By Shane W Smith
Many – I daresay most – aspiring writers need to maintain more gainful employment to keep themselves afloat. Some have family or financial commitments to meet before they can sit down and add to their beloved draft manuscript.
With the rising cost of living and growing hours of work, the ever-growing demands of ever-growing families, lengthy commutes in increasingly congested urban bottlenecks, it sometimes feels like a miracle if you even get five minutes a week to devote to your art/craft.
I found myself in this position recently. Having not written a word in months, I found myself on the verge of disintegration. My administrative job was slowly choking my soul, and my responsibilities to my mortgage and pregnant wife prevented any major changes in that situation. I chalked it up as one of the hard sacrifices one must make to start a family, and attempted to continue on. But I rapidly sank into depression, loathing the way I was spending my days and resenting my job for taking me away from my lifelong calling.
My frustration spilled into my home life also, and I was sullen and uncommunicative, quick to anger, and all around generally melancholy. It became clear that I needed to write. It was an outlet, sure, but also more than that: it was my only hope to escape the day-to-day administrative drudgery that my life had become.
When I gave up writing, I gave up hope itself.
I took two weeks off from work when my daughter was born. Now anyone who knows newborn babies knows that they sleep – a lot. You’re either cuddling them or watching them sleep. If the washing machine is going, there’s actually a decent amount of downtime. So I carved out a small pocket of time to take a look back over some incomplete writing projects.
Things started to get better very quickly.
I knew – for sure, now – that I needed to make time for my writing. Somehow, I just had to fit it into my day.
There’s no magic formula for this. Even the most productive person still only has twenty-four hours in a day. But I took a good long look at those twenty-four hours, and began to identify short snippets of time that I could utilise better.
In the end, after unplugging the Xbox, disavowing commercial television, and cutting back on some of the routine household chores (like walking the dog, sadly), I found I could squeeze a couple of hours in short bursts of about twenty minutes here and there over the course of a week.
Weighing up priorities, I found I was unwilling to give up any more than that. My family time was too precious and fleeting, and my work and financial responsibilities – though annoying – too immutable. If I had research to do, I could do it on the bus every day to and from work, and I could occasionally get some writing done during my lunch break at work.
But I needed to find more time to write... somewhere.
So, about eighteen months ago, I took the drastic step of slashing my sleep. After everyone had gone to bed, I stayed up to work on my writing. After some experimentation and conditioning, I managed to train myself to function well enough on 4-5 hours sleep per night. It wasn’t always easy, but suddenly I had regular time to write, and regular progress to celebrate.
My labour was rewarded within six months, when I completed my first graphic novel, The Lesser Evil, and received a publication contract for it, and then another contract for its sequel (forthcoming).
There’s no secret to finding the time to write. You just have to want it enough, be prepared to recognise opportunities when they arise (even five minute blocks are better than nothing), and be willing to give something up.
I think that no matter how busy you are, you can find time to write.
Stanley Myres, Chancellor of the galactic Senate... Elam Padakan, Overlord of exiled superpower Padakan House... Young Ross Tillman, a student on Messar... When civil war erupts on Messar, these three men are drawn into the conflict. And as their paths begin to intersect and tangle together, they come to realise that the galaxy has very different plans for all of their dreams. The Lesser Evil is a graphic novel that examines what it means to have a dream... and what that dream can end up costing, regardless of whether it comes true.
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Genre - Science Fiction / Graphic Novel
Rating - PG13