confessions / distractions / novels / writing

Need: Time

I don’t know how other people do it. You know, have lives, raise children, put away laundry, paint their nails. I need more time, I tell myself, time to do just the small things—forget raising children, I still need to unpack from my trip. Where does the time go?

My weekdays are broken up as follows:

5:30 a.m. (if I am good) or 6:00 a.m. (if I am not so good): get up, shower blindly, fumble through checking emails but forget to answer, lope over to cafe trying not to trip over own two feet

7:00-9:00 a.m.: write, or try to

9:00-9:30 a.m.: subway to work

9:30 a.m.-6:15* p.m.: day job (*except for half-day summer Fridays; starting in September I get off at 5:30 M-F)

6:15-6:25 p.m.: wait for F train

6:45-7:00 p.m.: home around now

7:00-10:00 p.m.: a blurry time in which I eat dinner, check emails and again forget to answer, try to read or clean up or do something productive and end up, usually, collapsing on the couch in a numb stupor too tired to do anything but watch TV

10:00 p.m. (if I am good) or 11:00 p.m. (if I am not so good): go to bed

On weekends you’d think I’d have all this stored-up energy, but alas. I feel like I just need the weekends to recover from the week. I go out to “write” all day on weekends, though I don’t have so much to show for it lately. I go to my writing spot; I look at my words; I write a few paragraphs; I read over all the pages I had before; also I read blogs; I do projects like editing this manuscript for a friend that I promised to have done next week… and the day is gone before it started. Weekend nights are the few times I have with e (he teaches four nights a week now), so I refuse to write at night when he’s home.

My exhaustion grows larger with each week. Yesterday I actually went home early from my weekend writing spot to NAP. I never nap. But I could barely keep my eyes open; it felt like someone had slipped me a Nyquil. Fact is, I am more and more tired, for no real reason I can see, as I don’t do much of anything to merit it. This makes me wonder how other writers do it. They make better use of their time, I’m sure. They avoid distractions, and we all know that’s my downfall. They are stronger, more focused people than I. I’d like to know their secrets.

This would be an annoying thing, under normal circumstances, but seeing as I have a deadline with this novel… What if I have to take a month off from life to finish it?

7 thoughts on “Need: Time

  1. Heh. Is that your secret?

    My problem is, if I have another cup of coffee in the afternoon, so I can be coherent at night after work, then I have trouble falling asleep and getting up early to write the next day. So annoying! I need to find the point in the afternoon (3pm? 3:10? 3:17?) at which I can have coffee but still be ready to sleep by 10.

    Any ideas?

  2. At some point, you have to be willing to let your day job suffer. It’s hard if you’re the conscientious type or a surgeon. But if the world needs your writing (and if it doesn’t, what’s the point?), then drink coffee and stay up all night and get it done. Or did you want a reasonable solution?

  3. I think the 7-9 daily writing can work beautifully and in fact is working for you, although it is not always apparent — add some weekend writing and maybe taking a few days off toward the end to do some editing and you will get that novel done — you really will. It is different for everyone, of course, but the way you work makes a lot of sense to me. You do it every day, so you don’t lose your place in the novel and you do have this big block on Saturday too.

    It is possible that the problem is not so much how much time you have but the anxiety that swirls around the novel itself, a totally understandable anxiety, by the way. The anxiety lands on whatever is not perfect about your life, such as the fact that you have a day job, but it would still be there even if you had no day job. That’s my theory anyway. I could be so completely wrong!

    Finally, I wonder if maybe paying closer attention to non-writing things, like your health and happiness, might be of assistance. But I get the feeling you are already good at that kind of thing. A good night’s sleep, some walking or other exercise that’s not dutiful but fun, movies that make you laugh or make you think, permission to read in the evening and not worry about other things — that kind of thing can go a long way to making the writing time seem like it is just enough.

    But what I really wanted to say, beyond my random thoughts about how to find a good writing rhythm, is that I so admire what you’re doing and I have complete confidence that it will turn out beautifully. Much love, Lily

  4. I’m totally jealous of your ability to write that much in the mornings. Mornings are not a good time for me. Evenings/late nights…perrrrrfect. Hang in there, my toenails look a fright too.

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