As a stay at home mom who's blessed with being able to home school, it should go without saying that I am in the company of my mini-me nearly every second of every day. I love it. Truly, I wouldn't have it any other way. But, that means that every minute she's awake, my time is pretty much spoken for. Sure, I can jump online and piddle around on Facebook here and there. I can peruse some interesting blog posts or articles. Catch up on emails while she's playing. But writing? That's out.
Not that I don't attempt to. Most days that word file sits there open from the time I first sit down at the computer in the morning with my coffee to eleven o'clock at night, when I actually get to work on it. I keep it open just in case. Just in case I have a moment to add a sentence or two. Maybe, if no one interrupts me for long enough, I can even squeeze in an entire paragraph. Usually this falls under wishful thinking...but I get lucky just often enough to keep doing it.
It's not until after everyone has gone to sleep (and the dogs have finished their night time wrestling which for whatever reason has to be done within three feet of where I sit) that I actually get any real writing done. Some nights, I get caught up chatting online or talking on the phone (because lengthy conversations with other grown ups are also hard to come by when you're hanging with a seven year old all day long) and then I don't really get to work until midnight or later. I don't need much. A couple of hours and I feel as though I've made enough progress to let things simmer until the next day.
And really, that's kind of the key to everything. Consistency. It doesn't much matter when I write, or for how long, but when I'm at my most productive, I'm writing every day.
I slack off and my writing suffers. Suddenly, my word count is lower. I'm tempted to lounge around and binge watch Netflix and skip writing all together. The story doesn't flow. Doesn't feel right. Doesn't claim me. Because it can't. Because I'm not committed. I'm not up to it. I'm out of shape. And that's a horrible feeling. (Some people will call this Writer's Block. I'm not those people. I think Writer's Block is bullshit.)
Writing is like anything else you ask of your body. It has to be practiced. You have to train that writing muscle and you have to do what it takes to maintain the bulk if you want to keep churning out the big books. It's not always easy.
In the last six months or so, I've gotten burned out twice from the previous years of pushing non-stop. I've taken time out. I've binge watched the shit out of some Netflix shows. It felt like the right thing to do. Felt like it would help. It didn't.
Taking time off only made it that much harder to come back. To find my groove again. And it's not for lack of stories. Or lack of time. My schedule is no more or less conducive to writing full time now than it was last year. But I've been out of shape.
So...how do you fix this, you ask? You stop writing what you think has to be written and you just write whatever the fuck you want. It doesn't even have to be a book. You can journal. Write poetry. Blog posts. Anything to get that muscle working again.
Get that sucker back in top shape and you can write as much and as often as you like. It won't matter if you have time or not. When that writing muscle is active, it insists on being used. And you'll make time. Even if it means writing in the most unexpected places on the most unexpected things.
For years people have become accustomed to seeing me with my laptop anytime my kid has gymnastics or dance or theater rehearsal. I don't care if I'm sitting in a corner of the room, on the floor with the lights dimmed for dress rehearsal. I've got my ear buds in and I'm working.
Day trip in the car and I'm not driving? Perfect. Talk to me again when we get there.
Visiting family? If someone gets distracted or leaves the room to go pee, I'm breaking out that keyboard. Sure it's rude, but they have to love me either way.
My point is, if you love it, you'll do it...but you have to do it often to love it that much.