The most common question I am asked is, “How do you do it?” in reference to writing every day and living a semi-normal life. Like most of you, I hold a full-time job and have a family; throw into the mix I’m still in the Army Reserves (16 and a half years down 3 and a half to go till retirement), write between 3,000-5,000 words a day, and I go to school full time pursuing a Master’s Degree. You can quickly see how my own personal cup runneth over.
The short explanation is that you make time to do what you love, your passion.
The longer explanation is a little more tricky. The first thing I do is make sure I communicate openly with my family. My son and my wife are the two most important people in my life. They are the reason why I can do what I do. I make it entirely clear what my schedule is for the day/week. I work third shift and my fiction/social media writing time is 2 hours after my shift ends and 2 hours before I go to work. On days when I do not work, the first 2 hours I am up and the last 2 hours I am awake are my fiction/social media writing times. My school work is done at varying times on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The rest of the time I spend with my family, movies, school/sports events, visits, meals, etcetera. Any time that is not spent working, writing, or school is devoted to reading, exercise, and video games (currently the new God of War). It makes for a very full life.
The second thing I keep in mind is the universe is at war and creates casualties of my time. I remain flexible and understand that things do not always go as planned. There are some days, like last Thursday, where my job forces me to stay over and work a double shift. I work 3rd shift (night shift 11pm-7am), so a mandate to day shift sucks. I only had a half hour to write anything after sleep, meals, and personal hygiene (please shower at least every other day for everyone’s sake). I missed out on this weeks writing contest at microcosmsfic.com, and it broke my heart because it was a Douglas Adams theme.
This brings up another good point. Many people have in their own mind what it takes to be a successful writer/author. Most create in their own mind what success should look like. The big, fat, ugly truth is writing is hard and can be brutally unforgiving most of the time. In small doses, all these little “failures” can be dealt with accordingly. If unchecked it adds up, and it messes with a creative mind. Pretty soon we get trapped in a spiral of negativity, and molehills become mountains.
Back in March this year I had the whole month working against me. I was stuck in the middle of Wisconsin with limited access to the internet, I was in a tent, and it was freezing. I somehow managed to type one story for thegreyrooms.com podcast and a few occasional tweets. I was not in my right mind, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was doing my best work. I ended up with two F’s for assignments in my college classes (don’t worry I passed both courses, one with an -A). I could have given up, but I love writing too much to quit.
Hard work and discipline are the real foundations of being a good writer in my mind. Talent helps, but being able to weather the storm and setting realistic, reachable goals help.
Let me say that last part again, “set realistic, reachable goals.”
If you do not know how to set those type of goals, ask around and get help otherwise, you are setting yourself up for heartache and failure. An achievable goal makes life more comfortable, but when you are honest with yourself and your lifestyle, a realistic goal keeps you sane. Know thy self and embrace the flaws that make you unique like everyone else.
My current writing projects include 2 classes for college, 21 science fiction stories for upcoming submission, a collaboration piece with another author from Africa, 3 WIPS (Lilly the Zombie Stomper, Utah Hardy and the Well of Souls, and an as of yet untitled horror project), daily tweets, my Wattpad stories HERE, a weekly blog, and much, much more.
Stay tuned and check out my published works page HERE to read about my activities all across the interwebs. Feel free to contact me any time @ArthurUnkTweets on Twitter or via email at email@example.com.
Until next time, good luck and happy writing!