There have probably been more than a few days in the last month — maybe even in the last week — were you fully intended to write, only to realize at 8 p.m. that you’re about ready to call it a night but haven’t even gotten the chance to open your laptop to write anything.
It’s not that you’re purposely avoiding it or that you’d rather be doing other things. Life sort of just keeps happening — as it does — and you just can’t seem to get a handle on the part of your days that are supposed to be all about writing.
But maybe it’s not your fault. Not entirely, anyway.
Maybe it’s also the fault of The Way Things Are.
In many aspects, the world we live in now is not structured to support writers. Long stretches of time spent in complete silence writing without interruption are sometimes impossible to find. There’s always another text or email to respond to, another show we don’t want to miss, another invite to something everyone we know will be talking about tomorrow.
And as much as we might want to, we simply can’t spend all day every day in our private writing sanctuaries creating stories for the masses. Well, I suppose we could. But the reality is, many of us have a passion for writing but also have day jobs, and families (made up of fellow humans or fur babies or a healthy mix), and other hobbies. And things always seem to be happening that we don’t want to miss out on.
Writing requires many hours out of a day, and deep concentration, and more energy than many of us have at the end of a typical day, But this industry often makes us feel like we’re doing ourselves a disservice by fasting from social media or choosing not to break our concentration to stay up to date on what’s going on in the outside world.
What if people give us weird looks when we explain we couldn’t go to X thing because our characters needed attention and we couldn’t resist?
What if our friends/families never understand why writing is so much more important to us than that thing we used to have more time to do but don’t have as much time for anymore?
We worry about these things because “I need to spend time in my creative zone” just isn’t an acceptable excuse for anything. And maybe it never technically has been. But today, writing still isn’t something most people consider “real work.” As frustrating as that is, it’s the reality. And we have to deal with it almost daily.
We have to learn how to fit writing into a routine that isn’t automatically writer-friendly.
So how do you deal? You train yourself to write in the middle of chaos. As I’m typing these words right now, there is a movie on [probably] full volume in the next room, my dog is barking, my boyfriend is texting me about travel plans, and I’m waiting for a YouTube video to finish rendering.
I may not be writing as fast as I would be if I were sitting in complete silence without any distractions. But I consider myself lucky when those moments do appear. I have learned to treat this as my normal. Because if I approach every writing session knowing it’s possible that I won’t get the stillness and quiet I need, I will put in just a little more effort to make writing happen anyway.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.