There are days when I literally wake at 3am, work two jobs, squeeze in an hour of writing, and then hit the third job before my head hits the pillow at 10 or 11pm. The next day is spent in a slight daze (okay, not so slight) trying to catch a bit of sleep, that proverbial greased pig, and then make my way through another thousand words or more of a novel.
I could say screw it. Just skip a day or two in the writing, catch up on sleep and get to the writing later.
I could do that, but then I would not feel right. The world would not feel right.
My body goes through withdrawal symptoms when the fingers don’t tap the keyboard for more than a day—serious jones-ing stuff. My dreams become more vivid and insistent, and life just seems more stressful.
Then I write, and, life falls back in its proper place. Colors return. Sounds and smells take on richer qualities.
I have to write, and just as important, I have to order my life in a manner that allows writing a priority.
Quite simply, if I don’t treat it like a job, it won’t become one.
And that matters to me. It matters greatly.
I write in several different flavors. I have my anthropological philosophical writing that helps define and articulate the need for individual creative expression. I also write novels and short stories covering several different genres. I also write feature film scripts.
Currently, I am working on the third novel in my vampire series. These aren’t the lovable, cuddly, shine-in-daytime characters. My vampires are the good and nasty ones with dark purpose, as I think creatures who feed on the life blood of humans should be.
They’d like it if you think otherwise.
And yes, they are watching you from the darkness outside your windows at night.
So how do I manage to make enough time for this? How do I get the characters inside my head out and to prevent them from bashing around in there and potentially wrecking something I need?
Remember, I have little time available and have to make the rest. I have a several things that keep me sane and on track in the writing process.
One thing I have is a good friend who bugs me daily about my writing in one way or another. Supportive to the extreme. She is my chapter reader, and I enjoy keeping her on the edge of her seat with my writing.
This is a good thing. She is relentless in that, but in a nice way; a way that makes me feel good about getting my stories written.
The other is my matcha tea. If you don’t like the effects of caffeine from coffee, then try matcha tea. The best I have found—and trust me, I have gone through many brands and price points—is from TeBella. You can buy a tin of it and make a cup for yourself daily. I don’t get any money for saying that, I am simply offering you truth I have researched personally. There are some health food stores that sell it, and some online retailers, but avoid the ceremonial tea as it doesn’t give me the mental kick at all. Try TeBella yourself, specifically the matcha tea lemonade, and then research your other options with that as the baseline mark of quality. The tea should be dark and rich green, not brownish.
And yes, eat a snack prior, or while drinking the tea. Some people get nauseated drinking it on an empty stomach.
The third thing is an 11-inch Macbook Air. In less than five months, I have written 2 novels and 1 short story on this little device I love. Its portability has allowed me to write in many different locations with ease, and thus, the ability to get more writing done.
That’s important. Let me reiterate: its portability allows me the ability to get more writing done.
It saves time.
It makes having to translate longhand to digital a thing of the past.
It also frees me from the confines imposed by my desktop computer.
The accountability of having a friend bugging you is important. This beats even the benefits of matcha tea.
During our time in our different creative pursuits (she is an illustrator) we came up with a way of keeping ourselves from letting our talents sit idle.
We came up with the 30s.
The 30s are thirty-minutes out of our day devoted directly and intensely to our creative “voice-our-truth” expressions.
You can carve out thirty-minutes in your day to give freedom to your voice and talent.
It’s necessary for your growth.
It’s necessary for the world.
The 30s are small, unintimidating, little things. They are cute and cuddly, and they love you with furry little noses pressing against your neck saying, “I love you.”
But only if you use them.
Otherwise, they sit in a corner with their furry little noses looking down woefully at their toes and, with moist eyes, sniff back a tear or two.
You’ll love them and use them now, won’t you? You’ll make room in your life for their soft squeaks of joy in your ear?
My vampires won’t just stay outside your windows if you don’t.
The 30s become a part of our every day life. A good habit. We don’t let a day go by without doing our 30.
Frequently, my friend and I will say something akin to, “I haven’t done my thirty yet,” or “I have to do my thirty before I can go to (x, y or z).” And x, y, or z might be some really fun or cool thing. It might be a movie with a friend; it might be time with family.
But it’s only a 30. You have time for that.
Now my 30 has grown to 90 or 120, and this depends on when I have finished my 1000 words or more of my novel-writing for the day. The 1000 words have replaced the 30 for me, but the mentality is the same.
My friend’s 30 became more than one 30, as she applies it to different creative projects as her inspiration demands. She is determined and feels guilty when she hasn’t done hers. I just look at her, and she knows I know.
We don’t have to say much to prod the other.
My writing is regulated inspiration
My writing is regulated inspiration. I set a time for the writing, and I shut out the world with my headphones and music: Game of Thrones, Devil’s Advocate, Inception, Ender’s Game, Lord of the Rings, the 300 soundtracks, some Bach and Mozart along with a little dub step and a few others. Great mood music that fades away to nothing once the fever of writing takes hold or supports it at just the right moment for a particular scene.
When I write a novel I write daily until it is finished. Every day. If I miss one day because I am working all three jobs (I carpool with my friend to my evening job and have squeezed in 30 minutes of writing time along the bumpy Tampa roads more than once), I then write 2000 the next day. I never, ever, allow 2 days go by unwritten. Ever.
Until the novel is finished.
On vacation I write 2000+ words a day. Every day. The last day of my second vampire novel caught me writing 3600 words to finish. That felt great.
And now it’s done, and I go on to the next one.
They wait for me, these stories.
I do all this with very little time to do anything else but work and sleep. But the novel, or my other writing, wouldn’t be there resting as a book on my shelf if I didn’t sacrifice to make it happen. We sacrifice greater things than our time with less sense of accomplishment than having that book you wrote on the shelf or those comments from your readers that express how your writing has helped them, scared them, or changed their life positively in some way.
Many of you sacrifice your time at a job that has little meaning in the big scheme of things. You skip out on time with family and friends because of it, and all for what? Just to pay the bills?
That’s important to a degree, but that voice inside you needing to express itself is more important.
I have more than once heard from friends and family that their jobs are leaving them soulless. They don’t say this in jest. They say it with an amount of sorrow and wistful eyes that speak of regret for things they wish they would have done differently.
Why go through decades of this just because society and your friends say this is the way things are done? How they have always been done, and how they will always be done for those who come after you?
You can change that.
Grab a 30 and make it stick. If I can make time for writing with my schedule, you can.
Start with a 30.
Make the 30 your daily routine you perform no matter what, even if your 30 is just research for the writing you are doing. I refer to writing here, but it can apply to other pursuits that help stimulate growth and the expression of your truth.
Research counts toward the 30. It feeds the writing. Just don’t get caught in the rabbit holes in your online research and find that you are looking at kitty cats wearing jeans photos when it has nothing to do with your writing.
When you are finished with your project, as in a novel that takes you out of life for months at a time, reward yourself.
My friend buys me a pie.
I love that.
Short stories get a nice cup of yogurt with sweet fixings from Yogurtology.
This marks the work I did as something worth celebrating. If you finished a novel, sacrificed time with loved ones and friends or things you really wanted to do but they got in the way of your 30 or 1000 words or etc., then you deserve some little celebration.
So are you.
So is your voice.
Let it not go unspoken.