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.