I prioritized and moved writing near the top of the list. There are a TON of other things I can think of to do other than writing that wouldn’t be so bad to do and in some ways, a lot more entertaining. However, if I call myself a writer (and I DO), those things will always come afterward.

THAT’S how I’m able to balance writing with a busy life.  In short, writing becomes part of my busy life.

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