The Struggle for Writing Time

Lately, time to write has been more elusive than ever, even though I know there are plenty of hours in a day—24, in fact. Still, 24 hours hasn’t been enough. My blog hasn’t been updated in well over a month. About a week ago, I told my friend I’d send her the next chapter of my work in progress; it was almost done. It’s still not done. Here’s why:

My day starts around 5:30 a.m. I say “around” because this depends on how many times I hit the snooze button. The morning routine involves taking care of me, my daughter, and my dog. I drop my daughter off at preschool and then race to work, where I start teaching at 7:30 a.m.

Period 2 is my prep period. Sometimes I use it to prep for class. Sometimes I am at a meeting. Sometimes a student comes in and asks me for help with an assignment. This time is never used to write. On Mondays and Thursdays I monitor a study hall during period 5. Perfect, you may think. Forty-seven minutes during which students are quiet and working. That’s an ideal time to write, right? Not so much. This is what happens usually:

Type. Type. Type.

“Yes, you may go to the bathroom.”

Type. Type. Type.

“You’re not allowed to eat in study hall. Please put the cookies away.”

Type. Type. Type.

“Boys, you need to stop arm wrestling. Don’t you have anything to study? This is study hall, after all.”

You get the picture.

My lunch period and after school time are filled with students who need extra help or meetings. On Mondays after school, I go to an in-house yoga class. Ah, yoga. Thank you.

On Wednesdays, my daughter has gymnastics for one glorious hour. I bring my laptop, but a nice woman who is waiting for her daughter usually wants to talk. Sigh.

By the time I get home, I have to feed myself, my daughter, and my dog. After dinner and before bed is a good time to get some writing in, if I am not doing laundry, unpacking groceries, catching up with friends online, or watching the news and, okay, maybe The Biggest Loser or The Voice.

Despite my constant battle with time, I have passed the 50,000 word mark on my work in progress, a YA novel titled AESOP’S CURSE. I guess I must be doing something right—finding time here and there, pounding out a few paragraphs when I can, and giving up vacations in sunny places to stay home and write. I think about the novel when I am driving to work, waiting in line at the grocery store, or folding laundry. I see the scenes in my head like a movie playing out. This way, when I do have the time to write, I know what to put down.

When I read advice for writers online, often the first item is “Write every day.” I can’t. Some of you may say, “Of course you can. Find the time.” I have tried. Writing daily doesn’t work for me. Writing in spurts or on vacation days does. At times, I have felt let down by not being able to meet the daily writing expectation, but I have come to terms it. I am a single mom of a beautiful daughter and a full-time teacher of diverse students. My time with them is important; I need to be present when I am with them.

So, I will continue to give up writing time to take my daughter to the park or help a student with a history paper that is overdue. I will continue to plan out my novel in my head and write when I can—in between study hall reprimands or on my days off. Of course, writing this way means finishing my work in progress will take longer, but that’s okay. I know I will finish this project, start something new, and continue to do the best I can with the time I’ve got.

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