Continuing with guest posts, please welcome our guest writer number three, Karl J. Folk! Karl has a distinctly odd sense of humor due to over-exposure to Monty Python, enjoys ignoring the rest of the world while focusing on the finer things in life through a camera lens, and pulls art from thin air in just about every sort of medium (except painting... paint brushes still baffle him). Karl has also been known to write for days on end when lighting strikes.
REAL WORLD WRITING SCHEDULES
I am a writer. This aspect of me began when I was 10 years old, with short stories written by hand, and was solidified as a lifelong outlet of expression and creation when I received an old typewriter for my 11th birthday. I was thrilled, and typed away daily any chance I had, logging countless keystrokes into the wee hours of many nights.
As time went on in my life, I eventually outgrew the reason why I was writing. In my youth, it was an escape from a harsh messed-up reality. I could create new worlds, or be someone else entirely for a short time. However, as an adult I began creating a new reality, in the real world, where I no longer needed to be dependent on this outlet, and for nearly a decade I wrote very little. In this new life, there were far too many demands on my time to write, and I really didn’t feel the need to do so.
When I began writing again, it was for a new reason; my children. I was teaching them to read and write, instilling within them the interests I hoped would last their lifetimes. It would launch me back on track to writing, with the full intent of creating inspired works of art and literature. Although this venue of artistic creation came with a new dilemma; with all the demands of daily life, where to find any time to make it happen?
After four decades of trying to find time to write, I’ve come to some realizations. I began this post with my mundane history, as it holds keys of understanding to these realizations, which begins with the reasons of why we write.
Why do you write?
This is the first and most important consideration in trying to find time. Everyone who writes has their own personal reasons for it, and determining your reason will help to establish how important this activity is to your daily life. If it’s super important to your ability to function, like eating or sleeping, then time should be allotted daily for the activity. If it is for an aspect of art or creativity, then it comes to allotting time as inspiration strikes.
When to write? How to find the time?
I’ve found that giving myself an hour to two each day doesn’t always yield a chapter of a book. I need to be inspired to write. As a result, I don’t write every day. As well, I’ve found my writing is better when done in the evening, as it follows the pattern I set in my youth. I’ve also found the day’s activities have contributed to my imagination, with new ideas and fresh inspirations. It is also far easier to make time after the day is done, the children are in bed, your partner/spouse has been loved, and the dinner dishes are washed. If you have these sorts of demands on your schedule, finding time to write will ultimately be a sacrifice of some other activity, so it’s best to get everything else out of the way first. Having a partner/spouse who is understanding of your need to write also helps out considerably.
Haven’t written in weeks? Can’t find time?
Not to worry. You are still a writer. There are some things you can do as a stop gap and not lose those moments of inspiration. I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, and jot down an idea as it hits me. I began this habit after writing an outline for a chapter with a lumber pencil on a piece of scrap sheetrock while working. When inspiration strikes, you must grab it before it’s missed. Later that evening I made time and wrote the chapter with the chunk of sheetrock beside me. In this modern age, I’ve sent emails to myself from my phone while working. In the evening I will find it again and be re-inspired once more to find time. At some point, time will be found, and you’ll have tons of inspirational notes to review.
When I wrote my first book, I learned a valuable lesson. The story hit me like a lighting bolt, and I felt I had to write it all right then and there. Trouble was I had no time. So, I postponed my next construction project, and spent the following 90 days typing feverishly to get it completed, while only getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I got it finished, but it took me nearing financial ruin, and it was a full year before I had financially recovered. It would be another two full years before the final draft was completed. It was worth it at the time, as it is now a published book, but it taught me to pace the work. Books take time, and cannot be rushed. Had I paced myself, it would have taken the same amount of time to arrive at the final draft. Working within time available, even if just an hour every evening, is far better than attempting to fabricate a work of art nonstop from start to finish.
Admittedly, I should dedicate more time to writing than I currently do, but I work seven days a week, my wife works 40-50 hours, and we have a 3-year-old child. Within the constant demands of this daily routine I am working on three separate books. I write when I can find the time, and will even sacrifice sleep if need be to get an inspired chapter written. I don’t stress if I have not written anything for a week, a month, or even a year. It will happen when I find the time to get it written, and I know it will happen.
I am a writer.