I’m sure this comes as no surprise, but writing a book takes A LOT of time.
I bet if you took a quick poll of a bunch of random authors they would unanimously agree. And I’m not saying that I didn’t already know this when I started thinking about writing a book, or thought that I could just sit down and pop one out real quick, but until I actually started writing, I didn’t really understand exactly how big of a commitment I was making.
For many published authors, writing is their full time job. But for someone such as myself–someone that has a day job and dreams about one day becoming a successful writer–writing is done in my spare time. Because by day I try (emphasis on try) to be a responsible adult–you know, provide for my family and pay the bills–I couldn’t in good conscience quit my job and pursue writing full time.
Everybody’s experience is different when it comes to finding time to write, I’m sure. I’ve found through reading various writing forums that people like myself write by carving bits and pieces of time out of our daily lives, foregoing other activities that we might otherwise want to do, and consciously choose to use it to write. Fortunately, for me I have a job that provides me with quite a bit of free time. I write at home when I can–I often write in the morning when the kids are watching cartoons, or during nap time (if they nap), or after they go to bed–but mostly I write at work.
By day, I’m an airline pilot, which means I’m away from home A LOT. On average, I spend about 3 nights a week in a motel. I also find myself sitting around in airports a lot between flights–it’s not uncommon that I have 3-4 hour breaks between flights. As much as I dislike how much my job keeps me away from my family, it provides an aspiring author such as myself a much needed commodity–time.
A given overnight in you name the city can range from 10 to 24 hours (and even higher sometimes) between when I arrive in that city and when I leave. On the shorter overnights–the 10 to 12 hour ones–a large part of my time is spent sleeping, but on the longer ones I have more free time to do pretty much whatever I want.
Many of my peers like to go out and explore the city they are in and others are what are referred to as “slam-clickers”–they slam the door to their room, click the lock, and don’t emerge until they report for duty the next day. I enjoy getting out and socializing with my coworkers, but more often than not, I’m a slam-clicker–not because I’m anti-social, but because my goal for the last couple years has been to do some writing when I got to my motel room.
Here are a couple pictures of what it looks like for me to write on the road:
Writing during one of those 3-4 hour breaks between flights. In this photo, I set up shop at a business center at Portland International Airport and typed away on my roll-up silicone keyboard. Sometimes, if I can’t find a good place to sit in an airport, I set up shop on the airplane–drop down a couple tray tables, grab a pot of coffee, put in the ear buds, and go to town.
This is one of the more picturesque locations I found myself writing. I’m at a motel in Walla Walla Washington on a gorgeous day. The majority of my writing didn’t look like this, though–most of it occurred at the desk in my motel room.
Of course, despite my intentions, I often ended up not writing at all. If I found myself walking into the motel after a 12 hour day, it wasn’t uncommon that I was simply too tired to concentrate and just wanted to go to bed. Other times, I didn’t have the motivation and I didn’t like trying to force it. And then, all too often, I’d get hooked on a TV show and could think of nothing else until I binge watched the entire thing. But even though I was often too tired or guilty of wasting time watching Netflix, little by little, bit by bit, the words got typed and the pages piled up. It took 20 months from the time I wrote chapter 1 until I finished the first draft of my story–which is now a trilogy. In the end, I averaged writing about 450 words a day.
So there you have it. It didn’t happen over night, but I was able to carve out enough time in my life–a lot of time–both at home and at work, and in just under two years I wrote a book (well, I guess three books, actually). And I’m not done. Far from it. I’m presently re-writing and editing the portion of my story that will eventually be book 2, so I still spend as much time as I can while at home and at work working on this project.
It’s hard to believe how much time I’ve spent on this–I’m not trying to be overly dramatic here–but seriously, it’s almost like a second job. Fortunately I’ve very much enjoyed the process and don’t regret it for a second. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll be so successful that I can quit that day job and, if I can convince my wife to let me, grow a beard.
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