Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Do You Lack Writing Time or Writing Energy?

Time.       Metal_mechanics_type_221267_l           

It's elusive, isn't it? 

Weird how in the same amount of hours on one day you get a ton done and the next day you fritter it away.

Time is either the writer's friend, or the bane of her existence, more often the latter.  Nearly every client and student I coach struggles with time, and most of the time that struggle is about trying to get enough of it.

But lately the truth of the time conundrum has hit me.

It is not about time, it is about energy.  Or more to the point, a lack thereof.

Case in point: watching TV.  For years, I've been a dedicated non-TV watcher.  One of my favorite rants has been about how much time we all waste watching TV, how brainless it is, yada yada yada.

Enter the ancient sexy elderly pug named Buster, who we rescued from the Humane Society shortly before Christmas. (Alas, his buddy Ally died in March.  Miss that girly.) For you civilians who are not pug owners, pugs are creatures of habit, sort of like your crotchety grandpa who has to have dinner at the same time every night.  Buster has developed a TV-watching habit, fueled by his admiration for Steven Tyler on American Idol

Buster likes to snuggle up on the orange Ikea futon in the family room and watch TV and every evening, he yips and barks if this doesn't happen.

So I have started watching way more TV than I have in years.  Because, you know, I gotta keep the pug happy. And here's the deal:  I kinda like it.  I find it relaxing.  I find myself working harder during the day so that I can watch TV with Buster at night. 

Because the truth of the matter is that by the time I'm done with dinner, my brain is fried anyway.  And I'm no longer good for writing or working on business stuff.  (I know, I know, I could read a book and I often do–last night I tore through If I Stay by Gayle Forman.  I think it is time to admit that some of the best writing these days is for the young adult market.)

Thus, the point of this post: it is not about lack of time, it is about lack of energy. 

Yeah, technically I've got time in the evenings to work on my novel.  But I don't have the mental energy.  And that's the real issue we have to face.

I've got a few suggestions, but this post has already gone on way longer than I intended, so I'll take up the topic again next week.

How do you gather and maintain energy for writing?

In the meantime, come back on Friday, when I'll feature a guest post by Erica Nelson, author of Happiness Quotations.  See you then!

Photo by clix.

0 thoughts on “Do You Lack Writing Time or Writing Energy?

  1. Zan Marie

    Mental energy is my problem, too. I just can’t work some days. Brain fog and fatigue just bury the words. Pat Buster on the head for me. My two toy poodles bark hello. ; )

  2. Trisha

    I think it helps that I work full time – I spend all day wishing I could write, so that when I get home I’m motivated!

  3. Charlotte Dixon

    Zan Marie, Buster barks hello back!

    Trisha, I do think that when we have less time, it becomes more precious. I know that when I clear away everything so that I get to work on my novel, I often have a hard time getting to it. But give me 15 minutes in between other projects, and I’m all over it.

  4. Patty - Why Not Start Now?

    I love imagining you and Buster snuggling up to watch TV, Charlotte. Plus, it’s such an important distinction you make between time and energy. And you give me more insight into my own situation lately. Whether it’s writing or some other form of work, I’m beginning to think a lot of it is because I’m self-employed, and all hours seem to be open for business. But I do get tired! Or I just don’t feel like it. But the knee-jerk is there to keep working. I really like what you say about working hard during the day so you can have that time with Buster. Sweet. Good boundary setting! I need more of that.

  5. Patrick Ross

    So it’s the pug who wants to watch TV, eh? 🙂

    I’ve stopped beating myself up about my TV habit. It consists of about two hours at night, when I really am brain-dead. The TiVo ensures I can watch some quality shows without being stuck with whatever is on (generally I watch any HBO production as well as select broadcast or cable shows like Modern Family). The fact is, it’s a relaxing end to the day, but if I have a bit of creative juice I can actually pay attention to how the writers convey character, story arc, setting, etc., and I think it informs my own writing. Even reality TV creates characters and story arcs!

  6. Charlotte Dixon

    Patty, That is the exact problem with being self-employed, we’re always at work. And, of course, we love what we do, so it usually doesn’t feel like work! It has taken me a long time to get to the point where I can actually look forward to sitting with Buster and watching TV. And I will admit that once in awhile I bring my laptop with me.

    Patrick, Of course I wouldn’t be watching TV if it weren’t for Buster! 🙂 And I do agree with you that writers can gain a lot from watching TV. There’s actually some really good shows on at the moment. I even glean ideas on pacing and dramatizing things from silly American Idol.

  7. Jae_wallace

    I’m looking forward to the suggestions, but you know I’m a big fan of your energy vs. time theory. And, P.S. How great is “If I Stay?” I bought the sequel “Where She Went” last week, but my mom already took it so I’m reading “Sapphique” first (the sequel to Incarceron). Did you read “Before I Fall” yet? Another one I highly recommend.

  8. Rebecca

    I agree that when you freelance, you tend not to have consistent work hours and you find yourself working more to bring in the money. I find I work half the day, take a break of 3 – 4 hours and get back to it in the evenings.

  9. Lauri

    Whew, this really hit home with me. There are days when I’m so exhausted from work and mothering that even if I do have a couple of hours to write it’s like my brain isn’t available. Thank you, I think I’ll be more understanding with my poor brain now.

  10. Charlotte Dixon

    Rebecca, and that is also what makes free-lancing so great, the freedom to go to lunch, take the afternoon off, whatever. Love it!

    Lauri, We are rough on our brains sometimes, aren’t we? Especially in this day and age, when there’s so much inputting itself into our minds. It is a miracle any of us have any energy to write at all!

  11. Charlotte Dixon

    Janet, Loved “If I Stay,” can’t wait for the next one, which I’ve got on my hold list at the library. Also read “Before I Fall” and loved it. I’m reading her second, “Delirium.” I don’t know what it says about me that I’m more in love with YA than adult fiction at the moment, but so be it, there’s great writing in that genre.

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