Where do you find the time?

square-lo-res-jamie.jpgThere are a good many writers who have spread the rumor that a writer must write every day, no matter what. I have no quarrel with that line of thinking. Although I don’t particularly subscribe to it either.

Stephen King is reported to write every day. And he’s fairly successful, as writers go. So you could reasonably consider him to be a good example of how well that particular writer’s rule works out. Actually, King is to the author what McCartney is to the songwriter – the top of the heap. The fact that these two ne’er-do-wells found a way to rise above their station in life and bring untold millions of total strangers an imaginary place to call their own – well, let’s just say they give the rest of us hope.

But I doubt either Sir Paul or St. Stephan would suggest anyone else attempt to replicate their success by attempting to walk in their exact footsteps. Because while both these monsters of the entertainment industry have made oodles of money with their fluid imaginations, they came to that mother lode of cash through long years of hard, barely rewarding work. They do what they do for the love of it, the charge it gives them to hear or see their work evolve and coalesce into a cohesive piece they can feel proud of. They work for the love of it – they discovered wealth because they have a rare level of talent, took advantage of some lucky breaks and above all else, have a work ethic that won’t quit.

I’ve been writing successfully, which is to say for money, for better than 15 years. I take some pride in that fact. But my accountant doesn’t need to devote nearly as much ink to my tax return as he might to the behemoths of the publishing trade. I’m a piker, a small time scribe, a moderately content fish who swims in a huge tank filled with a multitude of others. Some are bigger, some are smaller – none are less capable I’m sure.

Still, I don’t write every day. Like most working stiffs, I have laundry to do, a lawn that needs to be mowed, dishes in the sink and a motor vehicle that’s in need of an oil change. I spent the weekend in my youngest daughters room, priming and taping and painting to beat the band. Not because I love painting, but rather because I love her. My 8 year old picked the colors and dad wielded the brush. It’s a fair trade. But it’s not particularly productive from a writing standpoint.

That overblown schedule of household duties, parental responsibilities and unavoidable chores has a tendency to derail my best intentions to write every day. Even when I was working on my first novel, when I was almost demonically motivated, I missed days at the keyboard. Doctors appointments, dentist visits, a leaking pipe in the bathroom and a whole slew of other distractions took their turns eating up my time, causing me to most or all of a day in front of the computer. With my imagination unleashed I make progress. But a feverish child can put a stop to short term plans in a hurry. As any parent knows.

I do write every week, however. The newspaper will not wait. A column must appear once a week, fresh as a daisy. No repeats or reprints are allowed.

All of which means, I’m fallible, heavily scheduled and occasionally overloaded. But I manage to get my work out on time and continue with side projects for a magazine or two while whittling away at my next novel. I’m not superman. But then neither is Stephen King or Paul McCartney. We are all just regular guys who are doing our best to put out good work for the entertainment and enrichment of whomever wanders near.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but that description fits you too, doesn’t it?

Pat yourself in the back for being in such good company, then get back to work. You have something to write, don’t you? Or perhaps you have dinner on the stove, or a lawn to rake first. No matter. The work will get done if you will it to be so. One thing at a time. And don’t forget to enjoy the adventure while you climb the ladder to your own personal success story. You may be surprised to find what you’re really made of when you get right down to it.

Jamie Beckett

Author: Burritos and Gasoline

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