Tom Hughes has been putting off his vocation as a writer for most of his life. But now he’s made a commitment that can’t be broken: he’s going to write a book in the space of a year, and to hold himself accountable he’s charting the journey – from highs and lows to tears and tea – for us on Voices in the Dark.
This week: The most severe challenge for any aspiring writer – how do you even find the time to do the writing?
This is one of the most complex challenges I’m facing and last week was a disaster, so it’s time to change it up.
I’m sat here in the dark. It is 5:54 in the morning and I’m about to start writing. My wife and daughter are asleep upstairs. I’ve just snuck out of the room and crept about the house like a highly talented cat burglar. I’d set out my coffee cup and cleared my computer desk last night in preparation for this morning, in what might be the beginnings of a ritual.
I’m now four days deep into the early writing.
Last week, I tried the time slot of 3pm till 5pm as the window to sit down and write. Seemed like a good idea to me. I’d get all my usual work tidied up and sorted out during the day. My daughter would be there having fun and between myself and my wife, we agreed that that would be the time for me to write.
Great, that was it then, that was my writing window. Good plan. Bad foundation.
I’d approached the midday slot with a little bit of hesitancy and almost immediately the timetable was in disarray. My almost-three-year-old daughter banging on the office door, singing Lion King, was not to be ignored. I am first and foremost a parent; everything else is secondary.
“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
– Stephen King
The impulse to write does not integrate well with overtired children, people knocking on the door, overdue work, or help needed with other projects.
The afternoon slot failed miserably. Thus, setting that week behind me (and the sum of less than 700 words being a far cry from my expected word count), I’ve taken the plunge to add an extra hour or so to my days for the next ten months. And possibly my lifetime, if I start to write more.
This is what I have to do to achieve this goal. When the alarm pings in the dark and I open my eyes, there is a question to answer.
Am I a writer?
So far, I’ve been making it one day at a time.
And yes, I am.