I was raised Southern Baptist* and we don’t do Lent. I might have seen ashes on people’s forehead’s once or twice before I headed off to college, but just accepted that as “a Catholic Thing.” I was barely aware of Mardi Gras outside of The Count of Monte Cristo**
In college, though, I learned about Lent. That’s when I discovered it was a time for sacrifice and cleansing. It started to fascinate me. What was I willing to give up?
As writers, we give up a lot for our writing.
First and foremost, we give up our time.
During NaNoWriMo? I’d say I spent 60 hours writing in one month, that’s 15 hours a week. And that’s not counting the time I was distracted by the internet and trying to write.
In an average month? I’d say I spend 3-10 hours a week on my writing. And that’s before you go into beta-reading other people’s work, reading about writing (mostly blogs), and helping run a writer support group (well, 2 right now, because I was backup for a 2nd group). That’s probably another 8-10 hours a week. [Note to self: change up that ratio! More time writing, less time talking about writing.]
That time has to come from somewhere.
For many of us, writing is technically a hobby. But it’s also a dream, with further potential.
When you make your writing a priority, something’s got to give, and for most of us, our hobbies are the first to give. Those are things we do just for us, so, they’re the most easily sacrificed. The time most easily carved out.
Be it team sports, reading, or video games: we’ve got to make a choice and these tend to be first on the butcher block.
I’m not saying we lose friends over our writing, but when it comes to finding time for writing, spending time with friends can suffer. “Want to go dancing/to the bar/meetup?” turns into, “I can’t, I’m trying to finish this revision by the end of the month.”
Don’t ask me how excited I am about Friday nights at home, with no distractions, no bedtime, and a chunk of editing to do.
You know that time you spend sitting in front of the tv (or computer) just vegging out, mindlessly being entertained? Hanging out with friends with no scheduled activity or set end time? You might still try to do this, but in the back of your head is a clock saying “you could have finished that chapter tonight.”
You want to hit the gym, but you got out of work late again and if you’re going to get this book out there, being queried sooner, rather than later, you need to get home. You’ll just skip snacks tonight, it’ll be fine.
4 hours later, 1 microwaved dinner and 2 snacks, with 1 chapter edited: it’s past time for bed.
A lot of family time IS downtime and social time. So, by giving up those, you give up time with family. I try to set aside time for family where I’m not writing, but they usually end up being events, where there’s an event and a scheduled activities. Making family time double as social. Sometimes, I schedule family time for writing events- this year, I’m going to Balticon with my mom.
Looking for Balance
Giving up all that stuff to carve out time for writing takes away your balance.
When you’re over-scheduled and every free moment is chores or writing, it’s time to step back and see where you’re losing time and where you can find time for those other things.
My goal for lent is to stop wasting time on click-bait. Those “12 reasons X” and “30 stories of Y” and find more actual downtime AWAY from a computer.
What do you find yourself giving up?
*although, a peace-love-and-acceptance sort of church, not Fire and Brimstone + bigotry which is what some of the Southern Baptist churches seem to be preaching these days. Side Note: Southern Baptists do use dried palm leaves on Palm Sunday.
** I shouldn’t blame that on my hometown. That was just me not watching much tv.