Sometimes, when my to-do list grows longer and longer, I feel like I can’t possibly write until I clear all of the other tasks. I plan to allocate a few days just to focus on the chores. Then, when they’re done, my mind will be free for writing.
It never quite works out that way. As soon as one thing is completed, two more replace it. I never get as much done on chore days as I hope. The to-do list is never defeated. Instead it morphs over time, leaving me frustrated at how much of life is given over to administration–mundane tasks that keep everything running, but steal huge amounts of time in the process.
I first started writing seriously in the months after I graduated from college. At the time, I didn’t yet have a job, and that was when I started keeping track of the hours I wrote each week. At first I found it difficult to write for more than two hours per day. I figured I had time to build up my endurance. One day, however, I had a realization. If I couldn’t make myself write for more than two hours when I was as free as I’d ever be, then I wasn’t really being serious at all. I had to make better use of my time. I’d never be that free again.
This revelation was unfortunately true. I have never had enough time to write. Even during my wonderful four-week residency last year, I was filled with a sense of desperation. I wrote eight hours a day, wrote until my fingers hurt and I couldn’t think anymore. I knew that, as soon as I went back to real life, it would be so hard to find the time. There are always other, more important things to do. Always. Lately my to-do list has gotten alarmingly long, and it’s tempting to put aside writing until all everything is done. I wish I could clear the decks so I’d have the time to focus on my novel like it deserves.
Writing, especially fiction writing, takes a certain kind of irresponsibility. You have to find the will to set aside more important things. For people like me, this is difficult and anxiety-inducing. But there will never be a good time to write. You have to write when you’re uncomfortable and hurried and anxious. If you wait, you’ll never write a thing.