What’s the writer’s Bitcoin? It’s this
I have been a writer since since age 13 (probably earlier), starting with a novella about a spy named Lucifer who had a dolphin on his gun and a car that could go underwater (Spy Who Loved Me much, Jason?) Following a bout with cancer, I wrote my first novel at 26 about a mercenary hacker who broke into corporations and stole secrets. I co-created a tabletop war game, three podcasts and a whole host of other things, some published, some ain’t.
The consistent thread in being able to accomplish all of those things wasn’t boss verbs (hugely important!) or killer punches or bosom heaves that would beckon dowries. While all valuable and incredibly useful in their own ways (yay bosom heaves!), none of those compared to the one resource that makes the difference between goals realized and dreams lost. Ready?
It’s time. Tick freaking tock.
As you adult, and as those who adult professionally still toiling away at their Orwellian day jobs will attest (like moi), many, many things go into adulting: professional meetings, soccer games, beer-league softball, school chorus, broken cars, grocery shopping, TRAFFIC, sleep, shit internet connections, standing at the post office, staring at fireworks, getting high, standing at the DMV and general hippo taming to name a few.
Do that dance regularly and you can get WORN DOWN TO THE NUB. Like, “I’m too tired to reach for the remote control across the bed” worn. I get it. You’re out of gas. The muse is cuddling someone else, and the Prose Gnomes have flown off to hump the legs of others with more vitality.
So, where does time for writing fit in?
Wherever you make it.
I’ll reiterate: wherever you freaking make it.
But do make the time.
I may sit and stare at a blank monitor for two hours. I may punch in fifteen words or 1,500. Either way, I’m there. My family knows. Most of my friends know.
My time. No one else’s. Mine.
You have to find it. You have to schedule it. You have to make it a habit. Not an appointment or something penciled in. A habit, like that thing you do twisting your hair on your finger, pulling the Camry in for that grande latte each morning or using the oily tip of your index finger to swipe down and refresh Facebook.
Get organized! Time how long you sleep. Time your commute. Time your bathroom break. Time how long you spend at work, you spend in the grocery store, in front of the TV, at the movies and chugging beer at softball games. The time is there. You have to have your time parsed out like a theoretical physics problem on Sheldon Cooper’s whiteboard. You have to know your minutes better than anyone else.
Oh. By the way, meet your plan’s not-as-bald Lex Luthor: EXCUSES.
“I’m just too tired.”
“It’s my turn with the kids.”
“It’s just not coming tonight.”
“Is that a BJ and the Bear rerun?”
Your version of Lex is the warm, easy capitulation imbued from the tainted ambrosia of the words, “I’ll just get started on it tomorrow.” He attempts to hang it like Kryptonite around your neck whenever you’re worn to the nub (see above).
Outwit Lex! Cast off the glowing green albatross! Fall asleep in front of the writing. Invite the cherubs into the writing dojo, hand them soft toys and let them gaze upon you writing (or hand them toys with hard corners and see what happens. Who am I to judge?). Bring a laptop/tablet/legal pad and pen, and — between tea cup rides and seventy-dollar theme park chicken dinners — sit and write.
You’ll find it if you want it badly enough. And you DO want it badly enough, right?
Time is the very Bitcoin of your creative existence. Bitcoin miners are draining the power grid dry to make more Bitcoins. That’s the mentality you (and I) need. Value your time. Drain the grid to make it. Also? Others should very much put some RESPECK on your time. When they want your time, make them earn it.
I’m guilty. For the past three years or more, I’ve fallen prey to excuses (and reasons). I also had a parallel run of bad health. My day job has steered me into some unusual areas, moving my family and me 5,000-plus miles three times to two countries and two states. Most decisions I made and live with, so no pity party but there have been challenges.
I’m back at writing because I’d rather be writing, talking writing, drinking writer whiskey, eating writer food, rubbing writer elbow, and making writer jokes full time. And I love whiskey and jokes. I won’t be able to do any of it unless I find the time, mine it out of my schedule and turn it into opportunity. As trite American football coaches might say, IT’S TIME TO TURN IT ALL AROUND AND LEAVE IT ALL OUT THERE ON THE FIELD. OUR BACKS ARE AGAINST THE DRIVER’S SEAT! Or something.
In any case, respect the time you have and how you use it.
I’ll end on a corny note courtesy of the unassailable Rik Emmitt and his band from Mississauga, Triumph!
Time is slippin’ away, it’s just passin’ ’em by
They’re wondering why, but it’s gone
Gone forever my friend and it won’t come again
So don’t try to pretend you feel fine
Tell me what you’re going to do to make time for yourself in the comments below. Here’s a cookie: