Protect your writing time

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you. ~Zadie Smith

Perhaps this will seem like a surprising time to talk about protecting one’s writing time. We’re all facing the possibility of empty store shelves, prospective quarantines, disruptions of travel plans–not to mention getting COVID-19.

Many of those who write say it’s as important as breathing and that they can’t live without it. I’ve written before about the challenges the stay-at-home writing spouse has with protecting his/her time. If that time is not bringing income into the household, then the 8-5 spouse/partner who is supporting the family might assume the writing is a hobby and can be disrupted as need be with calls to pick up something at the store, prepare dinner for the boss with little notice, keep the house clean, and do all the shopping.

Now, as the U.S. has raised the threat level of the virus from “What, me worry?” to “Find out who’s to blame,” conserving time to write will probably become more difficult; if you were around during the 1970s gasoline shortage, then you know that thousands of people spent a good portion of each week trying to find a service station with any gasoline and, once they did, there might have been a wait of an hour or more in a long line.

If this happens again with such essentials as toilet paper and food, then trips to the grocery store might take many hours per week. Obviously, the family comes first, whether it’s food or safety. The 8-5 working spouse might get furloughed if they work for a company whose product or service takes a huge hit from the emergency.

Yet, I encourage you to write and/or do the online research or library research your stories need because this is what defines you as a person whether it’s bringing in money or not. Yes, I know it’s difficult seeing multiple hours of daily writing time collapse down to an hour or 30 minutes. Perhaps your approach shifts gears from poetry or a period novel to something like “Pandemic, a Diary.”

Even stolen moments of time can be enough to keep you breathing and give you a reason to hope that when the pandemic’s over, you’ll be a fulltime storyteller again.

Malcolm