How to Make Time for Writing

This is by far the biggest struggle I have as an aspiring writer…making time to write on top of all the other crap I have to do…and I don’t even have children yet! Writing is a time-consuming endeavor, and given my own personality type, it can be difficult squeezing it in with other life commitments.

While I do work hard, I’m not a workaholic. I’m not like my husband who can keep running on no gas and still achieve desirable results. I need my down time to recharge my batteries, otherwise I’ll start to crack and my productivity will take a nose-dive.It also doesn’t help that I live on the outskirts of my town. My home is in beautiful lake country and I would not trade it for anything else, but nature comes at the price of a longer commute.

This naturally makes it a challenge to schedule writing in between a full-time job and other adulting activities. Now, to be clear, I adore my job. It’s exactly what I went to school for. I want to continue pursuing that career. Only if I started making some serious dough would I consider writing as a full-time occupation. Otherwise, I intend to do what most writers do; have my day job and write on the side.

I know I can’t expect myself to write after I come home from work, especially when I use what little energy I have left to cook dinner. The alternative would be to wake up earlier to write, but I’ve tried to force myself awake to do homework in the morning and it just never works.

I guess this is why I’ve started slowly, setting aside my would-be novel and focusing instead on my poetry collection. Not that meaningful poetry isn’t hard to write, but the process can more easily be broken down into manageable increments. Then after that I can work up to scheduling a more involved writing project like a novel.

I can’t say that I’ve cracked the code yet; I’m still struggling to find the balance, but I hope that with time through self-actualization, I can devise a system that works best for me.

Advertisements

My First Book Club

Last week I started my first ever book club! It’s a small group comprising of some neighbors from the various condo complexes that circle the lake that ties our community together. We had introductions over tea, cake, and cookies. Then we discussed the finer details of how we would like the club to function.

The idea for this book club has been in my head for about a year now, but I was too shy to take initiative. I was worried that there would be no desire for one, that it would be totally cliché to start such a club, but it seems there are fellow literature enthusiasts who were itching for a book club just as much as myself.

This is a book club specifically geared towards the classics of literature, both historic and modern. I’m usually not a book snob; I need a healthy balance of literary and commercial fiction to remain a happy little bookworm, but I thought classics would have a stronger glue to make a book club in my area stick together.

We ultimate decided that the first book we shall read this month is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. This blog will directly benefit from this club and I will write a book review for each book we read, in addition to the books I read on my own.

I’m glad I started a book club because it taps into one of my weaknesses: engaging with the wider community. I’ve always focused so much on school or work that I rarely took the time to invest in other types of extracurricular activities. This has sometimes times been to my detriment, like when I noticed how bare my resume was in that department.

This can become even more of a problem as I devote more time to my writing aspirations. Part of why I created a book club was because I am spending more time on my writing. One cannot be a good writer if one is not reading regularly. However, I am determined to turn my focus of reading/writing into a social endeavor rather than have it isolate me.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lonely Life of a Writer

Writing is a curious combination of solitude and solidarity. The process of writing a piece of work is often a lonely journey, yet it creates a product that is intended to be shared with the world. Hopefully the result is for a community to engage with a text and find comradeship through their shared experience and analysis.

So often my spurts of prolific writing have been triggered by circumstances where I found myself alone. More specifically, writing has been a response to what I have perceived to be involuntarily solitude. Bear in mind that I am referring to my creative writings, not any writing I have done professionally through my work as a grant writer or other positions.

My first foray into FanFiction came about by the reality that I could not participate in soccer, theater, or any other extra-curricular activities offered by my high school. This was because I lived 45 minutes outside of the district, thus I resigned myself to the reality that logistically I would never be able to commit to any club. Writing then became a hobby I could do on my own.

My current spurt of writing has emerged partially due to the deliberate self-isolation in which I have engaged over the last few years. This isolation did not manifest itself by choice or preference; it came to be because I was avoiding a relentless cyberbully and their flying monkeys. I didn’t know who I could trust and therefore veered on the side of caution.

I do not regret the precautions I took, given the severity of the situation, but it still saddens me to think that I had to repress my otherwise social self. Once again, writing gave me a creative outlet and a sense of direction/purpose when so many variables were beyond my control.

The cyberbully has since moved on, but casting aside the lone wolf lifestyle I adopted out of survival has proved a little bit of a challenge. I am getting better, though. I now take willful steps to increase my socialization. I’ve started a book club among my neighbors. I’ve gotten back into online writing groups. I go to yoga.

Still there is an inevitable degree of seclusion when one devotes a sizable chunk of one’s time to writing. It isn’t exactly a spectator sport. No one wants to sit there as you trudge through a particularly grueling chapter. But there is the hope that a type of togetherness will come with the finished product.

Confessions of a Former Fan Fiction Writer

My teen self would have been positively mortified if someone had discovered that I wrote fan fiction during my high school and college years. As far as I knew, fan fiction was the nerdiest of the nerdy, the geekiest of the geeky, and all-around the most uncool thing that a girl could have as a hobby. It was a guilty pleasure that not even my family knew about until I was several years into it.

Now at 27 years of age I can calmly admit to the world that I did once write fan fiction. That may just be because I’m no longer standing trial in the court of coolness or the fact that fan fiction has become slightly less taboo with fan fic-inspired hits like Fifty Shades of Grey entering more mainstream pop culture.

How I Got into Fan Fiction

I found fan fiction in the 10th grade. I don’t remember how exactly I stumbled upon the phenomenon, but I do remember how it solved my writing dilemma. I knew I needed more practice writing, but didn’t have anyone around me that could commit to giving me regular feedback. Fan fiction offered me a community of writers online that were willing to do just that.

Fan fiction was first and foremost a means for me to practice the physical aspect of writing. I could day-dream characters and plots to my heart’s content, but committing myself to put those ideas on paper (or onto the keyboard?) was an entirely different matter. Through fan fiction I was able to come out of my shell and perfect the art of prose in secret.

My Experience with Fan Fiction

All together I wrote four novel-length pieces, a couple of novella-length pieces, and a handful of short stories. I received consistent, constructive feedback as I wrote those novels and had several works translated by fellow fan fic writers into Spanish and Portuguese.

The two universes that I focused on were Harry Potter and Bleach with a few others for the short stories. Looking back I probably picked those series not only because I was a die-hard fan, but also because those worlds are so extensive that they give a lot of room for potential stories.

I preferred to remain canon whenever possible. I didn’t want to sacrifice the original plot or characters just to suit my own personal desires. Some of the best compliments I received from fellow writers was how well I stayed true to the characters’ personalities. That is high praise indeed in the fan fiction world where, like anything else on the internet, quality is not always guaranteed.

Benefits of Fan Fiction

Overall, my experience writing fan fiction was extremely positive. Long-term followers would state how well my writing had improved as I went from novel to novel, demonstrating that I had achieved the goal I had set for myself, to become a better novelist.

Fan fiction gave me a writers’ community that I never would have had otherwise. Those some in my social circle were supportive of my writing aspirations, it became clear that after a while people got tired of hearing about my latest plot twist. Fellow fan fic writers never got bored.

Drawbacks of Fan Fiction

People have very passionate opinions about the ethics of fan fiction. Obviously I pro-fan fiction, but on the condition that it is done purely as a hobby without making any profit. While I disagree with authors who take a super hardline stance against any sort of fan fiction, those who claim the practice makes potential authors lazy are not entirely  without merit, at least in my case.

There were times where I had no inspiration for my own stories, yet could writer page after page of fan fiction. I think this was partly because I grew accustomed to the constant feedback of fan fiction online. I had gotten so used to the positive affirmation for each chapter that I could not or would not devote myself to my own novel knowing that I would not get any sort of feedback until I finished the entire draft.

For me fan fiction served a very specific purpose, to train me in the art of fiction. Now that the training period was over, it was time to shift my focus to my own stories and characters. To continue on in fan fiction when I have my own ideas would be a disservice to myself. Fan fiction was fun and comforting when I was a little caterpillar, but now I must spread my wings and fly away.