Saturday, August 28, 2010

Write This Down

I had a great conversation with a writer-friend of mine this week. She and I have been in a similar predicament for the past few years, in that most of our energy and time has gone into raising our children, and not into the world we so longingly want to delve into: writing.

Our kids, of course, and the time we give them is valuable time dedicated. We understand that. We chose to forego our passion of writing for them instead. But, we also discussed why some writers -- as busy as us --were still able to write while raising a family. Did they have extra help? Was their writing so miraculous that their brains just downloaded the stuff onto their computer in mere minutes? What did they do differently?

Obviously, many women and men raise their children and manage to write; perhaps even write bestsellers (ahem ... Mrs. Meyers). So what’s the difference between them and us? What was it that made them more productive? It comes down to something very simple: these authors wanted to write more than anything.

There's no good time to start writing. It's just like having kids. A lot of people “wait for the right time." But seriously, when is that? When you have more money? When you're done with school? When you learn the tango, travel to Japan, and master the Finnish language? There is no perfect time to have kids. Nor is there any perfect time to write. There will always be something else you “need” to do instead.

The truth is that people do what they want to do. While that may sound incredibly redundant, it’s true. And I was a victim to that laziness. If I wanted to write, then regardless of the kids, regardless of the messy house, the dishes, the husband, or laundry, I was going to have to make time for this passion or I would never get it done.

Write down your ideas.
If you're anything like me, having children has irrevocably taken your brain and turned it to mush. I can barely remember the thread of a conversation, let alone a great literary idea. So, I keep paper near me when I watch TV, read, write or even eat. Whatever it is, dialogue or storyline, I write it down.

I've made the mistake in the past saying "Oh, I'll remember that idea. I don't need to write that one down," only to have forgotten the essence of the idea within minutes. We need to write our ideas down so that when we have a little time to write, we'll have something from which to draw.

Make time to write.
If the only time we have is after the kids get to bed, then work with that! Successful people don't whine about not having time or resources. They just make it happen. Writing is no different. Write when the time is available; early in the morning, late at night. Whenever it is, do it, because books and articles don't write themselves. If you only get fifteen minutes at a time, then work with that (then read this article http://www.jessimac.com/, "Do you want to write? Then lie to (yourself)").

People do what they want to do. I finally believe this and say the phrase all the time to my kids when they complain they can't "clean their room" or are "too tired to brush their teeth." I'm not sure that my almost-four-year old understands this fully, but really, what does that matter? If he gets the reaping and sowing concept, which is what I’m trying to teach him through my work, then he’s gained something worthwhile.

Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. Do you want to act? Then find the time to take a theater class. Do you want to design a car? Then start designing it, even if you work at a fast-food place by day.

We get to give life to our dream. And if we can dream it, then we can do it.


-Heather

15 comments:

  1. Great post and reminder Heather, thank you. I used to carry a note book with me always and write down things I wanted to put in my 1st manuscript, it was refreshing. Then I omitted to carry the notebook and just today saw something I knew I should take note off and have been floundering to find it ever since. I will carry that notebook always from now on. Appreciate this post a lot. James Cohen

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  2. Thank you James! Love to hear that I'm helping.
    And thanks for taking the time to read the post.
    -H

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  3. Ohhhh, I was just on a major rant about this last week.

    Yes, I want to write. If I don't write, I actually feel anxious, but when? When?

    You are right in "people do what they want to do" so I just need to continue to make it a priortiy!

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  4. Well said Heather. Since we talked I remembered, and have been thinking about a story idea I had, but I still haven't written any of it down! This is a good reminder of what I need to go do now.

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  5. Fantastic post! I used to have my best ideas while trying to shut my brain off and fall asleep - so I would roll over, pull out a notepad from my nightstand and just write. It was interesting sometimes to decipher the next morning what was written completely by feel in the dark. :)

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  6. Amy, so true! I have to write it into my schedule, so it gets done.
    Tori, you can do it. :)
    Mindy, thanks! Yes, the notebook by the bed, just as important. I've got that too, and the cryptic handwriting to go with it.

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  7. My friend and I were just discussing this same issue this past week. I have finally been coming to the conclusion that I will end up doing what I really value the most. My family will still be first, but there are many other things that can wait. So, writing is now a priority. It was so nice to read about another fellow writer struggling to get it all done!

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  8. Being a stay-at-home-homeschooling mom, I have found myself wondering the same thing - how do these people find the time to write??? But what I found to be true recently is just what you said - you have to make the time whether it's 15 minutes a day or 5 minutes a day. I finally reworked our routine; actually I developed a whole new routine that we began when we started back to school. I have designated official "office" time in the afternoon when our toddler is napping. This is my "do not interrupt me unless absolutely necessary" time. This is my set aside time for writing and working on office work. I usually get anywhere from 1-3 hours on Monday through Friday with the average usually being about 2 hours. It really has made a difference. And with the coming release of the new Growth Points Bible study publication, it's crucial that I have that set aside time to work!

    Hope you have a great week!
    Karen

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  9. Good post, Heather. I think sometimes it is God's timing, too. For me, my kids, just within the last couple of years, have gotten to the point I could pour my energies into writing and speaking. My personality is such that I can't do too much at once without feeling overwhelmed. But don't think God wasn't at work. From about 1999 to 2008 He was grooming me and preparing me for where I am today...even though I have a long way yet to so.

    We need to find contentment where we are, but strive for what God has called us to. God has different timing for us all. The great thing for me is I, now that I'm almost an empty-nester, I won't have time to pine away for my kids...I love them to death, but now I'll have time to write, speak, and whatever God puts before me :)

    Blessings,
    Shona

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  10. Lori and Karen, thanks for your words!
    And Shona, yes, I agree with it being God's timing. Though I DO know that there were times when I should've been writing, and I excused it as being "too busy." That was me, lying to myself. Thank you for your words as well. Blessings to all of you.

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  11. I can so relate to this post! I have a sitter come twice a week now so I can edit! It has helped so much!

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  12. I'm with you Heather. Too many times I've had a great idea that I thought, "oh, that is so good that I won't forget it." By the time it comes to sitting down in front of my computer - the thought is completely gone. If you can't sit and write immediately - quickly jotting down your thoughts is a must.

    I've decided it's ok to have a messy house - so long as the family is well cared for. It takes 20 - 25 hours a week for 10 years to become a good writer. Something has to give.

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  13. Good ideas, esp about writing down ideas. If I don't, I lose them. One of my professors used to say that "Writing maketh and exact man." One thing he meant by that is that our memory gets cloudy when we try to recall a great idea at some later date.

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  14. Hi Heather. I found your blog from Alisha at faith imagined. I really enjoyed this article, and can so relate! I have been meaning to start carrying a little notbook around..gosh those ideas can come quickly..and leave just as quickly too! I look forward to gleaning more helpful information from your site, as I'm just getting back to writing: 4 kids later! LOL. I'm a new follower :) Have a great holiday weekend!

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  15. Alisa, that is great! Good for you ... I wondered how you did it. Donna, exactly!
    Warren, love the quote. That's the idea. It IS critical to writing down our thoughts.
    Leah, thanks for your imput too, and welcome! I look forward to reading your work as well.

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