Allotment of Hours

I’m beginning to discover that I like a full plate.

Sure, I’ll talk about wishing for more free time, but when it comes right down to it, I feel the most alive and energetic when I’m busy pursuing a dream – the key word being “busy.”

The largest chunks of my time are devoted to kids and housework. That’s my day job, and one that I can’t quit, no matter what other goals I reach for and achieve. That line never gets crossed.

The little bits in between kids and housework are what’s up for grabs. Sometimes I fill it with writing, sometimes with baking and cake decorating. Now and then I’ll take a brief stint into music, sewing, gardening, or decorating.

But either way I slice it, I can’t fill those bits of time with nothing.

This is a good thing, because it means I’m able to accomplish things that a lot of other young moms in my stage in life generally don’t. But it also means that sometimes it comes around to bite me.

Right now, I’m teetering on the edge of deciding to audition for a local production of Fiddler on the Roof. This is one of my very favorite musicals, and one I’ve always wanted to be in. Darren has said he’s willing to support me in this. I’ve been whipping my singing voice back into shape, and I feel that if I do this right, I’ve got a good shot at a main role.

Problem: I have also set a goal to finish a first draft of my novel by the end of the year.

I’m not convinced that novel-writing and musical-acting are mutually exclusive, but with a limited number of hours per week that are mine in which to pursue dreams, I might not be able to make both fit. Or, I might be able to do one mostly well and the other only mediocre.

I’m not interested in ‘mediocre.’ Or even ‘mostly well,’ for that matter. If I’m going to do anything at all, it’s going to be my best work.

So I continue to play a mental see-saw game, doing the math over and over again, and debating with myself over opportunity cost vs. sanity.

250 Words a Day

I remember reading an essay, several years back, written by a writing professor at a university, somewhere. I wish I could remember her name.

The essay was all about how to be a successful writer, and the author claimed to have the “magic key.”

Two steps:

1. Write 500 words a day.

2. Write a nice, hand-written thank-you note to someone in the industry, once a week.

I’m obviously not currently doing either of these. But for some reason, that “500 words a day” idea has stuck with me. Anytime I hit that 500-word milestone in a day, I feel like I’m really achieving my goals. I’ve mentioned it before.

Now, call me an under-achiever, but I don’t have a huge amount of confidence in my ability to hit 500 words a day, six days a week. I have three little boys, endless housework, church responsibilities, and a husband I’m crazy about — all of which take priority over writing. Not to mention needing enough sleep in order to keep up with it all.

On the other hand, I also find myself wasting bits and pieces of time throughout the day, most notably during naptime, when I should be able to be crazy-productive. Something about having all three boys quiet and/or sleeping at the same time triggers the lazy switch in my brain.

Gotta fix that if I want to get anywhere on my goals.

Which brings me to my point — I’ve decided to commit myself to writing 250 words a day. Baby steps.

250 words a day, at least for now. I can increase it later. This can include fiction, but I’m also counting blog posts, because that works out the same part of my brain.

This post is now over 275 words. See? I can do this.

I will do this.

Recalled To LIfe

Lest you thought this writing blog was turning into a pregnancy blog, I am here to assure you that that chapter (haha) is over.

Baby came! He’s sweet and cuddly and smiley and we’re all in love with him. So here we are, nearly three months after the fact, and I’m just getting my writing legs back.

Holidays are over, sicknesses are all better, vacation has come and gone, and our little Jack is consistently sleeping through the night.

*rubbing hands together*

Time to get to work!

I agreed to email a friend a new chapter each month. But I want to write at a faster pace than that. If I can finish two chapters per month, I’ll be sitting pretty to finish my goal of a first draft of a novel well before the end of the year. I may even have time for some revisions.

Realistically, there are other things going on in my life than writing, and those things may prove to be worthy roadblocks to my goal.

So far, I have one chapter done. One chapter in one month — but that was a month interrupted by sicknesses on top of sicknesses, and an unexpected trip to California in the middle. That, and our laptop (dear, departed laptop!) met an untimely death halfway through the month, which made it much harder to get my writing in.

I’m fairly confident that I could have finished two chapters in January if we’d had a normal month. On the other hand, crazy-and-unexpected is normal. Maybe I can’t count on finishing two chapters every month.

But that won’t stop me from trying.

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.