In a month, I will be on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, stretching my muscles and eating as much in protein and carbs as I can stomach to refuel my body.
Rim to rim is about a 25 mile hike. I’m doing it twice with two days of hiking for fun in between. In a month.
Training for this takes time. I’m running at least 15 – 20 miles a week (and I should be doing more, I just don’t have the time). I cross train twice a week and I strength train twice a week. Then I do a long hike on Sundays (we’re up to 12 miles, now). I’m invested.
My average workout is at least an hour long and tends to take place in the morning, before work. That combined with showering, a recovery meal, and a longer commute in the new apartment leaves little time to get into the writing zone–you know, like I used to do before all this training.
So, most of my writing time comes on the weekend when I’m playing catch-up with my distance runs, chores, errands, and social life. If I have four consecutive hours to spare (which is what I really need to be decently productive), I count myself lucky. The last time I had that four hours was last Monday, which was a Labor Day and I had taken the day off of work.
That’s right, in the last month or two, my only decently productive writing came from an extra day off from work. And even then, I fell asleep for half an hour from sheer exhaustion before getting down to business.
It is very, very difficult to treat writing like a profession when so much of my writing time is eaten up by working out. It’s bad enough my dog whines at me for not always having the energy to play with her, I don’t need to face the build-up stress and frustration that comes from not writing often enough fiction (you may notice that I’m still keeping up on blog posts, even if Labor Day’s post was a bit of a cheat).
So, I have fallen back on things like outlining, short bursts of prose, and reading my Structuring Your Novel and Outlining Your Novel books to ease the itch. I tell myself I’m learning about writing to prepare my mind, my story, and my fingers for all the free time I’m going to have after the trip. I console myself by carefully plotting out my next three chapters and by patting myself on the back for solving my tricky ending problem on one of those long hikes.
Didn’t I tell you I had no idea how to end my story? Well, now I do! I figured it out on mile six of an 8 mile hike.
So, how do you keep writing/storytelling in mind when something in life swallows up your free time? You step back, take it slow, and hope that you can use whatever thing that is distracting you as it’s own vessel for creativity and story.
Lastly, try to find the beauty in what other thing you’re doing instead of letting it stress you out. It’s already consuming your life, don’t let it take your peace of mind, too. In all likelihood, your characters would never stand for it, and they’re enough trouble already.