I hear writers say some version of this all the time: “Protect the work.” What they mean is that to be a writer, a working writer, an author of actual books, you need to give time to it. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do if you have a full time job, kids at home, like a clean house, nutritious meals and clean clothes, plus hey get that exercise in! Most writers do not have outside help. Most women writers have to try to do it all.
That was me not so long ago. Even now that my kids are grown and on their own, I struggle to find writing time when I teach. In the past 12 months, I only taught 6 weeks, so I got a lot of work done. Two novels published. Another quickly coming to the point of submitting to my publisher. That’s the work. Everything else related to writing: Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, email, even my beloved blog, those things aren’t the work. They are nice, they are fun, they are addictive, but they are not the work.
Is there anything wrong with social media? No. It’s all good. But before anything else, carve out that writing time. I like to work first thing in the morning. Some writers prefer the night. Many writers set their alarms for a few hours before the day job or before the baby wakes up, just to write. I will look at email quickly on my phone while my first cup of tea brews and then get right down to work on the WIP. I don’t get to blog, reply to tweets, email, nothing, until those pages for the day are done.
That’s the way it works for me. And some days, I blow it. At the start of this week, I thought about just putting the WIP away for awhile. My son is in town, I have a ton of appointments, I need to grocery shop and get back to the yoga mat. But yesterday I thought, you know what, I’m just going to give myself an hour or two every morning to read through this WIP and pencil in revisions. And so far, it’s working. I’m protecting the work, getting it done despite being a little bit too busy.