The gift of time.
I’ve been writing and publishing since my kids were babies. They’re in their thirties now, with their own children ranging from toddlers to teenagers. During many of my children’s growing-up years, I was either single parenting or the family relied heavily on my income. Slowing down to study my craft was a dream I put on my yearly goals list, but it was rarely an option. The 50+ hours of work per week needed to generate income: writing books, teaching writing, speaking, writing test questions, and doing private critiques.
Always Running, Faster, FASTER!
Whenever I thought about studying more, reading more, taking more time to grow as a writer (versus making every hour a billable hour), I would promise myself, Later, when things slow down and the cash flow eases up.
Even when that day came where I could cut back, I found that the very idea panicked me. I had drummed into my head for so many years that freelancer warning, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” You learn to go without paid sick days or paid vacations–let alone time to study one’s craft.
If Not NOW, When?
For several years, I’ve been having a discussion with a dear writing friend about slowing down and spending time to improve our writing. I took motivational workshops, learned how to “work smarter, not harder,” streamlined my work habits, and multi-tasked until I met myself coming and going. And what did I do with the time freed up by all this smarter working? Took on more projects, learned how to blog, Facebook and Twitter…but rarely studied. Oh, I bought craft books, but the books that got my full attention seemed to focus on time management.
And my friend? Except for having grandchildren, she was as busy as I was. Yet she got her MFA in children’s writing (traveling half-way around the world to do it), and is now working on her Ph.D. While I don’t have the money for either of those things, I could certainly be studying more. And that’s where I decided to apply my gift of time.
Spending Vs. Investing Time
Starting today, I am giving myself the gift of time to study. I think if I do four or five hours of writing (the moneymaking activities) in the morning, then I could surely study for an hour every afternoon. To survive in the changing publishing times, we will all need to become better writers. And if not now, when? (By the way, it isn’t something I feel I should do. It’s something I want to do. I honestly do love to study.)
Maybe you can’t afford to work part-time yet. (I’m not positive that I can either. I’ll find out!) I know that situation is a reality for many of us. But if you can squeeze out even a daily hour to read current books in your field and study a writing craft book, I encourage you to do it. I’ve signed up for a writing course online which takes an hour per day, and I can’t wait to be a student again! It’s my gift to me.