Why Does Everything WIth Writing Take So Much Time?

Saturday, September 05, 2020
I'm wondering: Why does everything, in the name of writing, take so much time? And why does time go so quickly except when you want it to? These are age-old questions that will have no answers, but they do have a purpose for this blog post. I've been thinking a lot lately how everything to do with writing and publishing takes hours, months, years, lifetimes. Really, if you let it bog you down, you can get frustrated and want to give up. How is this for an inspirational post? Just hold on...

I have so many projects I want to do from writing more children's books in my American Civil War Adventure series to publishing more books for authors through Editor-911 Books to revising and finishing countless (I mean countless) nonfiction and fiction manuscripts to editing for other writers to teaching writing classes. (And this is just my professional writing life; I sort of kind of have a personal life, too. Winks.) And none of these projects or tasks take a short amount of time. Almost every one of them is a long project, and the one thing I don't have a lot of is...you guessed it...time.

In Hamilton the musical, which many of you have probably seen now thanks to a pandemic and Disney+, Aaron Burr asks/sings/laments (pick your favorite), "Why do you write like you're running out of time?" My guess is because Alexander knew that writing took a lot of time, and he never felt like he had enough of it. (And back then, whew, writing by candlelight with a quill and ink? My, oh, my.)



So I've had to learn to take a deep breath and give myself pep talks. "Listen, self, every time you work on anything to do with your books or your publishing company or your editing clients, you are one step closer to living the dream life that you want to live. If you just sit around and complain that everything takes so much time or never start anything because you won't have time to finish it that day, you'll be stuck. And if there's one thing you can't stand is feeling stuck!" (Side note: My sassy self is currently pouting in the corner after this lecture.)

But isn't that the worst feeling when you are miserable in some situation and you can't figure a way to change anything? Writing gives me hope. Publishing gives me hope. Helping other writers gives me hope. And hope is what keeps me going.

Part of the problem is I listen to podcasts--they are both a blessing and a curse. The blessing part is they are a free way to learn a lot about the indie publishing industry and listen to people who are successful and/or making mistakes, but learning from them, every single day. I am even coaching an author or two about the indie publishing movement right now--thanks to everything I've learned.

But the curse part is so many of these authors on the podcasts are working full time as an author or have no children or live by themselves with no pets even. So when I listen to them talk about writing 3000 to 5000 words a  day or putting out four books in a year, I have to remind myself that their life is not my life, and there are certain things in my life I would obviously not want to give up, especially being a mom to Katie. (Okay, I suppose our dog Sudsi is one of those things; and no, she's not MAKING me add this in.)

I've felt frustrated lately in spite of telling myself again and again that every step forward is a step toward my goals whether it's a teeny tiny step or a huge leap. I tell myself that I'm in this for the marathon and not the sprint. And I tell myself, "At least you are not stuck."

But I will also tell you that I still wish everything to do with writing did not take SO MUCH TIME. I know it's a common complaint for most writers and something we all deal with, but it still helps to type it out and know that someone on the other end of these words can commiserate with me. Please commiserate with me--I'm begging you.

If you're feeling like me, let me know in the comments. But also remember, just do anything, one thing, something today to move yourself forward, even if it's cleaning off a spot in your house to set your laptop to start your new novel tomorrow.

What am I going to do? Well, I'm about to publish another book for my author friend Fred Olds and write some curriculum for my American Civil War Adventure series--plus figure out how to go "wide" with indie publishing print books and finish up republishing a YA sweet romance. Goodness, no wonder I feel overwhelmed. Let's get back to that first and small step...


Margo L. Dill is an author, teacher, editor, mom, daughter, friend, dog walker and reader. She lives in St. Louis, MO, with her daughter and dog. Her class about novel writing started yesterday, but you can actually still join if you want because that would be one step toward reaching a goal you can do today. She is the author of the just released prequel for her American Civil War Adventure series titled, Anna and the Baking Championship, perfect for middle-grade readers and only 99 cents for the ebook! 

7 comments:

Empish said...

Thank you for writing this post. It really spoke to me because I struggle with not having enough time and overextending myself. Just this past week I decided to place 1-2 things on my list each day and try to focus on these things only. So far it is working. I appreciate your points about not comparing yourself to others and I have to remember that to; that everyone is not the same. I am a slow writer and when I see others getting things done faster I get a little down on myself. So thanks again, I really appreciate your words today. Now back to this blog I am writing.

Jeanine DeHoney said...

Margo, I too feel the same way about time when it comes to my writing. So many projects, so it seems to me, so little time. But focusing on one specific project for two to three days a week before tackling the next project, puts a dent in it, and helps me feel less overwhelmed. Great post.

Nicole Pyles said...

I struggle with this so much! I have blogs I want to work on, stories to polish, and submitting to do while also looking for permanent work and doing freelance writing. I often wonder if I'll ever get myself into an easy groove to do it all! But that's not the case. I think doing just a little bit each day makes such a difference.

Unknown said...

Margo--Of course I feel the same way. Of course there are countless other writers who feel the same way. Writing a manuscript takes so much time. Years (at least for me ;). After spending that much time on just the writing, why can't the publishing part zip along at a speedy pace?

Decades down the road, you'll have lots of books--books you wrote, books you edited, books you published. But more importantly, you'll have Katie. You'll have loads of memories. And being driven at a frenetic pace--so fast, you miss out on momements of wonder and unbelievable joy and simple sweetness--well, that's a loss I don't think you want to risk.

My children are in their 30s and 40s now. I have a grandchild who just learned to walk. He is (I can tell already) gifted when it comes to music. He saw an uncle tune a guitar, and then he (my grandbaby) cocked his head and tried to tune HIS little ukelele... and he's only 18 months old. This kiddo loves pop music, classical music, any kind of music. Seeing him blossom? Priceless.

Don't look at what others are doing. Writers who don't have kids, who don't have interruptions, who don't have financial worries--they are not your competition. Doing your best--with the life and the joys and the responsibilities you have--THAT should be your guide, your measuring stick...

Margo Dill said...

Empish: I'm glad my words helped! :) That makes me feel like taking the time to write them was definitely worth it then.

Jeanine: Good idea and thanks for the tip.

Nicole: It's true that doing a little bit each day does make a difference.

Unknown: You are so right. I do take time every day to enjoy something to do with Katie. We always walk the dog, and like today, we are finishing reading Harry Potter 6 together and then we will watch the movie and compare it with the book. It's great when we are interested in the same things. LOL We may even do some Harry Potter trivia at dinner because why not?

Cathy C. Hall said...

Reminds me of the Jim Croce song, Time in a Bottle. "There never seems to be enough time to do the things we want to do, once we find them."

Honestly, if we could read prehistoric writing, the cave walls would probably be covered with, "Ugg need more time!" :-)

Angela said...

I relate to this post! The days go by so fast, and I feel like I'm under so much stress that it's hard to find the headspace or time to write. And I don't even have kids! I don't know how you do all you do, Margo. You are incredible. :) I recently read that making tiny little adjustments toward your goal pays off. So those little things you mentioned like cleaning a spot for your laptop do matter.

I have a friend who sets aside an hour every single morning before work to make a writing life, and sometimes she'll just sit at her desk and read or look at photos and not write one word. But the art of making time for your writing creates a literary life and places importance on your craft. I try to follow her example. :)

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