Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kinda Overwhelmed - or - Who Will Save This Pitiful Creature?

One of my oldest friends called me up the other day for advice on how to get started with a possible writing career. She lamented the fact that it feels impossible to find the time. I definitely understand where she's coming from.

I work 8 hours a day at an office, and I have a 2-hour commute on top of it. Not a big deal, most of the time. If I want to write, I can do it in the morning before I leave. The problem is the Internet. (Stop me if you've heard this one before. Actually wait please don't because I'm going to ask for advice at the end.)

If I want to...

1) Email
2) Tweet
3) Blog
4) Check Facebook
5) Update GoodReads
6) Read other people's tweets, blogs, status updates and GoodRead reviews

Then I must necessarily do it...

A) In the morning before work -- but then when will I write?

B) In the evening after work -- but then when will I see my husband? When will I see my friends? When will I read books? When will I watch The Good Wife, The Amazing Race and L.A. Galaxy games? When will I get a break from the computer screen? WHEN WILL I HAVE TIME FOR ALL MY ANXIETY?

I love my job reading screenplays and creating character descriptions for roles being cast, and if it were just a matter of juggling my own writing and my job writing, I think I'd be okay. It's when you throw online networking into the mix that it all starts to make my brain -- and my sexy tendonitis -- beg for mercy. No matter what I do, or how I allocate my time, there are never enough hours in the day, nor is there enough caffeine.

I've really enjoyed making friends online (um, at the risk of sounding like an ad for Adult Friend Finder) and I don't like letting anyone down by not responding to messages, polls, emails, or questions in a timely fashion. I also don't like missing out on great discussions / controversies / information, but there are certain days when I know something's gotta give, and it can't be my husband, and it can't be writing.

I know this isn't true, but some days it feels like everyone else has figured out how to juggle all of the above; like everyone but me is metaphorically lounging beside a pool with their smartphones, getting tans and sippin' cocktails while I flail about, just trying not to drown. So what am I missing? How am I supposed to do this? Helppppppp.

p.s. Case in point, I've been updating this blog every Thursday and I'll barely make the deadline tonight.


  1. Nope, no one else has figured it out. They might SEEM like they have but secretly, their loved ones are bitching because they don't get much time with their writer loved one.

    I had to step back from blogging, FB, and Twitter while I focused on revisions. Now that I'm "done" (for now) I'm roaming the net trying to catch up on some of what I missed. But once CP notes come back I'll have to disconnect again. It's just too distracting.

    It sounds like you've got a handle on juggling everything. That handle is prob contributing to your tendinitis, but hey, we all make sacrifices. ;)

  2. Thanks, Karen! On Monday I had a mild anxiety attack (coupled with hand pain) and didn't think I'd ever have a free moment (ever ever) again to get caught up on online stuff. As the week passed I did find a bit of time but the worry ebbs and flows until I eventually say, "Screw it, I'm not going to think about this anymore."

    I completely agree that when you're in the midst of a great writing or revising spell everything else falls away (and should!) Congrats on finishing your latest revisions and thanks again for letting me know I'm not alone :)

  3. I completely agree...NO ONE has it figured it out. I really think finding time to write is always hard because there are so many other things that seem so much more fascinating, and fun, and easier. But you know that in the end, you'll find a way to do it, because you're a writer. That's what you do.

    Maybe try having Twitter/Facebook/email-free hours every now and again? As in, only use the Internet for writing research and nothing else?

  4. Thanks, Sarvenaz! I'm usually pretty good about getting my writing in if I wake up on time, but then as the day progresses at work I get a bit freaked out because I haven't responded to emails, tweets, or other people's blog posts. By the time I come home at night I just want to read or watch TV, and forget that computers even exist -- so then the next morning arrives and I think, "Okay, do I write first or get caught up first?" and the cycle begins anew, sigh.

    Thanks for the vote of confidence. And I think you're right -- hours or days off (like the weekend) from online stuff is a good idea!

  5. If you figure out how to balance it all, PLEASE let me know.
    Trust me, EVERY writer suffers this crisis, weekly...daily. The need to connect. The need to withdraw, write. It's an impossible task. Harder still with kids, husband, pets and house and travel and real life friends and CP's needing their stuff critiques stat, conventions etc.. Tis stressful, indeed.

    Thus, here's what (sorta) works for me. I put up a blog post WHEN I CAN. Which seems to average every 7-12 days-ish. I give myself 2 hours/week to visit other blogs (usually four 30-min. mornings...but if I don't have that time, then I do it over the weekend), and I try to visit those that comment on my blog first. (that gets harder when you have a lot of followers and a lot of comments.)

    Twitter is great because I can just pop on, chat with a few people and pop off. So much faster than blogging. The trick there is not getting sucked in for very long or clicking on a bunch of intriguing links. o_0

    I don't have a FB.

    My evenings and weekends are (mostly) for family. But once they hit the sack it's my time to write.
    Yeah, that means from 11 pm until sometimes 2 or 3 am, I write. Then I'm up at 6 am. (6 am is EVIL)

    I survive off 3-5 hours of sleep M-F. But I get 8 hours/night on the weekend.

    Also, a LOT of coffee is involved.

    I'm new here. *waves hello* Nice to 'meet' you. :)


  6. oh gawd hear ye!

    So you DO commute every day from your house - I was shocked when I heard where you lived. Do you audiobook for the drive? That's one of the only ways I can increase my read pile.

  7. Hi Lola, nice to "meet" you, too! Thank you so, so much for commenting and sharing your experiences. I need at least 7 hours of sleep so I'm super impressed with your schedule. I agree about Twitter -- it's much easier than blogging and quicker to connect in an instant, which is very appealing.

    Hope you catch up on your rest this weekend and thanks again for stopping by and helping me realize that every writer goes through this -- it really helps to hear that, and I so appreciate it. Hope to see you around! :)

  8. Hey Sophia, your comment made me smile -- yup, everyone is kind of shocked by where I live (if they've even heard of the area, that is!). Luckily my day job hours are off-peak (11 - 7) so I miss rush hour in both directions, or my commute would literally not be feasible.

    You know how everybody swears their freeway is the worst in the country? Mine actually is. The 405/101 interchange pretty much hits #1 on every "Top Ten Worst Commutes" lists I've come across. But I can't give myself too many pity parties because I've been really lucky to have great radio stations and podcasts. I don't listen to audiobooks much because most of the time I'm basically trying to stay alive in my car and find I can't concentrate on the plot ;)

  9. Sarah,

    I feel your pain. I'm trying to figure it all out myself. When and if I do, I'll let you know what I find out. Don't respond to this post, instead get back to writing and spend time with your husband.

    All the best!


  10. If you really love'll find a way. And don't worry about the rest of us bloggers...if you need to spend time with your book, we'll understand! :)

  11. I have all my favorite blogs listed in a special menu on my toolbar (yours included). Then, once or twice a week I get around to checking in on people. Honestly, the fact that you might blog once a week is fine! I wouldn't likely read 7 entries every time I check in with someone. But, one or two is great! You're sweet and funny and charming and I love catching up *cyber-ly*

  12. Thanks, Anita and Sara! :)

    I think you're onto something by keeping your fave blogs on a toolbar and checking them once or twice a week. Sounds like a better plan than what I do now, which is haphazard and random.

  13. I have to close my laptop and write longhand in order to get any productive work done, because Twitter (Etc) is just too distracting. However, I do set aside about an hour a day to do online stuff - either right when I get home from work (to unwind), or after I'm finished my evening's pages. (I can't write in the morning; it's hard enough as it is to get out of bed.)

    I suppose the only thing that saves me is that I'm pretty much single, so I don't have to worry about anyone else most of the time :)

  14. Thanks, Alyssa! I've been using a notebook and writing notes in longhand lately, too, and I really like your idea of setting aside an hour for online stuff so that it doesn't consume the rest of the day.