By Donald EW Quist
“Hurry up, we’ve got to walk Tofu,” my wife barks at me, holding up our dog as a reminder of my responsibility.
“Just give me a second,” I whine. My fingers hover above the keyboard readily, waiting for something.
“Donald, come on,” she says.
We sigh deeply. Together, in unison, we recite my maxim, “Just let me finish this sentence.” Her tone is mocking.
She shakes her head disapprovingly as she saunters off to another part of the house.
Writing takes time; time you would have spent doing something else with someone else. It’s unfortunate but it’s sort of the price of admission; the cost of doing what you love.
Making writing a priority means sacrificing face time with friends or that special someone. Often procrastination is a result of meeting our commitments to others.
We put down the pencil and push away from our desks in order to keep our relationships active and healthy, as we should. Like literary agent Nathan Bransford told fans of his blog, “No book is worth losing a friend, losing a spouse, losing crucial time with your children.”
What I’m talking about here is deciding what time is crucial, and accepting the fact that you can’t get things done if you’re cruising the bar with your friends every weekend.
You can’t focus on your writing if your significant other demands so much of your attention you’re scared to devote time to anything else.
There is a feeling of belonging that comes with sharing moments with the people we love. Too often that feeling gets confused with accomplishment.
You spent the afternoon farting around playing video games with your brother, shopping with your sister, watching an entire season of The Shield on DVD with your spouse; meanwhile the piece you’re working on hasn’t advanced and you’ll be struggling to find some other time to finish it.
Striking a balance between these two loves can be difficult, but remains entirely possible.
- LEARN TO SAY NO—Finding time to write requires having the strength to tell loved ones you can’t be available at their every beck and call. You need time for you, time to write.
- FIND FRIENDS THAT UNDERSTAND—Needy friends are not conducive to writing. Unless you plan to make them characters in your next novel or use them as case studies for the next BIG dating how-to-book, you shouldn’t feel so obligated to hang out with them. Make sure that your friends are the type that understand your commitment to writing and give you room to work.
- DON’T SETTLE—It takes a special kind of Special Someone to deal with a writer—a patient soul ready to deal with the fact that their partner spends just as much time inside their head as out.Make sure that the person you choose to be with understands your passion and encourages you to refine your craft. Try to find someone with similar ambitions who, instead of stifling your creative growth, nurtures your need to create.
- SCHEDULING—If maintaining a healthy social-life is important to you, set aside specific times to write. However, don’t be surprised if you run a little over the time you’ve allotted for yourself…
“Are you finished,” my wife asks, bending down to let Tofu off his leash.
“Yes. Did you already take him for his walk?”
She nods, moving in closer. “You’re finished, you’ve saved and everything,” she asks.
“Yes,” I tell her.
“Good,” she says, dropping a plastic bag full of fresh doggie-doo onto my lap. “You can take out the trash.”
About the Author: A freelancer for Media General, Inc., Donald E.W. Quist has written several special interest features for the Florence Morning News, the Hartsville Messenger and InnerViews Magazine. He is the recipient of the 2005 Coker College Write-On Award, and his creative work has appeared in Xcursions Magazine and ERGO magazine. Currently he is shopping for a home for his first novel—Young Folks.
He hopes to launch a website this summer. He invites you to follow him on Twitter: @DonaldEWQuist.