Writing Time: Selfish, Selfless, or Saving Others?

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by Christopher Slater

I will start out by saying that this is a perfect example of what is meant by the phrase, “Doctor, heal thyself!” I am the absolute worst at not following this advice. Of course, that is probably why I have joked with my students that my name should be a verb meaning “to screw up badly.” So if you ever heard me say “I Slatered myself by not listening to my own advice,” then you can understand what I mean.

Today I was on my way out to mow the yard. Just before I got out there, I started to hear a noise. At first, I thought it was my central air conditioning. I was wrong. It was raining. No mowing for me. For a lot of you, this would become a prime time for writing. It makes perfect sense. Not so much for me. I started asking myself if I had things that I needed to grade. I wondered if I had something that I should be doing with my son. I started to run through my “Honey do” list. It would look to any author out there like I am trying to avoid having any writing time. Well, I am.

It’s not that I am having writer’s block. I actually have several things that I need to write down for an upcoming novel (I hope to have news to tell you about that soon!) My problem is that when I start up writing time, I feel that I am being selfish. I lead a very hectic life. Time to write is rare, and even when I think that I have that time, I usually have a thousand other things that I need to be working on.

This is not my career, it is something that I do as the adult equivalent of an extracurricular activity, so I feel that it has to come after all of my responsibilities. I worry a lot about being selfish by putting my writing time before any other responsibilities or expectations. Even as I am writing this blog, I have stopped twice to help with folding the laundry despite my wife’s insistence that I do not need to.

What I know intellectually (I just have to make myself put it into practice) is that setting aside writing time and making use of it is not a selfish act so long as you moderate it. It might be easy for some amateur writers to start writing and not get out from in front of their computer for eight to twelve hours a day every day of the week. If you happen to be single and are still making it to work, more power to you.

However, if you are like me and are married with a child and have a career, you do have to moderate yourself from such extremes. Once you do that, you also need to accept that your writing time is not selfish. For many, it is a necessary release from stressful jobs or situations. A little bit of guaranteed writing time can give you something to look forward to, improve your disposition, and make it a little bit better for those around you when life many little quirks start to make things difficult.

Talk with the people in your life and figure out a way to create some writing time for yourself. After that, if writer’s block becomes your biggest source of stress in life, then you managed not to Slater things!

 

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Christopher Slater. Christopher is a Middle School History teacher in Tennessee. He’s also a husband, father, and author.


226373498_dacf4f263f_bNeed help with your book or novel? Check out the Writer’s Toolbox, a list of free, discounted, and overall helpful links to tools and benefits to help you with what you do best: writing.


 

26 thoughts on “Writing Time: Selfish, Selfless, or Saving Others?”

  1. I too have a house, wife, kids, day-job: the whole catastrophe. I must make to write or nothing happens. Even if it’s only 30 minutes, I ignore my phone and everyone knows to “leave Dad alone.” That’s a critical point I’ll be making at my “Creative Writing & Self-Publishing” panel at Ohayocon next Friday.

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  2. During November I made a comment to my writing buddies that little writing would be done because I would “be doing the things necessary to keep a long term relationship healthy.” Like you, writing is an “extracurricular activity” done after work and on the down times. Having a healthy home life means my writing will be better. That is arrangement that works for me.

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  3. You have touched a very interesting topic today, how can a family guy spare some time for his /her writing and at the same time be in a guilt of being selfish. It has no answers at all, but I think our family and the loved ones if realize that how important our writing is for us, then they will themselves leave us alone for some time in a day.
    Wonderful post.

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  4. Nothing is selfish in moderation. When you lose your job or start getting divorce threats, that’s another story. I used to live with an asshole who never stopped playing video games. It would have been fine if he’d set aside time for this after spending time with our kid and doing chores, but it took precedence. I never let this happen with writing, often setting an alarm for an hour or waiting until my kid was in bed. It’s about finding balance, and everyone’s schedules are different. Good for you trying to do what you have to do first. It helps keep your mind from being distracted while you write

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  6. Same here: loads of to-do-lists that need to be tackled, laundry, grocery shopping … and when will it be time for writing? Tomorrow. 😉
    But I am not really sure what it is: Do I not write because I want to avoid being selfish – or am I not selfish to avoid writing? Is it a sense of duty or just procrastination? 😉 A bit of both, probably.

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  7. It’s easier now that I’m in my 60s, but I still feel as if immersing myself in writing is an indulgence. These days I try to write first thing in the morning so the rest of the day is available for ‘everything else’. Good luck.

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  8. I feel the same way! Even though my husband encourages me to sit and write, I often feel guilty. I am an expert at feeling guilty about everything. It is difficult to find the right balance between work, grading, husband, child, blog, novel, social media, and friends. Friends often get neglected in the end.

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  9. I have the direct opposite issue. I will drop anything to write. I write for hours. It’s 2:27 am and I am writing now. I’ll write anything–poems, work on my book, takes notes on research for my book,write on a blog, write a FB status–usually about writing. I do hours of it. I went on vacation once and was stressed because I couldn’t write so I bought a notebook on a cruise ship just to write something. The only thing I will stop work for is my aging father. I’m single…now I know why I’m single. I always have my head in a book or a notebook. I am entertained by writing lists. I am planning a move and create checklists to write. I write on a plane and on a train. I do not like not writing, Sam I Am. Is this a psychological disorder?

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  10. Balance is difficult to achieve. I am lucky that I am retired and don’t have a problem if I make writing a priority. I am also glad I gave myself the time when I was working to develop my writing skills since those gave me a foundation for now. Help your wife with the laundry. She needs time to develop her interests too (in solidarity with wives who do laundry).

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  11. 100% my situation, here. Myself: young twenties, day job, just moved into a new house, have a fiancee who desires a little more of my time than I expect, not to mention I have a huge project I’m working on, and the first book of it is due in March! I always get distracted when trying to write/art (plus ADD doesn’t help either). He always insists that I can tell him to leave me alone when I need my work time, but I always feel bad asking for it/taking it (especially that a few years ago, he mentioned that I spent too much time writing/arting and not enough time with him). I’m having a hard time balancing it out.

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  12. I feel for all the married people here but on the other side of the coin, if you’re single, like a few of us here and work a full-time job in addition to your chores at home, you sometimes have to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation? “

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  13. Great read! I understand where you’re coming from. I’m a working mother of two and I also feel selfish for indulging in a little writing when I can. Writing is such a part of who I am, though, that I look at it as self-care. It’s not always easy, but when I do allow myself a little happiness, everything else falls into place.

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  14. I’ve always admired folks who can make a daily writing habit work. I always mean to start one, and then life gets in the way! I do know it’s important, but there are so many other demands on my time… Any tips on how to make it easy to carve out the time?

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