Many of you serious writers work a day job and/or have small children or others in your care or are active in social, political, or religious organizations. You’ve learned to make excellent use of the few hours a week you have for practicing your craft. No doubt you’re prone to daydreaming, but even when you’re fully engaged in the present, your subconscious Muse is at work, preparing for your next writing stint. Ideally, when that time comes, you block out the world around you and productively enter your writing zone.
I, on the other hand, have very few constraints on my writing time. For the most part, I’m free to do what I wish with my time. And what I wish to do is write. I have little interest in any other pursuit. So, I write. Most days I spend several hours in a fictional world. That’s 24/7. That’s good and bad.
Partly, I feel I’m making up for lost time. After all, I was not one of those amazing writers who produce work despite day job, care-giving, and other obligations. I didn’t pursue writing seriously until I was already fifty-eight years old! I’d written only some stories and poems and finished one novel before then. Maybe I’ve earned these long writing hours—like accrued vacation days or something.
And maybe I have little time left in this incarnation—or in this somewhat sanely functioning mind. Right now, I have three novels in the works and I confess that’s made me wonder if this is my last gasp, so to speak. Yes, that’s morbid. What can I say? I’m a fiction writer; imagination is my game.
Back to the title of this post. When, like me, you have few interests outside of writing and little self-discipline, maybe having an abundance of free time is not such a great thing. In the first place, it’s not like I’m cranking out a mountain of work. I write on the computer. My computer has internet access. I’m easily distracted—Words With Friends, Candy Crush, Facebook links, anyone? (And before you suggest I disconnect the Internet, see the part about lack of self-discipline.)
Secondly, the problem with living inside my head so much is that I talk less. Sometimes, I forget to speak at all. Frequently, my husband lets me know that if I answered his question, I did so only in my mind.
On the occasions I’m in a room with several people conversing and a comment comes to mind, often I stop to analyze it: editing the word choices, considering the implications (how stupid I’ll sound) if I say it, wondering whether anyone will get my sense of humor … and by then the conversation has moved on and I’ve said nothing at all. (Obviously, this is why I fail at social media like Twitter and Facebook and Google+.)
So if you bemoan the lack of writing time, take heart. Know that making good use of the time you have is preferable to being an obsessed, undisciplined, self-indulgent mute like me.
Not that I want to give up any of my “writing” time … not when it could result in scintillating blog posts like this! ;-)