On Writing


They seem to be ever around us, don’t they? Looming with all their pressure and stress. Get the presentation prepared before the meeting on Friday. Gotta have that volcano ready for the kid’s school trip to the science fair on Monday.

Deadlines for government forms. Deadlines for turning in applications. Deadlines for just about everything you can think of. Even for writers doing writing.

I don’t know about you, but I actually do better with deadlines.

I’m a person who does well within a set structure. I like having a job to go to, a commute that stays roughly the same, and plans for my day. I am not what you would call a spontaneous person.

When I have too much free time, I waste it.

When I was laid off from my long-time job, I didn’t find another one for seven months. And while yes, I did actively search for one, I also had a huge amount of free time. Free time that could have been productively used to write a book. Or two! Or articles. Or even finish some of my in-process stories.

But I couldn’t make myself do it.

Maybe part of it was depression. The entire experience was a difficult one (when it came along with losing my home and my way of life).

But you’d think writing would have been a great outlet for me. It so often is. I find that characters often have bits and pieces of my life seep into them without my even realizing it. The feelings and thoughts of that time would have made excellent fodder for stories.

But the sense of free time–of time really being “open”–gave me such permission to NOT work. To NOT drive myself. To NOT do the things I wanted to do.

It is weird how much more creative and driven I am when I have a busy schedule and too many things piled on my plate.

Of course, sometimes, that can go overboard the other way, too. Being so busy with other life things that I physically don’t have the time or the energy to accomplish anything other than the dire necessities.

I’m in a season of that right now. Trying to find a way to squeeze writing time in. Having projects pushing at me saying, “Pay attention to me!” even though so many regular life demands crowd out those projects.

My brain is busy and active and has plans for so many things. I don’t know if I’ll live long enough to accomplish them all. LOL!

I still find myself, though, coming back to the idea that I need to make space in my life for the writing. To say to myself that this, too, is important.

Finding a way to structure my life to include a deadline for writing.

What ways do you find to sneak writing into your life? Do you do better with a deadline? Or do you do better under the open-ended time that allows you the freedom to let your mind wander? What works best for you?


  • Mary Allen

    I was out of work for a year, and while yes, I did spend a lot of time looking for a job (not to mention laundry, cooking, and housework), I still often feel like I didn’t do enough, i.e., write a novel, lose 100 pounds, become a national treasure.

    What I do know is that I spent months, heck, years, at a stressful job before that. And I do think a big part of it was just needing to do “nothing”. Which often translates into “doing something that only benefits me and nobody else”, i.e. watching funny Youtube videos.

    Why is it that we always feel guilty unless we’re doing something that benefits other people?

    We’re people, too!


    • Susan

      You know, your organization and drive while you were out of work (both this last time and the time all those years ago when you were living with Kyrie in Pennsylvania) really inspired me when I was out of work. I kept thinking about how you had really hustled to look for a job and to get resumes out there and to do all that. I’m so bad and so unmotivated about anything having to do with job searching. I tried to do better this second time around and use some of the lessons I learned from watching you do what you did.

      And you totally needed to recuperate and destress and decompress after that insane job of yours. I think God probably just knew you needed a break. *hugs* I’m so very glad you got one.

      And boy. If I knew the answer to that guilt question, believe me, I’d be filthy rich. So many of my decisions have been made based to benefit other people. Or out of guilt about what people will think or what people will say.

      Trying to get better about that sort of thing, but boy it’s hard!

      And the world definitely MUST be peopled! *grin*

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