During my recent podcast interview with Kristine, I was reminded that she, like me, is a writer for whom there are never enough hours in the day, because she has so many story ideas it would be impossible to write them all, at least as quickly as our minds can cook them up. I understand this problem all too well! I have dozens of story ideas ready to be written, and I rarely suffer from writers’ block. It’s just that with all of the responsibilities life demands of us, it isn’t always easy to find the time to do what we love. Stories take time to develop and though doing so can be the most thrilling exercise in the world for a passionate writer, we don’t always get to choose how we spend our time. Life comes with its share of responsibilities. Though, it’s essential that we take time for ourselves to decompress. Embracing your imagination is an excellent way to make that happen.
Many of my author friends know that I first began writing just after I’d graduated from college. Though I was always writing in some form or another throughout my lifetime – creating soap-opera-like scenarios with my dolls or spinning stories inside my own head – this was the first time I treated writing like a real job. The word job makes many of us cringe, but I quickly realized that for me, writing doesn’t feel like work. Exactly the opposite – it’s an escape, a chance to create a fantasy world that is all mine, to allow my imagination to go wherever it will and of course, since I write romance, there will always be a happily ever after.
I’ve fought hard for “writing time.” Like with “play time” it seems that writing time often comes at the end of the list of priorities, when we’ve gotten our “real” work done. I hear so many writers say that they get up early, before the rest of their family is awake, or write into the wee hours of the night. I see nothing wrong with that as long as the writer is doing it because she wants to, because it is her best time to write. I hate the idea that so many of us are forced to make writing our last priority. I hate it so much that in one of my day jobs, one in which I had very little responsibility, I proceeded to write four books with my time. Though my “multitasking” was eventually discovered, I have no regrets about how I spent that time, because it was some of the most enjoyable time of my life. Free of the guilt of not having a “real job,” I was able to relax and write stories in a way that few opportunities since have provided me with. I wrote faster than I ever have before in my life and with my evenings free to read, I read as many as three books at a time, which not only helped me to improve my own writing but provided me with even more of an escape. We all need to escape, once in a while.
With all of the anxiety in our world today, we need to escape now more than ever. It saddens me to hear fellow writers say that they’re so stressed out that they haven’t been able to write these last few months at all. I understand how these writers feel but I also encourage them to try sitting at their keyboards again, or perhaps to read some of their old stories, or another author’s stories. These tricks have helped me at times when I was stuck, taking me back inside a fantasy world and eventually, the words just flowed. Whatever your distress, writing and reading can provide an outlet. That outlet is always there for you, if you can allow yourself to be swept away by it.
Being a writer today doesn’t mean what it did thirty years ago. Whether we’re self-published or traditionally published, most of us are doing our own marketing and that means just one more thing added on to a long list of responsibilities. Author Laura Kaye once said that as writers, we should expect to spend 50% of our time writing and 50% of it marketing. Those of us in the room in which we were told this gasped – carving out writing time is hard enough as it is, but to give up half of it for marketing. How could this be done? How would we ever find the joy in our writing, with our time for writing being even more limited?
It took me a long time to accept the fact that this advice was good, solid advice. Writing is a business, and unless you already have an enormous following, no one is going to market our books for us. If we value our own work, showcasing it is something we have to do for ourselves and it’s something we owe ourselves the chance to do. That said, if writing is a business, can it still be an escape?
Considering this question, I’m taken back to my earliest days as a writer. And the truth is that whatever time I manage to carve out for writing still brings me joy. I take great pleasure in being transported to another time, another place, experiencing the thrills, excitement and danger through the eyes of my characters, just as I did before I wrote for a living. And the same goes double for reading—experiencing a story through another author’s perspective, not knowing what twists and turns lie ahead, it’s truly amazing. Writing, for me, will always be an escape. And reading is just delightful.
Listen to Jessica Lauryn's podcast episodes here and here.