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.