Or ‘Making time to write with a full time job’. Or ‘Making time to write with a baby / young children / all the other stuff in our busy lives.’ Whatever. If you really, really enjoy something, then no matter how achingly frustrating it might be sometimes, you just have to dig in and do it. Keep writing. There will always be something that gets in the way.
There. I really should be a motivational speaker! Simples. Except… I’ve been writing a book for the last 5 years!
The trouble is — at least for me — it wasn’t just about finding the time to write, it was about finding the inspiration of exactly what to write! Sometimes the ideas just won’t come when you really need them to. When the clock is ticking and you’ve only got a limited amount of time to be productive, you can start to panic.
To put all this in context, I started writing my Class Heroes book series back in 2011. This was before my wife and I had our baby. I had a lot more free time and I used it productively. By 2014 I had written four books in the series, created two websites to support the books, blogged, marketed, and made a few short videos.
In 2014 we had our baby. I was fully prepared to not have a fraction of the free time that I’d previously had available. I was happy that writing Class Heroes 5 would be a long process. That didn’t bother me at all. I didn’t want to miss out on my daughter’s childhood just to write a book that might drown in the colossal number of books published on Amazon every day. So I just took the free time when I could, and kept writing, kept chipping away.
But it was hard. Really hard. Work, nappy changes, sleepless nights, and all sorts of family activities mean that you don’t get the sustained period of concentration you need to tackle plot problems, character development, etc.
If all this sounds like I’m moaning, I’m not. Because I specifically make time for that, too. (I’ve scheduled 15 mins later this evening, if you must know.)
You know how you might wake up at 3:37 am, and your alarm is set for 7:00 am, and you think to yourself: ‘If I go back to sleep now, I’ll still get at least another three hours’ sleep’? An hour later, you’re still desperate to get to sleep but now you’ll only get two hours, but even that is better than nothing! You’re a bit panicky… and that keeps you awake… until 6.42 when you finally get to sleep.
Well, that’s a bit like how I felt when trying to write, in the first couple of years after our baby was born: racing against the clock.
If she’d gone for a nap, or if it was her bedtime, and there weren’t tons of other tasks or chores to do (like our house renovation), and I didn’t feel totally like dirt, then I’d think: ‘Ok! I have some time. I can actually do some writing now. Come on. Come on. Laptop out. I can do this. Right… where was I? Oh yes… Samantha discovers the body… But how is that going to tie in with what happens later? Wouldn’t the police get involved? If so, how does that fit with the overall tone and where the other plot threads are going? Won’t it just slow things down?’
And so I’d think through these plot problems. And think. And I’d be painfully aware of the minutes ticking by. And nothing satisfactory would come… Still nothing… Check the clock. Aaaargghh. I’d want to write any old thing just so I had something to show for the time! Then I’d get a grip, concentrate, close my eyes to let my imagination kick in… and fall asleep.
(Did I mention we also have cats? Bet you saw that first photo in this blog and your first thought was about my posture and back pain, no? Well let me assure you, my chronic back pain has nothing to do with my sitting position. Really.)
So anyway, I stuck with my writing, and you know what… those years of just chipping away at the book, bit by bit, have paid off. And in fact not only will there soon be Class Heroes 5, but Class Heroes 6 too. It’s funny looking back at early chapters, chunks that I’ve removed, storylines that I’ve changed, and — right in the middle of sentences — letters typed by my daughter as she sat beside me while I wrote. Just random characters at first, but now proper words. And now she wants to write her own stories! Watch out for her Teddy and Rabbit magnum opus!
Five years have flown by in the blink of an eye. But in a funny way some of it is encapsulated in the chapters of my books. I can remember the strong feelings and emotions that I’d invested in specific scenes. Despite the frustrations, there were times when it all came together and the writing just flowed. It’s just such a great feeling. So rewarding. There’s almost nothing better. Almost! But you do need patience. And perseverance. And you just have to love what you do.
It kind of reminds me of this scene from Peter Capaldi’s Doctor Who:
All the effort, all those five minutes of working here and there, it’s all finally coming together to create a finished product. Stay tuned for more information on release dates. And thanks for reading 🙂