And In the Center Ring…

posted by: Pauline Trent
currently working on: the next novel in the Lambert Falls series
mood: tired but more or less happy

…the Juggler!

I have a confession: I don’t have another day job. My job, my only job, is writing books. Yeah, this doesn’t suck. That doesn’t mean, however, that I don’t have to juggle. It does mean that I don’t have to juggle as much, and I know it. And it hasn’t always been this way. The way I make it work now hasn’t changed much from the way I made it work when there was a ball in the air labeled “day job.”

First, the writing has to be as important as everything else. It’s not a hobby. It’s not a fun, little thing I do. It’s as important as every other aspect of my life. This was the hardest part for me, which is why it is first. It’s still my biggest struggle.

Second, tell people. My friends, my family, my co-workers…everyone knows when I’m going to be writing. This isn’t as important as it was before I became a full-time writer because now, everyone simply knows I’m writing. But when I was juggling the day job and the writing, it was vital. My outgoing voice mail message even read something like “Hi, you’ve reached me but I’m writing this weekend so won’t call you back. Leave a message if you’d like but your best bet is to call back next week.” Seriously.

Third, enlist help. My husband is my biggest fan. When I’m working, he’s in charge of everything else. The phone rings? He answers. The dog whines? He responds. I hide away in my office and write. When I was single, this was easier because if the apartment went to hell or the phone got turned off, it didn’t effect anyone but me. Now that I’m married, I couldn’t do it without a supportive husband.

Fourth, when possible get out of Dodge. When I was working outside the home, I used to take the long weekends that are scattered throughout the year and go to my best friends’. I would take over their basement and do nothing but write. Writers plan retreats all the time. There’s a reason for this. No matter how beautiful your home base is ~ and let’s face it, the Pacific Northwest is pretty beautiful ~ it’s still home base. You’re still surrounded by the distractions of daily life. The long weekends are perfect. I had the time off from work so I didn’t have to feel guilty and with just a bit of planning, could be in the basement by 9:00 p.m. Friday.

Fifth, remember there will always be an excuse. If you wait until the perfect time to write, you won’t write. If you wait until everything is caught up at your day job and you “have the time” to give it, you won’t write. If you wait until your family and friends will leave you alone for an hour, a day or a week, you won’t write. If you wait until you have no other demands on you, there is nothing else important, and your attention isn’t on something else…you will not write.

It’s not easy. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. It is worth it. It’s the difference between “I am a writer” and “I want to be a writer.” And that difference is worth it.

~ Pauline


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