Not So Every Day

News flash: Late third trimester has a wacky personality. One day, I’m knocked out by fatigue, pregnancy aches, and irritability. Twenty-four hours later, I’m all energy and smiles and productivity.

You always hear writing advice from people who say things like, “You have to make writing a priority. Every single day.” And you know what? That’s fantastic advice.

But these days, crashing on the couch during naptime occasionally has to take priority over writing. To say nothing of the daily kid care, dishes, laundry, and meal prep that requires nearly all of my already-waning energy (and doesn’t happen if I don’t do it). Let’s not even talk about all the projects on the To-Do-Before-Baby-Comes list.

These days, I have to accept the fact that writing isn’t as high a priority as many other things. In the very back of my mind, I feel a little guilty, because I feel like I’m just making excuses. Writing is my dream! And I need to work hard and sacrifice to achieve my dreams!

But then I look at the demands on my time, energy, and psyche. I can’t do it all. And if I decide to use this finite amount of energy to provide good meals and clean clothes for my family in these final weeks of pregnancy, then that’s not something to feel guilty about.

The writing isn’t going anywhere. It can wait while I get through this stage. But I can’t put my family on hold.

500 Words

Last night my husband took care of the kids and put them to bed so I could have a “free night.” He does this a few times a month. It assures him a nice cushy spot in heaven.

I grabbed my laptop and headed to the library.

Now, understand, this laptop has been around since the Jurassic Era. It takes nearly 10 minutes just to boot up, log in, and open a word document.

There’s no internet on this laptop. I think there used to be, but it’s so old and decrepit that nothing really works except word processing. Naturally, this makes it ideal for writing, because I can’t get distracted on it. If I’m not writing, the only other options are staring at the screen, or shutting it off.

I had about an hour until closing time, so I felt an urgency to get going. I sat there and willed my aged laptop to get me to the Chapter 2 file as quickly as possible. I bled through my forehead for about 10 minutes, then sailed through 500 words.

500 words.

I remember reading an article by some totally famous author lady whose name I can’t remember. She said that if you wanted to be a successful writer, the first thing you should do is write at least 500 words every day. She said the rest would follow.

I’m definitely not reaching 500 words a day. And to a lot of writers out there, 500 words is not a big deal.

But for just one night, I felt like a successful writer. Big win.

Time to Write

Every day I think to myself, Today I want to WRITE! And 90% of the time, it just doesn’t happen.

The problem is, there are so many things going on right now that writing is usually the first thing to get pushed to the back burner.

But let’s be honest.

The real problem is that I’m failing to plan ahead and make time to write.

Time is never found. It’s always made.

Case in point – this afternoon I “found” some free time. There were things I knew needed to get done soon, but nothing to be tackled today. I put the kids down for their naps, came downstairs to the computer, and looked at the clock. Ahhh, two hours of writing time! Luxury!

Then I thought of a few quick things that I should take care of on the computer before settling in to write. An email to send, an image to change, a moderation queue to check. . . I looked up at the clock. An hour and a half was gone. Burned away.

Turns out, finding time to write didn’t automatically translate into me writing. Surprise!

Turns out, making time to write has to happen whether you find the time or not. Because if you don’t make it, you can have all the free time in the world and it still won’t happen.

What Are the Odds?

Yesterday I fixed my hair (and put on makeup), handed the kids over to a babysitter, and attended UVU’s Book Academy with my husband.

The whole day seemed to vibrate with serendipity.

Among other things, I won a prize.

I’m not usually excited by door-prize drawings at the end of events. And this one was particularly long. I sat in my unpadded chair, trying not to zone out (did I mention I was running my pregnant body on four hours of sleep?) as name after name floated by. I perked up when they whipped out a few sets of Hale Theater tickets to give away. But they didn’t draw my name for any of those, so my brain went back into slump mode.

Then they pulled out the grand prize, which was a coupon for a FREE full manuscript review by a certain skilled editor from a contract editorial company – an awesome prize that anyone else would have traded a limb for. And my fuzzy brain thought, Finally, the last one! Never thought I’d see the end.

Then I heard my name over the microphone.

Um, what? I don’t even have a manuscript.

I didn’t deserve it. Unlike every other person in the room, I haven’t spent the last several years dreaming up stories and characters, putting words on the page, submitting queries, or attending weekly critique groups.

I felt like a complete fraud. A cheater. A thief. I felt a strong temptation to seek out one of those Hale Theater ticket-winners – surely one of them would have traded with me.

But my fingers held onto that prize, because to me it said, “Go and do.”

True, I haven’t worked as hard or as long as most of the people there. I’m new at writing fiction. But at this point, the thing that I need more than anything else is motivation to continue getting words on the page. And trust me, having a prize this valuable is a pretty good incentive to complete a manuscript and polish it up.

And perhaps I need that motivation as much or more than the others. Who knows? If that glossy sheet of cardstock keeps me going on this goal of mine, and helps me to reach a dream and improve a skill, then maybe I’m just as deserving as anyone else in that room.