Writing Time– Like Sex

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We guard it jealously like a threatened lover.

We steal bits of it in strange places.

We lose all sense of reality and dwell inside it as if nothing else on earth exists.

Sounds like I’m talking about sex.

For writers, that time you get for real, hardcore writing is pretty close to it on the list of desired things. When we don’t find or better yet, make, the time, we get cranky and restless. It can easily turn into this craving — a drug.

An author in one of my writer’s organizations asked yesterday if additional computer time is used to write blogs or if we use actual manuscript time. I smiled because it almost sounded as if she felt blog writers are being unfaithful by squandering sacred manuscript time. She didn’t mean it that way exactly– I’m just still going along with the sex metaphor here. (G)

But like most of us, she cringed at the thought of less manuscript time. We need that time like we need se… er, air. It’s not only a way to make a living for a lot of us, but it’s also a kind of fix.

The high I get from writing is a different sort of high, of course, but it’s one I both crave and even sometimes avoid. Try explaining that to a non-writer and watch muddy confusion cross their face.

Why do we sometimes avoid something we love and need so much? Lots of reasons. For me, it used to be that frightening sense of lost time. I focus with such intensity, I lose track of the world around me. I’m in a busy time of my husband and children’s lives and keeping up is difficult when all you want to do is disappear in your fictional world. I found it easier to not try.

Sometimes it can be an avoidance of a particularly difficult scene. You know it’ll make you cry and well, the sun is shining and you feel good– maybe you don’t feel like crying that day.

But sometimes, we realized these things are merely excuses and the truth is we can’t find our confidence –we’ve let self-doubt convince us that it just isn’t in the cards.

I’ve done all these things. The stuff I used to write is pretty bad. I began to think I wasn’t capable of better. I quit believing I could make things better.

I was naive.

We can all learn to be better writers. All it really takes is something infinitely simple.

Belief.

My very good friend, Deborah Bouziden took me aside at the last conference. She’d made me this magical inspirational gift. It’s a wooden box with a glass front. Inside is a huge, medieval looking key , a metal book front which says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step,” a scroll, tiny books, my name and the words, “Remember Courage.”

I cried when she gave it to me because she took the time to make this, to care, but also because belief in my abilities as a writer was missing for many years. I may have been writing, but I wasn’t taking it or myself seriously. I was miserable.

Deb knows this. She also believes in me. She made this beautiful gift so I could set it by my computer and be reminded every time I sit down at this computer, that I do have the key to success. I just have to believe in myself.

I’m a different writer than I was before. Uh, yay. (G) I’m not saying I’m perfect. One thing maturity has brought is the realization that perfection is not only impossible but silly.

Flaws are so much more interesting.

But I have realized that being a writer isn’t something I can change, give up or squander. I find the time. I make it.

I inhale it and wallow in it until I’m gloriously sated.

And I love every second of it. The gift.

18 Comments

  1. I agree totally. I was asked not too long ago why I wasted so much time writing when the odds of getting published weren’t really in my favor. I tried to explain that even if I knew that I would never get published, I would still write. It is something I have to do. Needless to say, the person didn’t get it.

  2. Oh, sure, make me cry. That was something I needed to hear. Ocassionally I read something I wrote in my twenties. And it’s so bad I start to throw it in the trash, but then I realize what a mistake that would be. I need to be reminded where this journey began over twenty years ago. Okay, so I’m slow, but that’s never been a secret.

    You should take a picture of the gift and post it. You could even use a key as a logo.

    It’s funny, for years I’ve collected odd keys here and there. Old ones. Don’t have a clue what some of them go to. Have a set of 2D key scrapbook stickers that I had to buy. Bought a key holder in the shape of a key last week at Hobby Lobby. After reading your post, maybe I understand the significance now. Inside my mind I have worlds that I’ve created over my lifetime, but unless I write those stories down, they remain there, locked within. I think I’ll start gathering my keys and if I ever have a ‘writing space’ I’ll display them there. To remind me to have the courage to unlock my doors, so to speak.

    I also have a collection of buttons. Hmmm. Is it possible I’m repressed?

  3. Some of the romance writers emailed to say they thought I could do a better picture. In fact, one gave me a seriously hard time about not showing off my hair. Guess she likes my hair. (g) That picture isn’t the one I want but blogger won’t let me change it. What was I looking at?

    If you scroll down, the temporary post is still there. I’m thinking of using the first picture. Tell me what you guys think. I’m waiting for the blogger people to tell me why it will not let me change the damned thing.

    The last two are jokes because of two emails I received in particular. They know who they are. (g)

    I keep changing my pictures and now that I’ve looked back on them, X is right– I look different in them all.

    I’m starting to feel vain.

    Dana, my daughter laughed so hard when taking a couple of the pics in that post below. Gave me a complex…

    Sara, I took a seriously difficult road to learning the ropes of this business. My number one antagonist was myself. I don’t mind sharing because I meet lots of other writers who are still going through it. I am in a sense, but I’m stubborn.

  4. I can’t say anything to that, except “Amen.”

    Your friend Deb has the right idea. Every writer needs an ego boost, unless they’ve written a best seller (then they need ego reductions). It’s neither a vocation nor an avocation for those who need instant gratification.

  5. Excellent post! It touches us all. The journey *is* the interesting part – it’s what makes *us* interesting. As far as blogging goes, you have to strike a balance with how you divvy up your time. But I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in my writing since I started blogging. 🙂

  6. I really don’t want to tell my husband that writing is like sex. Right now he encourages me in my “hobby”. If I tell him this, he might view my taking my laptop to bed with me in a whole new light!

  7. Thanks. Jo and a couple of others got to me. Plus, I hesitated every time I saw it the old one because it didn’t feel like me if you know what I mean. Of course, I’ve only just begun wearing glasses so they aren’t on all the time and I’m still not used to them.

    Betty, my laptop is on my lap most of the time. (g)

    I do take more breaks from blogging now to fit in precious writing time. Now that school is out I won’t be running around so much and will have more time. My kids are at an age where they need space as much as I do.

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